Whether it’s for a holiday or birthday, this Tools Under 30 Dollars Gift Guide Series shows you important, yet somewhat uncommon, tools that any gearhead would want.

Today, let’s talk about Retrieval Tools.

Drop a bolt deep into an engine bay? A magnetic retrieval tool can save a ton of hassle. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Retrieval tools are one of the few things that no toolbox should be without. In fact, we’d rank ’em right up there with the screwdriver and ratchet as garage essentials. That’s because retrieval tools can save you a ton of time, money, and sanity.

…But if you’ve ever dropped a bolt into the dark recesses of an engine bay or lost a plastic trim clip behind a door panel, you already know that.

Retrieval tools come in a few flavors, but at the very least you should have a telescoping magnetic reach tool (bottom) and a flexible claw grab tool (middle). A compact, articulating mirror head (top) can be pretty darn handy too. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Simply put, a retrieval tool can help you fish-out a fastener or tool that’s fallen out of your normal reach. They’re worth their weight in gold in situations where you can’t snake your hand down into a tight space to grab, say, a dropped nut or socket.

And that’s doubly true when you’re working around a warm engine or sneaking by blazing-hot header tubes.

A claw tool works by depressing the plunger on the tool’s opposite end to extend its grabber arms. When you’ve got your prize, release the plunger and the claws retract for a super secure grip. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Magnetic tools come in handy when you’re working inside blind holes or in other recesses where you have limited visibility. Claw tools are great for non-magnetic stuff, for snaking around bends and corners, or in situations where you need a strong grip on whatever you’re yanking out.

In short, you’ve got plenty of retrieval tool types to choose from, including telescopic extended reach tools and flexible goosenecks—all designed to prevent you from losing vital fasteners and tools (and your patience after a long, hot day of wrenching).

And they’re handy for far more than just automotive jobs too:

  • Toy car roll under the fridge?
  • Wrench slip down an HVAC duct?
  • Wedding ring fall in a pot of chili?

All good reasons to have some retrieval tools in your workshop.


You can never have enough of these handy gadgets either, making them excellent gifts to give and receive. Best of all, they’re pretty darn cheap, so there’s a good chance you can assemble a quality set of retrieval tools for well under 30 bucks.

While magnetic tools may be easier to use, you’ll want a claw one to complement it, so you can grab plastic and stainless hardware—especially for working with interior and trim molding clips. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

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Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.