Whether you’re a seasoned garage junkie or a DIY novice, automotive work requires basic understanding of vehicle systems and a means of fixing and tweaking components. A household toolbox typically won’t fit the bill — cars have so many different fasteners and parts that you’ll often need tools made for the job at hand.
In this quiz, we’ll describe what an automotive tool does and then see if you can name it. Think you’re up for the challenge, grease monkey?
Cars aren’t just bolts and gears. They are a vast interconnection of metal, plastic, and rubber, interlaced with computers and sophisticated electronics. It doesn’t take much to break a car, but it takes know-how and the proper tools to fix them. Are you a master mechanic or would you be better off baking bread in the kitchen? If you can’t name the following tools, we’re partial to nine-grain muffins, thank you very much.
Spanners, rubber mallets and wrenches of all kinds are necessary for serious car work. So too are the expensive tools meant to address electrical issues and upgrades. Take our auto tools quiz and show us whether you know the difference between a breaker bar and a socket swivel!
Wrenches are the most basic tool in a mechanic’s garage. There are dozens of variations on the theme, but wrenches are essential no matter what sort of car work you’re doing.
You don’t want to use a utility knife to strip car wiring ... really, you don’t. Use wire strippers to do the job properly and your electrical system will thank you for it.
Sometimes they are called air wrenches or air guns. Impact wrenches are a mechanic’s best friend, typically using the power of compressed air to deliver high torque with zero effort.
A socket wrench lets you swap various heads to match the project your’re trying to complete. A quality socket wrench set is a go-to tool for anyone who does car work.
A multimeter is necessary for any vehicle electrical work. It indicates whether a wire is hot and how much juice it’s carrying.
Some nuts are impossible to reach with a normal socket wrench. A ratchet extender, though, attaches to your wrench and lets you loosen or tighten fasteners stuck in no man’s land.
Lug nuts and the like work best if you fasten them with just the right amount of torque. A torque wrench features numbers that help you make sure nuts are not too loose or too tight.
Sometimes, nuts are so rusty or cross-threaded that no amount of force will remove them. A nut splitter features a mean-looking metal tooth that splits the nut so that you can get back to work.
Flexible sockets are hinged, made to you help you wriggle that socket into ridiculously cramped engine compartments. They’re a handy weapon in the mechanic’s arsenal.
Sure, you’re not technically supposed to pry things with screwdrivers, but beefy flat-head screwdrivers do the trick. And of course, they're great for big screws, too.
Socket extensions are great, helping you to reach nuts that are wedged into the middle of that huge diesel rig. A locking extension means that the socket will stay in place instead of slipping off and making you wonder how you’ll ever dig it out of that big engine.
Like duct tape, WD-40 is a legendary go-to tool for many projects, and that includes in the garage. But use this stuff sparingly — a little goes a long way.
Spark plug pliers might be a one-trick pony, but they do their designated task with excellence. They have padded jaws that let you remove spark plugs without ruining the plug’s rubber boot.
Drip pans look like cookie baking sheets, but bigger. They’re the kind of tool you don’t realize you need until after you’ve made an ungodly mess that will forever stain your driveway.
A precision hook (and its cousin, the pick) will help you snag electrical connectors without damaging them. They are also good for snagging beef jerky from your fellow mechanics.
If that stuck bolt drives you to blows ... grab a dead blow mallet. These mallets have a softer coating so that you don’t destroy surfaces while you’re whacking away on that bolt that’s making you crazy.
A socket wrench has a ratcheting head that moves in small increments as you turn it. It means you can quickly adjust a fastener without having to reseat the wrench after every turn.
Zip ties are one of the world’s underrated tools. They make it very easy to permanently or temporarily secure all sorts of things, including wiring.
A scriber, such as a carbide-tipped scriber, will help you jot numbers and arrows and such on parts as you pull them out of an engine. This simple practice makes reassembly that much easier, even for experienced mechanics.
Electrical tape isn’t always a permanent solution, but it’s safe to use on wiring and won’t conduct electricity. Translation: Use it instead of duct tape so that you don’t fry something, like yourself.
A needle scaler is a power tool with multiple toothy needles mounted to the front. The oscillating needles make quick work of rust on car parts.
A lot of mechanics forgo gloves altogether, but their skin pays the price. A simple pair of mechanic's latex gloves are game changers, and when you’re done, you can just throw them away instead of trying in vain to wash them.
Use a set of crows foot attachments and you’ll be able to use your wrench just about anywhere, no matter how cramped the space.
A high-quality jack will help you quickly lift a car off of the ground for a safe working environment. A low-quality jack will lift the car up just long enough for you to crawl underneath, at which point it will fail and you will be crushed to death.
The impact gun, or air wrench, makes quick work of fasterners no matter how tight they might be. Compressed air versions are the most common, but there are hydraulic and electrical types, too.
A breaker bar looks like a long socket wrench. Its length helps you apply more torque with less effort — it’s a staple tool on tow trucks for that very reason.
Stubbed screwdrivers are shorter versions of regular screwdrivers. They are virtually indispensable when you’re working in cramped quarters.
A hose remover has a simple but critical job — removing hoses without ripping them to shreds. Just one or two uses will help this tool pay for itself.
Car ramps are simple inclined ramps that make it easy for you to get a vehicle off of the ground. They’re great for jobs like oil changes, but not really suitable for more serious work.
Locking pliers, or vise grips, have a locking mechanism that grabs and holds. These are extremely useful when you need an extra set of hands but have only your own.