General Tools

I have people from time to time ask about tools I use for my various projects and I like sharing what I have found useful tool wise. So I figured I would make one page dedicated to what I actually use with a brief list of why I like it.



I carry a small flashlight on me at all times in a holster on my belt. As I got older I found it helped me see better. Especially on small text or small things before I started wearing glasses. Even with the glasses it comes in handy at times. This is my wear all the time flashlight.


EagleTac P20A2 MKII LED Flashlight, Black

Lumen Output: LED lumen:453-365/75/10;ANSI FL-1 lumen: 329-263/58/8
• Runtime:1.5hrs/8hrs/100hrs
• Beam Distance:119m
• Battery Type:2*AA
• XM-L2 LED;91g;IPX-8 Waterproof

I wear this thing ALL the time and would be lost without it. In my opinion it is about as indestructible as a flashlight gets as many times as I have dropped it. I’m sure if one tried to damage it you could find a way but under normal use it still looks like new. I used to carry a mini mag-light but this thing makes a mini mag look like a candle. I use it usually once a day minimum and most of the time a good bit more than that and I only have to recharge the nimh batteries about once a month. So battery life is great too.


Another light I picked up not long ago that is fast becoming a must have for dash or underdash work is this one :

GRDE Zoomable 3 Modes 1800 Lumens Super Bright LED Headlamp with Rechargeable Batteries

At $20 I can’t believe I did without one of these this long. 100% hands free and looks like your wearing a car headlight on your head output wise on its highest setting. I normally use it on the low setting to keep from blinding myself when working on stuff. I had wanted a head light like this for awhile but each time I would bother looking the cheap ones were well… cheap. I didn’t see anything I thought I would actually use. This one has long life lithium batteries so it will hold a charge for a long time between uses. Has 3 different chargers included. It has an ac house charger, 12 volts cig lighter charger and a usb charger. If you can’t find a way to charge this thing your living life wrong 🙂

You can tilt the light to any angle you need from out in front of you for walking to any angle in front of you for close up work. Its made heater core installs a dream light wise and car stereo installs I wouldn’t do without it now.


This last light is not that bright compared to my LED specialty lights. It isn’t fancy looking and isn’t my go to light ever under almost any circumstance. So why include it? Because I have one of these in EVERY vehicle. They are dirt cheap and if all else fails I KNOW this light will work. It has no batteries to run down or corrode. Just squeeze the handle a couple of times for 10 minutes or more of light. I call it the peace of mind factor 🙂

3 LED Dynamo Squeeze Action Rechargeable Flashlight – No Batteries



Electrical Test Equipment

One thing you see people mention from time to time is to use a test light to check for electrical problems. I don’t normally use one. In fact I don’t even own one. I use a voltmeter for those jobs. But one thing I do own and find to be a can’t live without is a noid light. Its basically just a fancy test light but its designed for working on injector harness connectors. The reason its so handy is you don’t have to worry with which wire is positive and which is ground on the harness. Simple plug it in and your good to go testing wise. What makes this one so handy is it has a LONG cord. Most noid lights don’t even have a cord. They just have 2 prongs on the back of the light. This works fine except you can’t see the light if you are inside the car cranking it. So the lights happily flashing away under the hood with no one watching it. Sure you can use a remote start switch but those don’t work on all setups. This light allows you to put it somewhere so you can actually see it while inside the car. It even has a suction cup on one end for attaching to the windshield.
Lisle 27800 Universal Noid Light


Timing Light

In todays modern car world a timing light is considered extinct by most people and I fully admit I don’t use this tool much anymore. But when I need it I am soooo glad I have it. In the past I used simple timing lights that had nothing more than a trigger button to turn the light on as needed when setting the timing on a motor. But this one goes so far beyond that. I can adjust timing up and down digitally on the fly, read the motors rpm right on the display (car tachs are so inaccurate), and a host of other features. This is one of those tools that I recommend making sure to get the one I’m linking below in place of just getting a timing light. This particular one is well worth the money. If you use amazon for this purchase be sure to pick the digital one. It list 3 different models and the digital one is what I have.
INNOVA 3568 Digital Timing Light


Mechanical Test Equipment

Pressure tester

I went without one of these for years and I can sit here now realizing how much grief I went through without this thing. What makes this one so handy is what comes with it and the scale it can handle pressure wise. Its designed to test engine oil pressure and transmission oil pressure. This  means it scale is much higher than a simple oil pressure gauge could handle. Plus it comes with enough adapters to handle pretty much everything your likely to run into. It even came with a very rare british pipe thread adapter I used on my Miata. Most kits don’t have that adapter. Heck most hardware stores don’t keep the fitting is stock either.
Advanced Tool Design Model ATD-5550 Automatic Transmission and Engine Oil Pressure Gauge Kit




Ball Joint Separator

Ok every one has seen the old standard on this one. The huge tuning fork looking tool. Also known as a pickle fork. Its been around for years and just about everyone that does any serious automotive work has one. I even have one. But its not what I use to separate a ball joint with except for as a last resort. What I use is this :


OTC 6297 Ball Joint Separator

Trust me once you use one you won’t go back to the old tool either. Clamp this on and tighten it down and it will pop a ball joint lose with ease. Word of warning though, when it pops it sounds like a shotgun going off. Almost scared me to death the first time I used it.


Swivel headed ratchet

This little jewel became necessary when I bought a 1994 BMW 318is. The starter bolts are in valleys of the transmission bell housing where it meets the engine. Basically your trying to ratchet the bolt out with the motor, firewall and those valley ridges in the way. This ratchet was the only tool I could get in there with. Since then it has paid for itself over and over. The design is so much better than a flexible neck type most have.


TEKTON 1491 3/8-Inch Drive Quick-Release Swivel Head Ratchet, 72-Tooth Round Head



CV Boot Pliers

Another must have tool but I will admit it doesn’t get used very often. It’s not the tools fault but I just don’t do cv axles much. But when I do repair one its pretty much the only thing that works.
Lisle 30800 CV Boot Clamp Pliers


Stubby Wrench set

Kind of strange but I never owned a complete set of stubby wrenches my entire life until recently. I have from time to time cut a wrench down for a job or bought a stubby wrench when all else failed but I just never could come up with a reason to own a full set. What I found out once I owned a complete set was how handy they were over my regular wrenches. Having a complete set meant it wasn’t a last resort but the go to wrench for lots of my projects. Most parts stores carry a set like this but this is what I bought so I’m adding it to the list.


TEKTON 1919 Stubby Combination Wrench Set, Metric, 10-Piece


Ford Headlight wrench

I wanted to avoid specialty tools in this section and this tool is basically only good for ford vehicles but I use it so much for my own vehicles and other people’s that I felt it was a good fit in this section. Basically on most newer ford vehicles you can’t really adjust the headlights without this thing. Well you can’t without immense pain being involved. It looks like a ratchet head on one end but there are no clicks when using it. On a normal ratchet you have to move the wrench so far to get a click from it and you wouldn’t have the room with the long handle to do that adjusting headlights as far down as the bolt heads are. This thing doesn’t really ratchet. It just works. 4mm hex with roller clutch for infinite settings. A must have tool if you own a ford with headlights like this. I have even used to for other jobs besides that.


Lisle 14540 Headlight Adjusting Ratchet for Ford



Power Tools

My go to power tool company is Makita. I have two kits in all but I use this new one the most now. The small size of the case, the tools themselves and the lithium ion batteries that are always charged when I need them are probably why.

Makita LCT209W 12V max Lithium-Ion Cordless 2-Piece Combo Kit

It’s still hard to believe how powerful the pair of these are after using the larger kit for so long.



Battery Chargers

I wanted a small sized but modern charger I could move around easily and it had to show the voltage of the battery for testing. This fit bill. It has lasted me for quite a few years now and is still my first choice when grabbing a charger.
Schumacher SSC-1500A-CA Ship ‘N’ Shore 15 Amp SpeedCharge Charger with Battery Clamps

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