Why You Should Buy Good Quality Tools for Your Garage

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Good Tool vs Bad Tool

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There's no way around the fact that we have to spend a little money now and then on tools. If you are just starting out as a home mechanic and want to begin doing your own repairs and maintenance out of your garage or driveway, you will be buying lots of equipment right away. This is not fun -- well, actually it is fun but sometimes it hurts to spend all the money.

Tools are some of those things that will reward you for what you put into them. In other words, you get what you pay for. This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to pay for the super high-quality tools in order to get good use, and a decent lifespan, out of your hand tools. Quite the contrary, there is money to be saved by buying the level of tool quality that works for you.

If you are fixing the sink at the lake house you rented because your 3-year-old shoved the kitchen drain full of Ninjago figures, you'll want to buy the $3.99 adjustable wrench with the hammer handle and the screwdriver tips, and you'll get the job done without a problem. If you plan to change careers and become the designated drain de-clogger for the entire Lake Ontario region, you might want to spend a little more. The more research you do, and the more accurate your tool buying is, the happier you will be with the tools you've chosen.

A great example of buying a great tool versus buying a miserable tool can be found in the case of the hydraulic floor jack. You can walk into any parts store, department store or flea market and find a floor jack. A floor jack is that rolling jack with the long handle that you see in every repair shop in the nation. They are a must have tool if you are planning to work on your own car.

Please don't try to get any real fixing done with the scissor jack that's held on to your spare tire with a piece of velcro. That's just pathetic. There are lots of different floor jacks. They have different lifting capacities, usually measured in tons. They also have different lifting heights -- many vehicles, like SUVs, need a higher lift jack to get them high enough in the air to even get a wheel off. They have low profile jacks for getting underneath sports cars. They have super sturdy steel jacks, and they have lightweight aluminum jacks that are easy to transport or carry around. These variations fall into the need category. If you need a higher jack for your truck or SUV, you'll probably buy the higher lift jack rather than use blocks made of 4x4 scrap. But there is one major difference to be found in jacks that have otherwise similar specs: the pressure release valve.

In order to raise any hydraulic jack, you tighten the hydraulic valve and start pumping the handle in an up and down motion. This pumps fluid into the hydraulic cylinder causing the jack to come up. Here's where the good jack vs bad jack comes in. A good jack will have a handle that is mounted right on top of this release valve. In fact, the valve is incorporated into the seat that holds the length of the handle.

This means that to open or close the valve, as in raise or lower the jack, you simply give the jack handle a twist in the right direction and either pump to go up or watch it come down. The bad jack, on the other hand, locates this valve outside of the handle area so that you have to operate it separately. You still use the end of the handle to turn the valve, but you have to pull the handle out of the pumping arm and place it on top of the valve a couple of inches away to change things up. This may seem like a small price to pay, especially when you consider that the latter type of jack usually runs about 40% cheaper, but you're mistaken.

When you are trying to get a car or truck jacked up to the right height, or worse yet if you are trying to raise something like a transmission or rear end into place, you'll go bonkers moving that jack handle back and forth from the valve to the pumping arm. It will drive you mad, believe me. It's worth the extra cash to get the real version. Don't fall for the kit that includes jack stands, jacks and a creeper for less than the price of the jack with the turn handle. It's still not worth it.