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6 measuring tools you need in your garage

Measuring tools are the unsung heroes of most toolboxes, despite any jokes you’ve heard about how “real mechanics don’t use those.” However, the fact is that precision matters when doing things the right way and building something that will last. Whether fabricating from raw materials or making adjustments to an already assembled engine, here are six tools just about every home DIY enthusiast should have in their toolbox drawers.

 

Read the full article on Hagerty.com:

https://www.hagerty.com/media/maintenance-and-tech/6-measuring-tools-you-need-in-your-garage/

Replies (29)

Replies (29)

I seem to need my tire pressure gauge fairly often.

Detailer

one other item, very simple and very useful is a square. the most versatile would be the "combination" square which consists of a 12" steel rule, with adjustable position attachments providing, 90 deg, 45 deg, and adjustable protractor

Intermediate Driver

I would be lost without my "no contact" IR thermometer. Checking for a high temperature on an auto transmission or rear axle. Or that one cold exhaust port, or hot brake drum.

Pit Crew

I use electronic calipers many times a day (I'm an engineer), but at home not so often. I have a dial caliper at home, because an electronic one always seems dead when I need it at home. 

I also agree with the multimeter, but I finally got a good used Fluke; the cheaper ones kept dying on me. They are great for a quick alternator check- check the battery before starting and it's about 12.8 or so, and start the car and it should jump to 14 or so. If it doesn't, you have a bad alternator. Not a definitive test, but it has always worked for me.

 

New Driver

Kyle, nice piece! But those pictured are not vernier calipers -- they don't have vernier scales. Back when digital calipers didn't exist and dial calipers were very expensive, we ordinary mechanics made do with vernier calipers (and kept them next to our slide rules.) 

New Driver

“when you can measure what

you are speaking about, …

you know something about it;

but when you cannot measure it, …

your knowledge is of a meagre

and unsatisfactory kind…” Lord Kelvin 1883

Navigator

I must add two more essential measuring tools.  One to measure the shank size of bolts and nuts in SAE & Metric.  The other is a thread pitch gauge.  I have thread pitch gauges for both metric and SAE, but use the metric gauge far more often. 

Intermediate Driver

U FORGOT EXTRA LARGE HAMMER. 

great for car aggregation!!!

Pit Crew

I would like to make a case for the humble sewing flexible measuring tape. These things are great for getting overall length of irregularly shaped things like brake lines or wire runs. Also when you need to position something like a luggage rack and you want it evenly positioned on both sides of the car at distance X from the windshield along a curve the flexible tape measure comes into its own. Worth every penny and you can measure yourself for new pants and a shirt, or do the Navy "rope and choke" body fat measurement as well.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Measure-Flexible-Measurement-Centimetre-60-inch%EF%BC%88White%EF%BC%89/dp/B07...

Intermediate Driver

The caliper is being used improperly. The internal jaws go against the outer edges of an opening (or in this case two openings).

Intermediate Driver

One thing that should added to your torque wrench suggestion. ALWAYS RETURN TO ZERO after use. This is the biggest reason these end up no more than ratchets after a while. 

Passenger

Technically, those are electronic or digital calipers. No vernier scale present.

Passenger

Don’t forget a set of micrometers and a set of inside and outside calipers. Regarding the “Vernier” Calipers heading you are actually showing digital calipers. vernier calipers have no display and no dial. Vernier is a linear scale that utilizes a larger scale of .000” to .025” measured against the primary scale to get an accurate reading of the measurement down to .001”

Navigator

A micrometer, tire pressure gauge, compression tester, vacuum gauge and a digital infrared thermometer are also essential for the average car guy.

Passenger

When using a caliper you can get a bad reading if you push to hard. They are good for getting close but when I really want to know I use a micrometer.

Pit Crew

Two increasingly useful tools to have in addition to a multimeter are a high quality OBDII scanner and an oscilloscope. Pretty much every car made after 1996 is going to eventually have failing electronics and these two gizmos, in addition to a multimeter, can help figure out what is working and what isn't.

 

I really like the Autel AP200 OBDII scanner (~$70) which is just a dongle and a phone app and for an oscilloscope, the Pico series that can be had for less than $200 for a 2 channel unit. The Pico units use a PC as the display so they can be held to a low cost and offer world class performance. An oscilloscope is really just a souped up multimeter.

Intermediate Driver

I always have a rafter square chose. 

Intermediate Driver

I have all 6 and more. What do I win?  😉

Passenger

Angle gauge! 

Hagerty Employee

Excellent edit!

New Driver

No one is going no mention a timing light to measure timing (hence the name timing light)? Also, a carb air flow tool? 

Pit Crew

"I'll probably only use it just this one time", you're thinking when you buy the tool.  And then you realize later how many times you've used it and how you ever got through a project without it.  Can't think of how many times that's happened with some tools I've purchased new or used.

Pit Crew

I have a magnetic multi-angle bubble level stuck to my toolbox, which is great for chassis set up. And if you are going to use feeler gauges for valve adjustment, get a good set of go/no-go's. When you get deep into engine building, you'll need a quality leak-down checker (which can also be used to set the initial barrel valve open point on a vintage Enderle fuel injection unit.)

Intermediate Driver

Pretty sure those aren't "vernier" (named after a guy named Vernier) calipers. The Vernier part would be the scales on a non- digital measuring tool which allow for a visible, readable fine scale. Those are digital calipers. Just sayin'

New Driver

Add vac gauge, pressure gauge, thread gauge, micrometers, and high and low temp thermometers. All should be dual purpose metric and English.

The fact of the matter is "You don't know where you are at if you don't know where you are at."

Jim

Pit Crew

I do a lot of my own work, and wholeheartedly agree with this list.  It could certainly be expanded, but these are the basics.  One thing I take some issue with is the torque wrench as shown.  A torque wrench is a great, and many times necessary tool.  My perspective - not that it's 100% accurate all the time - is that a beam style torque wrench should be more accurate than a "clicker."  It is easy for clicker's to get out of calibration, and the user doesn't know it.

 

New Driver

Great choices, but one could also add a couple of different length straight edges and a screw size gauge. Tom O

Passenger

Yup. Got 'em all....

New Driver

All good choices, but one could add a couple of different length strait edges, and a screw size gauge also.  Tom O

Passenger