Every garage needs a few basics. Screwdrivers, pliers, a constant influx of 10 mm sockets to replace the ones that disappear in the night. Many garages, however, expand on those basics to include some tools that you may not immediately think of — but, once you’ve tried them, you’ll never go back.
Those tools can come from odd places. Maybe a specialty tool came included with a specific car part, but you’ve found other uses for it in the years since. Maybe you made a tool yourself, with a welder and a bit of ingenuity. Maybe you, like former Mythbuster Adam Savage, rely on surplus medical equipment for some of your fine detail work.
For me, the single tool that’s added the most capability to my toolbox has been a good multimeter. Owning a basic meter is great for checking your battery or diagnosing other simple issues, but once you upgrade to one with features like audible continuity the world of auto electronics starts opening its doors to you. Need to diagnose a broken wire? Check if a bit of exposed metal is really a solid ground? A good multimeter will make it easy.
That multimeter became invaluable when diagnosing a faulty backup camera in my own car. The camera worked fine, but going into reverse wouldn’t pull it up on the radio screen — pointing to an issue with the trigger signal I’d tapped off the reverse light wiring. A bit of multimeter guess-and-check later, and the camera was back in action. Without the meter, though, it would probably still be broken.
So what’s your irreplaceable tool? The one that goes a bit above and beyond the basics, but has made itself invaluable in your garage. Bonus points if it allows you to do something at home that you never would’ve expected to be within your capability. We’ll collect our favorite results in a slideshow this afternoon, so be unique.