Like many financially challenged tool turners, we’ve often found ourselves at Harbor Freight. The stuff is inexpensive and they’ve got virtually every tool known to man. We figured even if they were of lesser quality we could buy three for the price of one name brand. Over time though, we’ve found the HF product lasted just as long the name brand, and in some instances even longer. We must have got a lucky batch or something.
We recently visited the folks at HF and were pleased to learn our experience is not uncommon. HF has its team of engineers scour the planet for the most popular tools, finds their strengths, distills the weaknesses and then fabricates a model in the HF factory. By selling factory direct, HF cuts out a sizable portion of the cash outlay and passes the savings onto the buyer.
Got a dream of building a dream garage? Don’t discount the gear at Harbor Freight.
– Anthony Gelinas
Pittsburgh Professional 1/2-inch Drive Click Stop Torque Wrench
As vehicles get more advanced so do the components holding them together, and the last thing you want to do is over or under tighten a bolt critical to keeping you safe. Modern vehicles feature a wide variety of materials that require just the right amount of torque to the fasteners holding them together. If you consider the cost involved after threads in your aluminum subframe get obliterated after you over-torque one of the steel stretch bolts, it’s worth investing in a Pittsburgh Professional torque wrench.
Central Machinery 3-Ton Heavy-Duty Jack Stands
Central Machinery heavy-duty jack stands for well over 10 years now and when used properly they are the best insurance against damage, dismemberment and death.
Central Pneumatic 1/3-hp, 3-gallon, 100-psi Oilless Air Compressor
Most people don’t understand that an air compressor does more than just fill up tires and power tools. An air compressor is the ultimate car-detailing tool, by allowing you to get water and dirt out of crevasses unreachable by conventional tools. The Central Pneumatic air compressor weighs about 20 pounds, making it easily transportable and allowing you to perform various household chores. When you consider air in a can costs about $3 each and stop working when they get cold, the compressor will pay for itself in no time.
Chicago Electric 1/2-inch drive electric impact wrench
Anyone who has ever tried to install a set of struts on any European vehicle can attest to the fact that without an impact wrench or expensive specialty tool it is impossible to remove and reinstall the nut holding the assembly together. The Chicago Electric electric impact wrench I have in my garage has done well over 100 suspension installs. The impact wrench has been dropped, left outside in the rain, the sockets don’t fit as tight as they use to when it was new and it looks used and heavily abused but it still works.
Pittsburgh Automotive rapid pump 1.5-ton compact aluminum racing jack
I always had the hardest time finding a jack that would fit under and clear the side skirts on my Audi A3, requiring me to use the factory jack or one of those $20 jacks you find at most auto parts stores that end up breaking after just a few uses. In the past I had tried a few other low-profile jacks and as soon as you pumped the lever the bar would crush the side skirt. One day at a friend’s house I tried his Pittsburgh Automotive compact, aluminum racing jack and it worked perfect. So I went out and bought one the next day and retired those cheap jacks to the back of the shed. And the padded jack handle will come in handy when your idiot friend is not paying attention.
Pittsburgh Professional 301-piece mechanic’s tool kit
When I started working on cars I was fortunate to have a dad who loved tools but never used them, he spent a small fortune outfitting the garage with every tool you could imagine. It was a lack of respect that ultimately made this vast collection of tools get padlocked out of reach, forcing me to buy my own tools piece by piece. If I was smart about it I would have saved up and bought a kit like the Pittsburgh Professional 301-piece mechanic tool kit instead of buying them as I need them—it would have saved me a fortune.