Can You Name All These Items From a Mechanic’s Toolbox?
By: Ian Fortey
Image: LeoPatrizi/E+/Getty Images
About This Quiz
Being a mechanic is no easy task. Fixing a car is a daunting task for any of us but imagine having to fix every car. That's a lot of cars. That's a lot of skill. And that's a heck of a lot of tools. From the radio to the brakes to the A/C and everything in between, there are all kinds of systems in a car that can go haywire, and that means a lot of tools to try to fix them.
Back in the day, it was as simple as having some pliers, wrenches and the odd screwdriver to get a car fixed. Of course, back in the day, you could crank a car to get it running. Nowadays you have computer systems in your car that run every system and can diagnose problems almost immediately. You've got cutting-edge fuel injection, precision brakes and expertly designed systems that are the pinnacle of decades of engineering. That's a lot to deal with. So sure, use a wrench, but make sure you have an OBD2 scanner for those electric system diagnostics as well. Add a multimeter to check those wires. Maybe a video scope to see all those hidden areas. If you think you know the full run of tools, take the quiz and see!
This will let you know if anything is running too hot. What is it?
If you have any issues with temperature in your vehicles, either due to the cooling not being cold enough or the engine being too hot, a laser thermometer can diagnose where the temperature is running off.
Thanks to this item, you'll be able to see even the most hidden parts of an engine. Do you know it?
A video scope doesn't seem like a mechanic's tool, but it can be very useful as a diagnostic device. No point pulling apart whole sections of the insides of a car to fix something that may not be broken. Instead, snake in a tiny camera and see if it needs to be repaired or not.
Which of these will allow you to use a whole host of other tools?
Can you use an air compressor to fill your tires? Sure. But it's mostly needed for operating a litany of air-powered tools ranging from impact wrenches to sanders and buffers and any other pneumatic item out there.
Which of these helps you work in a hard-to-reach space?
If you plan to use a ratchet ever then you probably need a ratchet extender of some kind. Space is at a premium in any engine, so an extension helps you get into the tight areas and the best part is they only cost a few dollars.
Which simple tool makes it easier to see what you're doing under the hood?
An LED bar is a pretty simple device — it's just a light. But hanging a light under the hood of a car you're working on is important for safety and convenience. It's just easier to get the job done when you can see what the heck you're doing.
Which of these tools could have literally dozens of uses in a shop?
A good pair of pliers will have numerous uses in a shop. Needlenose pliers are good for working in tight areas, grabbing fuses and wires, getting in at some connectors, working on brakes, pretty much any place you wish your fingers could go but can't.
This will make short work of tight lug nuts. What is it?
If the lug nuts on your vehicles aren't coming off the old-fashioned way, there's a good chance they were tightened with an impact wrench which likely means you'll need an impact wrench to loosen them. They're usually pneumatic but you can get electric ones, hydraulic ones and somewhat less powerful cordless ones.
You'll want to have these ranging in size from 6mm up to 32mm. What are they?
A ratchet isn't much good without some accompanying sockets. There are literally dozens of sizes but the most common ones are essentially including 10mm, 8mm, 13mm, 7mm, all the way up to 24mm and maybe one or two slightly larger ones, just in case.
This basic tool may be the most essential of any in a mechanic's toolbox. What is it?
A simple wrench is totally necessary for any mechanic. An impact wrench is good, too, but it can't fit into the places a normal wrench can, and without a normal wrench you literally can't take apart and put back together most of the parts of an engine. That they've existed since at least the 15th century is a testament to their usefulness.
With this tool you can get to work under your car much more easily. What is it?
Oil filter wrench
It's very hard to change the oil in a car if you can't get under a car, and getting under a car requires the use of ramps. Even a cheap ramp can get the job done and make it safer and easier to do your work.
A box of these is important if you plan to do any electrical work in a car. What are they?
Wire terminals are where wires come to an end, but they do tend to get corroded over time and can cause wires to short out. Regular maintenance and the use of good quality terminals rather than the cheapest ones you can find will keep things running smoothly.
If you want to cut through some metal, which of these would you use?
Angle grinders are a necessary tool for quick, clean cuts. You can also use them to grind off rust and paint, hence the clever name, but cutting metal is another perk. They've been around since 1954 so they've more than proven their worth in the shop.
Which of these is useful in a shop, either electrical or cordless?
Drills may seem more like carpenter's tools but they're also useful in the shop. Removing screws from door panels and drilling holes to run wires behind the dash is easier, and tightening nuts and bolts when using an impact wrench would be overkill.
Need to lift your car? Which of these will do the job?
Either mechanical or hydraulic, a jack is used to lift a car so you can get under it and do some work like change a tire. You want to use jack stands to secure a car, though, because a jack doesn't stabilize anything very well.
Which of these tools were invented in the Middle Ages?
Screwdrivers may seem old compared to modern power tools but there's a reason people keep using them — you can't replace something that works simply and efficiently. They date back to the Middle Ages in Europe and were written about as early as about 1475.
You can use this tool to diagnose electrical issues. What is it?
A multimeter is important for working on a car's electrical system because it can tell you which wires are live and which aren't. The basic science behind a multimeter dates back to old-school galvanometers which have been around since about 1820.
Working in a shop is dirty. What essential item can fix that for you?
Shop hand cleaners are not the same as your average soap when it comes to cleaning up. They do contain soap but they also have a pumice additive that can scrub away the toughest grease. You can make your own home version with soap and something gritty like salt or sugar.
This tool often looks like a strap or belt. What is it?
Trim removal tool
Oil filter wrench
As you'd assume by the name, an oil filter wrench has a fairly limited number of uses, but it's still important for getting an oil filter off. Other tools can do it but none do it as fast or as efficiently as the tool that's meant to do it.
For precision measurements, nothing beats which tool?
Calipers can be old school or digital and are key for measuring precise distances in engine components to the smallest of fractions. But if you want a precision engine you need precision parts. Old school calipers date back as far as the 6th century BC.
Bleeding the brake lines requires the use of a brake bleeder along with a vacuum pump. It makes cleaning out the old fluid and swapping in new fluid a much faster and more efficient process than before vacuum pumps were the standard.
Which carpenter's tool is handy for a mechanic to have around?
You don't really have to drive many nails as a mechanic, but a hammer can help loosen up bits and pieces stuck on with dirt and rust. It's not the cleanest method but it helps as long as you use a little finesse.
Never underestimate the simple stuff! Oil is everywhere in a shop and also terribly dangerous to leave around. The use of a shop rag to clean up spills, drips and other messes is essential. Paper towels are for amateurs!
This pneumatic tool can help remove heavy corrosion. Do you know it?
A needle scaler or a needlegun scaler can be used to power through thick layers of rust and corrosion as well as old paint. It works a bit like a giant tattoo gun, literally using needles to stab at the surface you're cleaning.
Do you know what this versatile little power tool is called?
Rotary tools, which some people just call Dremel tools though that's a brand name, have a nearly endless number of uses. In an auto shop, they're very handy for cutting through rusted nuts or bolts as well as polishing and cleaning small parts.
Do you know which of these is a specialized sort of screwdriver?
The Torx wrench or Torx key was created in 1967, and it has a 6-point star head. Though they could be used anywhere, they're often used in automotive applications more so than most others including in motorcycles and bikes.
Do you know which of these can help get some dents out of a side panel?
A heat gun looks a lot like a hairdryer and kind of works the same. It can be used to soften up dented side panels so minor dents can be popped right back out again, saving the trouble of replacing the entire thing.
Do you know which of these helps you slide under a car?
A creeper is basically a flat surface on wheels, kind of like an extra-wide skateboard or wheeled sled. If you're handy enough you can make one on your own or just grab one on Amazon for abut $30 or so.
Which of these is essential for on-board diagnostics?
An OBD2 scanner is a diagnostic tool that can monitor a vehicle's systems and help troubleshoot issues as monitored by the car's on-board computer. Those lights that show up on your dash when something's wrong? Each of those can be explained more fully with diagnostics.
Which tool is handy for when you're dealing with a dead battery?
A jump starter does exactly what it says it does: It jump-starts a battery. You could do it the old school way by hooking up jumper cables to another car battery, but that's a fairly complicated way to do the very same thing.
Wrecking bars are known by an abundance of names including crowbars, pry bars, pinch bars, goosenecks, prise bars and a pig foot. While they can be used to pull nails, they're mostly useful for busting things and separating things.
Want to pour liquids without being messy? Then what should you use?
A good funnel helps you pour oil and other fluids without making a mess. An upside-down funnel is actually an old-time symbol of madness. The Tin Man from "The Wizard of Oz" was depicted as having an upside-down funnel on his head.
Which of these simple tools tells you how much air is in a tire?
Most mechancs still carry one of these in their pocket all the time. A pressure gauge is a simple and quick way to check tire air pressure. A lot of garages actually give these away as cheap promo items to customers.
Do you know which of these can be a simple way to diagnose why your car won't start?
Ignition spark tester
If your car won't start at all there are often very few causes for it, especially if you know you have a tank of gas already. It's a good option to try to see if you're producing a spark at all. An ignition spark tester can be swapped for a spark plug to see if any spark is occurring, which quickly eliminates one of the main causes as an option.
You need this tool to pull apart tiny metal rings that secure all manner of parts in an engine. What is it?
Circlips, also called C-rings, snap rings or Seeger rings, are small metal rings that can't readily be removed with normal tools. Circlip pliers are the tool that helps pull them off with minimal effort.
Do you know which of these is also called an Allen key?
Everyone has seen a hex key somewhere in their lives as they're used everywhere from cars to office furniture. They were invented back in the late 1800s. Oddly enough, it wasn't until the early 1900s that screws to match them were manufactured.
If you can't hold a flashlight, what shoud you try?
It's hard to do a lot of work with just one hand in a garage if the other one holds a light. A headlamp frees up your hands. They actually date back to the 1900s and were most often used by miners and others who do work in the dark.
Using a set of these can prevent the destruction of important clips. What is it?
Door panels are very hard to remove through normal means as they're secured with special clips. A set of molding removers is key to pulling panels off in a safe and secure way that doesn't damage them in the process.
Do you know which of these will keep your brakes clean so you can work on them?
A can of degreaser and brake cleaner is useful for any brake work you may be doing to get the grease and grime off all the parts. This allows you to actually get a grip on things, and also brakes just don't work well if they're all greased up.