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Air Tools for Car Repairs

Air tools speed up auto work and can loosen just about any nut or bolt. We help you identify quality tools.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Must-have tools for serious gear-heads

Air tools can really speed up auto work and loosen just about any stubborn nut or bolt. If you're a serious gear-head, they're must-have tools. Even if you just do your own routine car maintenance work like brakes or parts replacement, air tools are still worth having. If you're in this category, you can get by with discount tools and just throw them out when they die. But if you're a serious amateur mechanic, it pays to buy quality. Here's how to tell the difference.

For impact wrenches and ratchets, forget about the forward torque ratings. You want to see the tool's power in reverse. The bigger the number, the better. If that specification isn't listed, move on—the manufacturer left it off for a reason!

For cutoff tools, air chisels and sanders, find the tool's air consumption rating, expressed in cubic feet per minute (cfm). The lower the cfm, the more efficient the tool. Also, be sure your compressor has a high enough cfm rating to operate the tool—some of these are air hogs.

All of the air tools shown here are available at tooldiscounter. com.

Chicago Pneumatic CP828 3/8-in. drive ratchet

Chicago Pneumatic CP828 3/8-in. drive ratchet

Chicago Pneumatic CP824 1/4-in. drive ratchet

Chicago Pneumatic CP824 1/4-in. drive ratchet

Chicago Pneumatic CP734H 1/2-in. drive impact wrench

Chicago Pneumatic CP734H 1/2-in. drive impact wrench

Air-Powered Driving Tools

Driving tools are the main workhorses for removing nuts and bolts.

Astro Pneumatic Blo Gun No. 1716

Astro Pneumatic Blo Gun No. 1716

Astro Pneumatic Cutoff Tool No. 207

Astro Pneumatic Cutoff Tool No. 207

Astro Pneumatic No. 7835 impact socket set with nylon covers

Other Useful Air Tools

Make sure your compressor puts out enough air to operate these tools. Nylon covers on the socket set protect alloy wheels.

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January 26, 9:01 AM [GMT -5]

My reccommendation for do it yourselfers is consider how many times you are going to use it and what you are going to do with it. In my nhseacoasthandyman business I use air tools all the time. The biggest problem is is matching the equipment. If you plan on taking off the tires every winter, you need a big enough compressor to run a strong enough impact wrench (usually an air hog anyway-meaning it uses a lot of air). So many times folks run to the department store and buy a tiny compressor or one on sale, good for filling tires but useless to run tools of any size.

August 15, 8:33 PM [GMT -5]

There is absolutely no way that even the average do it yourself er can maintain his automobile with an air compressor.I have used air compressors for all of my life.Before I stared thehandtoolco.com.I was in the building trades.You needed all different kinds of air tools for that profession.I have even used an air compressor to paint derby cars.(when I was younger) mjb

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Air Tools for Car Repairs

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