Here’s a list of ten tips and tools to make your life in the garage or shop a little bit easier. They’re cheap, easy and will save you some time.
10. Stay dry
Ever wonder what to do with all those silica gel packets you find in shoeboxes and new electronics? Since you can’t eat them, the next best thing is to put them in your tool box. The hygroscopic nature of the silicone dioxide will absorb any moisture and keep your tools rust-free. It doesn’t get much cheaper or easier than that!
9. Measuring tape
Need to measure a curved surface but your rigid tape measure just won't "measure up?" Masking tape always comes in handy for these situations. Simply place the tape around the curved surface to be measured, mark the two corners, remove the tape, place it on a flat surface, then use that rigid tape measure to get an accurate reading!
8. Zip ties
These things are indispensable for automotive applications. From bundling wires together to holding on body panels, zip ties are the go-to choice. Cheap and strong, you can’t have too many of these around. There’s a reason police use them to hog-tie peaceful protestors.
7. Save the screwdrivers!
Instead of tossing broken screwdrivers in the trash, turn them into something more useful, such as a punch or a drift pin. You can also file or grind the broken areas down to make another functional screwdriver.
6. WD-40 to the rescue
This one may seem pretty obvious, but we had to include it, just in case there’s someone living under a rock out there. This stuff is a cure-all for almost anything you can think of – stuck bolts, frozen locks, rusty parts, lubrication, etc. The list goes on and on. Always keep a can around, just in case. The only thing that might be more useful is duct tape.
5. Crescent to caliper
A crescent wrench is typically a useless tool when working on cars. But if you need to measure something semi-precisely and don’t own a set of fancy digital calipers or a micrometer, a basic crescent wrench will work in a pinch.
4. Leave the cap on
When doing an oil change, most people’s first instinct is to remove the filler cap and then get under the car to unscrew the drain plug. While this is certainly acceptable, leaving the cap on while draining the oil will create a vacuum and limit the flow of oil, which will keep it from coming out too fast and splashing everywhere. On a side note, any spilled oil can be easily soaked up with kitty litter. Once the majority of the oil has drained, go ahead and open the filler cap to get the remainder out and then replace the oil filter as usual.
3. Depressurize safely
If you’re swapping fuel injectors, replacing a fuel filter or installing a new rail or regulator, you’ll first need to depressurize the fuel system. This may sound dangerous and/or difficult, but it’s surprisingly easy. It’s always a good idea to work on a car that’s had a chance to cool off, especially when dealing with flammable liquids. Simply cover the bango fitting or Schrader valve on the rail with a rag or shop towel to absorb any fuel spray that may occur. It goes without saying, the less fuel you spill, the better.
2. Headlamps: Not just for spelunkers
Proper lighting makes any automotive task easier, but many lights are bulky, clumsy and get in the way. Free up your hands by using a headlamp, which typically also have brighter, cooler LED bulbs for even more illumination. This especially comes in handy when you’re working underneath a car.
1. Make paste
Need to thicken up a liquid so it will stick to what you need it to? Try adding some baking soda to the mix to create a paste that will cling to stuck bolts and fasteners. It will also keep nasty liquids from dripping in your face!