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Thread: Recommended Tools for our Cars (Newbie Help)

              
  1. #1
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    Recommended Tools for our Cars (Newbie Help)

    Hi, I don't have much experience with mechanical hands-on stuff, but would like to start learning general automotive and mechanic skills on my car. I don't have any automotive tools at all, and don't mind investing in good ones that will last me for decades.

    Which tools and equipment would be useful for the maintenance of the N54, and DIY installs? The most I've done so far was installing my painted reflectors, which only required a heatgun, some Goo Gone, and lots of patience.

    What I want to do:

    1. Swap wheels
    2. Oil change, eventually
    3. Brake fluid flush/pad change
    4. FMIC install
    5. Maybe even DP install

    What kinda tools should I get? Any advice/suggestions would be nice, whether it's brand, size of tools, how useful it is, etc.

    I'm thinking of:

    Torque wrench (1/2" for wheels? Electronic or one that clicks?)
    Breaker bar for lug nuts -- Is there a good tools kit or something I can buy? Maybe I should just get a normal long wrench?
    Low-pro Jack - Will any low profile one do?
    Jack stands - How many do I want? 2 or 4 or more?
    Wheel chocks

    Recommend me some stuff that would be useful! Thanks Click here to enlarge

    Edit: This is probably in the wrong section

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    Ramps
    Two jack stands
    Metric sockets, deep and shallow well
    Torx sockets, internal and external
    Ratchets
    Extensions
    Swivels
    Metric wrenches
    Spark plug socket
    Torque wrench

    I'm sure that is not an exhaustive list. I would buy stuff as you need it. People make fun of Harbor Freight, but you can find some good stuff there. I bought my sockets and torque wrenches there (Pittsburgh brand). I also have a craftsman beam type torque wrench when I need something to be accurate. I've tested the Harbor Freight click type torque wrenches against the Craftsman beam one and found the Harbor Freight ones work pretty well and are reasonably accurate.

    My ratchets are from sears though. Don't cheep out on those. I really want Mac or Snap-On ones.

    You are going to need some way to adapt the saddle of the jack stand to the support points under the car. Some people cut the ends off their jack stand saddle to make them fit but I used a piece of plastic channel and a piece of plastic square bar to make an adapter that sits on the saddle, and goes inside the cars support point. I used UHWM PE from McMaster.com. I screwed the two piece together with countersunk screws meant for plastic, also from McMaster.
    You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think.

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    Click here to enlarge
    Click here to enlarge
    Click here to enlarge

    Bill of Materials
    Supplier: McMaster-Carr

    9928K61 - 1 Ft. - $3.04/ft.
    8702K122 - 1 Ft. - $6.43/ft.
    95893A329 - 1 Pk. - $7.34/pk.

    Those materials will give you enough plastic and screws for four adapters - enough for all four support points should you end up buying four jack stands. You may want to get a countersink bit for the heads of the screws as well. I used a drill bit but it is not the right tool for the job. Make sure the holes you drill in the square bar are small enough for the threads to engage. In other words, don't drill clearance holes in the square rod.
    You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think.

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    The basic stuff listed above is good. You may as well get a flashlight and a magnetic pick up tool for all the stuff you'll inevitably drop. The magnet tool is cheap at any auto parts store but can save you about 100,000 hours of looking/swearing/reaching over hot engine items. Worth it.

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    Thanks for the write up. It will take me a while to read up on everything and understand.

    Some questions:

    Do we need the special jack pads for our cars or is something like the ESCO jack stand with the rubber pads actually good enough?

    If I do invest in a good snapon torque wrench, which drive is better? Or should I get two-three different ones?

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Karura Click here to enlarge
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    Thanks for the write up. It will take me a while to read up on everything and understand.

    Some questions:

    Do we need the special jack pads for our cars or is something like the ESCO jack stand with the rubber pads actually good enough?

    If I do invest in a good snapon torque wrench, which drive is better? Or should I get two-three different ones?
    Don't buy a snap on torque wrench it is overkill. Hell Snapon anything is overkill for the weekend mechanic. If you have money to burn go for it but cheaper ones work fine.

    Everything stated above is a good list to start with. Harbor freight I find is hit or miss. Some things are a great deal others are junk read the reviews.

    BMS sells a jack pad for cheap or use the mc master above.

    I have two torque wrenches one in ft lbs one in inches, it is enough for me. I think it is 1/4'' drive and 3/8'' drive. 1/2'' is nice but only probably needed for 1 or two bolts on the car unless I am mistaken.

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    Alright, I just looked at the pricing of USA-made SO wrenches, they're north of $300. So that brings me to Amazon, I see CDI by Snap On ones for $100 each. Do anyone have experience with these? Thanks again for all the help. The BMS jack pads look good; might just pick those up.

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    I disagree with the comment about not needing anything snap-on. I highly recommend their 80 tooth ratchets and their blue point division ratchet wrenches. Other that that I also recommend a better quality brand (mac, matco or snap-on) for swivel impact sockets and a impact universal swivel. I prefer the impact style as they "spring" back to center and don't flop around like a standard universal making them very useful for getting into tight areas such as doing down pipes. Ebay and Amazon are full of used tools and if you get into a bind and need quick cash these tools don't depreciate after the initial hit of going from new to used you.
    2008 135i - Cobb AP, JB4 G5 w/2Step&FSB, MS DP's, Berk street exhaust, AMS IC, BMS DCI, ER CP w/Tial BOV, Spec 3+ & Steel FW, CDV delete, Quaife LSD, M3 control arms, M3 rear SF bushings, M3 Trans bushings, SS brake lines. Pics

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    The torque wrenches I have are Harbor Freight, and they work fine.

    I have Craftsman ratchets, and that's what I would recommend you get. They are decent and you can take them back and exchange them if you break one. It's pretty much no questions asked.

    I do a lot of wrenching, and would like to own some nice Snap On ratchets one day, but the Craftsman work fine for now. If you are only going to work on the car occasionally, I would think Snap On ratchets would be overkill for now. Start out with the Craftsman ratchets and go from there.
    You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think.

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    intercooler install related:
    -flexible socket extensions (http://www.amazon.com/Anytime-Tools-...cket+extension or similar)
    -dremel (if cutting required; definitely not battery operated)

    non-intercooler install recommendations:
    haha agree w/ the magnetic pickup tool.

    i would also get extensions for a drill to use sockets --- for the 100 times you will end up removing / replacing cowl (http://www.amazon.com/SE-Power-Exten...s=drill+socket or similar)

    good pair of gloves

    8mm socket (someone correct me if i am wrong?) for the screws on the cowl.

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    Yep, 8mm. For those that used a Dremel to remove material during FMIC install, you are far more patient than I am. I used an 18V circular saw and a hand saw (much much faster).

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by brusk Click here to enlarge
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    I disagree with the comment about not needing anything snap-on. I highly recommend their 80 tooth ratchets and their blue point division ratchet wrenches. Other that that I also recommend a better quality brand (mac, matco or snap-on) for swivel impact sockets and a impact universal swivel. I prefer the impact style as they "spring" back to center and don't flop around like a standard universal making them very useful for getting into tight areas such as doing down pipes. Ebay and Amazon are full of used tools and if you get into a bind and need quick cash these tools don't depreciate after the initial hit of going from new to used you.
    For the average home mechanic snap on and the brands you listed are complete overkill. Not to mention when a tool breaks the snap on truck isn't dropping by my house I have to go find one and figure out when it shows up at a local shop/dealership(please correct me if I am wrong here).

    Especially they are overkill for a torque wrench. It's just a spring inside, if you handle them correctly and take care of them one a 1/4 the price should work fine.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by ajm8127 Click here to enlarge
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    The torque wrenches I have are Harbor Freight, and they work fine.

    I have Craftsman ratchets, and that's what I would recommend you get. They are decent and you can take them back and exchange them if you break one. It's pretty much no questions asked.

    I do a lot of wrenching, and would like to own some nice Snap On ratchets one day, but the Craftsman work fine for now. If you are only going to work on the car occasionally, I would think Snap On ratchets would be overkill for now. Start out with the Craftsman ratchets and go from there.
    Bingo. I think the SnapOn tools are overkill for a home mechanic. Craftsman's warranty handling make them an easy choice.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Torgus Click here to enlarge
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    For the average home mechanic snap on and the brands you listed are complete overkill. Not to mention when a tool breaks the snap on truck isn't dropping by my house I have to go find one and figure out when it shows up at a local shop/dealership(please correct me if I am wrong here).

    Especially they are overkill for a torque wrench. It's just a spring inside, if you handle them correctly and take care of them one a 1/4 the price should work fine.
    Your never going to break the ratchets. My friends a dealer and has shown the demo's where they hang a tool box off the back of a 3/8 ratchet, the gear binds the internals together and not the teeth like a standard ratchet. Swivel head and 80 tooth makes it a life safer in those areas where you can normally only get a few clicks in at a time. I'm sure not all dealers are the same but he has no problems meeting people, having them come to his house etc.

    I'm not saying you need a fully stocked toolbox of professional grade tools but having access to a fully stocked professional toolbox I can say certain tools make the difference between efficiently getting it done and having a really bad day. I have plenty of craftsman, northern tool and harbor freight stuff given the BMW dealership isn't cheap do you really want to skimp besides you spent all that money on the car and upgrades spend the money to have some proper tools, your saving 3x that amount in labor by doing it yourself anyway. Here's the list that I personally bought after buying my BMW after I didn't have access to my old shop equipment. Some of this was new and getting a deal but most was slightly used off the internet.

    Arcan Low Profile 2 Ton Jack from Northern Tool
    Jack stands, and build 2x4 pallet style stands for under the wheels and get get a full 15" of height out of these which is enough to easily slide under with a creeper.
    Harbor Freight compressor
    Ingersol Rand Titanium 3/8 and 1/2" Impacts guns
    Snap-On 80 tooth 1/2, 3/8, 1/4" ratchets, (1/4 is less than 80 due to size) with 1/4 and 3/8 with swivel head
    Matco 1/4 swivel impact sockets
    Snap-On 3/8 Swivel Sockets
    Snap-On 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2" Extension Sets
    Matco 3/8 Universal impact swivel
    Snap-On striker prybars (I gotta deal was going to go with the Mayhew)
    Blue Point metric ratchet wrench set
    Bondhus long swivel hex driver set (bondhus is supposed to be stronger than even snap-on and ball hex are known to snap)

    Lets just say doing the downpipes I had no issues and not once got frustrated and I can say the swivel sockets and ratchet wrenches made the biggest different on that job.
    2008 135i - Cobb AP, JB4 G5 w/2Step&FSB, MS DP's, Berk street exhaust, AMS IC, BMS DCI, ER CP w/Tial BOV, Spec 3+ & Steel FW, CDV delete, Quaife LSD, M3 control arms, M3 rear SF bushings, M3 Trans bushings, SS brake lines. Pics

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    I would suggest planting a money tree...

    FBO's. Spec S2+. E85.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by brusk Click here to enlarge
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    Your never going to break the ratchets. My friends a dealer and has shown the demo's where they hang a tool box off the back of a 3/8 ratchet, the gear binds the internals together and not the teeth like a standard ratchet. Swivel head and 80 tooth makes it a life safer in those areas where you can normally only get a few clicks in at a time. I'm sure not all dealers are the same but he has no problems meeting people, having them come to his house etc.

    I'm not saying you need a fully stocked toolbox of professional grade tools but having access to a fully stocked professional toolbox I can say certain tools make the difference between efficiently getting it done and having a really bad day. I have plenty of craftsman, northern tool and harbor freight stuff given the BMW dealership isn't cheap do you really want to skimp besides you spent all that money on the car and upgrades spend the money to have some proper tools, your saving 3x that amount in labor by doing it yourself anyway. Here's the list that I personally bought after buying my BMW after I didn't have access to my old shop equipment. Some of this was new and getting a deal but most was slightly used off the internet.

    Arcan Low Profile 2 Ton Jack from Northern Tool
    Jack stands, and build 2x4 pallet style stands for under the wheels and get get a full 15" of height out of these which is enough to easily slide under with a creeper.
    Harbor Freight compressor
    Ingersol Rand Titanium 3/8 and 1/2" Impacts guns
    Snap-On 80 tooth 1/2, 3/8, 1/4" ratchets, (1/4 is less than 80 due to size) with 1/4 and 3/8 with swivel head
    Matco 1/4 swivel impact sockets
    Snap-On 3/8 Swivel Sockets
    Snap-On 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2" Extension Sets
    Matco 3/8 Universal impact swivel
    Snap-On striker prybars (I gotta deal was going to go with the Mayhew)
    Blue Point metric ratchet wrench set
    Bondhus long swivel hex driver set (bondhus is supposed to be stronger than even snap-on and ball hex are known to snap)

    Lets just say doing the downpipes I had no issues and not once got frustrated and I can say the swivel sockets and ratchet wrenches made the biggest different on that job.
    How do you like the arcan jack? I have been looking at those.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by brusk Click here to enlarge
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    given the BMW dealership isn't cheap do you really want to skimp besides you spent all that money on the car and upgrades spend the money to have some proper tools,
    Oh please. Having a snap-on logo on the tool isn't going to make it suddenly better. It isn't going to make your upgrades work better; that boils down to the person doing the work. If their tool isn't cutting it, then they need a new tool. But when the tool works just fine, replacing it with something way more expensive is going to reap no benefits for a home mechanic.

    I can understand why a shop would want snap-on tools and other similar quality equipment. A home mechanic that won't see the same amount of work in a year that a professional does in a week? Hell no.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sered Click here to enlarge
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    Oh please. Having a snap-on logo on the tool isn't going to make it suddenly better. It isn't going to make your upgrades work better; that boils down to the person doing the work. If their tool isn't cutting it, then they need a new tool. But when the tool works just fine, replacing it with something way more expensive is going to reap no benefits for a home mechanic.

    I can understand why a shop would want snap-on tools and other similar quality equipment. A home mechanic that won't see the same amount of work in a year that a professional does in a week? Hell no.
    I used to say the same thing and had no problems skimping on tools while my mechanic buddies criticized me for using the bare minimum and working on the ground. After co-owning a small performance shop and having access to a lift and all the professional grade tools I can tell you there are a handfull of things in my toolbox I quickly stopped using. The things on my list I wouldn't do without and have personally seen the difference in time that they save not to mention some of the slop in the cheaper tools that can easily lead to accidental rounding nuts/bolts. You can get by with cheap tools but try borrowing a set of good tools and see how the cheap ones feel after that. Most mechanics don't care about the replacement aspect as most tools have free replacement nowadays it's the time they save you by getting the job done better and quicker.
    2008 135i - Cobb AP, JB4 G5 w/2Step&FSB, MS DP's, Berk street exhaust, AMS IC, BMS DCI, ER CP w/Tial BOV, Spec 3+ & Steel FW, CDV delete, Quaife LSD, M3 control arms, M3 rear SF bushings, M3 Trans bushings, SS brake lines. Pics

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by brusk Click here to enlarge
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    I used to say the same thing and had no problems skimping on tools while my mechanic buddies criticized me for using the bare minimum and working on the ground. After co-owning a small performance shop and having access to a lift and all the professional grade tools I can tell you there are a handfull of things in my toolbox I quickly stopped using. The things on my list I wouldn't do without and have personally seen the difference in time that they save not to mention some of the slop in the cheaper tools that can easily lead to accidental rounding nuts/bolts. You can get by with cheap tools but try borrowing a set of good tools and see how the cheap ones feel after that. Most mechanics don't care about the replacement aspect as most tools have free replacement nowadays it's the time they save you by getting the job done better and quicker.
    There are some tools which are worth spending more money on. A torque wrench for instance is not one of them. I wouldn't mind a nice snap on 3/8s and 1/2 ratcheting wrench and I bet the swivel bits are worth it. I bought normal swivel bits at my local automotive store and they broke after a few uses...then again they probably weren't made for impact guns.

    On top of the jack how about your impact wrenches? How are they? I am torn between a cheapo and an expensive one. I mean it's damn simple inside them, I am thinking a cheapo will work for me as at most I will use it once a month vs a mechanic every day of the month...

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    I have the Ingersoll Rand 2317 set which includes an air ratchet and impact wrench. The only thing the impact wrench couldn't do was remove the ring gear bolts on the differential, but that was partially my fault because they are held in with red Loctite, and I failed to heat the bolts up first. Also I just had it on the floor, so if I put the differential in a big vice to brace it better, the impact wrench would have worked better. That was at 90 psi with a 1/2 hose, so it was getting all the air it needed.

    For basically everything else, it works wonders.
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Torgus Click here to enlarge
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    There are some tools which are worth spending more money on. A torque wrench for instance is not one of them. I wouldn't mind a nice snap on 3/8s and 1/2 ratcheting wrench and I bet the swivel bits are worth it. I bought normal swivel bits at my local automotive store and they broke after a few uses...then again they probably weren't made for impact guns.

    On top of the jack how about your impact wrenches? How are they? I am torn between a cheapo and an expensive one. I mean it's damn simple inside them, I am thinking a cheapo will work for me as at most I will use it once a month vs a mechanic every day of the month...
    Impact wrenches have changed alot over the last 10 years. I had an older used Snap-On and Mac and they work good but use alot of air I could only take off a few lug nuts with a small portable compressor. I've used some Cambell Hausfeld impacts and while they do work they also aren't very efficient, the IR seemed to work the best on smaller compressors. Even my Snap-On dealer buddy keeps his IR impacts. I picked up my impacts for about $100 a piece used on ebay in pretty decent shape. I spent about 2 months last year just watching tools on ebay waiting for the right price before I bought them, there's always a mechanic out there somewhere hurting for money the better stuff sells easier but sometimes there's a whole assortment for dirt cheap.
    2008 135i - Cobb AP, JB4 G5 w/2Step&FSB, MS DP's, Berk street exhaust, AMS IC, BMS DCI, ER CP w/Tial BOV, Spec 3+ & Steel FW, CDV delete, Quaife LSD, M3 control arms, M3 rear SF bushings, M3 Trans bushings, SS brake lines. Pics

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by brusk Click here to enlarge
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    I picked up my impacts for about $100 a piece used on ebay in pretty decent shape. I spent about 2 months last year just watching tools on ebay waiting for the right price before I bought them, there's always a mechanic out there somewhere hurting for money the better stuff sells easier but sometimes there's a whole assortment for dirt cheap.
    This is a good idea.
    You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think.

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    I've used harbor freight hand tools for just about all jobs including clutch, suspension, etc. Even their jacks (steel) and stands. The alum jack is a piece of crap that I only use to get the steel one under the car.

    The higher cost ratchets aren't that bad at HF and I've put probably 150ftlbs+ with cheater through the 3/8 swivel head one, although I don't advise this.

    For power tools, go somewhere with better quality and little experience with air impacts in general, but I would bet same advise applies.

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    I wouldn't trust a harbor freight jack. Sounds like a death sentence.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Torgus Click here to enlarge
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    I wouldn't trust a harbor freight jack. Sounds like a death sentence.
    I don't understand how. Are you getting under the car while it is only supported with a jack?
    You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think.

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