Home » What Tool Do You Absolutely Despise Using?

What Tool Do You Absolutely Despise Using?

Autopian Asks Worst Tool
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Tools. They can be wonderful things, helping you get out of mechanical snags in time for work the next morning. However, they can also be nightmarish, cantankerous appliances that don’t always live up to expectations. Today, I’m asking you what your least-favorite tool is.

Last weekend, I decided it was time for new fluids in the gearbox and differential of my 325i. Now, the BMW 188L differential doesn’t have a drain plug, but instead simply a fill plug through which you suck the old fluid out. Annoyingly, it’s not at a brilliant angle to get a traditional bottle in there and tip in new stuff, but it’s still reasonably accessible enough to use my tool cabinet nemesis — the manual fluid transfer pump.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Fluid Transfer Pump

You know the one I’m talking about, the sort with ports in both ends that you stick tubes in and manually pump like you’re filling a bicycle tire with petroleum products. The $8 Harbor Freight special by any other name, for when you’re short on time, planning, and money to get something decent. Since the full sections of tube are quite unwieldy, I sliced off reasonably-short sections of tube and carried on my merry way.

[Editor’s Note: I completely agree with Thomas. These pumps suck! They work fine for low-viscosity fluids like automatic transmission fluid, but you try pumping something thick quickly, and these hoses are popping right off! -DT]. 

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As luck would have it, the tiny piece of tubing I cut for the discharge end of the fluid transfer pump shot out of the pump, through the fill plug hole, and into my diff. Arsebiscuits. A 20-minute job just got more complicated and wasted some fresh fluid. The remedy was simple — use a pole jack to support the pumpkin, pull the cover without removing the diff mount, and then lower the diff while swiveling the cover just enough to fish the piece of vinyl tubing out using needle nose pliers before re-sealing the diff. Not the hardest job in the world, but certainly an aggravating snag.

188l Diff

Believe it or not, this isn’t the most spectacular failure I’ve ever had with a fluid transfer pump. Back in high school, I was pumping diff fluid into my Crown Victoria when the pump itself failed, completely ExxonValdez-ing the concrete slab of my parents’ garage. Sorry, mum.

At this point, I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll just get a big syringe for the next time I need to do gear oil. Sure, filling a small diff with a 200 ml syringe will take five or so injections, but it beats the aggravation of forcing thick fluid through a manual transfer pump, even if 75w90 isn’t even that thick.

So, what tool do you absolutely hate to use? What never fails to fail? Do you also hate manual transfer pumps, or do you despise something even more? To the comments we go!

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(Photo credits: Harbor Freight, BMW)

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Jack Elliott
Jack Elliott
9 months ago

Spanner wrenches. Rebuilding hydraulic cylinders is a giant pain when the gland has circle or square holes instead of bolts

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
10 months ago

Spring compressors, spring compressors, SPRING COMPRESSORS.

The number of “Ow, My Balls” videos of these things malfunctioning is enough for my default answer to be “spring compressors” here.

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
10 months ago

Soldering iron. As I get older soldering just seems harder and harder, I know I sound like an idiot and it should be a simple task, but I am firmly on team crimp.

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
10 months ago
Reply to  ProudLuddite

I’ve found a half-decent soldering iron helps, along with a proper cleaning station and some standalone flux. Clean and tin the iron, give it a few seconds to get back to temperature, and then solder.

That said, for anything automotive that’s going to see vibrations etc, crimp’s likely the better option anyways.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
10 months ago

Screwdrivers. Flatheads slip, and Phillips head strip. And the rotation gives me tennis elbow.

I wish the US used those star or square heads instead of Phillips.

RB
RB
10 months ago

Gear pullers. Two jaw moreso than three. In either case, any time I’ve run out of ideas for any other way to remove a pulley or gear from its shaft, I take a moment to just accept that the process to use the puller going to absolutely suck ass. It doesn’t make the process actually suck any less, but it does tend to increase the time interval between starting to use the puller and throwing a wrench across the garage while yelling.

Lokki
Lokki
10 months ago

I am a simple man, and I have simple hates:

The Crescent Wrench. Has anyone ever successfully removed a nut (without rounding the bastid off) that was more than finger tight using one?

You know you’re in trouble going in, just because you’re using one. It means you are working on something so important that needs to be fixed immediately enough that you can’t wait to go get a decent set of box-ends or sockets.

You KNOW you’re going to hash up that damn nut but your wife/girl friend/significant other/new kitten named Jaws is peering anxiously over your shoulder holding a dying flashlight and counting on you to be the hero.

Get in there boy, and fix the problem.

Waremon0
Waremon0
10 months ago
Reply to  Lokki

I keep a knipex pliers wrench on the back of my driver seat. Infinitely better than a crescent. I used it to remove a 27 mm jam nut from a control arm after using it to tighten a 16 mm bolt and squeeze a clamp open.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
10 months ago
Reply to  Waremon0

Whoa, TIL, those are cool.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
10 months ago

My hands. I need them for every job, whether an additional tool is required or not, and sometimes an additional tool just won’t fit or work in a tight space and I have to reach up there and struggle, getting my hands scratched and bruised and often bleeding because it’s the only way to do the thing.

Hands are by far the most painful tool to use.

Brooks Fancher
Brooks Fancher
10 months ago

I see a lot of people mentioning screw extractors. Best thing I can recommend about those is to not bother with cheap sets. Buy a really good set such as Snap On or Mac Tools and use something like PB blaster. They work so much better than those crappy ones down at AutoZone or Harbor Freight.

Methane generator
Methane generator
10 months ago

M*******t Teams

It has multiple functions for collaboration, but its modal UI means I have to wait 25 seconds for it to switch between a Tracker, documentation that someone uploaded, and the two IM sessions I was using. Sure, I can pop out the chats but I always forget just like I forget to buy microwave popcorn when I’m picking up groceries.

On iOS it’s even worse. My work phone wants to see my local network so it can report that I use the cheapest Amazon special doorbell camera. If I switch off the local network permission it won’t let me join a meeting. If I leave it switched on I can’t answer any calls because it’s polling my personal wireless NAS to see if it wanted to join in.

Utterly braindead design. And if that’s the best the most successful software company can rattle up, then it doesn’t bode well for all the software / firmware on modern cars.

TJ996
TJ996
10 months ago

So many options, but for me it’s frequently the simpler tools. Every “sealed” oil catch can seems to leak. Every grease gun always seems to have problems/make a mess. Gear pullers seem to not have enough engagement and slip off. Exhaust hanger removal pliers never seem to be up to the task.

Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
10 months ago

Breaker bar. It’s all anxiety; am I going to slip and bust my knuckles? Is the bolt going to break? Am I about to strip out the threads and damage an expensive part?

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
10 months ago

Good one – it’s definitely the “this is my last best chance” feel you get when you have to bust it out!

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
10 months ago

Damn, that is a pessimistic worldview, I am always like “I’ll just use the breaker bar and get that stuck not off, no problem”

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
10 months ago

My brain.
Apparently.

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green
10 months ago

I love using tools, but crap quality tools are the worst.

I think the worst are phillips head drill bits and drill drivers (in general).

You have a simple job, you want to just zip in the phillips head screw. So you get the rechargeable drill driver, and it either doesn’t have the power to zip it in, or if it does, the Phillips head will wear out, but not before boogering the screw head.

Max Headbolts
Max Headbolts
10 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Green

I bought two boxes of decking screws ten years ago, and each came with a bit, those things are tanks and were totally worth the cost of the screws themselves. Double sided so each bit has two heads to wear down. I use them on almost every Phillips head thing i touch*

*not my electronics

Lokki
Lokki
10 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Green

The problem with Phillips Head screws is that about half of them aren’t Phillips. They just look exactly F’n like them. They’re JIS (Japanese Industry Standard).

https://chapmanmfg.com/blogs/news/phillips-bits-vs-jis-bits-whats-the-difference

Roger Pitre
Roger Pitre
10 months ago
Reply to  Lokki

If you’ve been under the timing cover of a Japanese motorcycle, you either own a JIS screwdriver, or a motorcycle with stripped screw heads I “tweaked” the ignition timing on my old FJ1200 and had to give my Vessel JIS screwdriver a good whack to release the timing plate screws, that are loctited on at the factory. If you have a gear head friend, this makes a nice gift. $20 or so online. Get one. Now!

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
10 months ago
Reply to  Lokki

Or they’re Pozidriv, which also looks like Phillips just enough to sucker you into using a regular #2 screwdriver and stripping them out.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
10 months ago

My dad’s tools. He was the kind of person who used a screwdriver as a lever, punch or chisel and NEVER sharpened a saw or bought a new blade when it was dull. His tools were always dull, rounded, broken or the wrong size (for a long time be refused to get a set of metric insisting his English set was close enough and a gripper wrench would get the bolt off after the wrench had rounded the head). His power tools were even worse. I recall getting a number of shocks from a faulty switch on his jigsaw.

As a kid I thought that’s just how tools were. I was amazed the first time I used a saw that was actually sharp, then I got upset at all the hours I had wasted trying to cut wood with his old dull saw. Sooo much frustration, so many hours unnecessarily spent on a cold garage slab trying to finish the job with his awful tools, many times trying to remove a fastener damaged from the last time.

something, something “builds character”.

Dishonorable mention: Any part that demands a specialized tool when a standard tool could have been just fine. Looking at YOU Honda and your 1/2 mm too big ball joint ????.

Last edited 10 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
10 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

So your dad was Cheap Bastard Sr. ? 😉

Last edited 10 months ago by Jakob K's Garage
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
10 months ago

He taught me everything I know. Fortunately I’ve already forgotten much of it.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
10 months ago

I love/hate the cable spring clamp pliers. They make dealing with those things fairly easy. But they’re often in just barely accessible places. So that means scraped hands or forearms. The good news is that those clamps are very tolerant of being out of alignment and never over-tighten. “Goodernuf” and release the lock.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
10 months ago

The cheap but heavy HF (China) red “garage” rolling floor jack with the yellow plastic handle, where you have to release the valve with the end of the stick. and it doesn’t lift very high or roll very well. I hate those crappy things!
Ditched mine many years ago and bought a big (blue…) one with 3 ft+ of lift and a foot pedal.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
10 months ago

Nice! Yeah, still have that same red one and the orange jack stands but don’t use them anymore for good reason, ha ha

Deathspeed
Deathspeed
10 months ago

I was having trouble coming up with a tool I despise using, as opposed to whatever tool I am using for an unpleasant job like removing rusted-on bearing hubs. Then it hit me – the lowly lug wrench, especially the L-shaped ones that come with cars. (Do cars still come with lug wrenches? Do they still make cars?) Back-breaking (and sometimes stud-breaking) work when some jackass at the tire shop has cranked the nuts down with 3000 lb-ft of torque or when rust has settled in the threads. I put cross shaped wrenches in all my vehicles to help apply all force around the axis rather than some of it being applied downward (re: broken and bent studs mentioned earlier), but I still hated removing tires for a brake job. Then a couple of years ago, after 40 years of wrenching, I bought a harbor freight pneumatic impact wrench, and immediately wondered where it had been my whole life. Now I even [prepare to gasp] rotate my tires.

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
10 months ago

The tool I hate working with the most is Jonathan, definitely.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
10 months ago

I dread breaking out the screw extractor because something has gone very wrong and I’m applying desperate measures.
I also dislike the toilet snake but it’s the only effective way to unclog late 90s toilets

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