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The Toolbox Used in Automotive Industry

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A toolbox is much more than the name implies. In fact, it is more of a cabinet than a box. You may spend several hundred dollars to $2,000 on both a top and bottom box, but the first thing to start with is the top.

The top box usually has several drawers that are shallow enough to hold only a variety of tools of a single type. The top area is usually open when the lid is up and is the popular place to arrange your various sockets and drives as well as extensions. Be sure the top closes over your tools and that the drawers and cover lock securely.

Buy a sturdy box. You will be surprised by the weight when it is full of tools. Look for handles and drawer pulls that are strong and convenient. Be sure there are no sharp edges on any of the sheet metal.

A top box with about eight or nine drawers is usually large enough to start with. Besides, you will be able to add a bottom box or an intermediate box at some later date.

A toolbox is vital for keeping your many tools organized. If you don't like organization and precision, you probably aren't interested in this career anyway. Organize your tools the way it best suits your needs, so you can grab any tool you want instantly.

Security is another reason for a tool chest. Most good chests have good locks. It will be impossible to take your tools home with you at the end of the day, so a safe place for them is imperative.


You will need lots of screwdrivers-everything from the tiniest jeweler's screwdrivers up to big ones that may be two- or three-feet long. Be sure to get an assortment of straight screwdrivers.

Buy a good set of Phillips screwdrivers, too. The tips, or blades, should be strong and precise.

Another type of fastener frequently found is known as Torx. The head resembles a six-sided hole with the flats, or sides, curved toward the center. Torx fasteners are often found on headlights and interiors. Get a good set of Torx screwdrivers.

Several tool companies make magnetic screwdrivers in which the bits are interchangeable and spare bits are stored in the handle. Not only do magnetic screwdrivers hold screws, they come in handy to pick up a part that has fallen into a tight spot.


Whenever someone says "wrench," you probably visualize the end wrench in your mind.

The other popular wrench is the box end. This is a closed rather than open end and is available in either six-point or twelve-point styles.

The third type is called a combination wrench. The combination wrench will have an open end on one side and a box on the other.

Although most technicians shun the adjustable crescent wrench, there are times that they come in handy.

Line wrenches are sometimes called flare nut wrenches. They are the only kind to use on fluid line fittings such as fuel lines or brakelines.

Tappet wrenches are usually long and quite a bit thinner than the normal open end wrench. They are indispensable for adjusting valves and helpful for getting into tight places.

Ignition wrenches usually come in a set, although you may be able to find them individually. The ignition wrench is very useful in many tight spots, such as behind the dashboard.

The crowsfoot wrench looks like the end of an open end wrench with the handle cut off. Instead of a handle, there is a square hole where a drive from a 3/8-inch ratchet fits. The crowsfoot wrench will get into places where your hand won't fit. For instance, it can be used for loosening the hold-down bolt on the distributor and the hydraulic fluid line for power steering at the steering gearbox.


There are numerous types and styles of pliers. They come in all shapes and sizes from the slip-joints that almost everyone has in the kitchen junk drawer to extremely specialized kinds for use on very limited applications. The beginning technician should have a few basics, though.

Slip-joint pliers are the type everyone recognizes. They should never be used anywhere that a wrench should be used, but they are an asset in many places to hold objects.

Unlike slip-joint pliers, Channel-Lock pliers have a tongue and groove arrangement, so they can accommodate a number of jaw openings. Water-pump pliers look a lot like Channel-Lock pliers, but instead of the tongue-in-groove design, they have the pin-and-multiple-hole arrangement like slip-joints. The Channel-Lock pliers are less likely to change jaw openings during use than the water-pump pliers.

Locking pliers are most commonly known by their registered trade name of Vise-Grips. When attached to something, they lock in place and leave your hands free. Locking pliers are a definite asset to have in your toolbox.

Snap-ring pliers are used for removing and installing snap rings, which are often found holding a bearing or seal to some sort of shaft, such as an air-conditioning compressor drive shaft. You will need two different types of snap-ring pliers: one each for servicing snap rings that must be squeezed and another for snap rings that must be spread.

There are numerous types of cutting pliers, but the most popular with automotive technicians is the diagonal, or side-cutters. They are especially useful for cutting wires. Be sure to choose ones that have hardened jaws.

Needle-nose pliers have long, tapered, thin jaws that come to a small point at the tip. They are useful for removing and installing tiny clips like those found on a carburetor where your fingers will not fit. Although the basic, straight needle-nose design is the most popular, you also should consider buying a pair that has angled jaws, which can be very handy when trying to work around some neighboring component or a recessed area.

Automobiles and trucks have numerous electrical circuits, and you will find yourself repairing a lot of wiring problems. The most common are electrical shorts or bad grounds, and you will frequently be expected to splice and repair circuits.

There is one tool that will splice, cut, and strip wires-multipurpose electrician's pliers. You will find that this one single tool will be used for almost all of your automotive electrical service, and you should not be without one.
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