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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
RG440
Instructor

I hear ya !, my pipe is called “COME ON” over its history….
warrene
Detailer

Don't need it often but when we do, my 3/4 air impact by Chicago Pneumatic will either get the bolt off or out, or bust it off, whichever comes first. Rust can he hell but that baby can deal with it.
Another great tool for regular slotted screws, is the split-blade & grip screwdriver, this will grip and hold any slotted screw so you can install it without dropping and losing, old cars have all slotted screws, if you want to maintain originality you have do deal with them. Find them on eBay.
toy83h2ssj53
Intermediate Driver

Extendable wand magnet. Working on a Tri-Carb Healy with the front and rear carbs close enough to other parts to cause interference problems trying to take out or put in fasteners, gives one a great sense of frustration without one of these handy gadgets for bringing back to light said fastener after it has disappeared somewhere that only a flashlight beam will find it.
toy83h2ssj53
Intermediate Driver

My bad, that's HEALEY for y'all.
RG440
Instructor

One other good tool maybe a few year out would be a brain implant with a rewind button on your temple that go’s back one minute to the last thing in my hand at the time…man would that be nice
Oldroad1
Technician

My rewind button won't work unless I use a hammer. Messed up alot of perfectly good hammers though.
farna
Advanced Driver

The only problem with MAPP gas is that it's not longer made! Methylacetylene-propadiene propane was made by Linde, a division of Union Carbide. They stopped manufacturing it in early 2008 for some reason. Hotter than propane (up to 5300 degrees F with oxygen, 3670 F in air -- propane is 3596 F in air, 4087 F with oxygen). True MAPP was often used by the HVAC industry for hard soldering. While it's only a tad over 70 F hotter in air, it was enough to make a difference! Much safer than inherently unstable acetylene (which gets as high as 6300 F). Bernz-O-Matic says their MAP-PRO gas gets up to 3730 F in air. In my experience the substitutes don't usually get as hot in air as the old MAPP though. I found the "3596 F in air" value on the Internet, but I'm skeptical. Thermadyne says MAP-PRO is 14% less effective than MAPP, but 10% more effective than Propane (so MAPP is about 24% better than propane). No temps were given. That sounds about right in my experience! You could do some light welding with MAPP, not recommended with MAP-PRO (or MAP -- only one P).
revv
New Driver

a heavy duty anvil vise is your all around best friend!!
Silvermane
Intermediate Driver

Youtube and Facebook. Despite all their faults and our revulsion at their actions, Youtube videos and Facebook's group pages for just about any car or hobby are great resources for finding info, videos, and other people who can help & teach you how to do or fix something.
Hamlet1016
New Driver

I agree with the impact screwdriver. Don't need it often, but when I do...... I use a compressor often and for a lot more than putting air in the tires. Loved seeing the posts remembering the Tappet Bros! Would never miss their show!
TheDrunkenWrenc
Pit Crew

Save your wrists and invest in an electric ratchet. I wrench as a day job and it's by far the most used tool in my drawer.
Whether you're a desk jockey or a tradesperson, we all seem to be at risk of carpal tunnel these days.
$100 for an electric ratchet will allow you to enjoy your hobby that much more.
Dan-S
Pit Crew

Hmm. I don't remember being asked. Musta missed the train? Maybe 40+ years of experience of being an auto tech and being in the group of the first several hundred ASE Master Techs isn't enough?
OK. I would say the most underrated tool is your own brain and common sense. Too many times we rely on asking others how to do something rather than either figuring something out ourselves or burying our faces in repair manuals. If we figure it out on our own, we should be able to remember it forever.
Physical tools then? OK. A set of top-quality, professional screw-drivers is probably the most underrated. Craftsman and other home & hobbyist 'rabbit clubs' don't cut it at a professional level. Even using professional screw drivers at home will eventually become evident and worth the added cost. You will wear a tip out before one breaks off. Also, professional screw drivers, like those from Snap-on, also have a hex where the shaft meets the handle. this makes it convenient for adding extra power by adding a long combination or box-end wrench. The handles are also extra strong and will take a lot of abusive hammering and almost never shatter. Anyway, like Craftsman, should a problem arise, you just take it back to it's authorized dealer and they will repair or replace while you wait.
Also, another handy screw-driver based tool is the large square-shaft screw driver a couple of feet long, or more. Many don't have industrial jobs where large slotted screws are used, but because of their high-tensile steel, shouldn't bend permanently or break when used as a pry bar. Professional tool dealers mostly frown on this usage, but just ask them how often they are damaged and need to be replaced. It's not their business to know how you use them, it IS their business to replaced them in case they are damaged. Ofcourse, if you modify a tool, that is their out.
RG440
Instructor

I have beautiful tools today just from buying broken Craftsman, Mac & Snap-On tools at yard sales. I first mention to the owners of this service and after their non interest, end up picking them up mostly for a quarter. I really like the no questions asked policy…

Danno
New Driver

I also value a good quality Pick Set in my toolbox but missing from the list is a quality digital voltmeter, or DVM.
BB-53
New Driver

How about an old VW Jack? An older and wiser body and fender friend showed me how to use one as a mini porta-a-power. If you can still find one, they are really handy.
uweschmidt
Instructor

An old Railroad Spike and a Rock
scheherazade
New Driver

Aside from my spelling error (surgeon's headlight, not "sturgeon's" head light),.. I love my sets (metric and SAE) of thread checkers. Not a gauge, but a "necklace" of multiple male/female bolt/nut fasteners. Worth every cent. steve
Tomwas
Intermediate Driver

Going by the first pic, can't believe someone still has a Audi 100ls in their garage... Had one back in 1975 that self destructed... Probably the worst car I have ever owned.. Was a pretty red sedan with black interior... Lord did it suck though...!!!😮
Wildturkey
Pit Crew

Lots of great tools mentioned above and below. To me I won't start a job without my magnetic parts tray. Perhaps it from my habit of putting things down and forgetting where, or my (very) slight case of OCD when it comes to knowing everything has its place and should be put there.
63vette63
Pit Crew

Living (and working) in the rust belt, a Mini-Ductor Venom (induction heater) is invaluable for freeing stubbornly rusted fasteners. No need for torches that can't be used safely around so many areas. If PB Blaster or any penetrating oil works, you know it wasn't that badly seized.
Oldroad1
Technician

Empty coffee cans work great for covering carburetors while working especially while grinding or cutting. I always leave the can on the whole time the hood is up without an air cleaner. Use painter's tape to cover the plenum when the carb is off too.
Robert_A
Pit Crew

An ultrasonic parts washer to clean up old carbs for barn find cars that haven't run in 25 years. And, in addition to an impact driver, possibly a couple of cordless drills with different bits, Torx, Phillips, etc. pre-installed, so one doesn't have to waste time changing bits.

And, in an ideal world, two or more tool chests, so that all tools have their individual drawers, labeled with the tool name. An inexpensive Brother label maker can usually be picked up at Costco, Sam's Club and Office Depot for around $30.00, and the labels look so much more professional than those labeled with a black Sharpie on a piece of masking or duct tape. And the label maker can always be used for dozens of things around the house, too.

Also, pre-planning the job, and setting out all the tools that could be possibly needed for the job, and keep them within arm's reach, rather than having to get up and search for them in the tool chest, making for a quicker job.
Furyous
New Driver

A magnet at the end of a long arm. Nothing worse that dropping a nut, hearing it ting ting as it falls but then fails to land on the floor
Gerryslo945
New Driver

What about the tools you use when you drop all those little nuts and bolts in the engine bay, under the car and in places that the human body was never made to fit. The most valuable tools in my garage are the telescoping magnet and the long handled flexible tube with four grabbing fingers at the end.
Majik
New Driver

One of my handy creations, I call my putter. Used when I'm putterin' around the property. I have half a dozen of these, consisting of various lengths of medium sized dowel up to wooden broomstick, which I've attached a threaded hook to one end. Good for flippin' stuff over or dragging a box out of a spider filled shed. I also have a few with a magnet on one end, cause I constantly drop stuff.
~S
MAXTHEAX
Intermediate Driver

Fully stocked bar and ten bottle cap removers hung in various spots around the garage.
br427
Intermediate Driver

Mechanics, and those that think they are, are the greatest abusers of tools that exist. I'd say a screwdriver is the most abused tool on the planet. I find the picks mentioned earlier and wobble extensions, as well as impact universals are some of the best things to own. Impact universals are priceless for adjusting Camber on Strut equipped vehicles while doing Alignments. Also, good magnets are great tools to own.
ConfuciusRacing
Detailer

Bahco Adjustable Jaw wrench, (commonly known as a cresent wrench) Wider jaw and I beam handle, Invented in Sweden as I recall, one I have has a removable jaw that can be re inserted so it can be used to grab pipes, yes a cresent style wrench that instantly becomes a pipe wrench...can't make this up, well designed tool, smooth edges and beautifully made for the hand.

Knipex Channel locks, made in Germany, the harder you pull, the tighter they grip, made for hex head or other rusty bits

4 in one screw driver, dual head standard and dual head philips,

all these were invaluable working in the engine room of Merchant Ships for a couple of decades and have uses in the home tool box too.



GrumpyOne
Intermediate Driver

Four Way Lug Wrench...

One for the shop and one in each vehicle you own/drive!

Them thar' wrenches that come as original equipment are next to useless on the road unless of course you have a fancy shmancy electric impact..
DPQ
New Driver

Sandon, does the beautiful yellow C1A Audi belong to you ? I sold my 72 for $11k a few years ago. It was a great riding car but the AC system was crap.
PhilHowell
Pit Crew

I need some kind of tool to access the quantum realm where I can find the tools I lay down and seconds later they're gone -- some never to return!
ccav
New Driver

at 65 years old the Milwaukee 3/8 battery driven ratchet is now my most valued aid. Working with my hands my whole life has taken its tole. Getting old sucks.
gpsuya
Advanced Driver

Most valuable...Definitely a Beer Fridge.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

I need to get an air compressor and some tools. I'll put that on my list.
johnammond
New Driver

"S" bend and "U" bend box wrenches. And while we are at it actual line wrenches (not just open end combo's) made for old school brake and fuel lines are indispensable. Standard and metric.
Q1werty2
New Driver

YouTube!
The "how to" knowledge at the world is at your fingertips. In first person perspective.

I find watching YouTube videos a prerequisite before starting any job, especially larger ones.
JohninNC
Instructor

Good sounding stereo is a good thing to have in the garage. Big section of cardboard to go under the oil drips. Electric blower to clear out the dust dirt and leaves.
JGeske
Instructor

Work-light with magnets in its base. The ability to slap a work-light to the frame of the vehicle, or any available metal surface, is much better than asking a friend/child to hold the light, or clamp it between the teeth. I own many magnetic lights in a variety of sizes. I once took a pen-sized one and stuck it to the coil spring to illuminate work on the ball joints. Added bonus, they double as a quick way to locate and then also pickup dropped fasteners and sockets in the engine bay.
Gl1
Pit Crew

Yea, magnetic lights are very cool! Just make sure you remember to remove it after your project! They can “drive away “ then fall off. Or if your lucky it will stay stuck and be found later!
Peter_Boniface
Pit Crew

As someone who knows just enough to be dangerous, a good mechanic is stool I can’t do without.
Gl1
Pit Crew

Hey guys! As a retired vocational teacher & ASE certified mechanic. Get in the habit of ALWAYS wearing your safety glasses & when necessary, hearing protection !
Note: I’m a new member so I hope this isn’t a duplicate message. Thanks
Vrika
Pit Crew

JIS (Japan Industry Standard) crosspoint screwdrivers. They are essential for working on Japanese cars, motorcycles and electronic gear. JIS crosspoint screws look like Philips, but have a single dot to identify them. If you grumble about damaging the screws when you use your Philips, It's because you're using the wrong tool. I sourced mine from Vessel Tools.
Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

@Vrika  I second those JIS screwdrivers. If you have  an Asian-built car there’s a difference and these are worth getting.
And for those of us with a variety of cars…with the Vessel brand (and maybe others) they stand out in the tool box with a unique colored blue-green handle…so you know what to reach for at a glance. 

dhaugh
Detailer

Archimedes, someone who inspires you to use your leverage skills by using wedges, pry bars and shims to get stubborn things to move. I believe his quote is "Give me a place to stand and I'll move the earth". And, the lever may precede the wheel though I'm not sure, would love to know which came first if you're interested in replying
MarkB
New Driver

Just last weekend I was telling my friends that the Sawzall was the greatest tool ever invented. I use it all the time.
okfoz
Advanced Driver

Some of the tools that I find invaluable are those tools designed to take apart interior panels without breaking them. The interior trim tools, wedges etc are a must have to me, especially with modern cars.
lewiswmx1a
New Driver

LOL I did not know what a BFH was when I was 16 at a job putting up Trolly Tracks at London Fog summer Job. When the foreman ask me to get the BFH.