5 Types of Specialty Automotive Repair Tools for Mechanic’s Toolbox


Removing a stuck nut or accessing a bolt buried deep inside an engine compartment can be extremely frustrating, especially without the proper tools to get the job done.

There are several types of specialized automotive tools that can make even simple repair jobs such as replacing a starter or installing a new master cylinder much easier. Using the tools listed below often helps mechanics simplify and quickly complete complicated automotive diagnostics and repair jobs — as well as avoiding banged knuckles and tirades of four-letter curse words.

5 types of specialized automotive repair tools

  1. Breaker Bar. Wrenching on a bolt or nut that’s stuck fast, typically due to rust invading the threads, can be frustrating. In these instances, torque can be a mechanic’s best friend. A breaker bar is simply a long extension for sockets that allows mechanics to break loose stuck fasteners by applying the extra torque needed to turn the bolt or nut. Consider purchasing a ratcheting breaker bar, which is basically an extra-long-handled ratchet that provides the much-needed torque to loose, troublesome bolts.
  2. Air ratchet. Pneumatic-driven ratchets can help mechanics be more efficient and productive by speeding up the task of removing fasteners during general automotive repair tasks. Air ratchets typically are sold in standard 1/4-, 3/8- and 1/2-inch drives, with varying torque specifications.
  3. Non-contact IR Thermometer. This tool is commonly used to detect thermal leaks in homes, but it has also found a place in the automotive repair industry, where overheating is a common problem with moving parts. The device can hone in on problems with the cooling system or a misfiring engine. It’s also handy for checking to see if brake shoes are working properly and to locate under-lubricated bearings on trailer wheels.
  4. Ratcheting box-end wrenches. These handy wrenches also help speed up the removal of fasteners and nuts. These tools typically combine an open-end wrench with a ratcheting box wrench so mechanics don’t have to reposition the wrench to keep loosening or tightening fasteners. The direction can be reversed simply by flipping the ratchet over.
  5. Hex balldriver wrenches. Balldrivers are a step up from traditional Allen wrench sets. The ends of the balldrivers are precision-milled and allow mechanics to turn bolts at a 25- to 30-degree angle — a huge benefit when working around the many hoses and cables cramping an engine compartment. Balldriver wrenches generally have screwdriver handles that help increase grip comfort and turning speed.

These tools are but a small portion of the hundreds of tools that can help make professional mechanics successful in their trade. Additional tools that could increase productivity or simplify difficult tasks include the following:

  • Battery-powered impact wrench
  • Flex-head ratchet
  • Ratchet extensions and swivels
  • Battery carrier
  • Fluorescent drop light
  • Hex-bolstered screwdrivers (the hex booster allows mechanics to use a wrench for greater turning power)
  • Spark plug pliers

Many of these tools aren’t crucial for entry-level mechanical work, but they sure can come in handy from time to time. Many mechanics purchase a tool a week to keep from overspending.


  1. Balldriver Allen Wrenches, Newport, http://www.newport.com/Balldriver-Allen-Wrenches/144525/1033/info.aspx
  2. Noncontact Infrared Temperature Measurement: Industry Applications – Other Applications, http://www.raytek.com/Raytek/en-r0/IndustryApplications/OtherIndustrialSolutions/Default.htm
  3. Noncontact Infrared Temperature Measurement: Other Applications – Automotive Diagnostics, http://www.raytek.com/Raytek/en-r0/IndustryApplications/OtherIndustrialSolutions/AutomotiveApplications.htm
  4. Ratchets, Ingersoll Rand, http://www.ingersollrandproducts.com/am-en/products/tools/ratchets
  5. Top Auto Mechanic Tools, The Family Handman, http://www.familyhandyman.com/tools/automotive-tools/top-auto-mechanic-tools
  6. “What Is a Breaker Bar?,” wiseGEEK, http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-breaker-bar.htm