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The elusive 10mm socket

Posted by Ashley Schwab on

It was midnight. I was 17 years old and working on my first major car project: replacing my transmission. Mind you, I didn’t have anyone that knew what they were doing, nor did I have the money for a mechanic. I had been at this project for a good two hours. So far, I had successfully disconnected the exhaust, removed the drive shaft and the wiring harness, and drained fluids. I remove all the bolts from the bellhousing with my 15mm, and then switched to my 10mm to remove the three visible bolts from the starter.

I didn’t have a transmission jack, so I was using my floor jack to hold up the weight of the transmission. I was about to try to separate the transmission from the motor when I noticed two 15mm bolts on the top of the bellhousing that needed removal. I switched back to my 15mm to remove these. Then, I proceeded to yank the transmission with all my might. I pulled and pried. I yanked and heaved for a good hour, consulting my manual about five times.

After going back and forth from under the hood to the toolbox, I discovered there was a single 10mm bolt that needed to be removed on the backside of the starter in a very inaccessible area. However, when I looked around in my disarray of tools scattered across the garage floor, my 10mm was nowhere to be found. Somehow in the multiple trips back and forth, every single one of my 10mm sockets had disappeared. I scoured the area to no avail—all of my 10mm had walked off.

Of course, looking back I see a myriad of execution problems that may have led to the loss of the 10mm. Yet from that day to the present, the one socket that always disappears on me is the 10mm.

You may chuckle at my pain. But it’s no secret that the 10mm is an elusive little bugger. The struggle is real. There is nothing more frustrating than looking through 80 sockets to find that one size socket in the correct drive size and coming up dry. No matter the project or the car, the 10mm is the number one used socket in my set. In fact, the 10mm socket is one of the most commonly used metric size sockets of all. It’s no secret that the majority of parts under the hood and in the car require a 10mm. The applications may vary from car to car, but the 10mm is absolutely vital to complete a project.

10mm Socket meme

I have multiple socket sets, and every single one has needed a 10mm replacement. I cannot count the times I have purchased a sole 10mm (or four of them) because I have none in my garage. Where does the 10mm disappear to and why have I never found somebody else’s that they lost?! There must be thousands out there (probably with those missing dryer socks).

I imagine switching from the 10mm, 12mm, and 15mm is my downfall. While switching sockets, I seem to place my 10mm in whatever crevice I think it’s the least likely to roll out of, and inevitably, that’s where it remains. Until I drive off, dropping it in my yard or on some random road, lost for eternity. My other theory involves my 10mm dropping into the dark abyss that is the engine bay to never be seen again. Either way, I can start a project with six 10mm and end my project with zero.

So how to fix this issue? Thankfully, I seem to get smarter with age and experience. Since my days as a spry 17 year old without a care in the world, I have started using a magnetic tray. This tray has a magnetic base that will adhere to any metal surface. I can angle it flat, upside down, or sideways for use inside my vehicle, under the vehicle, or under the hood. I have been using it to store nuts, bolts, and sockets. These trays are life savers. So far I have been able to keep all my sockets in one location, and as a bonus, I haven’t lost a bolt either. I would also recommend a socket organizer. You can throw this puppy on the ground beside you so every socket gets put in the correct space immediately after coming off the ratchet.



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  • if you are a garage worker, then a heavy-duty and full-set would work great for you.

    marywhitney on
  • “..The dark abyss that is the engine bay to never be seen again.” That’s hilarious haha.

    Blessing Thang on

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