When thinking of automotive tools, ratchets and usually wrenches spring to mind. But there’s a good case for pliers to join the top of the toolbox. They come in various models and sizes to cover most jobs, and frankly, without them, you won’t get far into your next repair job. Pliers save time, physical exertion and, above all, frustration. This is exactly what you need when lying under a car at half past three on a Friday afternoon. 

What Your Toolbox Needs

Needle Nose Pliers are the go-to for picking up fallen bolts or wrestling with plastic fasteners. Get one with a built-in side cutter.

Duckbill Jaw Pliers are the flat nose cousin of the Needle Nose and are invaluable when doing electrical work, twisting or straightening wire.

Wire Strippers are essential. Look for a multi-function tool with a gripper, cutter, crimper and stripper all rolled into one.

Diagonal Cutters are great when cutting through the wire, cable ties, vacuum hoes and metal. When you need to get into tricky spaces and Diagonals don’t fit, try their smaller cousin, Mini Diagonal Cutters. These beauties will let yo get deep under the hood or up into the dashboard.

Vice-Grip Locking Pliers come in several sizes and with a couple of jaws to choose from. It makes them super versatile and extraordinarily useful in any automotive setting.

Snap Ring Pliers will get the job done in a, ahem, snap. Beware of cheaper versions, as the tip can break off under duress. Make sure you have a couple of sizes in the toolbox, so you’re always ready.

Hose Clamp Pliers – the version with a lockable long-reach and a flexible wire shaft is a lifesaver as it lets you free up a clamp and lock it open. Now you can use both hands to remove a troublesome hose.

Turn to Hose Grip Pliers (not to be confused with clamps) when muscle power is not enough. Available in various clasp sizes, they’re indispensable when removing the unmovable.   

Piston Ring Installer is a distant third cousin in the world of pliers, but when working with piston rings, this is the ideal tool for such delicate work.

And the daddy of them all – Water Pump or Adjustable Pliers. It’s inconceivable that a good toolbox won’t have at least two bad boys inside. Their flexibility and leveraging power make them crucial when clamping, locking or turning virtually any workpiece.  They’re also available in several sizes depending on how much leverage you need and how tight the space you’re trying to access.


Think about the ergonomics of the tool. If it’s not comfortable to use, you won’t do a good job, and you risk repetitive strain injuries. When choosing pliers, remember that cheap ones won’t always buy quality. These have to last the distance; otherwise, you risk damaging the machine or hurting yourself. Plus, you’ll simply waste money if you have to replace them with a better-made model. To view an extensive selection of tools, visit RS