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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

According to you: 10 of the most underrated tools

Last month I asked members of the Hagerty Community which was the most underrated tool in their collection. The answers covered the entire spectrum of automotive repair, so the ten examples listed here may not necessarily be suited for your particular project.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/lists/according-to-you-10-of-the-most-underrated-tools/
146 REPLIES 146
audiobycarmine
Technician

All great choices! I’d add a small long-handled magnet, unless it’s been listed earlier.

How about thoughtful consideration and patience? OK — they’re actually under-used.

Many of you will remember the beloved Magliacci brothers’ favourite saying: “ Unencumbered by the thought process”. I miss them too.
Cincylance
Pit Crew

Exactly what I was going to suggest! The magnet on a stick is invaluable!
4wheel2wheel
Intermediate Driver

Agreed, that along with a 24in.spring loaded 4 prong gripper tool in the event the item dropped is not magnetic. A dab of chassis grease in a socket will help keep a fastener in place for those inch away applications.
Oh yes and my 24in. long 3/8 square shaft large wooden handled screwdriver which serves as the best precision pry bar I've ever used
Bmike
Detailer

Agree with the long screwdriver, but prefer Craftsman. Can always turn it in after exceeding its performance envelope.
Robert_A
Pit Crew

That used to be true for Craftsman tools, but since Sears sold the brand, I've heard that the lifetime replacement program for broken tools is gone. Craftsman tools and power equipment are now sold by Several retailers, including Lowe's and Ace Hardware, and, supposedly, they did not want to deal with the paperwork for replacing broken tools sold by Sears, so the new owners of the brand dropped the policy.
SJM1
Intermediate Driver

Just replaced a 50 year old Craftsman ratchet (purchased at Sears) at Lowes under Craftsman warranty. The wrench is a current model. No questions asked. Paperwork done in 2 minutes.
The "lifetime warranty" is still in effect.
Why get rid of it, when it was the main reason a lot of us bought Craftsman in the first place?
Ace and Lowes both replace Craftsman tools under warranty.
Oldroad1
Technician

I tried to warranty a Craftsman 1/4 drive universal socket and was turned away by Ace.

PhilHowell
Pit Crew

I've tried replacing broken Craftsman 1/4" and 3/8" ratchets at Lowes and was turned away both times, with them stating, "We no longer honor the old Sears lifetime warranty."
Donnie
New Driver

I don't have a 4 prong gripper, but should. Great stocking stuffer.
coop
Intermediate Driver

Same here. BUT my advice is make sure it's a good quality magnetic pickup. Else if you pull it out of a tight space, you might find the magnet is now missing as well.
Bunka
Detailer

A long flexible handle magnet. I've lost more than one spark plug trying to get it either in or out of the forward cylinders of a 4 cylinder air cooled VW or Porsche. If you don't remove the carbs and intake manifolds, it's done by braille. You can snake the magnet around the manifold and into the sheet metal opening to get an escaped run away plug.
MattK
Detailer

Click and Clack, The Tappet Brothers, Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Boy were they great. The only thing on NPR I would go out of my way to hear. So much wisdom, wit and humor on life and cars. Your right I really miss them.
Rick2
Instructor

Three cheers for Click & Clack!
Oldroad1
Technician

Blue painter's tape. Tear off a square stick it on your socket then push in a bolt or a nut. They are held firmly in the socket so you can thread them into dark and far away places.
danoreilly
New Driver

You can never have enough different types of "specialty" pliers. Long needlenose, long needlenose with 45 degree bend, long needlenose with 90 degree bend, you get the idea. I've saved many a cuss word and much time by being able to reach or hold that one little thing you can't reach with anything else.
GL70
Pit Crew

Curved jaw needle nose pliers
Historian
Detailer

Never used a MAPP torch, but do use a propane torch fairly often. My Dremel is a tool I use a lot. Their 90-degree attachment came in very handy to doing surgery on my dash recently, when the Dremel couldn't get in there at the right angle on its own. I have a magnet taped to a vacuum hose that has saved my bacon several times when bolts dropped into unreachable places. The impact screwdriver I bought was useless, and it's hardened bits shattered on the first use. Had better luck using the Dremel to cut a new slot, put in a big screwdriver, then clamp vice-grips onto the shaft of that, and turn the screw that way.
DT
Advanced Driver

As with any tool, You need to buy a "Quality impact driver". Cheap tools are a waste of money and time.
Robert_A
Pit Crew

I certainly wouldn't buy any cheap tool sets from Walmart, Menard's, or Publisher's Clearing House, but, on the other hand, if you're not a professional mechanic, there's no need to buy outrageously expensive tools form Snap-On or MAC. A weekend mechanic can likely find a lot of useful, good quality tools at Harbor Freight Tools, which has everything from the el-cheapo stuff, all the way up to their
Icon brand, much of which has been verified and praised by many guys doing tool and equipment tests and reviews on YouTube.
F360Spider
Detailer

A box of disposable lint free towels. I go through these like crazy.
myriadpro
New Driver

DANGER!!!!

Don't shop vac a carburetor or spilled gas. You'll go boom!
Cincylance
Pit Crew

Speaking from personal experience?
Fun-Drivin
New Driver

Ouch. Hope all is well! I just bought a new shop vac and that was one of the warnings posted on the side label (removable). Do NOT use on flammable liquids!
TennDLB
Pit Crew

And my favorite “What the heck was I thinking”, cleaning a cordless drill with spray brake cleaner and then hit the trigger to dry out tool - flambé! Remained semi-calm and smothered flames out.
DT
Advanced Driver

I would think that would go without saying ?????
Roger2
New Driver

A camera, so you can remember what it looked like before you took it apart.
RG440
Instructor

Exactly! It’s always a first on this end…
Fun-Drivin
New Driver

Amen to that. I frequently take a picture or video of the item I'm taking apart. Even if i'm going to "put it back together in just a moment". Just a moment becomes a week later when I realize I need to get parts to finish the job and the picture is then invaluable. I can usually remember for "just a moment" but for a week... NOT.
DT
Advanced Driver

Best idea Ever !!!! I always take good pics before I take things apart. Saved my Butt more than a few times 🙂
DAY
Detailer

I definitely have found that very useful on my 1983 ''antique'' Chevy Van Brake Drum assemblies! All those springs and stuff never seem to want to go back where they belong!
Studenorton
Instructor

Wot no Abingdon King Dick chain rivet extractor? C'mon man. Just for the logo on the toolbox.
Also, there's a "slide hammer" puller that is used for certain injectors -- I once found out the hard way that you cannot change a Lucas "timing chest" points plate, unwarped, without one.
MoparMan
Advanced Driver

LOL! I actually HAD to look this one up, to see if it was for real; and it is! Apparently, though, they are made in the U.K. since 1856, and probably shipping to USA would be costly! 🙂
Rbfara
Pit Crew

The tool I have come to lean on consistently is a USB rechargeable 500 lumen head lamp. I have several of them. Old Milwaukee used to be the only quality game in town. An excellent albeit expensive unit. But now harbor fright a great one too that is much less expensive.
I’m often hunched over my work blocking out the overhead lighting, or I’m in a situation where I need both hands, or I am working outside looking up with bright sun backlighting where I’m focusing my attention or maybe, I’m just old.
But these head lamps and replacing my old flickering warm fluorescent four footers with new 500k LED shop lights (you don’t even need to switch the ballasts) are game changers for me.
Yes the 500k LED’s make the shop look like an operating theater, but sometime when building a motor, that is exactly what it is.
scheherazade
New Driver

good light!! I'm esp fond of my surgereon's headlight. steve
TonyT
Technician

A capable air compressor. Even in this age of battery powered everything, you still can't air up a tire without compressed air.
F360Spider
Detailer

7-mil orange disposable gloves. I won't touch a tool without putting them on. 7-mil to protect my skin from all the things that want to bleed me and orange so that I know when my gloves are contaminated with grease or oil. 

RedBarchetta3
Pit Crew

Magnetic grabber. For when that little screw drops “somewhere down there”.
DublD
Intermediate Driver

YouTube. In the old days, you had to experiment, or find a knowledgeable guy to talk to, or dig up (buy?) a repair manual. Now, you can pretty much find a video on just any repair. Especially great for a one-off repair you'll never do again......YouTube has saved me countless hours and dollars on electronic issues and sensors on my modern rides.
motorhead19
New Driver

Though it was mentioned in passing, I have to highlight the angle grinder (with metal cutoff disc). Rustbelt mechanics know it is often the only way to disassemble anything under the car!
milo2021
Intermediate Driver

There are no underrated tools when you are in the middle of a project and come up against a problem which some tool that made it into the tool box but was never used became the solution. I collect tools even if I only use it once it will be there for me always. You just never know what you will need. I bought a set of long handled needle point pliers with different angled jaws from Tractor Supply (inexpensive) that turned out to help me several times...who knew.
46HudsonPU
Intermediate Driver

How about the long lost, seldom found (or seldom achieved): 'Organization' - i.e., putting things (tools, parts, etc..) where they belong, BEFORE they leave your hand?
Or, if in the middle of work - 'putting it (whatever 'it' is) back in the caddy, tray or area (again, before it leaves your hand) you've selected for the tools you are currently using on that 'project' - to save untold time 'looking for it', time and again?!?

TennDLB
Pit Crew

And when your under a vehicle, hanging upside down under dash, trying to stop fluid leaking, etc you can tell your assistant (the wife, son, friend, annoying relative, etc) exactly where to find and bring that one tool you did not have ready…
240ZV8
Intermediate Driver

How about the self customized single purpose tool. I have a few modified box/open end wrenches with ground down walls, sides, bends for that one manifold bolt, speedometer gear housing retaining bolt, etc
TennDLB
Pit Crew

Yep, used to make my own line wrenches by cutting box end wrenches …
Bench-Racing
New Driver

A box of single edge razor blades. So many uses. New sharp ones for clean cuts on tubing and trim. Used not so sharp for ones for scraping or troweling sealant or body putty. The camera on your cell phone is also super useful for documentation, remembering what wire goes where or under dash details. Instead of personally going upside-down with a flashlight attempting to get details from impossibly deep buried dark locations. Thank you to all the other contributors for their great input, I learned a lot
Best
Charles
Woody's Custom Shop
acpracing
Pit Crew

Crowfoot wrenches and balljoint separators. A $100 shot-filled hammer. Also love all the others and especially excited to try the magnet taped to a vacuum hose!
jrmedsel
Pit Crew

A distributor wrench is a tool that, each time I use it, reminds me of the satisfaction that comes from a tool perfectly designed to do one specific task. It's the 1/2 in. box wrench with the long handle that's bent in just the right way to reach the often-inaccessible bolt that tightens down the distributor. My wrench slides right onto the bolt head as if it were magic...
spdfreak
Intermediate Driver

90 deg die grinder with 3M Roloc pad and discs for cleaning, grinding and polishing. I use them daily working on motorcycle restos. Also, a ultra fine brass wire wheel in a die grinder for cleaning up threads and other surfaces you don't want to be too aggressive with- like bolt heads you don't want to take the plating off of or chrome pieces.
DublD
Intermediate Driver

In addition to my YouTube comment regarding repairs and diagnosing, it's also very handy for determining if I have all the tools and small parts. Giving myself a timeline for the repair, figuring out a starting point, especially if it's the kids cars and they haven't arrived yet. Also makes me look more knowledgeable when I can dig right in and know what I'm talking about!!