The Auto Shop Quiz


By: Dave Davis

7 Min Quiz

Image: sturti/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

When car owners bring their vehicles into the mechanic’s garage for routine maintenance or repair, the experience can often leave them feeling vulnerable. The space is filled with unfamiliar tools, machines and strange-looking devices, and mechanics frequently use terms most people don’t understand. For car owners, it’s like being in a foreign country where they don’t speak the language. Add to the fact that, depending on the repair, hundreds or even thousands of dollars could be on the line, and this simple trip could lead to ever-rising levels of anxiety.

Is this your experience, or do you feel that the garage is a second home? Are you afraid of speaking with the mechanic, or do you relish the opportunity to talk shop? This quiz will determine how much you know about the tools of the trade when it comes to auto repair and maintenance!

One of the best ways to lower the fear and dread of visiting your local auto shop is to familiarize yourself with what you’ll find there. While some of these objects resemble medieval torture devices, knowing a strut compressor from a breaker bar will, at some level, put your mind at ease.

Some of these devices are squarely in the domain of the professional mechanic. Others are easily found in a home garage or, at times, in a well-supplied glove box. Even if you don’t consider yourself “handy,” you’ll know far more about the tools found in an auto shop than you did when you started this quiz! So, let’s step past the line that keeps the other customers out of the service bay and take a crack at some questions that will give us a diagnostic of your auto shop knowledge. Pull it on in!

Can you name this simple piece of equipment that could save your life?

When working under a car that's jacked up, good mechanics know to never go any further without putting jack stands into place. If the jack fails or shifts — and they do from time to time — a jack stand will keep the car supported and off the worker under it. Jack stands can be life savers.


What's the name of this basic set of tools that can be found in almost any garage or home?

If you work on cars — or any type of machine — for any length of time, you're going to run into the need for a socket set. A good wrench, a variety of sizes of sockets (both English and metric), Allen keys and extensions are great items to keep handy.


Sometimes there's no substitute for a good set of these in the garage, but what are they?

While socket sets are often more convenient than an open wrench, there are times when you need a set of these to get the job done — the nut could be in a confined space, or you might need to counter-hold a bolt when getting it loose. A good set of wrenches has been a time-tested tool for mechanics throughout the ages.


You could use a pair of pliers, but it's recommended that you use this tool for the job. What is its job?

When a fuse blows, something in the car stops working. The fuses are easily replaced but are usually packed together in a tight enough grouping where it can be difficult to get your fingers on the right one. A fuse puller grasps the fuse firmly but not so hard as to break it.


It's simple, but you'll thank yourself when you use which piece of equipment?

When working on a vehicle, you'll undoubtedly have a supply of screws, nuts, washers and other small pieces you'll need when it comes time to put it all back together. A magnetic tray or bowl will make sure that the tiny pieces stay put — and no batteries are required!


You've been locked out of your vehicle. What's the name of this tool that will get you back in?

There are few things as annoying as locking your keys in the car — you look through the window and they're RIGHT THERE! A door air wedge can get you back in by inserting it between the door and the weather stripping and then inflating it so you can slip a rod in and unlock the door. Presto!


What's the name of this tool that, when necessary, will keep the cursing in the garage down to a minimum?

Even the most careful mechanics will drop a screw, nut or other small object down into a crook that's too small or too far away to be reached by hand. By using a pick-up tool with a magnet on the end, however, the part can be easily retrieved, and the work can go on.


What's the name of this machine that is designed to put other items into motion?

Pneumatic tools are a great help when working on vehicles, but they require one thing to function — compressed air. A single air compressor can power a number of different tools as long as it's big enough to provide the pressure required.


What's the name of this device that won't be found in home garages but is a great tool for a professional service bay?

When putting new tires on the rim, the job is not done until the wheel is properly balanced and spins smoothly at speed. By using this machine, the tech will know where to put counterweights to make sure everything will roll evenly for better handling and ride comfort.


Your mechanic has one and so should you. What's the name of this most basic piece of automotive equipment?

Some have a needle gauge, some are electronic, and others simply have a stick that pops out to give you a reading, but whichever type you prefer, keeping a tire pressure gauge in the glove compartment is a no-brainer. They're cheap and if used regularly, will prevent flats and extend the life of your vehicle's tires.


Despite its name, this piece of equipment is both useful and completely harmless. What is it?

When you spend a lot of time under cars, it's best to keep your back off the ground and be able to move around with a minimum amount of effort. A creeper can make the job of fitting in tight places a lot easier, and if a nap happens to take place on one every now and then, who's it hurting?


What's the name of this piece of equipment that can help you from becoming your own worst enemy?

Tightening a bolt is a simple action, but if a mechanic uses too much force — as we're all tempted to do — it can strip the bolt or, in some cases, shear it off. By using a torque wrench, the mechanic can set it and hear a click when the required tightness is reached. It will also make it easier for the next mechanic to take that bolt off when the time comes.


This the right tool for a very specific job, but what is it?

Removing or installing the spark plugs can be tricky in some vehicles, depending on the structure of the engine. A spark plug socket, however, can make changing them a breeze. The sockets come in two sizes — 5/8 inches and 13/16 inches — and often have a rubber insert to hold the plug firmly without damaging it.


It looks like a ninja's weapon. What's the name of this tool?

Vehicles often have different sizes of lug nuts, and the tool that comes with the vehicle often isn't big enough to provide the leverage you need to get a stubborn lug nut off. The four-way lug wrench not only works with multiple vehicles but gives users all the leverage they should need to get the job done.


This machine saves time and the mechanic's back muscles. What is it?

There are times when the engine needs to be removed from the vehicle for repair or a rebuild, and the engine hoist is the key for lifting it out from under the hood. Through the use of chains and hydraulic levers, one mechanic is able to maneuver the engine to where he or she needs it.


Other tools can do the job, but what's the name of this device that makes the task quicker and easier?

All cars come with a jack that can be used by the roadside or in the home garage, but if you need to elevate a car quickly and much more easily, a floor jack is the way to go. You can roll it to the preferred place under the car's frame and with just a few pumps of the lever, you're ready to go (after you set the jack stands, of course).


It can be a messy business. What's the name of this handy bit of equipment that can make it less so?

This probably isn't a necessary piece of equipment for a home garage, but for businesses that do a lot of oil changes, this oil collection and storage system is a great use of resources. This item keeps things nice and clean and stores the spent oil until it can be permanently and properly disposed of.


When a mechanic uses this tool, he or she can keep things running the way they should on older or small engines. What's it called?

For older car engines and other engines with distributors, timing lights are a great tool to make sure the internal combustion process is timed to maximum efficiency. The light helps the mechanic determine if the spark plugs are firing at the correct interval to combust the fuel/air mix in the cylinders.


This tool is vital when working on the suspension system of many car models. Do you know what it's called?

When repairing or replacing struts, getting the high-tension spring off can be a challenge — after all, it's designed to support the weight of the car's frame. With this tool and a wrench, a mechanic can compress the spring down to the point where it can be removed from the strut's frame.


This tool is an example of one of humanity's oldest machines. What's it called?

Although it sounds violent, the breaker bar is as a lever that allows the mechanic to put much greater force on a stubborn bolt. By increasing leverage, one person can generate a great amount of force, and this is the tool that puts that force to use.


Can you name this device that will get things moving when nothing else will?

When you turn the key and nothing happens, you've most likely got a battery issue. A jump starter can be used in cold weather or when the vehicle has a dead or depleted battery. It can help a mechanic find out what's happening with your vehicle.


Simple but effective, what's the name of this tool?

For proper operation, the battery's terminals must make good contact with the rest of the electrical system, but corrosion and other matter can form on the terminal posts over time. By using a bit of cleaner and using a terminal brush, however, the posts can look as good as new!


You know there's a problem, but you're not going to find it just by looking. What's the tool that's going to help you track it down?

When you need to check a fuse, make sure that a circuit is being completed, or are tracking down some other electrical irregularity, a multimeter is an indispensable tool. It has a bit of a learning curve to know how to use one effectively, but once you're up to speed, you'll find the problem in no time!


Your car won't run smoothly, or in some cases at all, if your mechanic doesn't use this bit of equipment. What's it called?

When changing a spark plug, the new plug must have a specific distance between its electrodes in order to make the right spark at the right moment. By using a gapper, you or your mechanic can set the gap at the recommended distance — usually between .02" and .1" — for your vehicle to run its best.


When rebuilding an engine, you'll need this type of set to seal everything up properly. What's type of set will you be using?

In order for the new gasket to make a tight seal, it's vital to get all the remains of the old gasket off the surface, and the best tool is one designed to scrape off old gasket pieces and residue. A set of these will offer different sizes and shapes that will allow the mechanic to prepare the surface for the new gasket and make a tight seal.


If you're feeling a little warped lately, which of these will put you back on the right path?

The rotors or drums of your braking system can become warped with overuse, or they can become pitted because of worn pads. If the warp isn't too bad, however, a brake lathe can give the part a new lease on life. This tool allows a mechanic to turn the surface flat and smooth.


What's this heavy-duty piece of equipment called around the garage?

Transmissions are a major part of a vehicle's drivetrain and also one of the heaviest pieces of equipment on the automobile. By using a transmission jack, mechanics can more easily maneuver it around and get it at an angle where it can be serviced.


This machine can answer all your questions — at least when it comes to your car. What's its name?

Your vehicles onboard diagnostic (OBD) system can provide you or your mechanic with codes that can tell you how the engine and other systems are functioning — and even let you know what the "check engine" light's deal is! To read the codes, however, it requires that a scanner be plugged into the ODB port, usually under the dash near the steering wheel.


When used properly, you'll never know that a mechanic was there. What's this piece of equipment called?

When bent over under the raised hood with their heads deep in the engine compartment, mechanics are going to come into contact with the fenders and grille. By using a fender cover, they can protect your vehicle's paint job from zippers, dropped tools and other scratching hazards.


What's the name of this the tool which is most often used when things are grinding to a halt?

When replacing the brake pads, the calipers that push the pad against the rotor must be compressed. While something like a C-clamp can be used to do this, a spreader is easier and quicker to use.


To remove items that were designed to stay put, you'll need a set of these. What is this set called?

When you need to get pulleys, gears, steering wheels, harmonic balancers, flywheels and other items that were designed to stay put out of the way when working on the vehicle, your best bet is to grab a master bolt grip set and get to work.


It can be a complex job, but this is the right tool for it. Which one of these is it?

After it has been in operation for a while, your air conditioner will need a coolant recharge, and a machine such as this is a mechanic's best friend for the procedure. This device will capture the spent refrigerant, test the system for leaks, refill it with new coolant and give a report about what it has found.


What's the name of this device that keeps various parts of your car playing nicely with each other?

While oil is the main lubricant of your vehicle's engine, parts like the steering system, suspension system, drivetrain and other elements require a lube job, which involves putting grease in various fittings and spots around the vehicle. A grease gun is the right tool for this job.


Sometimes you need to know what you're dealing with, and you can use this to gather info. What's it called?

It's a good idea to keep an eye on the condition of your antifreeze from time to time. If it becomes unable to do its job, your engine will pay the price. By squeezing the bulb and sucking a sample of antifreeze out, you can easily test you coolant's condition.


Despite its name, you're not doing anything mean to an animal when you use it. What's it called?

A car has many seals that have to be removed during repairs or maintenance. The right tool for the job is, of course, a seal puller. This tool has different sized edges for various types of seals and works by providing you with added leverage to pull seals off quickly and easily (or at least that's the theory).


This device can shed some light on a problem area. What's it called?

An inspection camera, sometimes called a borescope, offers a flexible tube with a light and lens at the end that transmits the image back to a screen, allowing the user — in this case, a mechanic — to get a better look at a hard-to-reach area. This saves time and effort because the other option is to remove parts to get a better look.


What is the name of this time- and labor-saving device?

There's nothing wrong with using a little elbow grease, but when you have tools available that can save you the strain, why not take advantage of them? When coupled with an air compressor — or in the case of cordless wrenches, a can of compressed air — a mechanic can make quick work of tightening and loosening bolts, saving time and energy.


This tool can get you out of a sticky situation by giving you a handle on the situation. Can you name it?

When installing a new windshield, it can be hard to get a grip on the glass, and you certainly don't want to break it! By using a set of windshield suction cups, you can get a handle on the replacement part, making the work a piece of cake. Get a grip!


What's the name of this device, which, when used properly, can keep you out of a messy situation?

When a vehicle's oil is changed, the oil filter also needs to be changed. Because they're sometimes on very tightly and it's difficult to get both hands on the filter, the best tool for the job is a special wrench designed to easily remove the filter. Some have a band to wrap around the filter, and others have jaws that grip the filter, but they're both designed to get the part off without spilling oil all over the mechanic.


What's the name of this tool that is designed to tighten and loosen hard-to-reach items under your hood?

The serpentine belt is an important part of the engine, providing power for several systems, and has a long life. As with all belts, however, there will come a time when the belt needs to be replaced. With this tool, the mechanic can loosen the idler pulleys, replace the belt and restore pulley tension.


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