What Wrenches Should You Carry In Your Vehicle?

13 Apr

If you purchased the Craftsman tools and tool sets I recommended in my book back in 2012, you made out like a bandit. Many of those sets are no longer made in the USA. The Chinese wrenches are called “lobster claws” by reviewers. They don’t have the elegance of the older USA made Craftsman tools.

Purchasing the recommended tools may have cost you $300-$400. The same USA sets on eBay indicate a total price now of $1,000 to $1,200 plus. At those prices, look into getting SK branded tools if you want USA. If China is OK, go for Gearwrench. The older Gearwench were Taiwan and better. You can search eBay for the USA Armstrong brand. Those are very much like the older Craftsman.

A few of the tools that are gone include the full polish deep offset wrench set. Deep offset wrenches can save your bacon in many situations. To install shock absorbers, for many vehicles, you need to reach a nut sitting in a well while at the same time holding the shock spindle above it. Sockets don’t work. You can purchase special tools to do the job. A pass-through socket set would work. OR you could rely on the handy deep offset wrench.

What kind of specialty wrenches are handy? The deep offset wrenches are invaluable. Stubby wrenches can reach in where longer wrenches can’t fit. Line wrenches or flare nut wrenches prevent rounding off soft line fittings. The USA line wrench sets from Sears are gone.

What wrenches should you carry in your vehicle? The answer: The wrenches you need! If you’re stuck today paying high prices and insist on USA tools, you can save money by purchasing only the wrenches you need. This is bad value if you work on a lot of different vehicles, but is something to consider if you only drive one brand of vehicle.

All makers use a few key sizes. Most GM vehicles use 8mm, 10mm, 13 mm, and 15 mm for most of the bolts you’re likely to encounter. Why carry a full wrench set in your vehicle when you only need a few sizes?

Carrying the sizes you really need gives you the option of adding more wrenches in the useful sizes. Learn what wrench sizes you need for your vehicle and carry those. The same is true of sockets. Carry fewer sizes. Add swivel sockets in the key sizes.

Carrying a lot of stuff isn’t the answer to anything. Carrying the right stuff is.


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A sad story. A kid cut in front of a vehicle and was accidentally hit. The driver stopped to help and was attacked by a mob of hooligans.



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A few other things to add to your vehicle:

– Extra Radiator hoses
– Jug of coolant
– Pliers
– Flat and Philips Screwdrivers
-Vice Grips
-Duct tape and bailing wire
– Mechanics gloves
– Clean rags


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