What's that one tool you never thought you needed until you used it?
No I'm not talkin' about torque wrenches, voltmeters, or anything else that's almost mandatory to easily (and safely!) restore/repair your vehicle. What I am asking about are the tools that people don't necessarily talk about, but make a huge impact on your vehicle.
Like my new (well, previously loved via Amazon) Bissell Spotclean machine that works wonders with a little hot water and carpet cleaning solution. I've owned my Ranger since new, but after 10 years it seems like every piece of fabric was looking a little off. The black cloth was looking kinda grey, the grey parts weren't getting clean anymore, etc. and it was starting to annoy me. The catch tank is proof that something was indeed a little off, and that this was $120 well spent. VERY well spent.
Now that I have it, I am also letting friends use it too. I have a longtime buddy (since high school) that is an UberEats driver and his Nissan Versa is getting kinda nasty. I told him to come to my home (since I work from home now, thanks Hagerty!) and I will show him how to use it and he can clean his car for free!
Saving a friend a $100 or so on a needed cleaning of his "mobile office", and its a friend that could really use the savings? Well that's priceless to me. 😉
I am a fanatic about keeping my vehicles clean. Years ago I found a product called "The Absorber" Not a chamois or a terry cloth, it is made from something called PVA. It works just like a chamois but is by far the best drying product I have ever used on my cars. Use it, ring it out, roll it up and store it back in it's plastic case. I keep one in the trunk of each car and the crazy thing is that I bet I have had the same ones for nearly ten years now and they continue to perform flawlessly. Some of the best money I ever spent.
My offering is a tool I've used more for non-automotive purposes, but still can have plenty of auto-related uses: an air compressor. I lived for many years thinking an air compressor and air tools were really specialized equipment. Then it came time to do a remodeling project and I purchased an air compressor in order to use a finish nailer. Suddenly my eyes opened to all of the possibilities: airing up tires (bicycle, motorcycle, auto), airing up large inflatables such as boating toys, air wrenches, including those for removing lug nuts, etc. I even use it periodically to air-sweep out the garage as it's especially great at getting in tight spaces, under the tool chest on wheels, and in the expansion joints of concrete. There are a lot of other potential uses, especially if people are doing body work.
Almost every tool I own I acquired because I knew I needed it. There have been splurges and honestly I could still live without them if I had to, though it's nice that I don't have to.
For years I kept a pipe in my toolbox that would fit over the end of my ratchet for leverage. Then I discovered telescoping breaker bars. Still have my pipe though - old habits.
OBD II tester. Hate computer controlled cars, but finally broke down and bought a tester that also checks transmission codes. Paid for itself right away by pinpointing which of the fuel injectors on our Trailblazer was acting up. Also pointed out problems on our 96 Chevy K1500 and our 2007 Toyota Avalon. Handy little gadget!!
Brake disc removal clamp. No more stuck rotors!
Bore scope or similar camera. Inexpensive and a lifesaver. Used to make sure I got all the chips out of the cylinder when I had to install a thread insert for a spark plug in an aluminum head. And to look in other cramped spaces on the car where my big head won't fit or my glasses don't work!
I have to agree with Tim. An air compressor. I moved to a rural location in 1995 and quickly realized that I needed one when I had a low tire. I had to switch to my compact spare (which I hate) so I could drive to town to get the tire fixed. While in town, I bought a compressor, 100 ft of hose and a kit with a tire chuck and a blow gun. Best money I ever spent.
Phil in TX
without a doubt it has to be my I Pad. I scan the internet for parts. I look at how to videos. I take pictures of my project tear downs. Use it as a second set of eyes ie. setting my bell housing center while I turned the crank by hand. OBD II device? Sure download an app. Angle finder yup download an app. Music while working on the car, yup.
And years ago my dear wife wanted the I Pad for me as a gift. I refused and she bought it for me anyway. I’m also using it now looking over Hagerty articles.
1/2 inch electric impact driver. Never thought I would really need one, but since I no longer have an air compressor, an electric impact gun was a necessary purchase for removing the electric clutch on my lawn tractor, but has proved invaluable for a variety of jobs. Money well spent.
A lifetime of tools. So many to choose from. But some items were late to the tool box. Oddly, a set of cheap (HF) trim sticks. Should have bought them years ago. A cheap handheld vacuum- brake bleeder / fluid sucker etc. Use it all the time.
I too have a little shampooing device such as the one you are talking about Sajeev & it is INCREDIBLE. I got it from my father upon his passing (It is an older version of some sort) & I use it EVERY SINGLE TIME on my vehicles when I put them up for sale (as well as when I 1st acquire them). NEVER thought I would need one, but wouldn't sell a vehicle now before using it!
I'm a former Carwash owner and detailer. I can't believe I didn't figure out YEARS ago how awesome a gas leaf blower is to "pre-dry" my car! I used to drive it around the block after wash but water still comes out of the cracks and you pick up dirt on the wet body also, risking scratching.
After washing (in the shade, of course) I walk around the car blowing from top to bottom, leaving enough beads on the paint so I can use the synthetic chamois after...
AND, for the 20" chrome knock-off wire wheels on my Clenet Series 1, I spray the rims first with distilled water so they dry spot-free!!!!
I bought a harbor freight gasket punch set with a clear plastic top so you can see the hole line up. At the time I thought $35 was way too much but now I don’t know what I would do without it.