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Five Gadgets Every Garage Should Have

7

By Dale Vinten

As much as we would all love to have a fully specced workshop with a four point lift and a professional grade tool chest chock full of the best Snap-On gear money can buy most of us are unfortunately limited by space and/or budget when it comes to garage facilities and so the Edd China dream setup remains just that, a place to drift off to after bedtime. This should in no way deter anyone from picking up the spanners and tinkering with their cars or bikes however and there are a few items that can really make life easier when it comes to DIY vehicle mechanics. We’re going to ignore the basic, essential tools here such as a trolley jack, axle stands, and a decent socket set for example, as these are a given but here’s a list of five gadgets that we think every garage should have, whether that be a makeshift lean-to nailed to the side of your house or a top-of-the line Bavarian main dealer service centre.

1) Torque wrench

Garage, workshop, tool, tools, car tools, garage tools, garage equipment

Stripping a bolt by over-tightening is the worst feeling any human being can experience. OK, maybe it’s not the worst, but it’s certainly up there. You may have a Haynes manual with all of the correct torques settings for every specific bolt for your vehicle but if you haven’t got a decent torque wrench then you’re fumbling around in the dark. Feel and a standard socket wrench can only get you so far and there’s a fine line between wanting that gasket to properly seal and going a quarter turn too far and snapping the bolt or stripping the thread. There are plenty to choose from depending on application type and budget but you can’t go wrong with Norbar when it comes to torque based tools. This Nortorque 340 is well made, accurate and has a clear scale:

 

2) Car creeper

Garage, workshop, tool, tools, car tools, garage tools, garage equipment

Fundamentally just a flat base on castors a car creeper is still a worthwhile investment. Not only does it keep your body off of the cold and invariably dirty and oily ground but it also provides much easier access to the underside of your vehicle. Providing you’re on a flat, smooth surface of course and not a gravel driveway, or the beach, a decent creeper will make your life a whole lot easier and more comfortable. Cheaper options will be more than adequate for most people but we like this one from KS Tools because of its versatility. It can be recalibrated to be used as a seat too and has an adjustable headrest for those emergency mid-tinkering nap situations. If only it had a cup holder:

 

3) Inspection lamp

Garage, workshop, tool, tools, car tools, garage tools, garage equipment

A lamp. For inspecting things. It may seem obvious but being able to see clearly when you’re crawling around underneath your car or elbow deep in an engine bay is fundamental to a successful fettling session. You may have less than ideal lighting conditions in your workspace too and so a good, portable inspection lamp is invaluable, especially for more detailed work. This one from Sealey has an impressive power output and has both magnets and hooks for adaptable fastening. The 360 degree adjustment is also a bonus:

 

4) Magnetic pick-up tool

Garage, workshop, tool, tools, car tools, garage tools, garage equipment

Magnet on a stick, flexi-magnet, telescopic magnet pole, whatever you call them, these little beauties are indispensable. Nuts, bolts, washers and myriad other small metal objects can all easily end up in places they really shouldn’t, especially when you have covers removed and are working with exposed internals. Unless you have the hands of a five-year-old child or go by the pseudonym of “Mister Fantastic” then you’re going to need one of these, and you’re going to use it. A lot. You can find ones with lights and mirrors and all kinds of bells and whistles but we like this Silverline tool because of its simplicity and flexible shaft:

 

5) On-board diagnostics (OBD) scanner

Garage, workshop, tool, tools, car tools, garage tools, garage equipment

OBD is a standardized digital communications port fitted to more modern vehicles that provides real-time data and troubleshooting codes which can be scanned and interpreted by a corresponding tool which allows you to identify and repair any issues that your vehicle may have. OBD2 is the current standard interface and although as much use as an inflatable dart board when it comes to vehicles produced prior to 1996, an OBD scanner is nevertheless extremely helpful and a must-have when working on younger cars, saving you both time and money. This Nexpeak reader has comprehensive vehicle compatibility, provides all the required data with a simple to follow user interface and offers free updates for life:

 

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