Ok, another thing for new techs…tools. Having your own tools is one of the most important things about becoming a tech. I’ve seen guys come in with little to no experience and drop A LOT of money on tools they aren’t even going to use for a long time; don’t do this. Instead, learn what you need for the job you’re doing right now, ask techs around you for advice of things to buy. I’ve always went but the rule, if you have to borrow it 3 times go buy it. You don’t have to own every single tool made right when you’re starting out, it’s a marathon and you have to pace yourself and get what you can as you go. Another bad thing I see new guys do it go out and get a $7,000+ toolbox and not even be able to fill one drawer, your toolbox doesn’t make you money, your tools do!! Get yourself a decent little box, my first “big” box was the harbor freight 11 drawer cabinet and it was great for me at the time! Then once I out grew it I moved up to a Mac tech series. Just buy tools first and a box later, it will benefit you in the long run.
So what to buy just starting out? I’ll list things that I believe are needed for a new tech that is just starting out. I will talk about brands some afterwards.
- 1/2 impact wrench
- 1/2 deep impact sockets (try to get a full set, it will save you money in the long run)
- Torque sticks (I personally like torque sticks, some people don’t. If you don’t use torque sticks I would use a torque wrench on wheels)
- Combination wrenches (also try to get a full set)
- Oil filter wrench, sockets, pliers (varies depending on what you will be working on)
- 1/2, 3/8, and 1/4 ratchets
- 1/2, 3/8, and 1/4 deep and shallow sockets
- 1/2, 3/8, and 1/4 extensions
- Cordless impact driver (will make your job much easier)
- Brake and tire tread gauge
- Air pressure gauge
- Bit set with torx and hex bits
That pretty much covers the basics to start out with, you may need to other small things depending on what makes you’re working on.
So lets talk brands, I feel like this is where a lot of people mess up. There is nothing wrong with buying the big names off the truck but you have to think about what makes sense for you at this time in your career. There are so many great brands that make tools at a very affordable price point. I’ll make a list of brands and what I would recommend buying from them.
- AirCat is the way to go if you’re look for a great air impact wrench at a good price point. This may also be one thing you might want to invest in more than others because your impact is going to be one of your most used tools. I personally love the Mac tools AWP050 impact, it is a beast and is well worth the investment.
- Grey Pneumatic impact sockets are awesome. I have all kinds of them and they work great, no complaints at all. Lifetime warranty and they are very affordable.
- As far as torque sticks go, Harbor Freight all the way. You can get a pretty large set for about $70. I have had mine for many years with no problems at all.
- Gear Wrench makes awesome wrenches (along with just about everything else) you really can’t go wrong with gear wrench. Although I will say, Snap-On has the best wrenches hands down but that is more of an investment to make later on down the road.
- Oil filter tools I would just buy off the truck. All my oil filter wrenches, sockets, and pliers are Mac and they work great.
- Ratchets…if you want to save money just go to Harbor Freight, they actually have some pretty decent ratchets. If you want to invest a lot here, buy the new style Mac ratchets. The new Mac ratchets are the best ratchets I’ve used in my opinion and having a good ratchet with save you a lot of headache sometimes.
- Grey Pneumatic if you want all impact sockets and gear wrench if you want chrome sockets. Snap-on makes awesome sockets but its not worth investing in right out of the gate, save your money for now.
- Extensions are the same as sockets, grey pneumatic for impact and gear wrench for chrome.
- DeWalt is the way to go when it comes to cordless tools. Get a 12v impact driver and you’ll be good to go.
- Brakes and tire tread gauges may be supplied by your shop, if not just grab them off the truck.
- Tire air gauge, buy a good one. Don’t waste your money on a cheap little gauge. Astro Pneumatic makes a good gauge that you can pick up for about $60.
- Harbor Freight for the bit set, they have a lot of options. I would get some extensions and things to make getting to some air boxes easier.
So basically starting out you want to keep your overhead low. Try to pay cash for everything you buy and don’t acquire a bunch of debt right off. Like I said before, its a marathon, you have to get what you can as you can. This leads me to my last part, toolboxes. If you’re just starting out all you need is a roll cart. Harbor Freight makes some really great options at very cheap prices. If you want to invest a little more and get something nicer, I would recommend the Mac tools mb197uc or something similar. The mb197uc is a great cart and holds a ton of tools, it will take you awhile to out grow it.
Hopefully this all is helpful to you and I answered some of your questions. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all or need advice. Keep up the hard work.