A Look at Vehicle Tools and their Uses
Vehicle tools are an essential part of any auto shop or garage. This guide will help you identify the most useful automotive tools to have in your collection. To make everything easy to find, we organized the guide by vehicle part category. Each category includes a list of essential tools and their application.
About Motor Vehicle Tools
Vehicle maintenance tools include any physical item that you need to maintain or repair a motor vehicle. As such, they can be hand tools that you would use to perform simple tasks like changing a tire, or they can be larger, power tools for more complex jobs.
There are a wide variety of both hand and power tools that are used in the automotive industry. Some are specific to certain tasks, while others can be used for a variety of purposes. There are also vehicle service tools that are crucial, and others that are simply useful to have on hand.
Because the range of auto/vehicle tools is so vast, we will focus on those that are essential. These are specialty tools that you need to repair a specific vehicle part or system, whether you’re a mechanic or a serious auto enthusiast.
What Tools do You Need to Work on Cars?
Vehicle tools can be divided into several categories depending on the part of a car that they are used on. This makes it easier to find the right tool for the job that you need to do. The categories for motor vehicle tools include the following.
- Engine tools
- Vehicle AC tools
- Brake tools
- Fuel system tools
- Oil change tools
- Steering and suspension tool
- Cooling system tools
- Vehicle bodywork tools
With these categories in mind, what tools do you need to work on cars? There are several of these tools, a few for each category that we suggest you include in your toolkit. Let’s now dive into the vehicle tools checklist.
Engine Tools Repair
The engine is composed of many moving parts. These will wear out over time and need to be repaired or changed. Special tools to fix the engine are among the most varied, consisting of anything from a simple engine camshaft tool to the complex pressure measuring gauges.
For example, you will need a tool to lock timing parts such as the cam and crankshaft, and a tool to read the error codes that help you to detect problems.
When there’s a leak in the engine, you will need a tool that can help you detect it. The list of these vehicle mechanic tools (as well as DIY car owners) goes on and on. The specialty tools for engine repair include these listed below.
Engine Tools List
- Timing tools– to preserve the timing of the engine during repairs
- Vacuum gauge– used to check the engine’s vacuum pressure for leak detection
- Compression gauge– measures the amount of pressure in the cylinders
- Transmission fluid filler– to conveniently add transmission fluid
- Harmonic balancer puller– for the safe removal of harmonic balancers
- Gear puller kit– used to quickly remove gears from their shafts
- Clutch alignment tool– for clutch service tasks. Ensures proper clutch installation
- Piston ring compressor– for installing engine piston rings
- Serpentine belt tool– to remove and install the serpentine belt
- Spark plug wrench– to remove and install spark plugs
- Stethoscope– for listening to engine noises to diagnose damage
- Jumper cables– to jump start a car with a dead battery
- Scanner– used to read and clear engine codes
- Dipstick– checks the oil level in the engine
- Engine hoist– used to remove and install engines
- Engine stand– to hold the engine while it is being worked on
Vehicle Air Conditioning Tools
Car AC systems cool the car cabin to ensure passenger comfort during hot weather. The system is composed of the compressor, condenser, evaporator, and hoses. These parts need to be serviced from time to time- using the right vehicle workshop tools.
The AC may fail to cool as efficiently as it should if there’s a leak in one of the hoses or it could be a problem with the compressor. AC repair tools make the job to fix these problems easier, and can even help to prevent damage to the system.
Vehicle air conditioning tools include tools that measure the pressure in the system, a kit to recover the refrigerant, an AC recharge kit, and so on. The list below will give you an idea of what to include in your AC tools collection.
AC Tools List
- AC recharge kit– for recharging the system with refrigerant
- AC manifold gauge set– used to measure the pressure in the system and detect leaks as well as do a refrigerant recharge or evacuation
- AC vacuum pump– to vacuum the AC system
- A digital scale– to weigh the amount of refrigerant going into the AC system
Cooling System Tools
The cooling system includes these parts: the radiator, water pump, thermostat, and coolant hoses. These components can wear down or get damaged and require repairing. But in order to ensure easy and safe repairs, you need a few vehicle service tools that are specified for the cooling system.
For example, you may need a testing kit to measure the radiator pressure to check for leaks. When installing the pump pulley, a specialty tool would also come in handy.
A coolant system flush, on the other hand, would require a specialized tool or kit to remove any build-up of sludge or other materials. The list and name of automotive tools to repair the cooling system is provided below.
Cooling System Tools List
- Radiator pressure tester– used to check for leaks in the radiator
- Water pump pulley installer– for water pump pulley installation
- Thermostat housing wrench– to remove the thermostat housing
- Coolant system flush kit- used to flush the entire system and help remove any build-up of sludge or other materials
- Radiator hose clamp pliers– to remove and install radiator hoses
Your car’s brakes are vital for safety. That’s why it’s important to have the proper tools on hand to service them or if you’re a mechanic, the right vehicle maintenance tools and equipment needed to service the brake system.
Brake tools are used to install or remove brake pads, calipers, rotors, and fluid lines. You would also need special tools to help bleed the brakes easily and save yourself time and frustration.
When used properly, specialty brake tools make repair work fast, safe on other components, and more professional, given the need for proper brake repair. The names of tools mechanic tools kits -and those of DIYers- should include for brakes repair are.
Brake Tools List
- Caliper wind back tool– used to wind the piston back into the caliper for easy brake pad installation
- Brake bleeding kit– allows you to easily bleed the brakes
- Brake line flare tool– used when fixing damaged brake lines
- Disc brake pad spreader– needed to increase clearance when installing disc brake pads
- Brake pad thickness gauge– measures brake pad wear to determine its remaining life
- Brake cylinder and caliper hone– smoothens out the surface of the cylinder or caliper
- Brake line pressure tester– measures the brake system pressure to help diagnose and troubleshoot problems
Fuel System Tools
The fuel system in a vehicle delivers gas to the engine. Over time, it will need to be serviced. This can include anything from changing the fuel filter to bleeding the lines.
To do this job, you will need a variety of vehicle maintenance tools that are designed specifically for fuel system repair works.
Fuel system tools are used to service the fuel pump, fuel filter, and fuel lines. You will need a variety of tools to complete the job. In view of that, any vehicle tool kit should have these fuel system tools.
Fuel System Tools List
- Fuel line disconnect tool- to easily and quickly remove fuel system couplings
- Fuel tank lock ring tool- makes loosening the lock ring and opening the fuel tank easy
- Fuel filter wrench– helps to easily remove the fuel filter
- Fuel pump wrench– a special type of adjustable wrench for fuel pump removal
- Fuel system bleeding kit– to bleed the fuel lines and remove air from the system
- Fuel pressure tester– checks the pressure in the fuel system to detect problems
- Fuel injector cleaning kit– used to blast the injectors with cleaner and help restore their proper operation
Oil Change Tools
Changing the oil is one of the most basic car maintenance tasks, but you still need some special tools to do it. The vehicle maintenance tools to make oil change easier include a variety of kits as well as individual tools.
In order to ensure a spill-free process, you’ll need an oil catch pan and a funnel to make to pour the new oil into the engine.
Other oil change tools include those that simplify the procedure. In this category are vehicle workshop tools that make removing the oil filter easier, as well as oil change pumps that make it possible to change the oil without having to crawl under the vehicle.
Oil Change Tools List
- Oil extractor pump– a hand or power pump that helps to conveniently extract old oil from the system
- Oil catch pan– used to catch the oil when changing it
- Oil filter wrench– a special type of wrench that helps remove the old filter
- Oil funnel– used to pour new oil into the engine
Vehicle Suspension Tools
The suspension system is one of the trickiest to repair, sometimes even dangerous, especially when working on the springs. That’s why it is crucial to have the appropriate vehicle tools when servicing this part of your vehicle.
Vehicle suspension tools include tools to compress coil springs so the strut assembly can be taken apart or assembled, tools to remove and install ball joints, and special kits to remove or replace nuts and bolts on the suspension.
Without these tools, you would have to spend hours trying to pry out or mount the different parts of the suspension system, which could lead to frustration and unsafe situations. A vehicle tool kit should have the following tools for suspension repair.
Suspension Tools List
- Coil spring compressor tool– for compressing coil springs so the strut assembly can be taken apart or assembled
- Ball joint separator– removes and installs ball joints
- Suspension nut and bolt removal/installation kit– used to remove and install nuts and bolts on the suspension
- Suspension bushing tool– for bushing removal and installation
Vehicle Bodywork Tools
The vehicle tools checklist is not complete without mentioning vehicle bodywork tools. The bodywork of a vehicle includes everything from the chassis to the windows and everything in between.
At one time or another, these parts will need to be repaired, such as when the body gets dented. This is where having the right tools comes in handy. Special vehicle body repair tools are listed below.
Bodywork Tools List
- Vehicle trim tools set– a set of tools that make removing car trim an easy job
- Door panel tool– flat tool to help safely remove car door panels
- Surface blaster kit– a set of tools to use when removing paint and rust from vehicle body
- Slide hammer– to help you remove dents from the car body
- Dent dolly– used alongside a body hammer to help remove dents and smooth surfaces
- Dent puller– a special tool that uses suction to remove dents
These are just a few of the many different types of vehicle repair tools you might need but the most essential. Of course, the specific tools that you need will depend on the type of vehicle that you’re working on, as well as the specific job that you’re doing. But having a general idea of the different types of tools available will help you to be prepared for anything.