At Hearst Autos, we’re constantly trying out new gear for cars, trucks and motorcycles, and for the people who love them. The staff of Car and driver, Road & Trackand Automatic week are in the trenches week after week to bring you the best automotive news and information. In the process, we use many things. This includes tools for working on vehicles; replacement products to improve them; and the gadgets, technologies, cleaners and accessories that make them more user-friendly.
There are a ton of automotive gear and products and plenty of places to buy it all. But if you haven’t tried something 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 equipment and car accessories we use ourselves.
Here are our picks for the best automotive gear of the week.
Simpson Hybrid S safety device
A Head and Neck Restraint System (HANS) greatly reduces the risk of head and neck injury after a crash on the track, although it can only be used in a car fitted with a racing harness . In other words, you can’t use one with your road car’s three-point seat belt. This is a real problem on track day.
For a few years now, Simpson has marketed a device called the Hybrid S, all of which meet the same safety standards as a HANS. Unlike a HANS, the Hybrid S does not need to be held up by shoulder belts, but rather anchored around the torso.
GM has mandated them for track testing for a few years now, and we just started using them at Road & Track as well. At nearly $1,200, the Hybrid S isn’t cheap, though it’s a small price to pay for safety. I think it’s essential for anyone following their road car. —Chris Perkins, Senior Reporter, Road & Track
Pittsburgh Swing Socket Extensions
Wobble Extensions are a real game changer for accessing a tether that’s just out of place enough to be a pain. They are not intended to bend corners or 45 degree angles, but to provide just enough oscillation for your jack to fully install in tight spaces. Say what you will about Harbor Freight, but this set is affordable and perfect for a weekend warrior on a budget. Plus, saving a few dollars will allow you to spend more on auto parts. —Scott Olman, Marketing Director of Hearst Autos
Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment
Look, I’m no fuel scientist. I have not analyzed Star Tron Enzymatic Fuel Treatment in my lab and independently verified its claims that it preserves fuel, revives stale fuel, and prevents phase separation. But I can say that when I used it, bad gas-related things didn’t happen. And when I haven’t used it, sometimes these things have happened. I take a “can’t hurt” approach to Star Tron, and that has served me well.
A few years ago I had a gas pressure washer that escaped a splash of Star Tron and then developed a sharp carb grime and varnish that needed a deep cleaning. While I have used it regularly in my Honda generator (which sometimes stays on for six months or a year) without experiencing the ill effects of old fuel. You see, it’s the enzymes, I guess!
A standard eight-ounce bottle treats 48 gallons of gasoline for up to two years, so one bottle lasts long for motorcycles, ATVs, and lawn mowers. Thanks to the shape of the bottle and the small diameter spout, Star Tron does not need a funnel. Do you have a supplement? Pour it into your car. Or leave it on a shelf in the garage. You will find a use for it. —Ezra Dyer, Editor, Car and Driver
Aircat Short Impact Wrench
I wrote about this handy little guy for Automatic week in 2019, but it’s so awesome I’ll say it again: a chunky half-inch impact wrench was a game-changer for me. Impact wrenches no longer need to be bulky monsters that weigh a ton and are so huge they often can’t go where you really need them. I am using the Aircat 1056-XL in the picture above which is an older model. But Aircat has a lot of novelties and improvements. Despite its size (a bit longer than a deep impact socket) and weight (less than three pounds), it hits hard.
I hooked mine up with high flow air fittings and connected it to a 3/8 inch hose, and it has no problem removing the lug nuts. And it gets places larger impact wrenches, especially air impact wrenches, just can’t go. I use it way more than I deserve. For general use, this is the first impact wrench I grab. Of course, you’ll need to purchase an air compressor if you don’t already have one, but these can be had for less than you might think these days. —Wesley Wren, Associate Editor, Autoweek
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