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Hagerty Employee

6 essential hand tools for every DIY toolbox | Hagerty Media

These days, it's never been easier to get into performing your own automotive work at home. Walk the aisles of just about any home center or parts store and there will be tidy, credit-card-swipe solutions that can quickly transform you from tool-less to fit to be dangerous.
Pit Crew

AND, the old standbys......Visegrips, WD40 and Duct Tape!!!!
Intermediate Driver

I started working on cars well over 40 years ago as a hobbyist- starting with the basics on this list and typically the cheapest you could find (quantity over quality). Then you learn lessons the hard way at the same time disposable income improves so you begin the replacing them with higher quality tools. Next, the process continues by adding specialty tools the pros use and think - “how did I ever live without xxxxx!?” With that in mind, I’d like to see a list/article about “tools you never knew you needed”. I would love to hear what the community thinks.

I'll go first: Induction Heater! You think it's expensive until you realize it has removed all possibility of accidently burning a car up with a torch.

Don't have one yet, but I'm sure I will run into a job this summer where I need one. I love Amazon. 🙂

@RW68RSConv - Good idea! I'll keep an eye on these comments and might run with that for a future article.

You forgot to mention one of the most important tools (IMHO) for your shop/garage....a stereo! Keeps you out there that much longer.
New Driver

On top of the beer fridge.
New Driver

Before contemplating essential tools of the trade; from experience there are three basic items to have when it comes to restoring cars. First and foremost is a good quality vice secured to a solid workbench, Second; a litre of transmission fluid might be harder to find on someone’s workbench; but it works wonders when dealing with seized and rust-encrusted fasteners, and can transform your cheap box wrench into a magic instrument. Through years of trial and error I’ve found transmission fluid far more effective than brand name products marketed to “loosen things up”. And thirdly is that item you’ll likely never find in a restorer’s workplace; a four litre jug of lactic acid (vinegar being my choice of preference). Let a badly oxidized part sit submerged in a bath of vinegar for several hours then polish it up a bit and you’ll think you have a NOS part in your hand.


Good food for thought, thanks. Never thought of the punches and had never seen that particular gasket scraper.  Too bad too, as I just bought a ‘better’ quality razor blade scraper for a current project. 
But I’m a little bothered by those pictures.  Your fingernails are just a little too clean and there were no bandaids visible. Come on Corvairs never leak or bite back?  😉


"...for and aspiring mechanics and veterans alike."
Intermediate Driver

My flare nut wrenches don't see a lot of use but better to have them on hand than to rush out in haste. One tool that is really useful if you work on older motorcycles is a hand impact driver for those stubborn but easily stripped Phillips head screws. I have also been getting a lot of use out my work platform since my current project is a truck and you need a step up to reach stuff
Intermediate Driver

didn't know I needed a rubber mallet until I got one. So many things need a little persuasion, and with a rubber mallet you can do that without destroying anything.
A decent LED head light, that's not too heavy. Find one where the batteries are in a separate case, because they make things heavy and bulky on your forehead.
A cheap set of pointy, hand held picks. The cheapo ones are OK. Lot's of situations call for a skinny thing to poke something around.
A lap top computer with a wi-fi connection.

If you like a rubber mallet I think you’d love a plastic dead-blow hammer. I have two sizes and find myself using one or the other...a lot. 

And lest we forget....




First and foremost is a really good extendable magnet for all the stuff I fumble and secondly a heck of a good magnetic portable light source so i can see where the bolt/nut/parts ended up and if all else fails the tool @Keith1 mentioned to calm the waters in the shop.LOL R


Hmmm... Uh, Kyle; some people might be confused by your use of the word Hammer for the device used to hit objects. Many of my brethren call those a Ford Wrench. Unless you are particularly mean person then you might call it a Desoto wrench or a Mopar wrench, because they get used a lot on those types of cars. 🙂 🙂 🙂

"Yes, Sir?"
"This is NOT working. It's time to break out the 'Billy Baroo' Ford Wrench!"

Intermediate Driver

For traveling use: small volt-ohm-current meter to chase down electric faults and a small soldering iron to fix some of those faults.  My needs often centered around maintaining a CB radio (anyone else remember those?) external wiring, lead wires, and antenna.