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Discussion Starter #1
I have a confession to make. I've been around here for awhile, and I know a bit about trucks and wheeling, but I've done very little wrenching, and have very limited tools.

So for working on a vehicle like the X, what tools do people think I need, and what are the best sources? I'm not brand new to this, and I've read plenty of suggestions, but I'm just wondering what my fellow newx-ers think is essential. I have an X and now a '98 5.9L Grand Cherokee that needs some TLC, and I want to be able to do suspension work, replace serpentine belts, install a t-case, whatever. I'm ready to get my hands dirty, or I'm going to be too broke to keep wheeling.

I need everything from jackstands, to floorjack, to impact wrench. I need a new drill. I have a mish-mash of various sockets and wrenches, but there are serious gaps. I'm especially wondering about pullers of various sorts, spring compressors, pipes, other leverage accessories, sprays, goops, grease guns whatever. I know I'm asking an open-ended question, but I want to start with the core basics.

I'm ready to spend some money to get decent stuff and would consider used. I'd be curious about people's favorite brands, too.

Help me take the next step. I'm sick of paying for labor I know I can DIY!
 

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Once you start buying tools it doen't stop!
Buy a metric set of 3/8 socket for the X
Buy a good 3/8 ratchet, breaker bar, good set of
screwdrivers, Tool bag or tool chest, also a set of
metric wrenches and what ever else you want to buy.
You could always buy when you need a certian but i
would start with this list. Carry the bag of tolls in the back
of the X. Even you can get SAE, standard, buy those sets too.
________
Chrysler j platform
 

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I'd go to a Sears store and get a craftsman set that is in the range you can afford. I am thinking the $200 down range is a great starter set, you'll save that much in DIY in no time. So you can justify that. Every tool I have ever bought was with money saved on labor. More specialized tools can be rented and sometimes are loaned for free from Autozone and the like. MC
 

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I used to think Craftsman mechanics' tools were the best you could buy as a home user (spare no expense and buy Mac or Snap-on for pro quality). Lately, it seems like their quality has slipped (the by out by K-Mart perhaps?). I'm thinking of getting any new tools from Lowes. Their brand, Kobalt, has same lifetime warranty as Sears (and, most importantly, made in the USA. I hate to buy cheap, gypsy tools made by slave labor over in China.). Sockets are laser marked and ratchets and wrenches look and feel good in your hands. An example of the slide in quality at Sears are the ratchets: I have had to take back both my 3/8 and my 1/2 drive because the ratchet mechanisms have crapped out. You start to tighten or spin off a bolt and the thing slips to "neutral". And these were replacements for my originals I bought back in 1980!
Whatever tools you decide on, make sure you pick up a pair of mechanics' gloves. I have raped my knuckles one too many times busting loose a bolt. These things will sure save your skin.
 

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I have all Craftsman (with a few exceptions). If I had the money or if I did this for a living I would have Snap-On / MAC, but I can't justify the cost.

Craftsman tools have never been high quality. I have returned more ratchets and wrenchs than I care to count, but they have never given me a hard time and there is a Sears in every town.

There are a lot of tool companies out there that offer the life time warranty, but I worry about how long they will really be around. Even if Sears or Kmart go belly up (which I can see happening), I am sure someone will pickup the craftsman name and continue to honor the warranty. I have returned 50+ year old craftsman junk that was my grandfathers. I am not sure you will be able to do the same with Kolbalt.

As for suggestions on what to buy, I find myself a lot of times using 1/2" drive stuff more than 3/8". I would spend the couple hundred and buy a good starter set. I would avoid the sets that come in the little fitted carry case. They might seen cool to have everything in a little case, but the lack of space for additional tools makes the case almost pointless. Buy a real toolbox and a starter set and build from there.
 

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Does lowes let you walk in with a broken Kobalt, no documentation, and walk out with a new one? Or do you need to send it to Kobalt world headquarters and wait for a new one in the mail?
 

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I had a Husky socket wrench go bad on me and just walked into Home Depot and walked out with a new one.

I wouldn't walk into the Manhattan HD to exchange it but all the others wouldn't be a problem.
 

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Most of my tools are SAE. I don't need tools for 'wheeling repairs/mods', but I do want to carry a set of tools in the X, particularly when I go traveling, and on 'gravel roads into the forests'.

What I've done is just recently bought a 200+ piece 'socket set'(Metric & SAE), and a set of locking pliers, on sale at Canadian Tire. Yes, you won't have Canadian Tire stores 'down there', but you get my point. It cost me $100 for tools that have a retail price of $300, and have a lifetime warranty.

I'm going to combine those tools with other tools that I already have, to make a 'tool kit for the X'. Because it won't be in the X all the time, I can live with the 'fitted carry case'. Either that or I'll use a tool box or roll.

Much of my 'old tools' are Craftsman. I've had two problems - both with ratchet mechanisms. One was in the 3/8 ratchet, and was easy to fix with a ratchet kit from Sears. The other is more of a problem - it's the ratchet in my Torque wrench. Sears no longer sells that wrench, and doesn't have a kit to fix it. In fact, the policy for Sears USA is to no longer make kits - if it's broken, you get a new wrench. The catch is that they no longer have a lifetime warranty on torque wrenches. The moral of the story - for tools with moving parts, don't rely on them having a "lifetime warranty".

For sockets, make sure you have "enough" adapters(e.g. 1/2inch to 3/8inch, etc.) so that you can use any socket that you have with any ratchet or breaker bar that you have. It might be overkill to use a 2-foot 1/2 inch drive breaker bar with a 3mm socket, but if your 1/4 inch drive ratchet is broken, at least you still have a way to use the socket.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Everyone's answers have been extremely helpful and practical so far. This is advice I'm going to be using in the short term. So keep it coming if people have more thoughts.

And just to be clear. I already have an OK emergency kit for my X (not that it couldn't be improved). But I want to outfit a decent home shop. I don't need my own hydraulic press or lathe (!), but what do I NEED?

Does anyone think Snap-on is worth it for the DIY guy, assuming years of use? Is Harbor Freight the way to go? What about high-quality used tools? Any favorite sources?
 

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Snap-on is way over kill for the average DIY, think of this way, you can get twice the amount of Craftsman tools for the same price as Snap-on. As I said, if I was a professional mechanic, I would own Snap-on.

For the price of a press...it's not a bad tool to own. ;)

Some tools (ones that are not under great stress or don't get used a lot, can be cheaped out on. Most of my gear pullers, c-clamps, engine hones, ring clips, etc are off brand, but when it comes to wrenches, sockets, ratchets, etc, a decent quality, life time warranty, easily returnable tool is good.

One thing, if you only own one vehicle and wrench on it all the time, it's best to buy the best tools you can afford. The reason...you are half way through a probject and the car is in pieces. You break your only 9/16th open end wrench which is needed to put it back together. That lifetime warranty won't do you any good if you can not get to the store to return it. :)
 

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dpatton said:
Much of my 'old tools' are Craftsman. I've had two problems - both with ratchet mechanisms. One was in the 3/8 ratchet, and was easy to fix with a ratchet kit from Sears. The other is more of a problem - it's the ratchet in my Torque wrench. Sears no longer sells that wrench, and doesn't have a kit to fix it. In fact, the policy for Sears USA is to no longer make kits - if it's broken, you get a new wrench. The catch is that they no longer have a lifetime warranty on torque wrenches. The moral of the story - for tools with moving parts, don't rely on them having a "lifetime warranty".
For as long as I have been buying tools, Craftsman (and most other tool companies I know of) do not warranty their torque wrenches for life. This is to prevent people from just getting a new one every year instead of having them recalibrated.

I have also noticed that the quality of the craftsman ratchest have been going down hill. I still have a ratchet set from about 15 years ago that is still going strong, but I have returned two 3/8" ratches that I bought less than 3 years ago.
 

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Muzikman said:
One thing, if you only own one vehicle and wrench on it all the time, it's best to buy the best tools you can afford. The reason...you are half way through a probject and the car is in pieces. You break your only 9/16th open end wrench which is needed to put it back together. That lifetime warranty won't do you any good if you can not get to the store to return it. :)
That's what public transit is for ;-)

What would be a real problem would be when you are 'stuck in the wilderness' and "your only 9/16th open end wrench" is broken. That's why you should have locking pliers, 9/16th socket(s), and a hacksaw.

The hacksaw is used to cut the end off your 9/16th closed end wrench, to make a replacement 9/16th open end wrench :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
dpatton said:
What would be a real problem would be when you are 'stuck in the wilderness' and "your only 9/16th open end wrench" is broken. That's why you should have locking pliers, 9/16th socket(s), and a hacksaw.

The hacksaw is used to cut the end off your 9/16th closed end wrench, to make a replacement 9/16th open end wrench.
That's what I'm talking about! That's some great advice.

And Muzikman, doesn't it make sense to buy a ratchet or a torque wrench that is much better than the Craftsman, but that works with the Craftsman attachments? (I know that's probably a super noob-wrencher question, but what the heck). Does that make any sense to go decent for most wrenches and sockets and great for some things? I mean, I'm gonna be using this stuff for years.
 

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There are many ways to mickey mouse things together and I carry enough tools with me that I can do any normal repairs.

I assume when you say "locking pliers" you mean vice-grip style pliers?
 

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Sure, a 3/8" drive ratchet will work with any 3/8" drive sockets, same with 1/2", 1/4" and 3/4" (though, I doubt you will ever need a 3/4" drive socket or ratchet.

So you could get a 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2" ratchets from Snap-on or Mac and use it with Craftsman sockets, adapters and extensions.

Also, in most cases you are going to use 6 point sockets. Unless they come as part of a kit, don't bother with 9 or 12 points unless you have an actual need (I have not seen any on the X, but there are 9 point bolts out there).

The reason for the 6 point is there is less chance of stripping the bolt head.


d-rap said:
dpatton said:
What would be a real problem would be when you are 'stuck in the wilderness' and "your only 9/16th open end wrench" is broken. That's why you should have locking pliers, 9/16th socket(s), and a hacksaw.

The hacksaw is used to cut the end off your 9/16th closed end wrench, to make a replacement 9/16th open end wrench.
That's what I'm talking about! That's some great advice.

And Muzikman, doesn't it make sense to buy a ratchet or a torque wrench that is much better than the Craftsman, but that works with the Craftsman attachments? (I know that's probably a super noob-wrencher question, but what the heck). Does that make any sense to go decent for most wrenches and sockets and great for some things? I mean, I'm gonna be using this stuff for years.
 

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Dave, you're right there have been plenty of great responses here so you've got plenty of good info to with... i'll go ahead and throw in some of the stuff i use.
Ratchets/sockets (1/2" and 3/8") are Stanley... my 3/8" stanley ratchet has probably been my most used tool for the past 5 yrs and has never failed me (knocking on wood).
Harbor Freight... you can't beat the prices. I think i paid $20ea for my sets of Pittsburgh wrenches: metric (10mm-26mm) and SAE... and they've held up great. Also got a set of 1/2" impact sockets there real cheap and though not often used; they work!
 

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Let me tell you all a little story, My Uncle, who has always been a mechanic and highly trained one at that by many manufactures as one might imagine (Rolls Royce qualified too)

Has his own shop, well a helper tosses a rag in the wrong can and the whole shop burnt to the ground, He had Snap On, Mac, Proto, Great Neck, Stanley, some other name brands and Sears Craftsman.

In cleaning they got the bright Idea to put the tools in a cement mixer with some sand to bring back a shine, enough to maybe get new tools.

He went to each tool co and explain what happened to him, It was only Sears that allowed him to pick a new tool for each one lost. Every other company told him to pack it in his azz.

The value of a tool and the quality sometimes is hidden, he always liked the snap on brand, all this happened 15 years ago and all you see in his shop now is craftsman tools. he will never buy anything else unless Sears does not offer it or specialized tool.

Maybe someone in Alabama wants to check my story, he's well known for three states, Don Scott.

So take that for what it's worth, I did!

You can't have youth and knowledge.

Oh! And try to get any other brand replaced on a Sunday or even Saturday for that matter.

MC
 
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