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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys,

I am interested on buying some tools to take back home in Spain this Christmas, because they are 3.5 times more expensive there.

I haven't had many tools before and I don't know exactly what to stick with. I want to get a compression gauge, fuel pressure gauge and spark test (these parts you put in the spark wires to see if there is an spark coming out) for distributor and distributorless engines.

I don't if somebody can give some word of advice with brands or good gauges to get. Is a pressure gauge the same as a vacuum gauge?

If you can think of any other gauge that can be helpful for troubleshooting an engine, I would like to know. I have been mostly using an OBD2 reader and a multimeter till now.
If I can check the pressure with an OBD reader, shoud I get a gauge apart?

Thanks guys for your help,
 

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C2H5OH
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Just a quick find. My advice is to Google shop for the best price, or you can buy them all from say Sears or some other local retailer. Prices shouldn't vary too much from Internet ones, plus you'll be supporting local business, big plus in my book.


Click on the picture to see the price and more info.







A timing light is basically a spark tester and much more handy that a in-line spark tester, I have both, use the timing light more often.




That is 2 separate products but both are quite handy. A vacuum gauge is a must though. It will tell you many many things about how an engine is running, for instance if vacuum is low you may have a leak somewhere, if it jumps you may have a dead cylinder or a misfire.




Your basic Digital Volt Ohm Meter. I just have a cheap Wal-Mart one that cost me $20 (the red one). Works just fine and nothing wrong with it. For some things though I can not use it and I have to use an Analog meter, the style with the sweeping arm. I would advise having both. Can't really do a proper voltage sweep test with a digital, TPS is a good example of this.




This guy is a life saver for doing brakes on any car with the parking brake built into the read disc brakes.





Never know when you'll need a good flaring (double flaring) tool.




Not a necessity, but quite handy at times.





You want to make sure to buy a compression tester that has both adapters for automotive spark plugs, most have both sizes in one piece.





I like the feeler gauges that also have the wires for spark plug gaps with them. I just used this pic for the feeler gauge, not the valve adjusting tools.
 

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I didn't see a compression tester. It is not the same as a vacuum gauge- in fact it reads the opposite condition. Those are fairly cheap, work all around the world. I'd just get one from a local parts store- there's not a lot of difference in technology when it comes to these. I'm not nearly as thorough as Iminhell, sorry, it's 5am, and I worked until 11pm last night.

I'd say get the timing light also, although on the newest cars it's basically just good for testing spark. When everyone goes COP ignition- you won't need it at all.

For electrical testers- Get a Fluke (Home Depot, Lowes, electrical supply house). These will cost 3x more than el-cheapo Wal-Mart version made in China, but will last for many many years. I use plenty of electrical testers in my job as an industrial electrician, and I can tell you that the el cheapo versions will not read correctly over time. The leads will also go bad- Fluke leads go bad as well, but are available for replacement without having to buy another tester.

I'd also suggest getting some Klein screwdrivers. These are much more expensive (cheaper in a multi-pack), but will last much much longer. Their 10-in-1 multi-tip screwdriver is the only one on the market that is worth purchasing- and works great for Fords because it has all the typical interior tips including the T20 and T15.

[:(] I have to go to work again. Someone please shoot me. When you see one of those Cargill "feel good" commercials, or drink any soda with high fructose sweetners- think of me trudging through sour corn mush in sub zero temps wishing I could be carving up a windy mountain road somewhere far from the hell hole I currently work in.
 

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Ex-auto mechanic speaking here..... Unless you plan on doing mechanical work for a living, it is not necessary to by the best/most expensive tools. For occasional usage, the cheap tool may work just fine.

And to be cost-effective, I wouldn't suggest buying tools ahead of time. You may never need them in a life-time. I bought cheap tools frequently at Sears and Harbor Freight......rather than Snap-On or Mac. Saved a bunch of money.

There are certain tools that you can use frequently enough, that pays to buy the best...screw-drivers for one. Auto-specific tools may be only used one time in your life....I'd try to borrow or rent the things, rather than buy.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you very much guys for your help,

I think I have some questions about them. Thanks iminhell for your post, I appreciate your effort, nice pictures and links.
I think I am not completely sure what is timing light for. does this do the same job as a stroboscopic light but more precisely? I guess it tells you if your timing is advanced or delayed and how many degress, am I right?

What's the circuit tester for? does it check continuity? can not use a multimeter instead for that?

Thanks whynotthinkwhynot. Well I said I have a multimeter already, it is actually a fluke. I bought for my electronic courses and I can tell the difference of precision, above all in small scales.

This is the first time I hear of the COP ignition, I need to read about that, how do you get to know all this stuff?

Well, next time take it easy and you can answer other day with a hot chocolate and warm feet.

Thanks bluefront. I understand what you say. I am not going to be a mechanic, but I work on more cars than mine: family cars, friends cars...
I understand that this tools are not going to be helpful till I have a problem and that can be in a long time. The problem is that finding these tools in Spain is a pita and then they will charge you a kidney for them.

Moreover, there are no loan programs in Spain, because there no diyers there, beside my father and I :)
When I first knew of the system here, I thought it was a really good idea.

So, to sum up. I can get a vacuum gauge for a very good price on Craiglist, I will try to get a fuel pressure gauge too, a compression tester, an spark tester...

I am open to all suggestions, thanks a lot
 

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I find it hard to believe that automotive tools are hard to find and as expensive as you suggest in Europe...... perhaps you need to talk to a few auto-mechanics over there, and find out what they do. In the automotive profession in the USA, mechanics buy/own their own tools. So they are always looking to save a few dollars when they need something. Working in a big shop like I did......when I needed an unusual tool I didn't own, I'd borrow one in the shop. Everybody else did the same. Only after I found myself borrowing something frequently, did I actually buy it. Even then......right now I no longer work on cars for a living, and I have a garage filled with tools I bought over the years, maybe 75K worth. Most will never be used by me again.

A timing light was useful on older cars where you actually needed to adjust the timing....by turning the distributor for instance. My '06 Duratec has a COP system, and the timing is controlled by the car's ECU. So a timing light is practically un-necessary.



You had timing marks on the crank pulley.....you shine the timing light on the marks, and adjust the distributor till the marks line up at an idle. And you can also see the timing advance system working when you speed up the engine. The really cheap timing lights are so dim, it's very hard to see the marks in the day-time. I have a Snap-on timing light.....maybe the brightest in the business. It is almost useless on this '06 Focus.

Oh....concerning that automotive voltage checker (the first photo). They're cheap, and can be used to check fuses, and the like. But there are similar/better alternatives for an auto-mechanic. It's very hard to use a VOM for many issues in a car.....poking under the dash for instance where it's hard to see the meter and the thing you're checking at the same time. I have an independently powered checker, somewhat like the first photo. When you touch a wire, a red light comes on if it's 12v, along with a particular sound. If you touch a ground, a green light comes on, along with a different sound. The thing also has a switch that allows you to supply 12v or a ground to the pointer end of the probe. It comes with a long wire that you attach to the car's battery.....it'll reach the rear of the car to check stuff back there. Called a super-probe or some other names.....I've used it countless times over the years. Link



More expensive version with a few more features (Like the one I have)

 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks again bluefront,

Europe is a big continent and there are a lot of differences between its countries. For example, tools in Germany are affordable and good quality, but in Spain there are a lot imported from Germany, which makes them more expensive and there is not a big market, so demand is smaller and prices are expensive.

Here mechanics don't have their own tools at work, the mechanic shop buys them and they use them. Although they usually have a big set at home.

Anyways, thanks for the explanation. I didn't know timing could be adjusted by the ECU with the engine running. How is this done? If there is a physic belt that synchronizes the crankshaft with the camshaft. Why do you need a timing light to check the timing in a distributor engine? Couldn't you just align the marks on the pulleys and then turn the engine manually a couple times and recheck the allignment?

Thanks for your suggestions,
 
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