Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
May 21, 2015

There’s a popular saying many of us with toolboxes taller than us say, which is “use the right tool for the job.” Using the proper tool for the job means getting the job done quickly and safely. No one wants busted knuckles, no matter how cool that metal garage sign slogan is. Whether it is a power steering pulley installer or camshaft degree wheel, doing the job right (and sometimes at all) means using that special tool you just have to have in your toolbox.

Amongst all those specialty tools, deep sockets, screwdrivers, and more, many of us have what I like to refer to as the “universal socket set” or the “metric adjustable” wrench. Whether it is a tight location, a non-standard nut/bolt configuration, or some other reason, we all have several pairs of adjustable wrenches—also known as groove pliers, water pump pliers, and slip-joint pliers—and locking pliers. Often locking pliers are used to hold a bolt while turning its nut with a socket, or like many of us, the locking pliers are pulled out of the box after a nut or bolt head is rounded off in the hopes of being able to grip it tight enough to set it free. Whatever the reason, everyone’s tool box has at least a couple of these tools.

The problem with both of these tool types is that they often require two hands to use. Instead of simply holding the part in one hand and removing the fastener with the other, you have to use both hands to adjust the pliers for proper fit. Too big and it won’t grab, too small and it won’t lock or give you enough grip on the fastener. Now, thanks to C.F. Cooper’s Auto-Grip line, you can easily grab that rounded bolt or non-standard fastener with one hand thanks to the Auto-Grip’s self-adjusting design. Available in several locking pliers and groove pliers sizes, each under $20, we ordered the Auto-Grip 2-piece combo kit ($26.99) of an 8-inch locking pliers and a 10-inch groove pliers to check out ourselves.

The Auto-Grip self-adjusting groove joint pliers are shown here with two types of traditional groove joint pliers. From left to right we have manually adjusted pliers, quick-adjust pliers (push the button versus opening the plier handles to move the jaws), and the self-adjusting pliers. Which one do you think we’re going to be grabbing from our tool box from now on?
Testing the self-adjusting nature of the Auto-Grip groove joint pliers, we took them out to the garage and played around under the hood of our ’66 Mustang. It was quite easy to work them with one hand and the camera in the other and you can see here the spring that helps tension the jaws as you fit the tool over a nut/bolt/fitting. They were comfortable and easy to use.
As noted in our main text, the Auto-Grip locking pliers have this feature called a pressure control knob that is accessed by opening the pliers. You simply set the tension to the strength your hand strength can handle and then leave it. No matter the size of the fastener you lock the tool onto the grip tension will be the same.

The Auto-Grip is distributed for C.F. Cooper by Beltway Supply in the United States, a female-owned national tool company based in Northern Virginia. “Response from tool retailers, professional contractors around the country has already been great,” said Christine Heiby, President of Beltway Supply, Inc., which distributes Auto-Grip. “Word is getting out and, since almost everyone has a pair of locking pliers in their toolbox, they want the new, better one. People are telling us they are using the Auto-Grip not only as pliers, but as an adjustable wrench, clamp, temporary handle and portable vise, among other uses.”

The locking pliers feature a patented locking mechanism that you can set to your feel/liking and never have to touch it again. From that point on you can close/lock and open the pliers with one hand. There’s no longer that need for a second hand and constant adjusting of the tension knob at the end of the pliers. It makes using the pliers faster and easier and the Auto-Grip pliers are guaranteed for life!

We tested the Auto-Grip locking pliers on several different sized fasteners/fittings and each time the pliers easily self-adjusted to the size of the fastener/fitting and then the pliers locked into place with the same amount of hand squeeze tension each time. These new Auto-Grip tools will certainly get a workout in our projects, both in the garage and in the house.