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Some mechanics say tools are like money, because you can never have too much. Unlike money, however, owning a lot of tools is not enough. You have to own the right tools to get the job done. A second-year apprentice has already interacted with the seasoned veterans of the trade and has seen on a daily basis what tools they use. The key is to own the right set of high-quality tools with lifetime warranties.
At the very minimum, you will need a high-quality socket set. The set should include quarter-inch, three-eighths inch and half-inch drives. Furthermore, a set of deep well sockets is also a necessity.
Bear in mind most, if not all, foreign vehicles have metric bolts, so your set should include both metric and English sizes. Sizes should range from about one-eighth inch all the way up to about an inch and a half.
Along with the sockets, breaker bars and good-quality ratchet wrenches should be part of the set.
Box Wrench Set
A complete set of box wrenches is also a necessity. These should range in size from one-quarter inch to about an inch and a half. An entire set of both English and metric wrenches is required. Again, only obtain good-quality, lifetime warranty wrenches.
Many vehicle manufacturers not only design the part, but also design a specialty tool to remove or install the part. If you specialize in one particular brand of car, such as Ford only, become familiar with what specialty tools are needed. The manufacturer's service department can inform you of the specialty tools you need for that particular brand of car.
More and more manufacturers are designing their own style of bolt head and nut configurations. These may include five-sided nuts or 12-point bolt heads. To remove these, you need special drivers. The University of Wyoming states that some bolts have security features that make them impossible to remove without the special driver.
Look to tool manufacturers to find the drivers needed, since as soon as a bolt is introduced, a mechanic will have to install or replace it someday.
Any serious mechanic knows a little bit about electricity, as well. Simple voltmeters, also called multimeters, are not that expensive. Knowing how to use one displays that you're a little sharper than the other apprentices.
If you have to test a circuit in an airplane or a car, a voltmeter is essential. If you know absolutely nothing about electricity in vehicle systems, take a class or read some textbooks on the subject to advance in your career.
Tony Oldhand has been technical writing since 1995. He has worked in the skilled trades and diversified into Human Services in 1998, working with the developmentally disabled. He is also heavily involved in auto restoration and in the do-it-yourself sector of craftsman trades. Oldhand has an associate degree in electronics and has studied management at the State University of New York.