Flex Head Wrenches, a Unijack, and Our Favorite Sun Shade

Photo credit: Jim Mericle

Photo credit: Jim Mericle

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At Hearst Autos, we’re constantly trying out new gear for car, trucks, and sometimes motorcycles—and the people who love them. That includes tools for working on vehicles, aftermarket products for improving on them, and the gadgets, tech, and accessories that make them more user-friendly. The staffs of our publications—Car and Driver, Road & Track, and Autoweek—are in the trenches week after week to bring you the best in automotive news and information. And in the process, we use a lot of stuff.

There’s a ton of automotive gear and products out there, but if you haven’t tried something yourself, how can you know whether it’s worth buying? We are in the fortunate position to be able to get our collective hands on a ton of car stuff each and every week. That’s why we’re sharing with our readers recommendations of the gear, products, and accessories the Hearst Autos staff uses and recommends.

Here are our picks for the best car and automotive gear of the week.

Photo credit: KC Colwell - Car and Driver

Photo credit: KC Colwell – Car and Driver

GearWrench 16 Pc. 12 Pt. Flex Head Ratcheting Combination Wrench Set

Aside from a ratchet and socket set, a nice combination wrench set should be on top of anyone’s tool wish list. I didn’t always have ratcheting wrenches, but once I experienced the luxury of never removing the tool from the fastener, I was hooked.

Your first set doesn’t need to be a 16-piece set like mine; an eight-piece set is less than half the cost (bigger-sized wrenches are pricier) and it will cover most jobs, including the often misplaced 10-millimeter. Also, stay away from fractional, or SAE, wrenches unless you know you’re going to use them. Your cars have to be very old to have fractional fasteners.

I’m big on GearWrench tools. They carry a lifetime warranty and they are polished, like the big-name tool makers—Snap-on, Matco, Mac, SK—but without the professional price. —KC Colwell, Deputy Testing Director, Car and Driver

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Photo credit: Armen Abrahamian

Photo credit: Armen Abrahamian

Covercraft UVS100 Windshield Sun Shade

I really like this sun shade we got that’s fitted exactly to our car (a BMW X3). It has held up well over 2.5 years and fits perfectly. Easy to handle, folds up quickly, and never disappoints. It does its job well, really reducing heat gain in the L.A. sun for a car with an all-black interior. —Armen Abrahamian, Vice President, Product & Technology

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Photo credit: Mark Vaughn

Photo credit: Mark Vaughn

DeWalt 6-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac

This is my go-to shop vac because it’s lightweight and rolls around on its own wheels just fine. With all the attachments, I use it for everything from cleaning out the car to vacuuming cobwebs from the far corners of the garage. The brush attachments mean I can even do the furniture. —Mark Vaughn, Senior Editor, Autoweek

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Photo credit: Jim Mericle

Photo credit: Jim Mericle

Powerbuilt Unijack

I’ve owned this locking jack for five years and love it. It allows me to safely and easily work under any car with jack points (with unibody cars, it’s difficult to safely lift using only the factory jack points). It’s stable with a wide and solid footprint, so I don’t worry about it slipping. It’s heavy duty and height adjustable; I have no problem using with my Toyota PreRunner. Highly recommended!—Jim Mericle, Senior Director, Billing Operations

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