Any auto mechanics out there......
I'm soon to be starting a career as an auto mechanic. Just wondering what are some of the tools I should start off with in my tool box. I have some tools already.
Socket set, big one with full metric and standard. Craftsman so you can get em replaced if they break.
Lock on your tool box.
Domestic or imports?
You never have all the tools you need. My most used item is a small pocket screwdriver. Use it dozens of times everyday. Quality is the most important thing....but even the best will break eventually.
Good light is a big help, air tools eventually. Protect your hands and your back, you're going to be old one day and you'll thank me for this advice. Try not to get into snappy too deep, he'll try to sell you everything under the sun.
Are you going to be going to a trade or technical school? If so, hold off on your tool purchase until you find out if they have a program that will allow you to buy tools at a discount from Snap-On, Matco, etc.
Modern or vintage?
If modern, a laptop wth the appropriate readers/software, a vacuum gauge/pump and an automotive multimeter.
If vintage, a combination wrench set, a socket set and an automotive multimeter.
In my experience of about 25 years on the trade/hobby, 95% of the daily problems are either in the fuel & vacuum system, or electrical.
I was a marine mechanic in the late '90s and early 2000s and the dealerships I worked for sold Mastercraft, Regal, Tige and boats that had outboard motors- all of them required significant knowledge of 12VDC electrical systems. The Mastercraft used GM 350 engines with throttle body or multiport fuel injection and those run using several sensors that need to be within a certain electrical range, or it will show a trouble code. I had done car audio/security for about 20 years, so the electrical part was easy but when I would go to Mastercraft training, the guys who couldn't deal with simple electrical tasks were completely lost. They had a really good reputation for working on engines with a carb, but the more advanced stuff had them scratching their heads.
I am going to school for auto mechanics. I think our school works with a rep from Snap-On. I did see Snap-On catalogs laying around. I'll have to check when I go back in the fall.
The best advice I ever heard but didn't listen to...."If your smart enough to work on today's cars then your smart enough not to have to". Sorry.
But if you insist...I'd keep from getting to far into debt with snap on. Snap on tools are the best, and tools are an investment that pay for themselves over and over, but unnecissary for a beginner. A good comprehensive tool set from craftsman can take you far. that and all the basic impacts and a good DVOM. Especially if you work for a dealer because most of the specialty tools are supplied. My favorite tool is my little Makita cordless 1/4 impact driver. I'm actually on my second one and it's waysted but still works awesome and they have made me tens of thousands of dollers.
Hands down the best tool you'll ever have cost's you nothing because you were born with it. Your noodle. Critical thinking is something that few guys have. I mean, the type were when you have a problem you stick your nose in a book and do what's necessary to figure it out. Study study and then study some more. You don't have to know everything, just how to find the information you need and the brain to logicaly figure things out. You have to have a passion for it or you'll be just like most other's on the bottom of the ladder working for peanuts. And when you get to your first job make friends with the guys that are the best in the shop and watch, listen and learn.
Be carefull what you do to/with your body. I'm 44, been working on cars since I was old enough to hold a flashlight for my dad, profesionaly since probably 16/17. My body is waysted. Knees, elbow's, shoulders....but my biggest problem is a herniated disc in my lower back. I'm honestly not sure how much longer I can make it. SAVE MONEY along the way.
Others may dissagree but I suggest getting a job at a dealership and soak up all the factory training you can get. Thier usually more stable and offer better bennifits. Once your trained and have some years of experiance under your belt (and if you've used your time wisely and know what your doing) then you'll be able to write your own ticket.
Get into a dealer. If you show you're serious about your trade, they will send you to school. Take advantage of that. Learn, work hard and don't be afraid if they give you jobs that you feel are above you. You'll have the resources to figure it out. (be it books, tools, web access or if your peers can't help you, they'll bring in an engineer)
Keep in mind dealers are normally independantly operated, so your boss is a small business owner.
Once you feel like you aren't going to progress anymore and you are proficient at your trade, look into national or worldwide companies that have thousands of mechanics in their employ. Usually they will have better benefits and something that is going the way of the dinosaur. A pension. Look into coca cola, United Rentals, Hertz,Ups, Fedex, or municipalities.
Best thing I ever did.
That said, all of the major manufacturers (and some of the smaller ones) sell good tools that will last a long time. When I was still doing car audio/security, I stopped using Craftsman screwdrivers, sockets and combination wrenches because the tips didn't last long, the plating came off of the sockets too easily (I was tired of slicing my hands) and the combo wrenches were too thick to fit in some places, the open end flared too much and above all, I was tired of wasting time replacing tools. I switched to mostly Snap On and have replaced almost none of them in over 20 years. Buy used hand tools, if you need to save money but buy good ones. I have dropped combo wrenches, screwdrivers, extensions, ratchets and sockets on concrete many times and none have dented, lost plating, no screwdriver tips broke. Almost nothing annoys me as much as a tool that breaks. If a duplicate isn't available, it's possible that a broken tool will stop work on a job until a new tool shows up and that's just not acceptable.
Over time, you'll learn what works for heavy use, what doesn't and when a less expensive tool will work over the long term. It's not a contest and you'll want to pay attention to your tool expense- it adds up in a hurry and many people go into great debt because they want it all. Ask the Snap On rep about used tool cabinets and impact tools- they take them in trade all the time when someone wants to move up the line.
What school? Many use videos that come from automakers and are specific to their processes, theory behind the design and their fasteners. Fastener technology isn't always brand-specific but some do use parts that they may have a patent for.
Now that I don't work on cars, I have no back problems and I would go for weeks, walking like Groucho Marx because it was so painful.
I'd much rather work on a tournament ski boat- the engine is right there in the middle, the engine cover comes out for easier access and they use EFI- if you like boats, think about working on them because that industry is sorely lacking in good technicians. I don't mean "kind of" lacking, I mean a lot of them don't seem to know which end of a screwdriver to pound on and most have no idea how to troubleshoot common problems.
a GOOD pocket flashlight.
A quality code reader is nice to have.
Craftsman doesn't always honor their 'lifetime'.
Snap also makes BluePoint, which are pretty much the same, without the snap-on logo.
Get a quality rolling box, and KEEP IT ORGANIZED
I'm not a professional tech, but get to play one on the internet...............
See what sort of tool purchase program they have at whatever school you're attending. Start with the basic hand tools and move up into air tools as your skills develop. Hopefully you're attending a decent school and not one of the puppy mill schools (Wyo Tech, UTI, Lincoln etc....) and you can take advantage of an intern position to gain some real shop experience and not just school shop time...... there's a world of difference between the two.
Myself I'd avoid a dealership and go into the fleet or government side of it, if you can find a job with one or the other.
If your buying your tools from Snap-on ask if they still make tools with a black finish. They did back in the day. They are not pretty but no one will steal them, and they are much less expensive.
I racked up a huge bill with snap on. I quit mechanic work 2yrs ago, and some of those tools are still sitting in my tool box, brand new with the wrapper still on. Make sure you have a good set of wrenches, 1/4, 3/8, & 1/2 drive ratchet and socket sets, some good screw drivers, and a tool box that you can roll around, that locks.
All that being said, three tools I used the most in the shop, that were absolutely crucial to my day to day activities were a small pocket size flat head screwdriver, a high quality pocket flashlight, and a good pair of boots. Also pretty important was an 18v cordless impact drill, with a no3 Phillips bit, and a set of adapters so I could use sockets with it. Its a lifesaver, and will keep you from getting carpel tunnel.
Not a pro, shadytree mechanic here...
Don't get caught up in specialty tools and forget your basics like:
Ball peen hammer and crowbar.
A good strong piece of pipe to use as a breaker bar.
Don't lend tools you wouldn't give away.
I'll give the same advice that I always do...............
Work on motorcycles, small engines, etc. They are SO much easier than cars. there is so much crap packed under the hood of cars these days that just getting to the engine is a PITA.
I say get what you like, my favorite 3/8 ratchet is an off brand deal with a swiveling head. I use it regularly over my snapon.
When acquiring socket sets, I purchased six point socket sets before twelve point socket sets, (you need both), because when taking old rusty fasteners off, the six point socket is less likely to damage the head of the fastener.
A couple of dead-blow hammers are useful.
Take care of screwdrivers. I replace them when the tips wear out. I buy mostly SnapOn screwdrivers, and they basically don't guarantee them at all, but they are much better than Craftsmen screwdrivers. They are not meant to be hammered on. I bought a set of "demolition screwdrivers", (from Stanley, at Home Depot,) that are made to be hammered on if need be.
I have carried this very high quality mini-ratchet set around the globe, in a field service tool kit, to work on very intricate mechanical equipment, and it has been extremely useful, and has never failed: http://www.techni-tool.com/857IE003.
I have bought a LOT of SnaOn tools, and I find that for rusty/stuck fasteners, they are more likely to work than other brands, BUT their guarantee, is probably the worst of any brand.
I could tell you of numerous problems with SnapOn tools that failed on first use, where the dealer acted like I did not know how to use tools. I still buy them, but I hate the dealers, and the warranty.
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