The approaching holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on what you're most thankful for in life. At work, at home, with your friends and with your family, you're probably grateful for many things when you stop and think about it. There's no reason this gratitude can't extend to the garage and under the hood as well, particularly if those are places that bring you the most happiness. When it comes to your vehicle and doing it yourself, there are undoubtedly several tools that you're thankful for and couldn't imagine completing the job without. What are they? We have several favorites, including these five.
1. Nitrile or Mechanix Wear Gloves
Remember when working under the hood guaranteed grease under your fingernails and in every crack and crevice in your hands, along with the occasional scraped and bleeding knuckle? Thankfully, those days are gone, unless you're really into getting your hands dirty. Generations of professional mechanics and DIYers who blazed the path before us didn't have the luxury of protecting their hands from grease and grime with nitrile gloves. They also didn't have Mechanix Wear gloves helping cushion the blow that a slipped wrench often delivers. Back then, dirty, damaged hands may have been a badge of courage, but today they're just a pain when you're trying to get your hands clean on a Monday morning before work.
2. Socket Organizer
You're comfortably settled in your creeper, ready to go to work, when you reach for what you thought would be the right socket, only to find out it isn't. Nor is the next one, or the next, as you fumble through the handful of other sockets you brought under the car, hoping one of them is the right size. As frustration sets in and you climb from under the car to grab more sockets, you think, “there must a better way." There is, and it starts by bringing all the sockets with you to your workspace, in a tightly organized fashion, so that you can tell at a glance which one you need. With room for 36 3/8"-drive sockets, this socket tray securely organizes your sockets, makes it easy to take them with you, and prevents them from spilling and getting lost. You'll be amazed at how much of a timesaver this can be, compared to rummaging around in a coffee can full of loose sockets and trying to find the right one.
3. Breaker Bar
Corroded parts understand only two things – PB B'laster and force. If your original plan to free stuck nuts involved delivering that needed muscle via a box wrench or 3/8" socket, you should expect the result will be skinned knuckles, a broken driver, and parts that are stubbornly still stuck. Instead, choose the right tool for the job. You'll be thankful you did. A breaker bar does just what its name implies —breaks the bond holding whatever is stuck, using nothing more than the physics of leverage, without the tool breaking down in the process. If you still can't get things moving with a breaker bar, you can get a length of pipe to use as a cheater and really put your weight on it.
4. Torque Wrench
You don't want to leave it to guesswork when tightening crucial parts, such as wheel lug nuts. Too much or too little torque—either can be equally damaging and dangerous. Instead, take the guesswork out of the equation and have confidence knowing you're delivering the exact amount of torque specified. This measured, scientific route - and parts that you don't have to worry about coming loose - are what you get when you use a calibrated torque wrench. There are several styles of torque wrench available these days, so just go with your preference and your budget.
5. OBD Scan Code Reader
This isn't your parents OBD code reader. Turn any smart phone into an advanced OBD2 diagnostic code reader with the Innova 1000 CarScan Mobile OBD2 Dongle. Gone are the days of having to wait and wonder what's causing the check engine light to illuminate. This dongle stays connected to the OBDII port, enabling you to always monitor your vehicle's health. It works with a suite of automotive apps that provide detailed trouble codes, fixes, maintenance and parts.
Aside from being thankful that you have time to work under the hood and wishing for more of it, what tools are you thankful and can't live without this season?