Tools are an integral part of the care and maintenance of cars. Some tools are unique to the requirement of mechanics and are designed to make maintenance and repair jobs easier. Our list of automotive tool types gives you the essentials for most maintenance tasks on a car.
The right tool for the job is an essential part of the equipment needed by a mechanic or anyone working on a car. Using incorrect tools may cause additional damage or make the task more difficult. We have listed the tools designed for automotive maintenance or essential equipment for servicing motor vehicles.
1. Wrench Set
A wrench or spanner set is probably the cornerstone automotive tool set. Many different-sized nuts and bolts are used as fasteners for a car’s engine components.
A wrench set has a range of sizes to accommodate the different fastener sizes used in various locations on a car.
There are a few variations of wrench sets; some are the original standard wrench types, and others have evolved to make wrenches easier to use.
Box-end wrench set. This wrench type, also called a ring spanner, has a closed ring at either end. The rings at either end can be the same size or different sizes. This design prevents the wrench from slipping off the nut or bolt.
Open-end wrench set. An open-end wrench set does not have a closed ring at each end but rather an open crescent shape to enable slipping the wrench around the fastener from the side rather than directly above, as with the box-end wrench.
Combination wrench set. A combination wrench set can have several configurations. They can have a box-end on one side of the wrench and an open-end on the other, or a box or open-end on one side and a ratchet box-end head on the other.
2. Adjustable Wrench
The adjustable wrench, adjustable spanner, or shifting wrench, is essentially an open-end wrench with the ability to adjust the wrench’s jaws to accommodate different-sized fasteners.
The advantage of the adjustable wrench is that one tool can be used on various size fasteners, reducing the number of wrenches needed in the toolbox.
3. Allen Wrench Set
An Allen wrench set, or hex key set, is used on bolts and screws that have a hex-head indentation for the tool.
The Allen wrench fits snuggly into the hex socket on the fastener and reduces the risk of stripping the fastener’s head. Hex fasteners can be used for wood, metal, or plastic components on a car.
4. Socket Or Ratchet Set
A socket or ratchet set is another wrench variation based on the box-end wrench concept. The socket part of the tool is a cylinder that fits over the head of the fastener from above, much like the box-end wrench.
The ratchet is part of the tool’s handle, which usually connects with the socket via a square piece of steel that fits in the corresponding slot on the back of the socket.
The ratchet can be turned to fasten or loosen the bolt or nut and then returned to the starting position to continue the process without taking the tool off the fastener.
The mechanism on the ratchet can be reversed for a tightening or loosening direction. The ratchet is a faster method of removing a nut or bolt than conventional wrenches.
5. Lug Wrench
A breaker bar is a non-ratcheting socket wrench. The handle is longer than a standard socket wrench, and the tool is used to break the torque to loosen extremely tight or frozen nuts or bolts.
The long handle on the breaker bars allows more leverage to be brought to bear to loosen the extremely tight bolt.
The head of the breaker bar has a square protrusion designed to fit into the back of a socket. Ratcheting socket wrenches cannot apply the same leverage without breaking the mechanism.
7. Spark Plug Wrench
A spark plug wrench is a single-purpose socket wrench. The tool is designed exclusively to remove and fit spark plugs in an engine.
One end of the spark plug wrench fits around the spark plug, and the cylindrical body extends out beyond the engine block, where the wrench can be turned with a T-bar fitted to the tool.
The correct spark plug wrench size usually comes with the toolkit supplied in the car by the manufacturer.
A jack is an essential tool to work on the underside of cars and engines, to remove wheels to access hard-to-reach spots, or to fix a puncture on a tire.
There are several different jack designs, including scissor and bottle jacks. Some have a mechanical raising method, which requires a screw to be turned to raise the mechanism.
Other jack types are pneumatic and must be pumped with a lever to build pressure in the pneumatic fluid, which raises the mechanism.
9. Jack Stands
Jacks are used to raise a car to make working under them easier, but jacks should not be relied upon alone to hold the car in the raised position. Jacks can fail, which can be disastrous for anyone working under the car at the time.
Jack stands are rigid tripods that can be adjusted to various heights. They are placed under the car after it has been raised with the jack as an extra security measure.
10. Screwdriver Set
Next to wrenches, the screwdriver is probably the most commonly used automotive tool. Screwdriver sets come in different sizes and with different head shapes to accommodate the shape of the head of the screw.
Flat-head screwdrivers and Phillips or cross-head screwdrivers are the most common versions used on cars. Other screwdriver head types include Torx head, Pozi drive, hex-head, and square-head types.
Sometimes, the screwdriver shaft is hex-shaped, with an enlarged bolster near the handle. This modification is designed to be able to turn the screwdriver with an open-end wrench to loosen stubborn screws.
11. Plier set
Pliers can be used to grip parts, loosen or tighten fasteners, crimp wires, or cut wires. Certain pliers are designed for specific tasks, such as circlip pliers, which can only be used to remove circlips, which are retaining rings used to secure pins in place.
The following list is the main plier types relevant to automotive work:
- Needle-nose pliers
- Wire-stripping pliers
- Locking pliers or vice-grips
- Slip-joint pliers
- Linesman pliers
- Cutting pliers or side cutters
Each of these pliers comes in a range of sizes, so a suitable selection can be used for the size of the job at hand.
Hammers are another core automotive tool in the mechanic’s toolbox. Hammers can be used to straighten parts, bending parts, dislodge stuck components, or even pound body panels back into shape.
The following are various types of hammers used in the automotive industry:
- Ball peen hammers
- Cross peen hammers
- Rubber mallets
- Welding hammers
- Deadblow hammers
- Engineers hammers
13. Work Light
A work light is necessary to illuminate dark spaces in the engine bay or other difficult-to-see places when working on a car.
Several types of work lights can be used for this application. The traditional work light is an electric lamp with hooks designed to clip onto the underside of a car’s hood to provide light in the engine bay.
Mechanics can also use headlamps, and a range of magnetic lights can be positioned anywhere light is needed to do the job.
14. Battery Analyzer
Many non-starting problems in a car can be a result of a faulty or problematic battery. A battery analyzer is an electronic tester used to assess the battery’s state.
The digital or analog gauges will inform the mechanic whether the battery needs to be recharged or if there is a fault in the battery and it needs to be replaced.
15. Digital Multimeter
The wiring in cars can be complicated and difficult to access since it is hidden from view. A digital multimeter is useful for testing a car’s wiring, electrical, and electronic components to ensure they are working correctly.
A digital multimeter can test for continuity to detect breaks in the wiring, check voltages and current to ensure the component is receiving electricity, or test if a component is blown.
16. Digital Caliper
A digital caliper is an accurate measuring tool indispensable in the workshop. It can measure the depth, size, or diameter of automotive components.
It is especially useful to check the size of fasteners to select the right tool to use or check the depth of holes.
Mechanical or digital calipers can be used, but digital calipers are quicker, easier, and more accurate to read than mechanical versions.
17. Oil Pan
An oil pan is used as a drainage pan to collect a range of fluids from a car’s systems that require maintenance.
The most common use is to catch old oil as it is drained from the car’s sump during an oil change on the engine. It can also be used to collect brake fluid and engine coolant when these systems are drained for maintenance.
Many mechanics use an empty oil pan as a convenient place to keep nuts, bolts, and other fasteners and components removed from the car to ensure they do not get lost.
18. Oil Filter Wrench
An oil filter wrench is also called a strap wrench and is designed to remove the oil filter from a car’s engine.
The strap fits around the body of the oil filter, while the handle provides the leverage to loosen or tighten the component.
19. Tire Pressure Gauge
A tire pressure gauge measures the air or gas pressure inside a car tire. Correct tire pressure is imperative for the car’s road handling, optimal fuel consumption, and preventing unnecessary tire wear.
Tire pressure gauges come in various types, from analog to digital, and are often fitted to a compressor to inflate the tires. Standalone or portable tire pressure gauges are useful to keep as part of your car tool kit to test tire pressure in any circumstance.
20. Automotive Stethoscope
An automotive stethoscope looks similar to a medical doctor’s stethoscope and is used as a diagnostic tool by experienced mechanics.
When the microphone end is placed against the running engine, the mechanic can diagnose internal problems by the sounds of the engine’s components. This method allows the mechanic to figure out the potential cause of a problem without stripping the engine down.
21. Jumpstart Cables Or Booster
A set of automotive jumper cables or a battery booster is useful for starting a vehicle with a flat or dead battery. Jumper cables must be hooked up to another car with a good battery, which provides the necessary start-up power to turn the engine over.
Once the engine has fired, and the motor is running, the alternator will charge the flat battery. A battery booster has a built-in battery to boost the flat battery and start the car without needing a second car.
22. Mechanics Dolly
A mechanics dolly is a very useful tool when working under a car. The dolly is a platform on wheels that the mechanic can lie on and push themselves easily under the car to work.
The dolly prevents uncomfortable positions directly on the floor and allows the mechanic to find better positions to work effectively under the car.
Automotive tools are essential tools any mechanic requires to effectively service and maintain a motor vehicle.
The right tool for the job increases the efficiency of the work performed, prevents unnecessary additional damage, and ensures the work is done properly.