Reach any nut or bolt with these short spanners

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ARTWORK BY BROWN BIRD DESIGN

Spend some time working on a car and you’ll quickly find that not all DIYs are as easy as your favorite YouTuber describes them. Some nuts and bolts are harder to reach than others, requiring special tools and clever workarounds. If you’re working in a tight engine bay without a lot of room, short spanners are a must.

Stubby keys are exactly what they sound like. They have standard key ends on each point, but the handle that connects them is much shorter than normal. They can fit in the palm of your hand making them extremely versatile and perfect for reaching hard to reach fixings.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to resort to stubby wrenches to crack a nut or grab the head of a bolt. Some of my past project cars, namely my $700 8-Series and V-10 M5, had gigantic engines and tight bays where nearly every bolt was in a tight spot, usually surrounded by other stuff. Having short spanners on hand meant I wouldn’t have to take half the car apart just to get to a bolt.

Set of 14 short ratchet wrenches

GEAR WRENCH
amazon.com

$57.23

Spanners are useful for more than your engine compartment. They can play a key role in removing items such as exhaust connections or driveshaft bolts. And because they’re so small, you can take them with you and have them anywhere without taking up much room in your trunk or glove compartment. I always make sure I have a few in a few key sizes for emergencies.

Because short keys are just physically smaller versions of regular keys, they are not more expensive. Gearwrench sells a 14 piece set with 12 point ratchet heads for just under $57 on Amazon. If you’re looking for even more flexibility, Gearwrench also sells a set with adjustable ratchet heads, yours for $133. Want something a little more economical? Duratech manufactures a set of 12 spanners without any ratchet elements for just under $30.

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