Over the years, I have learned a few things (the frustration). One, always obtain the correct tool for the task at hand. Never be afraid to adapt a specific tool for another or different use – it just might work. Consult the appropriate technical manual. Remember that it is usually worth the cost of purchasing those specialty tools. My first tool bag consisted of a few basic tools, mostly Buffalo Brand. A few screwdrivers, wrenches, and a couple of cheap flea market socket sets. Today, I have two full roll-a-ways, three tool bags, a tool box’ and a tool bucket. I have an entire drawer of screwdrivers, a drawer of pliers, nut drives, hammers, vice grips, pipe wrenches, plumbing tools, ratchets and other drive tools, saws and cutters, drill bits, carpentry tools, power tools, wrenches, sockets, test equipment, jacks, jack stands, drop lights and many, many other tools like pullers, magnets and inspection mirrors. Just take my advice, buy quality tools with a lifetime warranty. They are worth the extra money.
I also keep a log book for all my vehicles, and one for our home. I log all the repairs and put the receipts inside. This makes it easy to sell your used car, and helps if you wreck an older vehicle and the insurance company wants to total it out for less than what you have in it. I log the repair, the mileage, the date, a brief description of the repair, and the total cost of the repair, parts at a 40 percent average mark up, and add in your labor typically at about $70-$85/hour. Subtract your cost on the parts, and that is what you just saved yourself. I think it is important for you to keep up with what you would have paid, and what you actually spent. It is a huge difference. Occasionally, call around to the various shops and make sure you are not short changing yourself. Don’t be afraid to attempt working on new things. I only got the CT scanner job, because every other mechanical contractor refused to attempt the job. It turned out to be some simple air flow problems and a refrigerant leak. I didn’t even know those machines had cooling systems. Take a few repair courses, do some research on the web, or at your local library and see what happens.