As your experience in the automotive field grows, so too will your toolbox. But every new technician in training starts with a (relatively) empty box, save for a few staple tools.
If you’re in the process of building your technician toolkit, you’re likely looking for the basics and may be wondering what are an automotive tech’s most trusted tools? You’ll find out as we discuss toolkit essentials below piece by piece.
Wrenches are an automotive tech’s number one hand tool. They’re nearly universal in application for fixes that range from routine to complex under the hood and at the wheels. To build a complete wrench set, make sure it includes:
- 12-point combination wrenches
- Ratchet wrenches
- The three most common ratchet drive sizes (quarter inch, three-eighths inch, and half inch)
- As with ratchets, you’ll need the most frequently used socket sizes as well (8 mm through 19 mm) to start. You would add on additional sockets for special applications.
- Deep well sockets
- If you’re using air tools, be sure to use hardened sockets made for air tool use. If you use regular hand tool sockets with air tools, you can create a dangerous safety situation.
- Torque wrenches: Apply a specific amount of force to secure fasteners to the manufacturer’s specifications.
- Strap wrench: Handy for the easy removal of oil filter during oil changes and other applications.
An automotive tech’s second must-have tool staple collection includes a variety of screwdrivers that go beyond just flat and Phillips head. Drivers need to match the fasteners you’re fastening or unfastening. These include a range of shapes and sizes including:
- Stubbed or pocket screwdrivers: Short screwdrivers that are useful for tight space loosening and tightening.
- Hex screwdrivers: Feature a five-sided head; used for hex or cap screws.
- Torx screwdrivers: Feature a six-point star-shaped head. As its name implies, allows you to apply greater torque to the screw.
For gripping, pulling, turning, or bending metal pieces where a wrench won’t do, automotive technicians rely on their trusty pairs of pliers to do the job. Make sure that your box leaves room for the following plier types:
- Slip joint: Versatile, multitalented grippers. This plier type features fine teeth for gripping smaller items and coarse teeth for larger bolts.
- Vise grips: Also known as locking pliers, vise grips provide strong clamping power adjusted by a screw at the end of the handle to tighten whatever you’re gripping like a vise.
- Needle nose: The thinnest of plier levers, needle nose pliers are helpful for bending or steadying wires or intricate pieces.
- Diagonal wire cutters
Hammers and Mallets
Sometimes you need the added force of a hammer or mallet to get the job done. Ball peen hammers are a traditional mechanic’s hammer. It has a flat hammer side surface and a round side for peening or marking metal to keep things in place. Rubber mallets can be used to hammer surfaces that you don’t want to damage.
Measurement and Safety
A technician’s toolkit wouldn’t be complete without appropriate measurement and safety tools. Be sure to include the following:
- Tape measure
- Onboard diagnostic computer reader: Plugs into the OBD2 port to gain access to the car’s computer trouble codes.
- Safety glasses
- Small flashlight or headlamp
- Sturdy, slip-resistant shoes
Time to Put Your Toolkit to the Test!
Now all you need is a great group of ASE-certified instructors to help you put this toolkit to good use! Check out ATC’s complete list of automotive and marine courses and programs, find awesome free how-to guides and eBooks, and learn more about how an ATC education can help your career go the extra mile at autotraining.edu!