A Common Sense Approach to Prevent Tool Loss

Looking through engine service information recently, a caution statement to “remove all tools after work is completed” brought about a reflection of loss, namely the loss of hand-tools. No technician wants to lose any tools. Not only are tools expensive, the tech depends on them to get the job done.

Nevertheless, when working on vehicles, somehow tools get lost from time-to-time. If I had the cash value in my hand for every screwdriver that went missing from my toolbox, well, let’s just say it would be a welcome chunk of change. Screwdrivers just have a way of blending into the under-hood landscape, the virtual Chameleons  of the tool world.

Of course, there are other hand tools that vanish; wrenches and sockets are particularly painful to find missing. It’s pretty painful to hear a socket fall down into a location that can’t be seen or reached. But when that tool is misplaced and forgotten, it generally means buying a replacement.

Keeping a running tool inventory is one way to keep track of hand-tools. Most technicians take pride in having an organized toolbox. The various tools are kept in distinct locations and orders that the technician finds the most efficient. Granted, a catch-all drawer for stuff too important to throw out is typical (such drawers are not limited to toolboxes either).

In any case, the tools get taken out of the box and used throughout the day. A full tool inventory may not happen until the end of a shift. Unfortunately, any misplaced tools could be laying along the road when inventory time comes along.

One method to help combat tool loss is to carry the tool organizational approach over to a tool cart. It is fairly common to use a limited number of tools repeatedly every day. Using socket and wrench organizers that can be transferred over to the cart make it easy to have an ongoing tool inventory after each job.

Just as with the toolbox, the various tools can be arranged to where they are easily accessed and returned. Then, after completing a job, a quick visual inventory will help determine if all the tools used are off the vehicle.

Additionally, some may find that having a space on the cart to place tools in-use during a job helpful in keeping other tools clean. It becomes a simple matter to wipe down the tools used after a job and return them to the proper cart location.

Overall, keeping tools organized throughout the day will be a significant aid in preventing tool loss. Not only that, keeping tools organized is professional and builds pride in the critical work technicians perform to keep trucks moving down the road.

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About the Author

Jake Schell

Jake Schell is an editorial consultant with Mitchell 1. Previously, he served as Product Manager for the Commercial Vehicle Group from 2002 to 2023. Prior to joining Mitchell 1, Jake spent 20 years as a technician. He holds a Chevrolet Master certification in the transmission category as well as ASE certifications in both cars and trucks.