Diagnosing a No Start, Turn Key and Nothing Happens?

Why Trust Me? I Almost Died Under A Car. It’s On Video?

Ok, you got me. It wasn’t me that almost died under a car, but rather a friend who was helping me on my car. It would’ve been tragic, but luckily the disaster was just barely avoided. Also, lucky for you I happen to catch the whole thing on video (skip to the end for a Youtube link).

Therefore, that was one of the main reasons for me wanting to start this site. I know when I first started out working on cars, fixing things, and helping friends I didn’t know anything. It was hard to find quality advice online, and I found myself learning by trial and error.

I am lucky I didn’t get hurt and ten plus years of working on cars I still have all my fingers and toes. I want to be sure you learn the correct way to do things, and how to safely go about repairing your car, motorcycle, or scooter. This is a spot for me to geek out with you on awesome tools, how to guides, and blog posts.

I will provide content and reviews that will help get you set up as a new mechanic or DIYer. I have worked on everything from Alfa Romeos to Honda scooters.

Why did I start agradetools.com?

  1. My love for tools. I have experience owning tons of different tools/brands. My access to tools from different automotive repair shops/motorcycle repair shops in my area.
  2. I love working on cars/trucks/diesels. 
  3. I’m an avid rider of motorcycles, scooters, and lawn mowers.  
  4. It brings me joy to help people build the confidence to fix their own things. I like watching people progress as they learn how things work/get more confident working on cars.

Helping you through that learning curve of getting started is my goal. Trust me, there is a big learning curve to working on cars or motorcycles. It all starts with building up the confidence to remove that first bolt.

What background do I come from:

I grew up in a family where we never paid anyone to fix anything.

Even though we probably could have afforded it, my dad just did it all. Plumbing, electrical, construction.

Sure, the electrical outlets on the wall may not be put in perfectly straight but they worked.

My family is the type of family that calls for a quote on something, just to know how much money they saved after we do it ourselves.

How I got started working on cars as more than a hobby:

It was around 2010 when I first started to get into automotive repair seriously. Before 2010, I was definitely changing my own oil and diagnosing simple issues with my cars, but not to any professional level.

That all changed when my huge Econoline diesel 4×4 van wouldn’t start a couple weeks after I bought it for a whopping 8,500. It was my most expensive purchase I had made and I was around 20-21 years old. My plan was to drive it around and travel in it, but after about a week of it sitting at my house it refused to start.

This thing was a beast. I wish I had photos, but it had like a 10-ton winch on the front. Lifted, huge tires, and had the full creepy scary looking van look.

Well, when it wouldn’t start I wasn’t about to pay some diesel mechanic in town $150 an hour to diagnose it. I was going to figure it out.

I was out there one day with my crappy craftsmen tools and my arm in a cast trying to figure out why I couldn’t get the beast to start.

Meeting a real mechanic, and become an apprentice:

It just so happened that my next door neighbor was a Honda factory trained mechanic and had seen me working on it day in and day out. He stopped, offered some help, and we became friends.

We got the van started a couple days later after we swapped out the diesel injection pump. I would’ve never been able to do that myself, and I learned a ton even from the first few days of working with a highly skilled mechanic. There are just some things that are hard to learn without feeling them or watching someone else do them. Like knowing how tight a fuel line should be. Or what tool works great for tightening those hard to reach injector lines.

Whatever it was, he knew the way to navigate the problem and had the tools to do so.

From him, I learned all about the automotive repair world and had access to a toolbox filled with the highest quality tools (mostly Snap-On).

Lastly, without that guidance, I would never have the confidence to rip into things and figure things out. I then proceeded to buy my own tools (mostly used Snap On tools) and became his apprentice.

We worked on everything from motorcycles to cars. And I spent the better part of the next 5 years working on cars, buying and selling used cars, and learning everything I could about the maintenance of cars. I bring that expertise to this site, and I also know that I have chosen not to pursue being a technician as a career. Therefore, this is a site for me to geek out about tools, how to guides, and help you navigate the world of car repair.

Big thanks for that, sorry for almost killing you under a car.

Other big influential people that helped me learn car repair:

A shout out to the many YouTubers who have made the auto repair world much more transparent and easy for newcomers. You guys have entertained me, saved me countless hours, and are an awesome resource to everyone.

Big thanks for what you do. This is just to name a few. Many more of you guys out there. Also, anyone that has ever uploaded a video simply because they couldn’t find any other video to help them– big ups to you!

Briansmobile, EricTheCarGuy, Schrodingers Box, Humble Mechanic, Oldskool Funk, ChrisFix.

What else have I done:

In 2016 I traveled to Colombia where I taught English for 9 months.



Me circa 2012 in Colorado. Got trained as a feller at a fire camp, and worked for a couple months dropping beetle kill. Super fun, and learned a ton about saws!

I also plan on reviewing lots of different products and people who work on them on a daily basis. For example, I know my local small engine shop guy who has worked on all brands for 25+ years has some expert knowledge on what brands/models are the best.

So, please let me know what you would like me to cover and I will try to find someone who is an expert in that field and interview them (and hopefully produce videos as well).

When in Costa Rica, why not buy a motorcycle for $500 from another ex-pat. No keys, no paperwork, and definitely no license. This 2-stroke Yamaha was a beast.


I love soaking up knowledge and I love passing it on to others.

Here is a link to my youtube channel, I will most likely be making a new one to focus solely on this website & reviews.


My name is Max, and thanks for stopping by the website!

Read below to see how I almost killed my buddy under my car:

Cerca 2014, removing previous owner poor judgment putting bosch plugs into a Toyota 3.4l. Let me just end that debate for everyone, no bosch plugs in a Toyota 3.4l. Ever!

Alright, get to the point. How did you almost kill your buddy?

We were putting the engine back in my Subaru Legacy circa 2012. This was the second time in two days I had to pull the engine and put it back in.

Why? I had put in the head gasket backward.

Upon initial startup, after I was impressed with myself for doing my first head gasket job, the car started spewing high-pressure oil out from the gasket on one side.

Both my very experienced mechanic friend and I were perplexed. I had just put a new head gasket on, and now it seemed as though the engine block was just puking out oil from the head gasket. Like literally shooting oil out at high pressure.

So we did what any normal human being would do. We googled it. Sure enough, there were plenty of other people who had done the same thing.

CRAP! I didn’t even know a head gasket could be put in upside down and still fit on everything and look fine. Turns out it can, and it was blocking an oil port in the head, and the oil only had one place to go (shoot out of the engine bay).

In the video, you can’t see me, but I am jacking up the hoist inside the garage.

My friend Keith is checking underneath for anything holding us up. He is positioning himself to help guide the engine in on install.

The Video Where I almost drop an engine on my friend:

Also, I don’t want to give it all away, it is best if you just watch the video.

Lucky for you, I had set my camera up to take a time lapse of the engine install. Instead, I captured a pretty unique and lucky moment.

Here it is! I hope you can learn from it. Safety is no joke.

Funny note– the video has been on my YouTube Channel for years. I just always left it unlisted from my channel. Well, I realize its best to help other people avoid the same mistake— so enjoy!


Also, check out that beautiful Alfa Romeo 164s in the background (my old car).

Now you should probably check out my article on safety and take it seriously. My buddy would’ve been severly injured had that engine landed on him. All because we cut some corners, and weren’t being smart. I hope you don’t make the same mistakes!

Enjoy my site and I hope you find some helpful advice.

Note to self: Write A Review Of Engine Hoists!


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