August 30, 2013 by quirkyuncle
Specialty tools are designed to perform a specific task. While some automotive and home maintenance operations can be performed using general tools (pliers, wrenches and sockets, or a really big hammer), these tasks are often much easier if you use a specialty tool that was created for a single purpose. In some cases, you must have a specialty tool to perform a task – it’s just the way the world works. The neat thing about specialty tools is that they are not all that special: once you have one in your tool box, you’ll often find that it works well to help you do a bunch of other things.
Examples of some specialty tools are shown in the photo at the beginning of this posting. They are:
- Cotter pin puller – This tool is designed to remove the cotter pins that retain bolts and clevis pins. (It seems to have a ton of other uses, too.)
- Brake piston compressor – When changing brake pads, this tool allows you to push the brake pistons in the wheel calipers inward, allowing the new and thicker pads to fit during reassembly.
- Spark plug boot puller – In some cars, the spark plugs are not easy to reach. This tool helps you pull the wires off of the spark plugs, without damaging the wires, when you can’t get a good grip on the spark plug connector boot with your hand. (It also works really good for popping off automotive interior trim without damaging the retaining clips.)
- Brake box – This is another tool for retracting brake pistons when changing brake pads. Some pistons must be turned to retract them and this tool has pins on each of its flat surfaces that match the recesses in different styles of brake caliper. The square holes in each flat surface allow the brake box to be used with a 3/8-inch drive ratchet to provide the necessary torque.
- Gear puller – This tool is used to slide gears or pulleys off of a shaft. The hooks on the sides grab the gear or pulley and the center screw applies force to the center shaft, motivating the gear or pulley to slide. (This one seems to have all sorts of uses, too.)
Specialty tools are discussed in the DIY postings where they are used to perform a specific task, such as the oxygen-sensor socket that is described in the DIY – Oxygen Sensor Replacement posting. All specialty tools are also listed on the Tools page, by category.