Tools: When to Borrow and When to Buy

Drawer full of hand tools

If you're like most DIYers, you've faced the trials and tribulations of a major project. You know how it goes—the thing you're working on is completely disassembled, and now you've discovered you need some kind of specialty tool to start reassembling it. Do you head to the store and drop a giant chunk of change on something you'll potentially use only once or go down the rabbit hole of trying to rent one? Here's a guide on when to borrow tools and when to buy. 

When to buy

Whether you're a newbie DIYer or an old hand, there are certain basic tools you should have in your garage. Items like these are essential for basic automotive maintenance:

Even an OBD II reader and jack stands can come in handy.

In addition to these, you should also invest in a good torque wrench, pliers, wire cutters and gloves for those heavy-duty jobs. Having the right tools at your fingertips means that your task will be that much easier when it comes down to crunch time.

These are items you'll use over and over again, no matter what vehicle you are working on. They're also tools that will come in handy for other projects around the house. As a result, it pays to invest in good-quality versions of these since they're likely to get heavy use.

Learn more about the tools you should always have in your garage.

When to rent


drawer full of hand tools

Source | Creative Commons

In some cases, you'll need a specialized tool to get the job done. These items are often incredibly expensive and only have one purpose. In that case, borrowing tools makes sense.

In addition, if you're looking for specialty tools like cutting and drilling tools, diagnostic tools, or oil and lube tools—which you probably won't use regularly—make sure to check out our rental options at Advance Auto Parts. Maybe you need a spring compressor or a specialized gear puller? We have those, too.

The basic rule when it comes to renting tools is to take into consideration the following:

  1. How much it costs
  2. How often you'll use it in the future
  3. How much space it will take to store

If you have a small garage or limited access to a workspace, it makes sense to rent a tool instead of buying it. These three factors that should lead you to borrow.

Another benefit of renting: Simplicity. Your credit card will be charged for the price of the tool, you'll have 90 days to return it, and will get a full refund when you do. But if you decide you want to keep the tool, you can keep the loaner or ask your local store to order you a new one.

Got any rules of thumb for borrowing versus buying tools? Leave your wisdom in the comments!

Last updated April 4, 2022