Don't Confuse Tool & Equipment Collectors With Tool & Equipment Hoarders

Don’t Confuse Tool & Equipment Collectors With Tool & Equipment Hoarders

I recently watched one of those reality shows about hoarding, and, quite frankly, I wasn't surprised at all. I've seen this same thing in customers' cars, trucks and vans. There's junk, trash and just about anything you could think of piled up inside the car and/or in the truck bed. It's always a disorganized mess with no rhyme or reason where things are placed. Can you work like that?

I recently watched one of those reality shows about hoarding, and, quite frankly, I wasn’t surprised at all. I’ve seen this same thing in customers’ cars, trucks and vans. There’s junk, trash and just about anything you could think of piled up inside the car and/or in the truck bed. It’s always a disorganized mess with no rhyme or reason where things are placed.  

I can’t work like that. While I’m not very neat with my toolbox, at least it’s an organized chaos. Sockets and extensions of the same ratchet size are in one area, cutting tools in another, and screwdrivers and pliers all have their own place. I actually use several toolboxes to store my 30+ years of a variety of tools.

And even with the toolboxes, I still have to put other tools, that come in their own protective plastic molded boxes, on shelves and neatly label them as to what’s in each box, in order to retrieve them when needed. Older, out-of-date tools always seem to end up in the lower drawers. I can’t even tell you where my dwell meters are these days; I haven’t seen them in years.  

Now I can see the same trend with my old scanners. The pile keeps getting bigger and bigger. I still have an old Matco 4000E and a few other scanners on one of the lower shelves. I don’t think I’ve turned them on in years, but all the cards and cords are there. Each time you update to a new scanner, it generally will do all the older systems. So instead of pulling out my old scanner, I’ll reach for the new one every time. So what happens to that old scanner? It will end up with that old dwell meter somewhere out of sight and forgotten.  

These days, I find myself “hoarding” some of these new tools, and waiting for a chance to use some of them. There are special headlamp assembly removal tools, belt tools, shock wrenches, front end disassembly tools, suspension tools and so much more, and most of which I may only have use for once in a great while.

I don’t think of myself as a tool hoarder or a collector. I just want the right tool for the right job. The way I look at it is without the right tool, the job isn’t going to be as easy as it could be. So any time I can get my hands on the correct tool, I will. 

Then there are those homemade tools that I have a tougher time sending to the deep, dark pockets of the lower drawers. At the time when I needed that certain cut-down tool or a socket I ground an edge off of…they made sense. Looking in the drawer at some of these old handmade marvels I have to wonder…why did I do “that” to this tool? But, I’ll “hoard” these tools for a long time, as I just can’t part with them so easily. 

I’ve also seen guys who have huge boxes of tools, where every single socket and screwdriver is so perfectly placed that they resemble museum pieces. I’ve even seen a guy who had a huge selection of hammers. All these hammers were lined up on overhead racks equally spaced apart, and put into a pattern from small to large, and by handle length. While a thing of beauty to a tool guy like myself, it’s not very practical in my point of view. A hoarder? No, not ­really. I think it actually falls under the category of collector. Collectors take pride in what they have, and are proud to display them in an orderly fashion.  


One thing that goes along with customer hoarders’ cars and trucks is the stench. I think the worst one that I can remember getting into was a Chevy van with a heater core leak. The van was piled up to the windows and front to back with the most horrendous conglomeration of junk I’ve ever had to deal with. There was enough room for only the driver and barely any room to move the gearshift lever. It was totally disgusting and had an awful, unforgettable smell. There were papers, fast food bags, clothes, shoes and anything else you can think of.  

I always try to put things back in order when I take them out of a glove box or trunk but, in this case, there was no way to “re-stack” everything back into this “hoarder-mobile.” All I could do was grab handfuls of this stuff and throw it on the shop floor.

In fact, I gave the owner the estimate based on book time, and then I crossed out the book time, and told her that the book time doesn’t apply due to the conditions in which I’m working. She still said “go for it,” so I did. With an aspirator, plastic gloves and a long-sleeved jacket that I planned to throw out as soon as I was done, I “dove” right into my work and finished it as quickly as I could. I’m no doctor, but I think these people have a serious mental problem, yet most of them don’t see it as a problem.

When you finish with one of these jobs, don’t forget to wipe your tools off before you neatly place them back into your toolbox. Even though customers are most concerned about getting their car fixed right, first impressions do count, so make sure your shop and your toolbox are neat and presentable. The bonus to you will be that you can find what you need, when you need it.


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