Specialty Tools Needed In Day-To-Day Service and Repair Jobs

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Even if you decide not to specialize in any specific area at first, there are several specialty tools that you will need in your day-to-day service and repair jobs.

Feeler Gauges

There are two general kinds of feeler gauges that you need. The first type is the wire gauge used for gapping spark plugs. The spark plug feeler gauges are a set of calibrated wires of increasing thicknesses. Aside from their most frequent use for gapping the electrodes on spark plugs, these gauges can be used any place where the adjoining parts do not both have flat surfaces.

The second, and most popular as well as useful, set of gauges are flat and about the width of an ice cream stick-although much thinner. These gauges are usually sold as a set with each blade Viooo inch thicker than the next. They are particularly important for setting valve clearances or lash and are useful anywhere the distance between two surfaces must be measured.

A special kind of flat feeler gauge is known as the go-no-go gauge. With the go-no-go gauges you will have gapped the valve lash, for instance, precisely if you can just move the thinner section between the surfaces while the stepped-up portion will not pass between the surfaces. These gauges can be used anywhere flat feeler gauges are needed.

Buy the go-no-go gauges as your first set. If you can find the type that have an angled bend in them about halfway down their length, you will find them-handy when you must make measurements in tight quarters.

Brake Tools

For basic drum-brake service, you will need a tool for removing and installing the return springs. Various styles and designs of this tool are available. Most mechanics like the kind that resembles a pair of tongs.

Another tool is needed for removing and installing the hold-down springs. It resembles a screwdriver from the handle to the bottom, except there is a cup-shaped tip rather than a blade. Select a hold-down spring tool that is knurled inside the cup. This will help to hold the spring cap into the tool and prevent slipping when you twist it to set the cap.

Finally, you will need at least three different brake adjusting tools that are often called spoons.

For disc brake service, most of your common hand tools are all that you require. One exception is something to push the piston back down into its bore. Although some specific tools are available for this, a good C-clamp is usually all you will need.

Torque Wrenches

The engineers who work for the automobile manufacturers have a torque, or tightening, specification for every nut and bolt on the vehicle. A click-type torque wrench can be set to the desired specification, and once it is reached the wrench will give a clicking sound.

All torque wrenches should be occasionally tested and adjusted should they lose their calibration.


"Don't force it. Just get a bigger hammer." That's a joke, and in fact, most professionals will avoid using a hammer unless it is a last resort. However, there are several places where nothing else will do.

You should have at least one twelve-ounce ball-peen hammer. Use it on chisels and punches. The ball-peen is useful for reforming bolt holes in sheet metal like oil pans and valve corners.

You also should own at least one soft-face hammer. Soft-face hammers will not damage parts like steel ones. The face deforms instead of the part being struck.

Dead-blow hammers have heads that are filled with shot. Since the shot continues the force after the hammer makes contact, rebound is reduced.

For heavy-duty purposes you also should have one big hammer in the two-to three-pound range. Many technicians select one known as the engineer's hammer. One side of this double-faced hammer looks like a conventional sledge hammer. The other face is wedge shaped.


The automotive technician encounters many items on the job that do not simply slide off their mating part. This is where the puller is needed. The first one to get is a battery cable terminal puller. This puller prevents damage to the battery case when the cable clamp is seized to the battery terminal.

Gear pullers come in a wide assortment of shapes and sizes. To start, choose one that has the flexibility to be used for a variety of purposes. Pullers of this type come with an assortment of legs and jaws so they can be used to remove a variety of items from bearing races to crankshaft gears to steering wheels.

A slide hammer is another type of puller you may need. Slide hammers often are necessary to remove the rear axles on rear-wheel-drive cars.

Chisels and Punches

Never use a screwdriver as a chisel. Cold chisels are for cutting metal while it is cold. They are extremely hard and are liable to chip when struck with a hammer. Keep them sharp, and if the head begins to mushroom, file a clamper onto them. Punches and drift pins are essential. Punches are necessary to make a dimple in the metal before drilling. Drift pins come in a variety of diameters, and only the correct diameter punch should be used to prevent damage to the component. You should buy a good assortment of punches and at least a couple of chisels to start with.
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