Project Garage Part VII: Garage Tools


 Ratcheting wrenches
 Ratcheting wrenches in different sizes (from 1/2″ to 3/8″ to 1/4″) offer different torque capacities.

Buy good quality ratchets and ratcheting wrenches. Ratchets and ratcheting wrenches have teeth within the head and a reversing mechanism that allows you to tighten or loosen fasteners where only a limited amount of movement is possible.  This way, you don’t have to remove the tool from the nut or bolt.  They should freely move back and forth- this is where high priced, good quality is worth the extra cash. 

Like an engine, tools have torque stats also. A torque requirement gives the amount of tension to use on a nut or bolt that will prevent metal fatigue or stripping the threads on the bolt. You'll need 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2” sizes to handle the different torque requirements for your car. 1/4″ are good for smaller jobs that require less torque, usually 4mm to 14 mm.  3/8″ are more commonly used especially for bolts 8-19mm. 1/2″ ratchets are necessary for the larger torque jobs like lug nuts and many suspension components, 13-32mm.
Wrenches, clockwise from top-left: combination ratcheting and open ended, box and open ended, flare nut, stubby, and an offset box wrench across the bottom.
Open ended and box wrenches (spanners to some tuners in the world) are a must in sizes from 6mm to 27mm. Box wrenches are fully enclosed to come into contact with all sides of the bolts. They usually have a 6 point recess for hexagonal nuts or bolts or a 12 point recess for square or hex shaped nuts and bolts.  The 12 point wrenches are the most versatile since they can fit on a bolt in a greater number of positions. Most come double ended with different sizes on each end. Open ended wrenches can slide quickly and easily onto the bolt gripping two opposite faces of the bolt.
Open ended and box wrench (combination wrenches)
Combination wrenches offer the best of both world- one side is a box wrench and the other side open ended, eliminating the need for a set of each. Adjustable end wrenches (shifting spanners) have two jaws that are adjusted with a screw mechanism that opens and closes the jaws, helpful for fasteners that you don't have the correct size wrench to work on. They come in non-locking and locking. The locking ones have an adjustable end with a locking mechanism to hold a position secure. These are available with both curved and straight jaws. These work wonders for bolts that may be slightly stripped and don't fit any socket well or if you want to hold one side in place while tightening or loosening the other side. They were originally known as monkey wrenches.
Midget wrenches
Midget combination wrenches is probably not the politically correct name…  The wrench end is the same size as it's taller brother, but the short length will let you fit them in tighter places.  
Get some stubby wrenches. Stubby wrenches have shorter handles for those small spaces. Also buy a set of allen key or hex key wrenches, which have an hexagonal shaped end that fits into the head of the bolt. Torque is limited by the length and thickness of the wrench.  Longer arm wrenches can apply more leverage. 

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