If you’re like me, you only get a new tool whenever the old tools aren’t right for the job, and you use that nice pair of channel locks for everything from opening a bottle to adjusting shocks. It works doesn’t it?
Well you can make your life a whole lot easier and have a little more fun in the garage if you just make sure you keep these tools nearby.
Here are the top 7 basic tools that the experts here at SuperATV keep in their garages. If you’ve got these, you can keep your UTV in shape, and change out just about any part.
- Impact Wrench
- Socket Set
- Air Compressor
- Dead Blow Hammer
- Torx Bit Set
- Allen Wrench Set
- Needle Nose Pliers/Snap Ring pliers
If you don’t have an impact wrench to work on your machine, then you need to close this article and go to Lowes (other hardware stores are available) and buy one right now.
An impact wrench could be considered the most basic tool in your toolbox, as elementary to your lifestyle as beer and underwear. It makes getting your machine torn down as quick and easy as possible.
The first thing you'll probably notice is that pneumatic impact wrenches are cheaper than electric wrenches. They also tend to be lighter and last longer. The problem with pneumatic impact wrenches is their reliance on very large air compressor tanks to run for any time at all, and the fact that you have to remain tethered to that tank at all times. Also, that pneumatic impact isn't something you can throw in your ride toolbox for field repairs.
It's for this reason that we typically stick with electric impact wrenches. They're a little bit pricier but the portability and dependence on batteries rather than massive air tanks makes them ideal for the home garage. Not to mention you get multiple speed settings with an electric impact.
The impact wrench is the centerpiece of your home garage. Check out this list of the best electric impact wrenches available. Don't skimp. The $200 to $400 asking price is well worth the investment.
Now that you've got your impact wrench, you need a socket set. You won't get very far working on your machine without one.
Most UTVs and ATVs use metric bolts only. Polaris vehicles that were built 6 or more years ago use a combination of standard and metric bolts, so you'll want to pick up both a standard and a metric set in that case. Newer Polaris vehicles use only metric.
There are lots of different options out there when it comes to brand, price and quality level. You should be able to get what you need for south of $70, but check out this helpful breakdown to find the perfect one for you.
You need an air compressor in your garage. Tire pressure is one of the most important and easily changed factors on your machine. You should be checking and adjusting your tire pressure before every ride and that's why you need an air compressor.
If you plan on using it just to adjust tire pressure, a small compressor in the neighborhood of 6 gallons will be more than enough. You should be able to find one for around $100.
I know you're going to use it to clean the dust out of your garage too, but that's really just a good way to get all the crap that falls off your boots into your eyes and lungs.
A dead blow hammer is every mechanic's best friend. For those who don't know, it's basically a soft rubber hammer that's designed both to not damage whatever you're banging on and to not rebound painfully with every hit.
Sometimes a bushing or a bracket just doesn't fit quite right, and the older your machine is, the more likely you are to have weird fitment quirks. That's where the dead blow comes in.
Bang those A-arms back into place or get those bushings nice and snug in the pivot blocks without denting all your precious hardware. It sure beats banging against parts with the palm of your hand. Oh, and that dead blow is just as handy at removing stubborn hardware too.
A good 2 or 3-pound hammer should be good enough to get most jobs done and you should be able to find a good one for less than $40.
You need a torx bit set because just about every piece of plastic body work on your machine is held on with those star-headed bolts. If you need to wire anything or dig into some of the harder-to-reach parts of your machine, you'll have to remove some torx head bolts.
You'll also find them on brake line clips occasionally, meaning if you ever need to swap out A-arms, trailing arms, or the brake lines themselves, you'll need the right torx bit for the job.
You can find a complete bit set for under $30.
You'll want a good Allen wrench (or hex key) set if you plan on doing any maintenance on your machine. All of your fluid drain plugs take Allen wrenches. They really don't like to make any two drain plugs use the same size Allen wrench either, so make sure you get a complete metric set.
It doesn't end with drain plugs though. You can expect to find a few odd bolts here and there that require an Allen wrench. For example, the clutch arms are held on by an Allen head bolt, so if you need to clean, repair, or upgrade your clutch, you're out of luck without Allen wrenches.
Allen head bolts are incredibly easy to strip out if you use a wrench that's too small or try to use a different style bit head (that second option is generally a terrible idea no matter what you're doing.) Just make sure you have a complete set with every increment, so you can use the right wrench for the right job. Otherwise you'll end up with a bunch of bolts and plugs that will need replaced.
We recommend going with a bit set over the full handheld set because they tend to be cheaper, plus you already bought a really nice cordless impact wrench, right? You should be able to find a good set for less than $50.
Finally, you'll want to make sure you've got a pair of needle nose pliers and snap ring pliers. What's a pair of needle nose pliers good for? A better question is what aren't they good for? They're that fill-in-the-gap item that will help you get clamps removed, feed wires to where you need them, get those pesky C-clips off axle shafts, and generally grip anything that your fingers are too fat to reach reach. They make your life easier.
Snap ring pliers are just as important. They're designed specifically to fit into snap rings and pull them apart. Any time you want to change a ball joint (which, I'll remind you, wear out from time to time) you'll need a pair of snap ring pliers. There are numerous other snap rings that are lurking in your machine that are nearly impossible to remove without the right set of pliers.
These are a couple items that you can be thrifty with. You should be able to get both for under $20.
When we started this list we said, "let's come up with 5 tools everybody needs!"
Obviously, we didn't stick to 5, and this list could easily grow to 100 items without batting an eye. Here are a few more tools that didn't make the cut in this list, but should be on your radar if they're not already:
- Vice — $30-$70
- Jack — $70-$200
- Tape Measure — $10
- Adjustable wrench — $20
- Channel Locks — $25
- Torque Wrench — $45-$70
- Spring Compressor — $25-$100
- Loctite — $15
- Duct Tape — $5
- Belt Puller — $30
- Hydraulic Press — $200+