The 10 Best Car Repair Tools of All Time
Forget the Snap-On Tools truck; its never been there when you need it. Besides there are only 10 things in this
world you need to fix any car, any place, any time.
- #1 Duct Tape
- Not just a tool, a veritable Swiss Army knife in stickum and plastic. It's
safety wire, body material, radiator hose, upholstery, insulation, tow rope,
and more - in an easy to carry package. Sure, there's prejudice surrounding
duct tape in professional competitions, but in the real world, everything from
LeMans-winning Porsches to Atlas rockets and attack-helicopters use it by the
yard. The only thing that can get you out of more scrapes is a quarter and a
- #2 Vice Grips
- Equally adept as a wrench, hammer, pliers, baling wire twister,
breaker-off of frozen bolts and wiggle-it-til-it-falls-off tool. The heavy
artillery of your tool box, vice grips are the only tool designed expressly to
fix things screwed up beyond repair.
- #3 Spray Lubricants
- A considerably cheaper alternative to new doors, alternator, and other
squeaky items. Slicker than pig phlegm, repeated soakings will allow the main
hull bolts of the Andrea Doria to be removed by hand. Strangely enough, an
integral part of these sprays is the infamous Little Red Tube that flies out
of the nozzle if you look at it cross eyed (one of the 10 worst tools of all
- #4 Margarine Tubs with Clear Lids
- If you spend all your time under the hood looking for a frendle pin that
caromed off the pertal valve when you knocked both off the air cleaner, it's
because you eat butter. Real mechanics consume pounds of tasteless vegetable
oil replicas just so they can use the empty tubs for parts containers
afterward. (Some of course chuck the butter-colored goo altogether or use it
to repack wheel bearings.) Unlike air cleaners and radiator lips, margarine
tubs aren't connected by a time/space wormhole to the Parallel Universe of
Lost Frendle Pins.
- #5 Big Rock at the Side of the Road
- Block up a tire. Smack corroded battery terminals. Pound out a dent. Bop
noisy know-it-all types on the noodle. Scientists have yet to develop a hammer
that packs the raw banging power of granite or limestone. This is the only
tool with which a "Made in Malaysia" emblem is not synonymous with the user
- #6 Plastic Zip Ties
- After 20 years of lashing down stray hose and wiring with old bread ties,
some genius brought a slightly slicked-up version to the auto parts market.
Fifteen zip ties can transform a hulking mass of amateur-quality wiring from a
working model of the Brazilian Rain Forest into something remotely resembling
a wiring harness. Of course it works both ways. When buying a used car,
subtract $100 for each zip tie you find under the hood.
- #7 Ridiculously Large Craftsman Screwdriver
- Let's admit it. There's nothing better for prying, chiseling, lifting,
breaking, splitting or mutilating than a huge flatbladed screwdriver,
particularly when wielded with gusto and a big hammer. This is also the tool
of choice for all oil filters so insanely located that they can only be
removed by driving a stake in one side and out the other. If you break the
screwdriver -- and you will just like Dad and your shop teacher said -- who
cares, it has a lifetime guarantee.
- #8 Baling Wire
- Commonly known as MG muffler brackets, baling wire holds anything that's
too hot for tape or ties. Like duct tape, it's not recommended for NASCAR
contenders, since it works so well you'll never need to replace it with the
right thing again. Baling wire is a sentimental favorite in some circles,
particularly with the Pinto, Gremlin, and Rambler set.
- #9 Bonking Stick
- This monstrous tuning fork with devilish pointy ends is technically known
as a tie-rod separator, but how often do you separate tie-rod ends? Once every
decade if you're lucky. Other than medieval combat, its real use is the
all-purpose application of undue force, not unlike that of the huge
flat-bladed screwdriver. Nature doesn't know the bent metal panel or frozen
exhaust pipe that can stand up to a good bonking stick. (Can also be used to
separate tie-rod ends in a pinch, of course, but does a lousy job of it).
- #10 A Quarter and a Phone Booth
- See tool #1 above.