You can get a lot done with a socket set, nut drivers, extensions, screwdrivers and some decent wrenches, but sometimes they just aren't going to do you a lot of good. There are instances where you can struggle with a screwdriver or a pair of pliers, and you're just going to end up sweaty and frustrated. We're going to recommend a few tools (some of which you can even borrow from your local Advance store) to make those jobs go a bit easier.
1. AutoCraft 1000 Lumens Rechargeable Underhood LED Work Light
Many years ago, there was the "trouble light" that consisted of an incandescent bulb inside a safety cage, complete with 30' cord. Then there was a fragile fluorescent bulb inside a tube (still with that cord), but no more. An LED work light is sturdy, projects plenty of light for any job and can deliver one to five hours of work time on a single charge.
2. Lisle Speedy Brake Pad Spreader
When replacing brake pads on disc brakes, you've got to be able to retract the pistons back into their bores in the caliper. You can put a C-clamp over the caliper and an old pad, tightening the C-clamp to move the piston back in, or you can use this one-handed tool to recess the piston in seconds. Always remember to take the top off the master cylinder during this step, as brake fluid will travel back up the lines when the piston recesses.
3. Lisle Rubber Support Bracket Removal Pliers
Most people don't really enjoy exhaust work. You're rolling around on a creeper getting rust flakes and dirt in your eyes (wear your safety glasses!), and you generally want to get it over with, as long as the final product isn't too much of a caveman job. Most systems feature rubber hangers in strategic places to isolate vibration, and they can be a real pain to deal with unless you've got these pliers to make that part of the job go faster.
4. 5-Piece Snap Ring Pliers Set
Snap rings are designed to retain some assemblies in place, and if you've ever tried to separate and remove (or install) snap rings with a pair of screwdrivers, you'll know how handy these tools are. Just put the pins into the notches or holes in an internal or external snap ring, squeeze the handles, and the snap ring will quickly spread and allow removal or installation.
5. Mityvac Vacuum Brake Bleeder
You know the drill for bleeding brakes: you start at the rear passenger side wheel, run the clear tube from the bleeder valve to the Mason jar, open the valve while your buddy presses the brake pedal, close the valve and repeat until there are no more bubbles. Then on to the next wheel. A vacuum brake bleeder takes your buddy out of the picture and can cut a lot of time off the process by just providing vacuum to draw out the fluid until all bubbles are evacuated out of the lines.
6. Composite Trim Tool Set
Ever tried to deal with interior or exterior trim pieces that have weird connectors or are already brittle with age and plastic rot? If you're just trying to do it with pliers and screwdrivers, it's easy to end up with a broken panel, scratched paint, a broken connector or an interior rattle that will never go away. Specially-designed interior trim tools can make all the difference when you need to gently persuade those parts to come apart and go back together again. Tool sets like this are especially handy when it comes to installing a stereo or pulling a door panel to get to a power window or power lock assembly.
7. O-Ring and Seal Pick
Forget about trying to get a transmission seal or AC o-ring out of its seat with a screwdriver. This pick tool looks like something you'd find in a dentist's office, but it's a lot harder grade of steel with a point that stays sharp enough to get into the tightest spots and work that o-ring out of there.
8. Pencil Tip Torch
There's going to be a time when you need to heat up a part — a heat gun won't be hot enough, and a Prestolite torch will just set things on fire. A pencil tip torch will give you the option of narrowing down that heat source to a really fine degree and apply heat to only what you need to heat up.
9. Heavy Duty Steering Wheel Puller
Steering wheels are something you don't ever want to work itself loose, so they're bolted pretty tightly to the steering column. To remove a steering wheel, you need to be able to screw in a center screw, with a bracket that holds the side bolts so you can extract the wheel. This universal puller works with all types of wheels, including telescoping or tilt steering columns.
10. Harmonic Balancer Puller
To be able to change a timing belt or water pump, that harmonic balancer has got to come off. This specialized puller works on most American V6 and V8 engines and includes a special adapter for post-1990 Mopar engines
Anyone who wrenches on the weekend knows you're never really done buying tools. If you're turning wrenches on the weekend, you don't need to have a fully-stocked rollaround full of weird, expensive specialty tools that you can only get from the distributor's truck. Still, there are times when there's only one way to get a task done easily, and that's with a specialty tool you can get at your local Advance store.
Can you think of any that we missed? Got any hacks you can pass on to make a job go quicker? Let us know in the comments section!
In addition to free services like battery testing and installation, your local Advance Auto store offers loaner tools free of charge after deposit.