Can You Identify All These Items You’d Find If You Walked Into a Mechanics Shop?
By: Ian Fortey
Image: Peter Muller / Cultura / Getty Images
About This Quiz
Do you know how many different models of cars there are in the world? There are at least 75 different manufacturers out there and between them, they have produced over 1,700 different models. And that's how we've gotten to the point we're at today with over 1 billion cars on the road around the world. That's a lot of engines, a lot of brake systems, a lot of transmissions and a lot of flat tires. Someone needs to take care of all of that and mechanics are the ones who step up to the plate. But with so many models, manufacturers and malfunctions it takes a lot of tools to get it all right. You need engine cranes to yank those big blocks out, you need spark testers to check for current, you need an OBD2 scanner to figure out all those complicated dash error lights. And that's just a few of the dozens of tools at a mechanic's disposal.
You don't have to be a mechanic to know all the tools at a mechanic's disposal but it sure would help. If you think you can ID everything you might find in a shop, take the quiz and show us your stuff!
When you need more grip than a wrench can offer, or you're in a hard-to-reach place, which of these will do the trick?
A set of good quality sockets will get you that extra bit of torque you need to get even the most difficult of nuts and bolts. The idea behind the socket wrench isn't particularly new and these things have existed for several hundred years. Clock-winding keys from the Middle Ages were essentially socket wrenches.
You can't lift your car to change a tire unless you have which of these tools?
Jacks come in a variety of styles, from an old-fashioned mechanical jack that uses a screw thread to rise up and lift a heavy object like a car, to the more advanced hydraulic jacks you see in shops that use hydraulic power.
Do you know the name of this super common tool that our friends in England call a spanner?
It would be hard to find a more important tool in a mechanic's repertoire than a good old-fashioned wrench. A good quality wrench won't just be made of steel, it'll be something like a chromium-vanadium steel alloy so it can stand up to some pressure.
Do you know which of these simple-but-remarkably-useful tools likely dates back to about 3000 B.C?
Pliers can come in a number of forms but for the most part, all you need are handles on a pivot with some kind of teeth on the other side. They're handy for holding, cutting, loosening, and even bending metal.
This tool is basically the mechanic's equivalent of a pencil. Do you know what it's called?
Sometimes when you're working with metal parts, you need to mark a measurement or where you need to make a cut but a pencil or a pen obviously won't work. A metal scribing tool works exactly like a pencil but it cuts the line into the metal rather than simply leaving a mark on the surface.
Sometimes the best way to dislodge a stuck rotor is with which one of these tools?
A hammer has more of a reputation as a carpenter's tool but it's 100% necessary in a garage setting for those times when something is so corroded, worn, or warped that it needs less finesse and more brute force like getting brake calipers and pads loose, or stuck rotors.
Which of these tools is perfect for delicate work, like separating wires and electrical connectors?
Pick and hook set
A pick and hook set may look like some rugged dental tools but they're great for precision work in a car. The tiny tools can remove O-rings, separate tightly attached electrical components, pry wires apart, and snag fallen washers or other tiny pieces you can't reach with your fingers.
Which of these tools is a mechanic likely to grab if a car is banged up and they need to pry something free, like a side panel?
A wrecking bar, also known as a pry bar, a crowbar, a jimmy bar, a gooseneck and about a dozen other names, is an extremely versatile tool that has a number of uses related to prying and pulling things apart. The name "crow" comes from the actual bird and dates back at least 500 years.
Do you know which of these handy tools makes it easier to see into poorly lit places?
Headlamps have a ton of uses outside of the mechanic's garage but inside they're useful for when you need to see inside and around an engine but don't have a free hand to hold a flashlight. Thomas Edison actually developed some of these for miners around the year 1914.
When you can't get a nut to come off no matter how hard you try, which of these tools is your last resort?
A nut splitter works by forcing a chisel tip into the flat side of a nut and, as you crank the handle, it embeds itself into the metal until the nut splits open. This will remove a stuck nut but not damage the threads underneath.
You can diagnose weird noises in a car with which of the tools?
Everyone has had a moment when their car was making a new and mysterious sound. An easy and efficient way to get to the root of that noisy problem is an automotive stethoscope which can narrow the sound down to the precise part of the car that's making it. A wireless version can even diagnose issues while the car is in motion.
You need which of these tools to ensure you can actually see what you're doing?
LED under-hood light
The best under-hood lights have a magnetic base on them so that they're not limited to being under the hood and can be stuck right under the entire car, for instance, so you can clamp them down wherever you need to see what you're doing.
Pouring liquid is so much easier with which of these tools?
Oil drip pan
There are a lot of liquids inside a car ranging from motor oil to washer fluid to transmission fluid. A funnel is going to ensure they all get where they need to go without spilling, which is super important since spilled fluids won't just make your engine dirty, they can also be fire hazards.
When you need a precise amount of torque which of these tools will help?
Digital torque adapter
When you're in a hurry you might just want to tighten every bolt as tight as humanly possible, but that's not actually the right way to do things. Every bolt on a car actually has a factory-recommended amount of torque that should be applied and especially when you're dealing with lugnuts you want to keep that in mind. A digital torque adapter on a ratchet ensures the exact right amount of torque and no more.
Pneumatic tools are super handy but they're useless without which of these?
Tons of tools in a shop are pneumatic, which is to say they run on compressed air. You need an air compressor if you want to run them. They seem daunting but some of them can be as cheap as about $150 or so.
Do you know which one of these tools will make short work of mounting a new tire?
Tire changers may not have the most clever name ever, but they do what they say. Not in the traditional "jack up the car and put the spare on" sense; they are used to install the rubber wheel over the metal rim.
Thanks to this tool you can keep your hands clean when doing heavy lifting. What is it?
Car batteries are not exactly the lightest part of a car by any means and taking one out takes a bit of finesse and elbow grease. An old battery is bound to be not only heavy but greasy. Save yourself the trouble by using a battery carrier to yank it out and move it around.
Do you know which tool will keep your garage floor spill-free?
Oil changes are best done with an oil-drip pan under the car to catch any spills from the engine, transmission, or whatever is being worked on. It's not just a matter of cleanliness but also one of safety, as errant oil is dangerous.
In order to slide in and out from underneath a car with ease, you should use which of these?
At the end of the day, a creeper is just a board on wheels. Because you need to get in and out underneath cars without spending half your time wriggling across a dirty floor, this was created as a simple and easy tool to get mechanics where they need to go.
Removing paint is a breeze with which of these tools?
A heat gun is helpful for heating up paint that needs to be stripped away or for shrinking and sealing vinyl wraps on a car. It's also good for flash drying paint when you want to speed the process up. You can generally get them for under $200.
Which hefty air-powered tool can blast rust off of nearly any surface?
Looking like a massive tattoo gun, a needle scaler is useful for those big rust-removal jobs. Over a dozen 1/8" needles zip up and down 4,600 times per minute to power through rust, dirt, paint, and whatever else may be present to obscure the pristine metal underneath.
Which of these basic tools come in at least 14 different shapes?
Screwdrivers have been adapted to a wide array of functionality with many different heads including Slotted, Phillips, Robertson, Torx, Clutch, Frearson, JIS, Posidriv, Hex, Tri-angle, Tri-point, and Tri-wing, just to name a few.
When you need to hold something as tightly as possible you'll need which of these?
A good machinist's vice can provide a strong grip on something you're cutting, filing or otherwise working on. These things have existed since at least the 1750s, so they have a history of reliability.
Precision measurements are best done with which of these tools?
Hose clamp pliers
Digital calipers are used for measuring extremely precise distances and clearances which can be important in an engine where everything must be perfectly measured and sized for optimal functionality. You can use them to measure the precise snap ring thickness or the bore of a seal.
Some of these can handle weights of up to 2 tons. What is it?
Engine blocks can weigh up to 1,000 pounds, so an engine crane is needed to safely lift one out of a car. Cranes come in a variety of sizes, are capable of lifting a variety of weights and can range anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
One of these tools can help diagnose issues with overheating or faulty refrigeration circuits. Which is it?
A laser thermometer is the quickest and easiest way to determine if a part of the engine is overheating or if one of your refrigeration circuits isn't working the way it should. Just point and shoot and you'll be able to see where the temperature isn't what it should be.
When you want to diagnose an electrical issue which of these is the best choice?
A voltmeter is useful for dealing with a car's electrical system if something isn't working right and you need to find out where the short might be. The earliest voltmeters date back to the 1820s when Andre Ampere used one to measure a current.
If you need to loosen something in a really tight space, this tool could help. What is it?
A palm ratchet is an obscure but helpful little tool for when you need to loosen something up but don't have the space to use a tool with a handle. You're going to sacrifice some torque on the job, but it's better than not being able to reach at all.
If you want to get a look into someplace obscure and secluded inside a vehicle which of these tools has your back?
Diagnostic inspection camera
A diagnostic inspection camera works with a fiberoptic camera attached to a screen that you can snake into and behind all sorts of small and hard to reach areas. This makes diagnosing an issue much easier since you don't need to take things apart to see the problem.
You'll definitely need safety glasses before using which one of these tools?
Angle grinders are useful in all kinds of shops for grinding and cleaning metal as well as cutting through things like rusted bolts and fasteners. There's actually no clear consensus on when the angle grinder was invented, with some stories saying it was in Germany in the '50s and others placing it as late as the early '70s.
You can easily get a grip on an oil filter with this aptly named tool. What is it?
An oil-filter wrench makes it just a heck of a lot easier to take hold of an oil filter which could be too greasy to grab with your hands and more awkwardly shaped than a normal wrench can handle. There are a handful of different kinds but they're all basically the same.
Do you know which of these tools will help diagnose what the warning lights on a dash display mean?
OBD2 stands for On-Board Diagnostics 2 and that's the basic system that runs in most modern cars and trucks. The OBD2 sends signals to the various systems and components in your car to keep a general picture of how it's functioning. An OBD2 scanner lets you tap into that system to identify when a problem crops up and determine the best way to deal with it.
This specialized tool ensures you won't damage certain wires and other parts during repairs. Do you know it?
Crow's foot wrench
Spark plug pliers
Every now and then you need to remove some spark plugs but a regular pair of pliers will destroy the boot and the wires. Spark plug pliers can come with curved and even padded jaws allowing for a firm grip that won't damage anything as you try to remove a tricky plug.
If you have a flat tire, then you'll be able to make good use of which of these?
A tire inflator is the most basic attachment you'll see on an air compressor and probably the one most average people are most familiar with. It should come with a gauge that measures PSI up to at least 100.
Do you know which of these items is invaluable for keeping your electronics and battery charged?
A portable jump starter has many uses beyond just jumping a dead battery. A good quality one can be used up to 80 times on a single charge and can also work as an LED light as well as a charging station for phones and tablets.
Which of these tools will determine if you have an electrical current?
If a car engine isn't starting at all, there can be a few reasons for it but one of them is that there's no current reaching the spark plugs. If that's the case, pop one out and plug in a spark tester. It'll show right away if there's a current or not.