Bag O’ Tricks

We all know mechanics have a ton of cool tools and equipment to help do the job right, but what else do we use? Sometimes home-grown and supermarket solutions work as well or better than a mainstream product. Here are a few of the (perhaps unusual) items a mechanic might use to repair a vehicle.Nail Polish??

  1. Nail Polish. Sometimes in the shop you just want to feel special, and Passion Pink nail polish….wait, that’s not right. Jokes aside, I keep a couple colors of nail polish on hand to mark various pulleys, shafts, mounts, etc. to make assembly or reassembly easier. Case in point: I mark 0º TDC (Top Dead Center) on a harmonic balancer to make setting ignition timing much easier.
  2. Scotch-Brite pads. This one may be a little stretch because 3M markets these for techs and body technicians, but they got their start in my favorite happy place: the kitchen. If you have a gasket or some junk that’s stubborn, sneak into the kitchen when your wife/girlfriend/mom/dad/boyfriend/husband/any-other-human isn’t looking and snatch the dish sponge with the green back.
  3. Oven Cleaner. Oven cleaner is some pretty intense stuff. If it can clean off Aunt Ida’s baked-on lasagna from the summer of 1997, imagine what it can do for you in the shop! I’ve used oven cleaner to clean engines, transmissions, hubs, and other really dirty assemblies and parts that tend to get hot and bake junk on them. Most oven cleaners are a gel or foam that allow the cleaner to cling and work better than a traditional degreaser like Purple Power. Make no mistake, I ALWAYS have a couple bottles of a heavy duty degreaser around the shop, but some jobs call for oven cleaner.

What are some unusual products or practices you’ve used to make something work? Let me know in the comments below. Happy Wrenching!

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