A Mechanic’s Guide to Tool and Equipment Maintenance

If you own an automotive repair shop, you’d definitely have a lot of pieces of equipment and tools. Keeping them in a good and safe working condition with preventive maintenance can sometimes be challenging.

However, working with rusted, splintered, and broken tools and equipment can be hazardous, especially when you’re working with complex types of machinery such as gearboxes and its reduction gear. By having a regular maintenance routine, these hazards can be prevented to extend productivity, limit your shop’s downtime, and provide maximum revenue.

Hand tools

Tools such as hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers, and jack stands are commonly used by mechanics in automotive shops. These tools are tough, but they’re still susceptible to rust and damage caused by exposure and mishandling. Here are some tips to keep your hand tools in tip-top shape:

  • After using your tools and before returning them to their respective storage, make sure that you clean them properly. Wipe down grease and debris before putting them away. Also take this opportunity to check for any defects or damages on your tools—look for splinters on handles, broken or cracked metal parts, and signs of rust and corrosion. Tools that are damaged should be replaced or repaired as soon as possible.
  • Cold chisels, hammers, or any other tools used for striking can become very dangerous if they’re not properly maintained, as these kinds of hand tools are utilized for repetitive striking, which causes their metal head’s surface to spread and mushroom out to form a ridge or lip at the edges. If such tools are used continuously, their metal lip will continue to thin, curl, or split until they break off.

A broken metal head from a striking tool can be a very dangerous projectile that can hurt anyone on the receiving end. In order to prevent unnecessary hazards, simply grind off any metal edges with the use of a power grinder. Always remember not to use damaged tools, as it risks injury to others and yourself.

  • Use and apply all-purpose oils to lubricate and clean tools with exposed metal parts, especially those that have adjustable parts. Lightly spray your tools with oil, and use a rag to wipe any excess oil before storing. This practice can also help prevent rust and corrosion on your tools.

If your tools are already rusted, you can easily remove them by using rust removers or by using an all-purpose oil and wire brush. Lightly spray oil to rusted tools and scrub them with a wire brush until the rust is removed. Wipe them dry with a clean rag and reapply a coat of all-purpose oil to prevent rust from coming back. You can also put silica gel packs inside drawers and toolboxes to help keep moisture away.

  • Store your hand tools in proper storage areas such as storage containers, toolboxes, and shelving units to keep them protected from exposure to temperature changes and moisture that causes rust. Always clean and store your tools after use.

You should also have a designated working table for tool inspection and maintenance tasks. Use plastic sheeting or newspaper to protect it from oil leaks and to make cleanup easier.

Power tools

Power tools such as angle grinders, cordless drills, and impact wrenches need more maintenance tasks than your hand tools. The electrical and mechanical parts of most power tools are vulnerable to damage caused by debris, dust, and poor overall maintenance. Here are some tips to consider for the maintenance of your power tools:

  • Grime and dust can cause damage to your power tools if left unnoticed. Always check your power tools and clean them after use. You should also do a deep clean regularly by using damp rags and oiled cotton swabs for hard-to-clean areas such as intakes and exhaust.

Additionally, you can use compressed air to blow into crevices and vents to remove dust and dirt from inside the tools. For power tools that utilize air filters, you should replace them as instructed by the manufacturer.

  • Regularly inspect your power tools for signs of wear and tear, especially at their power cords. If you notice an exposed wire, loose or bent prongs, or frayed insulation, then you should immediately have them replaced or repaired by a professional. A broken power cord is potentially hazardous as it can cause electric shock injuries and fires.
  • For optimum performance, always keep the moving parts of your tools lubricated. Proper lubrication keeps your power tools running smoothly for longer hours and will also reduce the risks of rust inside your tools. Although most machine oils can do the job, it’s always best to consult the product’s manual whether the manufacturer recommends a certain type of lubricating oil.
  • Cordless power tools are portable and convenient to use. In order to keep your tools running effectively and efficiently, maintaining their batteries is essential. Batteries should be fully charged before use and fully discharged at least once a month. Don’t keep extra batteries unused; try to swap out your batteries at least once a week.

Additionally, clean your tool’s contacts by using alcohol and cotton swabs. Store unused batteries in a clean and dry place away from direct sunlight.

  • Protect your power tools away from moisture, dust, and other elements by storing them accordingly after use. If possible, store them in their original boxes or in tool chests and storage drawers in a climate-controlled room. Keeping them organized can also help you quickly find any tool you need.

Closing thoughts

After a busy day at work, tool cleaning may be the last thing you want to do. However, it’s also essential to keep your tools in tip-top shape to save time and money from premature and costly repairs and replacement. Additionally, always remember to keep all of the instruction manuals of your tools. They will provide you all the necessary information for replacement parts, tool care, warranty, and troubleshooting. Also, don’t forget about your toolboxes and belts; they may need some maintenance as well.