I see a lot of posts online on the forums about the average guy trying to repair something on their car, and they have been at it for a couple hours and are completely frustrated with the job. It usually ends up something like “changing motor mounts sucks,” or I can’t get my CV axles out. I usually shake my head, and think to myself, it isn’t that the job is impossible, it is that you probably don’t have the correct tools to make the job easy on yourself! There are also a lot of posts about “what tools should I buy to work on my car.” Well, I’m going to give you my answer.
First off, I don’t have the $10’s of thousands of dollars that most professional mechanics have. What I do have, are the right tools for the jobs I do, and the brand of tool is reflected in the amount I use that tool.
1. I always tell people that if they are going to work on their own car to save from paying a mechanic, that they need to start with a good basic set of tools. This means a quality set of wrenches, sockets, various ractchets, screwdrivers, and extensions (you can never have too many extensions of various sizes). Make sure to have various pliers, hammers, dykes, wire strippers, etc. Also, if you follow the rule that every time you work on your car, you buy a new tool, your assortment will grow quickly. It doesn’t need to be an expensive tool, it can be a sub $10 wobble extension or wobble socket…..something to put in the box that might be useful in the future! You’ve saved yourself a bunch of money by changing your front wheel bearings, now add something to your arsenal. I started asking for tools for my birthday and christmases when I was about 6 I think. I still have almost all of those tools today, and not all of them were of high quality either.
2. Tool brands: There are a ton of tool brands out there. You have the chinese knockoffs, standard craftsman line, all the way to the professional snap on line. What I can tell you……you will break tools eventually, no matter what brand it is. No brand is impervious to failure. The key, is to by good quality tools for the ones you use the most (ratchets, sockets, wrenches, etc). Not only for quality of tool, but more importantly for ergonomics. Good tools are ergonomic and will not cause your hands to die a slow death from arthritis. For those tools you use once a year, you can probably get away with a chinese knock off. I have mixture of everything. Sears tools are very easy to replace when they fail….walk in to a store, trade it out. Snap On/Mac/Matco tools have the same warranty of course, but tracking down a local rep to swap out a warranty return is a little harder on average than finding a sears.
3. Here are some of the simple tools that I think will really make working on a Porsche a lot easier on you.
First, we start with a clean work environment. Cheapest and most efficient way of doing a job.
A. Starting at the top, we have a 944 pulley tool and a 27mm wrench for adjusting timing belt pulleys. To the right of them you can see a 968 flywheel lock and a 944 flywheel lock. You 911 guys can ignore these, but every 944 owner should have these in their box. www.arnnworx.com for a great deal on these tools from Bruce Arnn.
B. Then on the left you will see some various universal sockets in 1/4″ and 3/8″ drive. The 2 on the right are the life savers. 1/4″ drive, 10mm and 13mm wobble sockets (sub $10 sockets). Makes those hard to reach nuts a breeze.
C. Below the universals is a 1/4″ drive snap on ratchet. Ergonomic with a swivel head. Favorite ratchet.
D. Next to that is the Reversible Ratcheting wrenches. A must have set in everyone’s box. My set goes from 8mm to 19mm.
E. Next to that: Hose clamping pliers. Pinches coolant hoses shut so you can remove cooling system components without draining the coolant entirely.
F. Hose pick tools: Craftsman has a 4 piece set for getting those stubborn cooling hoses to break free from their fittings.
G. To the right: Flexible nut drivers. I have 6mm-8mm+ 10mm. These come in so handy you can’t imagine. Makes hard to reach hose clamps a breeze. Forget ever using a screwdriver on a hose clamp again. This is a cheap ebay knock off set for under $25 bucks. Snap also has a nice set of Hazet’s which are about 5x a much. What do you use a 10mm for? All those little black plastic nuts seen every where on Porsches. Don’t bother with the fixed metal shaft nut drivers.
H. To the right: Various allen sockets in 1/4″ drive 3/”8 drive. Common sizes are 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm, and an occasional 10mm. The one long allen I have is a 6mm for the 944 cam tower (amongst other things). Buy GOOD brand allens. Do not buy cheapos, you WILL strip heads. Snap on bits do not strip heads and will make your life so much more enjoyable. After a ton of use if the head shows wear, have snap on install a new bit into the socket. Takes seconds.
I. Triple Square/Cheesehead bits: 8mm, 10mm, 12mm (not shown). Again, buy Snap On/Mac/etc bits! You WILL NOT strip cheesehead bolts with a good bit! You WILL strip every cheesehead bolt you come across with a cheap bit.
J. 1/2″ torque wrench. I use it every day. My 3/8″ wrench gets a lot of use as well.
K. Bosch drill and 1/2″ Cordless Impact (360ft/lbs torque): Once you go cordless, you will forget about your air tools for 95% of the jobs (don’t believe me? Get a good quality cordless impact and try it….i didn’t believe it either). I absolutely hate using air tools and dragging a hose around now. The bosch impact gun makes removing wheels, wheel hubs (yes the ones torqued over 350ft/lbs), struts, etc apart easy. The bosch was around 240 bucks shipped to my door off ebay…..3 year warranty of batteries. The smaller drill seen is something I love using on interior fasteners, screws, and 6mm and smaller bolts (10mm head size). The torque of the thing is pretty damn impressive, and makes a breeze of a lot of jobs). Chinese knock off cordless tools tend to have really bad batteries, so buy a good quality tool. I would put the Bosch on the same level as the Snap on after having used that extensively. They also come in 3/8″ drive which is fantastic as well.
The last thing……an organized tool box. Spend some money on decent organizers. There are multiple solutions out there. For tools you use a lot, keep them clean and organized. Those tools you use once a year can all be thrown in a drawer without much thought.
Wrench organizers: Earl’s brand IIRC, off ebay. Cheap.
The greatest socket organizers ever. Mechanics Time Savers (MTS). Magnetic and makes grabbing sockets quick and painless. I spend about $150 from sjdiscounttools, and it was well worth it. I had the homemade wooden dowel system for years and just couldn’t get over paying for good organizers. Since I did, I haven’t looked back. SJ was the cheapest source I could find, and they were cheaper by a significant amount. I looked at sourcing plastic blocks and making my own, but found you couldn’t do it for what you can buy these for from SJ (no affiliation, just a happy customer). They come in a ton of different colors. I ordered blue to keep my standard sockets in, and red for the metric stuff.
One other tool I didn’t mention is a set of Torx bit sockets seen in the back left. Since they typically aren’t under a lot of torque, I picked up a set of evolve (sears’ cheaper line) and they have worked great.
In terms of tool boxes. If you are at that point in your life where you have stopped moving around all the time, then buy yourself a good quality tool box. You can pick up some SMOKING deals on lightly used snap on/matco/mac/craftsman boxes on craigslist in your area. You are still going to spend some good money, but you will save a bunch versus new. Get a box with good ball bearing drawers.
That’s it for now. Tool Article #1. I have a LOT of cool tools for various jobs that I will share on the blog on a regular basis.