9 wrench types every mechanic should consider
Do a Google image search for “cartoon mechanic” – what do you see? The expert of every in and out, nut and bolt, belt and spark plug always has a smile, a tool-belt and … a wrench.
Of course, wrenches – otherwise known as spanners – aren’t the only indispensable tools hanging off that tool-belt. They’ll also need hammers, screwdrivers, flashlights, drain pans and jack-stands – and many, many more. But there’s no tool type in the mechanic’s toolbox that will be as numerous as wrenches – for obvious reason. From brake work to oil changes, and quick tune-ups to total overhauls, there’s almost no work on a vehicle that can be completed without a wrench … or 6.
Are you getting started in the mechanic trade, or fitting out a new professional garage with everything your skilled team of greasy-handed staff members will ever need? When it comes to wrenches and mechanics, it’s best to be fully prepared – and for that, you may be looking at a lot more than a single handful of wrench types to get every type of car and car accessory fastener quickly, efficiently and safely loosened and tightened:
In all likelihood, Mr Cartoon Mechanic is probably clutching at an open-ended wrench – for good reason. It’s the spanner image we all have in our heads, and the smart mechanic’s ‘open ends’ will be angled at something like 15 degrees to make those fasteners easier to access.
On the other end of that double-ended cartoon mechanic’s spanner, meanwhile, could be a box-end. When the spacing allows, the box end with its internal grooves enables the car expert to grip that fastener from every side and edge simultaneously, which can be crucial for applying plenty of torque without rounding off those edges.
While open and box-ended wrenches can be standalone tools, when there’s one type at one end and the other type at the other end, that’s called a combination wrench – which the cartoon mechanic tends to like too!
This is an open-ended type wrench, with a very convenient twist – and with that little thumb-adjusted twister, the jaws will open and close so that basically every size of flat-edged fastener can be quickly and easily dealt with.
Talk to a mechanic about their wrenches, however, and they’ll treat their socket varieties and sets quite a bit differently to their standard wrenches. That’s because the socket part, which come in a nearly endless variety of sizes and varieties – perfectly slots over the entire fastener. And with that socket bit in place, you can even swap out the handle element for the right leverage or access, no matter the situation.
A line wrench is something of a specialty mechanic’s spanner, which is almost like a cross between a box and open-ended wrench. It’s for fasteners that might be more fragile or delicate, like the injection line wrench that are made specifically by some wrench manufacturers for working on screwed connections on injection lines.
Think of a socket wrench, but integrate the separate socket bit and handle into a separate tool for regularly repeated or hurried socket-type jobs.
When working on cars and vehicles of many different types, precise levels of fastener tightening is extremely common and important – and for those tasks, the professional mechanic will need a torque wrench.
When even a burly mechanic’s muscle power just isn’t enough, they’ll pull out their power wrench. Most mechanics will rave most consistently about their powered impact wrench, which will deal with even the rustiest of stuck fasteners. The favourite power wrenches used by mechanics differ considerably in terms of the levels of power and velocity.
Wow, that’s a lot of mechanic’s wrenches – but there’s more! Wrenches are perhaps the most diverse of all the popular hand-tools on the planet, with a range that differs in varieties and features just as broadly as it differs in price. Rest assured, there’s a wrench out there for every single specific mechanic’s task and budget, but the selection process can be the tricky part – so always check with an industry expert, like RS Components, before spending big.