Jon LangstonCar and driver
At Hearst Autos, we are constantly trying out new equipment for cars, trucks and motorcycles and the people who love them. The staff of Car and driver, Road & Railand car week are in the trenches week after week bringing you the best in automotive news and information. We use a lot of stuff for that.
That includes tools to work on vehicles, aftermarket products to improve them, and the gadgets, technology, cleaners and accessories that make them easier to use.
There’s a ton of auto gear and products out there – and plenty of places to buy it all. But if you haven’t tried anything yourself, how do you know if it’s worth spending your hard-earned money on? That’s why we share our personal recommendations for the car gear and car accessories we use and trust.
These are our picks for the best car gear of the week.
Purpose-built sunglasses for driving
I’ve tried them over the years — Ray-Ban, Randolph, Foster Grants from truck stop mini-marts, and countless others — but no matter how much my sunglasses cost or how great they look, it’s now clear that the best shades for me are the ones i can afford to break or lose. Then I tried sunglasses from the Miami-based brand gresso. this is me not losses. And so far I haven’t been able to break them.
With a bendable titanium frame and straight but form-fitting arms that don’t pinch behind my ears, the Gresso sunglasses weigh just 16 grams. Mine are by far the lightest pair I’ve ever worn, and they are arguably the most comfortable, making them perfect for riding. And it’s the nylon Zeiss lenses, which offer great optics and 100 percent UV protection, that are the real heroes here.
Unfortunately, luxury has a price. I chose the California frames ($395), classic aviators in black with gradient dark lenses. There are dozens of styles for men and women to choose from. Gresso also does eyewear. Some frame styles are a bit too modern for my taste, and the price could be considered prohibitive. But there are also plenty of traditional designs, and with such a wide selection of frames and lens styles, there is sure to be one for everyone.
I never thought I’d own a pair of fancy sunglasses or care so much about them, and I guess it’s only a matter of time before they disappear or get stepped on. Until then, I intend to look cool behind the wheel. —Jon Langston, senior commercial editor, Hearst Autos
Super-thin right-angle ratchet
I could sing the praises of this super thin Cobalt chatter all day long. I’ve had it for years, and I end up using it all the time. You can put a cap on it and get into places where a regular ratchet is too thick. I used it to get the top on and off my Bronco as it was the only way I found to get into the gap between the roll cage and the cab to get the front bolts out.
The set is nothing like mine; it seems that the packaging and presentation have changed over the years. And I suspect yours won’t come with all my dust and debris. But Cobalt tools are still a great deal for the price. —Ezra Dyer, Editor-in-Chief, Car and driver
Brake Caliper Compressor Rewind Tool
Many cars still have a mechanical parking brake integrated into their rear brake calipers. Now, that doesn’t really mean a whole lot—until you do a brake service and your rear brake calipers turn your trusty C-clamp into an ampersand.
That’s because mechanically integrated calipers must be retracted into the caliper. Of course, you can probably use needle nose pliers or one of the cubes that fit a 3/8-inch ratchet. Or you can invest in a caliper compressor tool.
This kit from Orion Motor Tech is probably not the strongest, but if you’re rewinding calipers you don’t need any force (if you have to force the piston of your caliper home, there’s probably something wrong inside). The wide range of adapters on this kit have helped find the nicks on caliper faces on numerous brake services, and the left and right screws may come in handy one day. Regardless of the deductible, it’s better to have too many adapters than not the ones you need when the time comes.
The kit also comes with a flat adapter to push back pistons on traditional calipers, if your C-clamp didn’t survive pushing back the piston of a parking caliper. —Wesley Wrenco-editor, car week
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