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.


2 Reader Comments

  • 1
    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.
  • 2
    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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