Six Tools You Didn't Know You Need for Under $25

When you're working on your car or truck there's always some risk that you will damage something, break something or find yourself using a tool that you feel guilty picking up for that job (see Vise Grips). If only you had  $20,000 in mechanics tools to make your life easier. That's not in most people's budgets, but there are always a few tools the pros can't do without and you'll grow to love, too. These six tools may not seem like they'd be too high on your list of must-buys, but at under $25 you'll more than appreciate the convenience and safety they offer. 

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Brake Bleeder Wrench

brake bleeding wrench
A brake bleeder wrench will help you avoid expensive damage to the bleeder valve. Getty

 Brake bleeding is a job that borders on thankless. If your brake pedal feels a little squishy, you'll decide it's time to bleed your brakes. You might see a difference in pedal feel when you drive, but most people bleed their brakes as a maintenance procedure for peace of mind. It's not a hard job, usually. It gets lots harder, however, when you strip one of your brake bleeder valves by using a tool that doesn't fit quite snugly enough. This can add hours or even a day to your vehicle's down time.  A proper bleeder wrench will almost guarantee that you don't strip the bleeder. This is the priciest item on the list at $22.99.

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Telescoping Magnetic Pick-Up Tool

magnetic pick up tool
When you drop a nut or bolt in a tight space, the magnetic pick-up tool is a lifesaver. courtesy

This may seem like a gadget, and if your kids get hold of it you'll quickly see its other uses, both approved and not. But like most tools you didn't know you needed, when the time comes for you to reach into your tool box for the magnetic pick-up tool, you'll be praising it. There are more nooks and crannies under your hood than you can count, and at least half of them are too small for an adult hand. On top of that, your engine will often be very hot when you're working on it, and this grabber will save you some painful burns. The mirror is a bonus, although I will admit I've only used a mirror a handful of times over the years. $17.99

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Professional Fender Protector

fender protector
The feeling of safety you get when working over a fender protector is worth it. courtesy

The fender guard is not exactly a tool, but it's my opinion that anything that belongs in your car repair shop and is used while fixing a car or truck can qualify as a tool. Anyone who does some of their own repairs or maintenance has stared longingly at that big, gorgeous Snap-On fender protector their mechanic carefully placed across the fender of your car before he or she leaned in. You may have even priced them, and realized that the amount of work you do can't justify the expense. Here is a high value alternative. One saved scratch and you've more than paid for the $16.99 cost of entry.

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Magnetic Hardware Tray

magnetic nut and bolt holder
Keep your important screw, nuts and bolts close by with a magnetic tray. courtesy

 If you've ever kicked a cup of important nuts and bolts across the floor, you already know how important this magnetic nut and bolt tray can be. The strong magnet holds tightly to any ferrous hardware (which is most of it) so even if you kick the tray hard enough to flip it over, you won't be searching behind and underneath everything in the garage to get your car back together. It's also super easy to store since it will also stick to your metal toolbox or cabinet. It's only $9.99.

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Knee Protection Kneeling Pad

car repair knee guard
Protect your knees when you're working down low with a kneeling pad. courtesy

I can remember kneeling on a gravel parking lot to replace my brake pads, but I was in my 20s. These days, the value of my knees is much higher, and there's no way I am kneeling on anything except a nice, pliable cushion. This kneeling pad protects your knees and can be wiped off easily. Use the handle to carry it when your arms or full or hand it on the wall of your shop. At $8.99 it's a no brainer.

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Snap Ring Pliers

snap ring pliers
Snap ring pliers are a lifesaver when you need them. courtesy

 This will seem to most people to be an esoteric tool snob tool that sits arrogantly in a tool box for bragging rights only. Wrong! Removing a snap ring -- one of those flat, round clips with a circle at each end -- without a proper tool like this can be disastrous. At the very least, it can take forever. At worst, you will break something or stab yourself trying to remove a wheel bearing seal or other snap-ringed assembly. This one comes with a selection of tips for most jobs. Once again, that's cheap insurance for $11.99.

Why Craftsman?

You'll notice all of the above tools are Craftsman. No, they don't sponsor me. There are lots of other affordable tools that are high quality. But if you want to stick to a brand that is reliable, guaranteed, and will almost always have what you need, there's no substitute for Craftsman. These and almost every tool you'll need for a home repair shop are available from