How Well Do You Really Know Your Auto Shop Tools?

By: Jacqueline Samaroo

Bottle jacks, scissor jacks and hydraulic floor jacks can all be used to raise a vehicle, but it's the job of jack stands to keep the vehicle elevated. Jack stands are rated according to the maximum weight they can bear.

Rust isn't the only thing a needle scaler can remove from automotive parts. It's very good at chipping away caked-on dirt, paint and mill scale (hence its name). Mill scale is a flaky, bluish-black coating which forms on hot iron or steel and often has to be cleaned away before parts are worked on or painted.

The engine crane or engine hoist can lift the engine out of a vehicle, but it's not meant to continue holding the engine while it's inspected or worked on. For that, the engine should be transferred to an engine stand.

A timing light may be referred to as a timing gun when it's shaped like a pistol. This design makes the gadget fit better in your hand and in the confined spaces of the engine bay.

Using an oil drip pan does more than keep the auto-shop floor free of grease. The collected oil is recyclable, since it can be filtered by certain recycling centers and reused. Some centers will even pay for used car oil brought to them!

Creepers come in various designs with features such as padding, a raised headrest and the ability to fold up and be locked into position as a seat. Some also feature variable height settings for perfect positioning and maximum comfort when working.

An LED headlamp is an affordable choice when dark work spaces, such as a vehicle's engine bay, need to be illuminated while repairs are carried out. Plus, it does not generate much heat, so it won't leave you hot-headed!

Sockets are typically put to use with ratcheting socket wrenches. They come in various sizes for use with fasteners of different measurements.

Nut splitters can save plenty of time, energy and frustration when dealing with a rusted or damaged nut. The device is placed into position around the nut and screwed until its tooth cracks the nut in two.

The crowbar is a steel bar used as a lever for prying things apart. It's generally well-made and can last for a very long time with minimal maintenance. Taking care of a crowbar usually means not getting it wet or drying it off as soon as possible if it does. It should also not be put under so much strain that its shaft bends.

It's often necessary to clean vehicle parts both before and after working on them. That's because dirt, grease, residues and rust make it difficult to work on a part in the first place and can interfere with how well the parts work once they're fitted back in place.

Many auto mechanics prefer air-powered tools to electric ones, since air-powered tools tend to be more powerful. Some air-powered (or pneumatic) tools frequently used in an auto shop are drills, impact wrenches, air hammers and needle scalers.

Before driving a vehicle up onto ramps, care should be taken to ensure that the wheels are centered behind the ramps. Once the vehicle is up on the ramps, centering of the wheels should be checked once more. If they're not properly centered, then the vehicle should be backed off and the ramps adjusted to a better position.

The wheel chock may look like a simple device, but it's a very important safety tool when a vehicle is on an incline. One such instance is when the front wheels of the vehicle are up on ramps and wheel chocks are used behind the back wheels to keep the vehicle stable.

Many underhood lights are designed with magnets to attach them to the inside of a vehicle's hood. Another methods includes padded hooks so that the light can be attached to the edges of the hood without scratching the paint on the vehicle's surface.

The large head of a rubber mallet lets it deliver gentle blows over a wide surface area. Rubber mallets are often used in instances when you want to protect the material being struck from forceful blows which could mar or damage it.

Safety goggles can protect your eyes, but there are times when protection for the other parts of your face is also required. At those times, a full face shield can be used. It can protect your face from chemical spatter, heat, glare and flying debris when drilling.

Much of the damage that happens to a spark plug's boot or wire is caused by use of the wrong tool to grip the boot when the plug is being pulled out. The boot and wire of a spark plug are less likely to be damaged if a pair of spark plug pliers is used.

Fasteners, which hold trim in place, tend to be hidden from view so as to keep the vehicle looking as streamlined as possible. Working with a trim removal tool to loosen these fasteners is a good idea, since it will not damage the trim or the material under it.

Properly inflated tires will wear much more evenly than if they are over- or under-inflated. Plus, under-inflated tires are proven to cause a vehicle to consume excess fuel.

The hydraulic shop press is a compact piece of equipment which delivers a great deal of force to bend and shape metal. It's not uncommon for an auto shop to have a larger free-standing shop press and a smaller desk-mounted one (known as an arbor press).

An automotive stethoscope can be used to diagnose problems in vehicle systems which have internal moving parts—most commonly, the engine. It's typically sold with a detachable horn and probe to better locate where an unusual sound is coming from.

A bent-handle flex-head ratchet can get into tight spots and turn fasteners from different angles. As with other tools, the fact that it's bent means that it is sometimes referred to as offset.

One side of an auto body hammer's head is typically flat, but the other end comes in a variety of styles. These styles are used to name the hammer, with common varieties being pick, chisel, claw and cross peen auto body hammers.

A cordless, electric impact wrench is a very convenient tool to have in a repair shop. It can be used anywhere in the building without having to worry about the cord running out of length or getting entangled in other objects. You just have to remember to keep the battery charged.

The multimeter is a diagnostic tool which comes in both analog and digital versions. It can be used with both AC and DC to measure voltage, current and resistance.

The tire changer saves plenty of time when taking a tire off and placing a tire on a rim. It should only be used by someone who is trained to use it. Some manufacturers will offer to train auto-shop employees in how to safely and effectively use the tire changer.

The scriber, or scribing tool, has a tip made of very hard material which is resistant to wearing and will remain sharp for a long time. Materials used to make the tips of scribers include tungsten carbide, tool steel and hardened steel. Some scribers are made with a tiny industrial diamond mounted in a steel tip.

The bench vise is one of the most common type of vises used by both professionals and amateurs. It features a clamp so that it can be tightly secured to the edge of the bench.

Oil filter wrenches come in various designs, but they all serve the same purpose: to make it easier to remove an oil filter. This can be a challenging job without the right tool, since the outside of the filter tends to be slick with oil, while a buildup of grime holds the filter firmly in place, making it hard to turn.

Although it will not provide as much torque as a longer screwdriver, the stubby screwdriver gets put to plenty of use in an auto shop. It's a good tool to have when a fastener is located in a confined space with very little room above the fastener.

Calipers are used for taking internal and external measurements of objects. They are not always easy to read, however, which is why a digital caliper displaying the measurement on a screen is such a handy device.

Dollies are made in a wide range of sizes and curvature. They can be used when creating a new part or when reshaping a damaged part.

A voltage tester, or test light, is sold in two varieties. The first is the contact type, which requires the tester to be placed directly on the item being tested. The second safer option is the non-contact type, which only needs to be brought up close to the item.

The inspection camera is a type of borescope, very much like the endoscope a doctor uses. Some inspection cameras feature their own screen for viewing images of the area being inspected, while others are designed to be linked to a separate device, such as a phone or computer.

Funnels can be used when pouring all kinds of liquids. Care should be taken, however, not to use the same funnel for all liquids (oils, coolant and water, for example).

The air hammer (or air chisel) is driven by pneumatic power and is very useful for cutting sheet metal during restoration work. The air hammer is most often designed so that it can be used with chisel heads of various sizes.

A suction cup dent puller is an easy, convenient and inexpensive way to fix dents on a vehicle. The suction cup dent puller may not be the best repair option when it comes to large dents, dents which result in paint damage and dents in locations where electrical components are behind the dented panel.

Hydraulic floor jacks vary in size, maximum weight capacity and the material from which they are made. The basic design is the same, however, with a piston pushing liquid in a cylinder to create sufficient force to raise the vehicle.

The two most common styles for the tip of a screwdriver are slotted and Philips, since they're also the most common screwheads used. Tip styles that are seen less often (such as the Torx) are meant to discourage consumers or untrained persons from disassembling or trying to work on certain equipment.

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About This Quiz

Gear up and get your engine revving to take on the ultimate auto-shop tools identification quiz! Many people enjoy working on their own vehicle whenever minor issues arise. They take pride in knowing that they're able to fix the problem themselves without the need to seek professional assistance. What cannot be denied, however, is that some jobs simply need the skill, know-how and experience of the auto mechanics in a repair shop. Importantly, too, they have the tools to get the job done right the first time!

Auto mechanics have an impressive lineup of tools at their disposal to carry out regular vehicle maintenance; diagnose engine problems; perform major repair work and any other job a client requires of them. Quite a few of these tools will look familiar to the average person, but others are so specialized that even the most avid at-home car doctor might not recognize them. They range from small hand tools to large, fixed pieces of equipment, and each one has special functions auto repairers know how to take full advantage of. Do you? Here's a chance to prove that you know more than just a thing or two when it comes to auto-shop tools. Take the quiz!

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