No one EVER has trouble figuring out what to get me for the holidays. That's because one of my favorite places to spend time is working on, under, or around my vehicle in the garage, or preferably in the driveway when the weather is nice.
Whether you consider yourself a heavy or light DIYer – or somewhere in between – you're probably in agreement that there's always a new tool or gadget on your wish list.
This holiday season, my tool must-haves aren't items I must have to finish any one project. They're the ones that make every job a little easier.
I always keep a magnetic tray by my side because it helps me keep track of any small metal parts or tools I'm using, saving a lot of time and frustration. The good thing about a magnetic parts tray is that the magnet is strong enough that you can put it sideways on something and the parts will still stick. Having three or four of these trays is also an easy way to keep bolts sorted on larger jobs instead of bagging and labeling them.
Heavy-Duty, Adjustable Work Table
Whether you're detailing the exterior or performing preventive maintenance under the hood, it seems like there is never a sturdy, flat surface within arm's length on which to set tools or parts. That's why I'm asking for a portable work table. The top tray provides that big flat surface I always need — with room to spare, measuring 29" x 20" — and it can hold a hefty 200-plus pounds, thanks in part to the wide, stable base. Table height is adjustable to better match where I'm working, it rolls easily on heavy-duty casters, and has rubber bumpers on all four corners to protect car doors and garage walls. Complete with tool holders and a one-inch-deep drawer, this work table keeps everything I need close at hand and saves me time because I no longer need to walk across the garage countless times during a project.
Three-Piece Universal Joint Set
Engine compartments in today's vehicles are packed tighter than ever, leaving virtually no room for working hands, let alone turning wrenches. Everyone knows there's a right tool for the job, and that it makes the work easier. Case in point – universal joint socket sets. These wobble sockets - in 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 drives - fit where other tools simply can't, allowing you to reach parts that are nearly inaccessible using standard tools. And when the job is done, the chrome finish wipes clean easily and resists corrosion.
Lisle Spill-Free Funnel
Refilling a cooling system seems like it should be a straightforward and easy task, except it isn't. Trapped air pockets that can cause erratic cooling system and heater performance, angled or obscured radiator caps, and coolant spilling onto belts that then squeak annoyingly are some of the more common challenges. This spill-free funnel controls the amount of coolant entering the system and saves time because it doesn't require me to stand there watching over it while the coolant refills. There are five adapters to fit most domestic and import cars, trucks and SUVs, a 45-degree elbow for angled radiator caps, and a five-inch extension for hard-to-reach caps hidden under shrouds or in fender wells. It also features an E adapter that's compatible with the surge tanks found on many Fords.
Microfiber Drying Towel
Nothing makes me more satisfied than standing back and looking at a freshly washed vehicle. The metal gleams. Sunlight dances off the windows. Early on in my driving career, I learned the hard way that the pride I felt after detailing my vehicle quickly turned to disappointment when I let water dry on its surface, resulting in unsightly spots everywhere. Now, I don't consider the job done until I use big, high-quality microfiber towels to dry the whole vehicle. While they're not technically a "tool," they are thick, absorbent, and produce a high-gloss shine. That makes me happy – much like finding any of these tools in my stocking or under the tree will, too, this holiday season.