1 September 2011

Must-have tools for every garage

Hagerty’s experts weigh in with their picks for the top five tools that should be in every garage.

Hagerty Fleet Specialist Randy Clouse lists the following:

  1. Side cutters: The first tool on my list would have to be a pair of side cutters. They are invaluable for removing cotter pins while working on front ends, and they also come in really handy for a small hammer.
  2. Pry bar: A large pry bar has to be up there, too. This is used for safely prying and lifting things.
  3. Vise grips: A pair of vise grips – a very simple tool that comes in handy for grabbing or holding onto something – can really save the day.
  4. Four-way wrench: A four-way wrench is also very handy when removing tires. You can just grab it and start removing lug nuts from the wheels.
  5. Acetylene torch: The acetylene torch can be your best friend for when it comes to cutting off rusty bolts or freeing frozen or rusted parts.

Hagerty PR Manager Jonathan Klinger, who’s using a Model A as a daily driver for his 365 Days of A project, knows a little something about working on cars. He chose the following five items because, quite simply, he says he can take on almost any project with them.

  1. Air compressor
  2. Jack 
  3. Mechanic’s tool set: A basic set of wrenches, sockets, screwdrivers, etc.
  4. Shop light
  5. Refrigerator

Youth Advocacy Coordinator Tabetha Salsbury's selections put a bit more of a premium on organization and cleanliness than our other “Car Guys'”:

  1. Lift
  2. Parts washer: In my opinion, 90 percent of quality work comes from good prep, and dirty parts equal bad paint jobs, messes, etc.
  3. Refrigerator: A Car Guy spends a lot of time in a garage. When buddies stop by, sometimes you just want to take a break and kick back with a cold beer.
  4. Air compressor: Try to find one that’s quiet!
  5. Wall-mounted shop vac: Be sure to get one that’s detachable; it’s so handy to be able to vacuum out rust, dirt, rodent mess in engine bays, etc., from cars when they come in to the shop. After all, an organized shop means more and better production.

Vice President of Media Properties Rob Sass echoes a couple of Clouse, Klinger and Salsbury’s picks, but adds a few of his own:

  1. Set of Torx bits: Because Torx bolts always show up in the worst possible places when you don’t have a set of Torx bits on hand. 
  2. Air compressor: They make a lot of noise, they take up a lot of room and, let’s face it, it’s just cool to have a set of air tools.
  3. Set of vise grips: They’re good for pinching the hell out of your finger.
  4. Magnetic screwdrivers: Anyone who has ever dropped a screw down a door panel knows why these are necessary. Frankly, I don’t know why all screwdrivers aren’t magnetic.
  5. One really good, bright shop light: To shed light on those crucial repairs you overlooked before you had your really good, bright shop light.

Do you disagree with our contributors’ picks? Sound off on your top five garage tools in our comments section below.


 

38 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Larry Horowitz Perrineville NJ September 9, 2011 at 16:30
    What happened to the music? You must have oldies playing to concentrate.
  • 2
    Rob Paramus, NJ September 9, 2011 at 17:13
    Don't forget the oxygen tank with the Acetylene tank for cutting.
  • 3
    Rob Paramus, NJ September 9, 2011 at 17:14
    Don't forget the oxygen tank with the Acetylene tank for cutting.
  • 4
    art Wegweiser allison Park, PA September 9, 2011 at 21:00
    How and why were those torx things every invented? Another set to buy and clutter up a tool box?
  • 5
    Jerry Duluth, Mn September 9, 2011 at 22:00
    Add to the list A good bench vise, hammers and drill press
  • 6
    Dave just_dave022000@yahoo.com September 9, 2011 at 22:39
    Yuo are missing the all mitey hammer most things can be fixed with this tool LOL .
  • 7
    Neal Saratoga Springs NY September 10, 2011 at 07:48
    When the pry bar and the torch do not work you need a BFH. (a big hammer, censored) This has been a must have for years
  • 8
    Cal PHX YYC September 12, 2011 at 17:46
    READING GLASSES of varying strengths for different applications for those of us over 50 or so!!
  • 9
    Matt El Paso, Texas September 12, 2011 at 19:18
    Tape and zip ties. I have most any cool tool that MAC, Snap On, and Craftsman have made but tape and zip ties have saved my butt a couple times when least expected. Like those quality vacuum lines on BMWs.
  • 10
    Matt El Paso, Texas September 12, 2011 at 19:19
    Tape and zip ties. I have most any cool tool that MAC, Snap On, and Craftsman have made but tape and zip ties have saved my butt a couple times when least expected. Like those quality vacuum lines on BMWs.
  • 11
    Ralph Inman West Linn, Oregon...PDX suburb September 12, 2011 at 21:03
    How did you miss the shop stereo? This is where I get the most use out of my old reel to reel and vinyl records. Of course for those long jobs I can still hook up my I-pod!
  • 12
    keith denmark Me September 12, 2011 at 21:20
    Please you cannot operate a garage without WD 40 and duct tape
  • 13
    Cal PHX YYC September 12, 2011 at 21:30
    READING GLASSES of varying strengths for different applications for those of us over 50 or so!!
  • 14
    Paul under my 1964 corvair September 12, 2011 at 22:39
    A good pair of needle nose pliers, More screw drivers than you think you will ever need. How come it is every time you look for a flat head all you have is Phillips head screw drivers?
  • 15
    Don Hilston Lighthouse Point Fl. September 12, 2011 at 23:27
    The tools are right on but the most important one is missing. Get a good shop manual for your car(s).
  • 16
    mike new jersey September 13, 2011 at 05:08
    you must have a garage
  • 17
    Bill Massena, NY September 13, 2011 at 08:10
    No classic car tool kit is complete without a 6v. and 12v. electrical test light plus a VOM.
  • 18
    steve michigan September 13, 2011 at 09:23
    I agree with mike, my wish is a auto lift
  • 19
    clay Michigan September 15, 2011 at 16:34
    Sandblasting cabinet is our most used item. Stereo # 2 and I need to find a refridgerator so when I take a break in my garage lazy boy, I have some beverages.
  • 20
    Erit Miami September 15, 2011 at 19:49
    how about a good tap and die set and a good cordless drill
  • 21
    Erit Miami September 15, 2011 at 19:49
    how about a good tap and die set and a good cordless drill
  • 22
    Joel Pennsylvania September 15, 2011 at 09:42
    No arguments with any of the already mentioned choices, but very high on my tool list is my laptop, which gives me access to numerous forums, parts and supply sources, etc.
  • 23
    mike maher Pahrump NV September 17, 2011 at 20:16
    You forgot a welder/mig welder. The best thihg I have is a lift.
  • 24
    Ray Carnegie, Pa. September 19, 2011 at 10:25
    1. 3 ton floor jack 2..air compressor 3. vise grips 4. 3/8 air gun 5. metric socket set
  • 25
    George M. Shirey New Kensington Pa. September 19, 2011 at 11:07
    Wire clothes hanger!!!!
  • 26
    Alex Indy September 26, 2011 at 11:14
    Duct tape....
  • 27
    Lynsey Gosh, I wish I would have had that infromiaton earlier! October 3, 2011 at 16:21
    Gosh, I wish I would have had that infromiaton earlier!
  • 28
    Rich So. California January 9, 2012 at 20:21
    Must have 1/2 " impact gun and 3/8 air ratchet. Cordless drill with drivers in 1/4",3/8"and 1/2". Snap-On 1/4"drive socket set with swivel sockets.
  • 29
    Carl Hawaii January 9, 2012 at 21:40
    My most valuable too is my industrial size first aid kit.
  • 30
    Will M Inverness Fla. April 27, 2012 at 09:58
    you guys dont need ANY of those tools if you dont have a Classic car or truck to work on...
  • 31
    Will M Inverness Fla. April 27, 2012 at 09:59
    you guys dont need ANY of those tools if you dont have a Classic car or truck to work on...
  • 32
    T.Barker Mascot TN June 30, 2012 at 09:48
    1: Drill bits & Drill bit sharpner. 2: Telephone for calling Summit Racing. 3: Thread tape. 4: Heat gun & shrink tubing for wiring.
  • 33
    Pintu Yes it is amazing how time gets away from you. While you are rainisg> your kids time seems to stand still, then all of a sudden they are graduating> high school and the last one leaves home. You ask yourself how did that> happen was I present? Life is a journey enjoy the ride.Keep your family close to your heart. July 27, 2012 at 14:32
    Yes it is amazing how time gets away from you. While you are rainisg> your kids time seems to stand still, then all of a sudden they are graduating> high school and the last one leaves home. You ask yourself how did that> happen was I present? Life is a journey enjoy the ride.Keep your family close to your heart.
  • 34
    Xavier Miami August 20, 2012 at 23:14
    I agree with you all, i have been working with cars for more than 45 years and have been collecting tools since then. my theory is it is less expensive to buy the tool and do the work yourself so it is properly done. and yes oldies music is a MUST HAVE :-)
  • 35
    Xavier Miami August 20, 2012 at 23:15
    I agree with you all, i have been working with cars for more than 45 years and have been collecting tools since then. my theory is it is less expensive to buy the tool and do the work yourself so it is properly done. and yes oldies music is a MUST HAVE :-)
  • 36
    Wayne G Prince George British Columbia September 1, 2012 at 02:55
    Zip cut.
  • 37
    Ed Collver Attica, New York April 21, 2013 at 11:52
    Don't hate me but after 30 plus years of professionally working on everything from Harleys to Kenworths, I have accumulated everything you all have listed in my private shop. A few things not mentioned would be a good fire extinguisher (many is better) telephone, intercom to the house, one or more toys, 80 Harley FLT, 70 Chevelle SS, 59 GMC "Fleet Edition" pick-up and the most important! one or more grandkids, My 7 yr old grandson helped(seriously) finish the Chevelle last July and my 14 yr old granddaughter is my partner at car shows and cruise nights after spending many hours in the shop. If you think I'm bragging, you're damn right, get your family out there, you might be suprised how it brings it all together.
  • 38
    Roger Sunny Florida May 1, 2013 at 21:44
    "Cleanliness is next to Godliness". In my 10yr+ owning and operating an import car repair shop and parts store, my best mechanics came to me after trade/technical school training in aviation. "Don't touch it until it's clean" was the first rule they all learned in AV-school. My Master-Mechanic and Shop Foreman told all new-hires: If you won't push a shop-broom occasionally, and keep your work-space clean ...you'll have a short career here! For the home-hobbyist, a hot-water pressure washer would be a great investment. rc

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