There are a few unequivocal, undebatable facts of the gearhead universe:

  • If you wear a white T-shirt, grease will always find it.
  • There’s no such thing as a “finished” project car.
  • Car guys love tools.

While we don’t have scientific evidence to support those first two assertions, we do have proof that car guys love tools. Earlier this year, we asked you, via social media, which tools you absolutely could not do without. We got hundreds of passionate—and sometimes humorous—answers, but we narrowed the list down to the top responses. And since many car guys are also dads, we’ve used that original list to create this Father’s Day buyer’s guide with 12 tools every dad should own.

If your favorite DIY dad doesn’t own one of these 12 tools (or if they just need to replace something they currently own), here’s your chance to be the hero this Father’s Day:

Mini Fridge

itr-mfra-4gf_wAnother proven fact: every garage-centric project goes better with a cold beer. OK, maybe it’s just a fact in our world, but your dad is still sure to love this Tool Box Fridge. It looks just like a toolbox but is designed to hold drinks and snacks for a weekend of wrenching. It measures 37 x 19 x 23 inches and has the capacity to hold two-liter and half-gallon bottles in the door.


Work Light

bay-sl-935_w_mlIt’s tough to do a job if you can’t see what you’re doing. This Bayco Flourescent Work Light delivers the visibility needed to complete tough jobs and features a high-impact, chemical- and UV-resistant lamp protector to keep lighting the way for years to come.


Jack/Jack Stands

sum-918000_wFloor jacks and jack stands are go-to tools for the automotive everyman. You can find them in a variety of weight capacities, lift heights, materials, and prices. There are also a lot of companies that make them, but we’d recommend getting yours from a brand like Craftsman, Summit Racing, Allstar Performance, or other trusted brand.

Pry Bar/Breaker Bar

SXT-9812_mlMaybe your old man refers to it as a “negotiator bar,” and that’s fine. It’s hard to argue if he’s holding one in his hand. And it’s also hard to argue the value of having a good pry bar/breaker bar around for some of those stubborn jobs. Sunex makes theirs from hardened and tempered steel and incorporates a no-slip handle to help you get the best leverage.

Price: $9.95

Air Compressor

SHC-916642_JY_xlIt’s time dad followed his own advice: “Work smarter, not harder.” Help nudge him in the right direction by giving him an air compressor to power an arsenal of helpful air tools. For home garages, a compressor with around 20-gallon capacity is perfect because it’s powerful enough to work many light-duty air tools, yet compact enough to fit in tight spaces.


See also: Air tools


KTI-71714When all else fails, there’s always the trusty hammer—whether it’s a standard claw hammer, ball peen hammer, or dead-blow mallet. Although it might not solve all automotive ills, beating a stuck part or warped piece of metal into submission is always therapeutic. Armed with a hammer and a little rage, projects get done and new swear words get created!



SUM-MG130If pops has some fabricating in his future, a good-quality welder is a must. Summit Racing makes a MIG welder that runs off the standard 115-volt household outlet—perfect for dad’s garage!


See also: Welding carts, welding helmets

Torque Wrench

TTN-23146_SN_mlAt or near the top of the car guy’s Ten Commandments it clearly states: “Thou Shalt Own a Reliable Torque Wrench.” We realize your dad probably already has a torque wrench, but does he have the latest, most accurate, most pricisely calibrated torque wrench? Titan Reversible Torque Wrenches are tough, meet ANSI standards, and allow you to measure torque values in foot-pounds and Newton-meters.


Duct tape

wmr-20102_mlYes, you cited duct tape in our list of the top tools you can’t do without. In all seriousness, there is a lot you can do with duct tape, and it’s smart to have a couple rolls on hand—especially the “120 mile-per-hour duct tape” that  Billy M. mentioned in our original post.


Cordless Impact

WMR-W50042_MHNothing says “Hey, there’s serious wrenching going on here” quite like the sound of the impact wrench. At just $110.66 at Summit Racing, the Performance Tool 24-volt, 1/2-inch impact wrench makes it affordable to own a nice-quality cordless impact. This wrench delivers 240 ft-lbs. of torque, variable speed operation, and an ergonomically friendly grip.


Vise Grips

irw-518qcn_wAndrew B. said it best in our original post: “Vise-Grips!!! The all-purpose tool.”

The Vise-Grip brand has built its reputation by making clamps that are tough, easy-to-use, and safe for delicate or painted surfaces. A couple of 18-inch Vise-Grips are perfect for tough jobs around the garage or shop.


Wrenches or Sockets 

SHC-944098_mlWrenches and sockets are the perfect gift for any dad, let alone mechanically inclined dads. Whether your father spends his time wrenching on automotive hardware or is more likely to be found working on household plumbing, good-quality wrenches and sockets are a necessity. Plus, he can use the sockets to hit your dorky little brother upside the head after he gives your dad an inferior Father’s Day gift.

We recommend Craftsman’s 28-piece Standard and Metric Combination Wrench Set or the Craftsman 18-Piece Standard and Metric Socket Set.


Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.