Photos Courtesy of Snap-On Inc., Snap-On Technologies, Inc.


There are many basic concepts for buying tools and equipment for servicing your Toyota. Some may argue that it's wise to spend money on professional equipment, while other may say that cheap stuff's just as good... In my opinion, there's both ways of looking at it and spending money where it's required and saving where you need to is the most efficient way to equipping your home garage.

Things you SHOULD spend money on...

Some tools are just better than others, and it's only a matter of what each job requires that justifies the purchase of premium grade tooling. Screws and bolts are built to pretty exacting standards and carry heavy loads at times or requires precision adjustments. For service of these times, you will NEVER go wrong by buying the right premium sets of tools. A Phillips screw may look like a simple 'x' shaped groove at top, but in fact have proper measurements of tapering angle, and width. Having the correct screw drivers to turn them will ensure longer life of the screw, resists distortion and eventual damage. This is especially true in automotive use where soft alloys are often the mating surface and pressures and torque requirements are often very critical.

Nuts and bolts are the same way, each nut and bolt on your car was designed to be the right length, of the correct materials and tensile strength and size to do it's job as a fastener. Ignoring this fact is a very foolish proposition as these individual pieces may be cheap but it does hold your very expensive investment (your car) together... For example, your brakes and your radio may have the same size 12mm head screws holding the part in place but the nuts and bolts in use are very different in construction, design and strength against stress and heat.

For exactly the above reason, one should always find funds at least to invest in professional grade tooling for anything used in removal and insertion of screws, bolts and nuts. Believe me...not only you'll save yourself many fasteners in your lifetime but your knuckles and fingers too when cheap equipment can, slip, strip, and kill...

If you are looking for professional grade tooling like MAC, SNAP-ON, MATCO etc... You should visit your local mechanic or shop, even automobile dealerships. They will gladly refer you to a tooling sales agent that will come out to your home and discuss your options.

Doing it this way will make your agent eager to deal with you easier as he's working with a referral, and will likely give you a good discount on bulk purchase on what you really need and only on what you need at this time. He will give you suggestions on what may be needed on the make and model you have and what's really not necessary.

Stopping a truck out of the blue will not give you much discount and will catch your agent when he's busy and won't have much time to give you much details on your possible investment.

Shopping at your retailer like SEARS for Craftsman will not be cheap for what you get on volume purchase. It's something you'll likely work with for the rest of your life. So give some thoughts and talk with your sales agent so that you can build a long-term relations with him. You will save yourself a bunch of headache that way.

 Toyota Apprentice OEM Snap-ON Tool Set ($3500) from Snap-On Tools

SNAP-ON is a standard supplier to Toyota Dealers and have Toyota Specific starter sets (big bucks) but will include stuff you need to to completely disassemble just about any Toyota. Or you can start separately with following options...that are basic and covers most all your needs at home repairs...

When working on Toyota cars, its' nice to have the following in addition to the standard set that you may already have in mind.


SNAP ON - Box 0 deg. Offset Flank drive Box Wrench 

(This is almost a must, got to love it,  Toyota guy's got to have them!)

These box wrenches feature 14mm on one side and 17mm on the other, and are extra long with HiPerformacne Flank Drive fitting so you can undo some pretty nastily tight bolts and nuts in your engine bay.  14-17 combination is nice as well as there's nothing in between that fit the Toyota so you can use one wrench to do both 14 and 17 mm stuff with one wrench.

  • XDHFM 1417 14-17mm
  • XDHFM 1214 12-14mm


Deep and Short sockets from SNAP-ON "FLANK DRIVE" series in both 6 and 12 points are the BEST I have used... and fits the bolts and nuts so well and snug. Standard 3/8 ratchet wrench from SNAP-ON are one of the BEST as well.  Facom makes 1/4" drive ratchets that have very small limit clickers that serve well in tight places, but are hard to find in the USA.

Shallow Sockets (for bolt heads, and tight access)

 Deep Sockets (for nuts on studs and bolts)

You'd need 8,10,12,14,17,19,21,24mm sockets in short and deep to cover 99% of Toyota cars. So perhaps you should buy them in separate pieces instead of in incremental sets because you won't really save any money by buying in sets that include half of the set you don't need. I have yet to use any 9,11,13,15,16,18mm on anything...so those are NOT needed on Toyotas...if you want them...go buy a regular budget set from SEARS for those occasional repairs on your buddy's old vintage VW or Chevy!

Don't worry, you won't need any standard SAE sizes as if anything fit them in your car, you should replace that screw as it shouldn't be in there!! The odd sized you got for your buddy's VW will suffice to remove them and throw those screws away.

SNAP-ON screw driver sets are built to exacting angle, thickness and cut of the Toyota Phillips screws and have noticed that it fits very well for positive drive without stripping them.   Those gift-pack multi-bit screw drivers and ratcheting drivers are a nice item to keep in your car for emergencies but mostly lack precise feel and are bulky to access small or hard to reach areas with tips falling off easily.  It's best to have a proper screw driver set in different sizes to keep in your house for any job that may require it.

Mini Driver sets for small screws on circuits and electronic equipments



Long and Larger sized sets for most screws in the interior, body, and parts of engine bay.

MAC TOOLS have very nice box and open end wrenches too that have sharp edged handles that feel nice in precision work with small nuts and bolts.  MAC suppliers as well as SEARS carry ratcheting box wrenches that are extremely convenient in places you cannot get a bulky ratcheting socket wrenches.  I say that's almost a must as well.

Torque Wrenches are a MUST for any service on chassis, engine, and driveline.  These parts use many grades of alloy and steel and making sure they are torqued at the correct specifications will ensure proper strength, seal, and durability of parts.  Many of the parts are designed with heat expansion and fluid pressurization so it is critical that you use torque wrenches to properly tighten these items.

Things you SHOULDN'T Spend too much money on... (it's okay to splurge...yes. but...)

Impact Sockets are impact sockets... Both Snap-ON and MAC will NOT warranty these so you might as well go to SEARS CRAFTSMAN for those. Since they still are used in turning bolts and nuts, don't be too cheap on them as they can crack and impact wrenches can strip stuff before you have a chance to say "ah"!!

Pliers in assortment from local hardware store usually is very much capable of auto repair, so no need to bounce checks here either...

3 sizes of locking pliers are welcome as well as a good vice and 2 or 3 sizes of a hammer... These are used in well...hammering stuff... so it needs to be just the right shape for whacking away... This can be the cheapest thing you can find...just make sure that your head does not come flying off with a few swing...as that can be pretty painful...

Pry bar sets are meant to be abused and are NOT precision equipment so just make sure they are strong and cheap.

Compressors and power air-tools make high torque jobs easier but also generate loud noises which may be a problem in your neighborhood (if installed in a house).  Make sure you enclose them in sound proofed chambers or rooms and have plenty of insulation so you don't bother an old couple trying to enjoy retirement at home or home office workers around you area.  Being responsible and considerate is the first step in making car hobby an acceptable one in your community!

Tool chest and cabinets are probably the most looked at part of your garage when people come over to see you... Yes, like a car it's sort of a status symbol of home and professional mechanics...  However, don't skimp out on tools to try and finance a chest...  It often costs more then your car and it's only a box....yes, a box full of metal drawers.  Obtain the proper tools first and if your checkbook is still overflowing, there's nothing wrong with good chests and huge cabinets but it's still only a box...  a $5 tray and $20 organizer boxes will do just as nice a job of making your tools accessible and neatly organized.

Floor jacks are mandatory in any garage, I recommend them in 2 sizes, so you have one to lift your car up and another to lift parts into the car like a transmissions and cross members...  Always use jack-stands (fixed stands) on a secure surface and leave a couple of tires under the car to save you if they drop too...

Electrical Diagnosis equipments like timing light and electrical voltage and continuity tester is also a must in servicing cars.  With these items you can pretty much diagnose most problems in the ECU and sensors as well as body electrical problems.

Spare parts like hoses, hose clamps, electrical terminals, tape, zip ties and spare screw, nuts and bolts are very useful and should be kept in garages all the time so you don't have to go in and out of your local hardware store every time you need a 99 cent roll of tape...


Well...  As you work on your 4A-GE car more and more, you will notice there's more things that come to necessity but with these basic tools in hand, you should be able to cover many different repair jobs yourself.    Fixing things, and modifying things are part of enjoying an old Corolla or MR2, so go for it!  These items mentioned above will make years of rewarding experience and education for you! 

Some further inputs by Club4AG visitors:

Moto has a good article on essential tools with a sprinkling of common sense in the main page. I'd like to add some comments to
the article.

-If you want snap-on screwdrivers, sometimes its actually cheaper
to buy the snap on ratcheting type screwdrivers, last time I bought a set of screwdrivers it was 90$ for 7 of them, compared to 45$ for
1. If you are trying to service many vehicles its cheaper to buy the
bits, as well as takes up less space to store one screwdriver with
the bits in the handle. where the bit goes is is magnetized so the
bit usually doesn't fall out, you can go in reverse, forward or lock
it so you can use it without the ratcheting feature.

-They also make a angle handled ratcheting screwdriver, looks like
a pistol handle as well as the mini t ratcheting stubbies. Either way these are awesome.

-I like the snap on wrenches, but they seem to have a thin edge on the handle. Mac or Matco are thicker in the midsection. Either way
the big three are all awesome, They dont slip off when it really
counts. When it counts they are worth the money nobody likes a
rounded fastner.

-I like semi deeps or deep sockets for work. The reason is that
it keeps your hands far enough away from the work to swing the ratchet. I have shallow sockets but I find myself not using them
as often.

-My snap-on dealer (mel goodwin) has replaced my damaged impact
sockets, (3/8 impact) I've cracked quite a few 17 and 19 deep
sockets. 1/2 to 3/8 adapter and my 2131 IR Impact (now do you
know why I break them?) not to mention sometimes collisions make
fastners impossible to spin out.

-I can't stress enough the value of air tools. Believe me the
easier it is the less likely you hurt yourself, as well as faster
R&R. And those seeminly "Impossible" bolts zip right off with a
tap of the air gun. Even a tiny compressor will make your life
so easy. Gotta love the report of the impact gun. yes its noisy
but not as bad as the idiot down the street with the thumping
system. Its funny, it actually brings me a customer now and then
because they hear the noise and see me tinkering.

-Check out the "Gear Ratchet" I've been using them for years in the shop and they flat out rock. I thought they were cheezy at first but
they are awesome. I've found these at NAPA. Reasonably priced, and


-If you want bolts, nuts, clamps.. etc.. most shops have
bolt piles. Dont use for critical applications but keep them
for when you need a spare one to replace the rounded off one.
etc.. etc.. gotta have those spare parts. Sometimes bribing
with a box of doughnuts will get you a few pounds of bolts and

87 AE86 2DR "Red Rocket"
86 AE86 HB "Ole Blue"
97 Suzuki 600 Bandit.
97 V8 TBird
(Looking for a
Suburban or Expedition)
-Fred (^_^)+(*_*)