Best Automotive Power Tools: Add Some Power to Your Workshop
Consider these power tools to make automotive work easier
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Automotive maintenance can require a lot of different tools to complete in an efficient and timely manner. Power tools can make maintenance even easier by speeding up repetitive processes like fastening nuts and bolts. In some cases, a power tool is also better suited for certain tasks than the hands alone. Since there are many power tools you can use for automotive maintenance, here's our guide to come of the best, most important ones to consider adding to your garage.
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Why Buy an Automotive Power Tool
- Work more quickly. When you add some electricity into your workflow, things naturally become more efficient. While speed isn't always warranted or wise for certain automotive tasks, there are plenty of times where a power tool makes sense. Fasteners, for example, go much faster when you have the right electric screwdriver or impact driver in your hands.
- Tighten or loosen fasteners with more torque. A car has a lot of components that rely on basic torque and friction to stay together. Fasteners like lug nuts secure different parts that need to stay in place to work properly. If a fastener requires a high degree of torque, certain power tools will be more capable than tightening it down by hand.
- Avoid fatigue. The more you use your hands when working on a car, the more you work your muscles. Over time, lengthy automotive tasks can fatigue the muscles or even increase the risk of minor injuries. Since power tools can take the major load off of the muscles, they are a smart investment when you want to protect your health as much as possible.
Types of Automotive Power Tools
Drivers tend to be the most common type of power tools used for automotive applications. Tightening and loosening fasteners, drivers take out the need for hand-driven screwdrivers. Most are either electric screwdrivers or impact drivers; the right choice depends on the amount of torque you need since impact drivers can deliver greater amounts of force.
Drills tend to be useful when it comes to making upgrades to certain parts that can't be mounted directly. Accessories and performance upgrades, for example, may require pre-drilled holes in order to be secured to the vehicle.
Saws and Grinders
Extensive upgrades or automotive alterations can require a saw or grinder to cut away body panels, smooth surfaces, or otherwise alter the vehicle in drastic ways. Restoration projects also tend to require heavy-duty tools like these if there is a significant amount of damage or rust.
Top Brands of Automotive Power Tools
Milwaukee Tool is a company that has made a name for itself when it comes to reliable power tools. In particular, the company specializes in cordless power tools with a focus on interchangeable, sharable batteries and charger accessories. For automotive work, we recommend options like the Impact Wrench, which can be used for automotive and general work.
It's no mistake that Black+Decker has become a staple of many power tool sets. Starting as two separate shops and companies, Black+Decker has the development of portable power tools in its DNA. Check out the Black+Decker 20V MAX Cordless Drill/Driver.
Automotive Power Tool Pricing
- $50 and under: This can be a challenging range to find power tools with enough power for automotive work, but some impact drivers that scrape the top of this range can get the job done. Most options, however, tend to be geared more for general DIY use around the home instead of the garage.
- $50-$100: There are plenty of great impact and drill options in this price range for automotive work. Most power tools here will be just the tool itself, lacking major accessories or even a battery.
- $100 and above: The high end of automotive power tools offers the most options in terms of powerful tools capable of handling most automotive tasks. More importantly, many come in complete kits that include all of the accessories and batteries necessary to get going from the start.
The right power tool is all about performance and design. This varies depending on the type, but nearly all power tools need to have an ergonomic design in order to feel comfortable in the hands for long periods of time. This is why great power tools sport contoured grips and surfaces that conform to the shape of the hands. With some power tools, like saws and grinders, the design also should have safeguards and barriers to protect the body from harm.
Given the need for electricity with power tools, the power supply type is extremely important to consider. Some automotive power tools only have a cord you will need to plug into a wall outlet or generator to use. This can limit the range of the tool but eliminates any issues with running out of juice if you are working on a vehicle for a long period of time. Battery-powered tools, on the other hand, extend the range of the tool at the expense of running time. For the best of both worlds, choose a battery-operated tool with swappable batteries to extend the life.
Many power tools are designed to accept different types of attachments, such as bits, saws, and sockets. The type of power tool will largely dictate what accessories it can accept, so consider what you need in terms of functionality and versatility.
- Capability: All power tools have limitations when it comes to performance. The capability of a tool is largely determined by the motor and design. Tools with more powerful motors run faster, deliver higher amounts of torque, and perform longer. Pay attention to the specifications of each tool since different types and options vary in what kind of capabilities and limitations they have.
- Size: For automotive work, the size of a power tool can influence how useful it is around a vehicle. Smaller tools can reach into cramped spaces around the engine bay or undercarriage. Larger tools are generally fine for exterior work and most interior projects that don't require getting into the dashboard.
- Storage: When you aren't using your tools, a proper place to store them is essential for an organized garage or workspace. Power tools can be more difficult to store than hand options, given the larger size, but the right toolbox or case is more than enough to keep everything in one place without taking up floor space. If you buy a power tool kit, you may also get a case included in the package you can use for other items as well.
Best Automotive Power Tools Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- Choose the power tools you need the most for the type of automotive work you do. Anything that saves some time and effort is worth the investment.
- You can use general-use power tools for a good majority of automotive maintenance tasks, but you may need something specific to vehicles for certain tasks.
- Buy several batteries if you plan on using battery-operated power tools for long periods of time. They are easy to swap out and keep charged on the go.
- Buy small power tools if you want to carry them around the garage or even in your vehicle. Tools meant for off-site use are perfect for portability.
Q. What kind of tools do I need?
A. While you don't need power tools to work on a vehicle, small tools like electric screwdrivers and impact drivers are versatile enough to be used on almost any project. Saws and grinders, on the other hand, tend to be used less.
Q. What comes in power tool kits?
A. Power tool kits tend to be designed for general-use and include the most common, most useful tools for tasks around the house. Basic kits offer some combination of drills, impact drivers, electric screwdrivers, and maybe a small saw.
Q. Are power tools better than air-powered tools?
A. Not necessarily. Power tools are more convenient since you don't need an air compressor running the entire time you are using the tool. Air-powered tools, however, can be more capable and generally require less setup in terms of cords and batteries, since a single compressor is necessary.
Our top power tool pick is the Milwaukee Impact Wrench for its flexibility in use and unique design.
For something more straightforward and more affordable, choose the KIMO Cordless Drill Driver Kit instead.