Automotive Restoration Tools And Equipment

The first-time automotive restorer is faced with a bewildering array of tools needed. A complete inventory of restoration tools would be expensive and confusing, but the good news is you don't need every tool made for every project. Just focus on the ones you do need for the job at hand.

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Hand Tools

Always buy the best hand tools you can afford - they reduce fatigue and last a lifetime. Quality tools will be kept and used for generations to come.

Read: Best Hand Tools For Automotive

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Read: Ratchet Buyers Guide

Air Tools

Air tools deliver higher torque and are more powerful than traditional hand tools or electric-powered tools. They will dramatically decrease the amount of time and energy needed to finish your project car.

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Read: Top Ten Automotive Air Tools

Automotive Body Tools

There is no shortcut or "easy way" to do restoration-quality bodywork. Learning to weld and use body tools properly requires practice and discipline.

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Read: Tools Needed For Automotive Bodywork

Replacing body panels on cars requires welding, any other way is not acceptable. If you are sincere about restoring old cars, learning to weld is a must.

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Read: Best Welder For Automotive Restoration

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Read: MIG Welding Helmet Review

Engine Building Tools

In addition to standard hand tools, engine rebuilding requires some specialty tools as well.

tools needed for an engine build

Read: Tools Needed For An Engine Build

Garage Shop Equipment

I have two different pairs of jack stands, which come in handy because I don't always need four, and two are taller than the other pair. The pairs should match each other and used together for supporting the vehicle.

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Read: Best Jack Stands And Lifting Procedures

Jack Stands vs Ramps

For DIY oil changes, car ramps seem to be more popular than jack stands. Personally, I prefer jacks stands over ramps. I use a floor jack at the proper factory lift points, then place jack stands as close to the jack as possible.

repair an old floor jack

Always Use Jack Stands When Working Under A Car

Portable Work Stand

When you're working on a large body part like a hood or a fender, you need a safe and stable place to set it down on. That's what portable work stands are for.

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I bought one of these years ago, and it's helped me repair doors, bumpers, hoods, and fenders. When not in use, it folds up flat and can be stored out of the way.

Shop: Portable Work Stand (500 lb capacity)

work table for garage projects

Drum Brake Tools

Many of you have probably worked on disc brakes, but may have not worked on drum brakes before. Several specialty tools are required, not only to do the job, but to do the job safely.

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Read: Drum Brake Tools

Slide Hammer

The many uses for a slide hammer include pulling out dents and removing rear axles. The tool has a long round shaft with a sliding hammer weight, to produce force without actually striking the panel.

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Shop: GearWrench Slide Hammer Puller Set

GearWrench offers a nice slide hammer kit which includes five different components for different pulling uses. Included is a screw and hook attachment needed for dent pulling, as well as two flange adapters for pulling rear axles. The slide hammer weight is 5-1/2 pounds and the rod is 5/8-18 thread.

tools needed to repair body panels

I originally purchased my slide hammer for body work, but it has seen many other uses, such as removing stubborn bearings and seals. The picture above shows a slide hammer with special attachment for removing cam bushings from an engine side cover.

Digital Camera

Taking pictures before and after is extremely helpful during re-assembly. A digital camera is nice to have, but a smart phone works just as well.

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Kneeling Pad

Kneeling on a concrete floor or wet ground gets uncomfortable after a few minutes. There is enough padding in this kneeling pad to cushion a 200+ pound size person (like me). I also use it as a butt pad.

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Shop: Mechanics Kneeling Pad

Other supplies needed for old car restoration include shop towels or rags, hand cleaner, and aerosol penetrants. A couple of good work-lights on tall stands and short stands, and clamps to hold them.

best garage air compressor

Read: Garage Air Compressor Review

A good quality hydraulic floor jack will give you decades of use.

garage floor jack

After 25 years of service, my old floor jack stopped holding pressure. Rather than buy a replacement, I decided to repair it.

Read: Repair An Old Floor Jack