Whether you are fixing up your old car or working on other repair projects at home, working with a wrench, a hammer and a couple of ratchets can be an exciting experience. Besides, if you know how to fix your own car, you also get to save a couple of bucks while at it. However, one of the main obstacles that keep most people from getting their hands dirty is the lack of a decent assortment of tools. With the best mechanics tool set, you can cut the time you would spend getting frustrated about a bolt that is hard to reach by half. Here is what you need to know when buying the best auto mechanic tool set or best mechanic tool brand.
Features to Consider in Good Mechanics Tool Sets
Number of tools
How you plan to use a mechanic tool set determines how many tools you might need for the job. Obviously, you should not ignore quality however if you are planning for a heavy duty car care job, you might need all the sockets, drills and bits you can get. Keep in mind that more tools in a set can cost more. The last thing you want is to have a mechanic tool set with tools you barely use. Most units come in a set that includes about 100 to 400 pieces.
Considering the fact that some mechanical toolsets can cost you an upwards of $20,000, making sure the unit you go for comes with a warranty is simply a must. This is a huge investment you are making whether you are a professional or a home mechanic. A unit with a warranty guarantees the durability of the tools you invest in. That way; you can have peace of mind knowing that your tools are designed for the long haul.
It’s easy to assume that a highly priced mechanics toolbox will deliver the highest quality tools. However, even though this is often the case, you should not dismiss the quality of cheap tool sets. Furthermore, the price of every toolset will vary with the number of tools and the quality of the tools. The best approach, especially if you are looking for a bargain, is to go with a unit that has a balance between the features and the quality of the toolset.
As a home mechanic, you might not think much about the case that comes with your tools. In fact, most manufacturers have gotten away with offering mediocre tool cases with their tools. Keep in mind that you are paying for the case as well. This means that if it’s a premium model you should also get a high-quality case that offers long term protection and storage to your tools. You can either go for a plastic case or a metal case. The advantage of a plastic case is that they are lightweight and easy to carry around. However, if you need a heavy duty case that will survive the harsh environment of a busy garage, going with a metallic toolbox will be a great idea. Furthermore, a case or tool box keeps your tools neat and safe so that you do not lose any of them in the long run.
Mechanic toll set are a worthwhile investment and this calls for a level of maintenance to keep them in their best shape. Although most units come with a tool chest for storage, you can apply other maintenance strategies such as using lubricate on casters with high-grade bearings. Be sure to go with a unit that has high-quality metallic tools.
Automotive tools can be expensive when starting out. This is especially true for the most common types of tools like wrenches since you need to acquire a large collection of different sizes and attachments. A toolset takes a lot of the challenge of starting off out of the equation. Instead, you can choose a handy kit with the right size for your needs.
Upgrade an existing set. If you have a few tools set in the kit already, a mechanic’s tool set is a great way to expand on what you already have. Some kits, in fact, are designed as expansion sets more than anything else. Typically, these kits come with a larger range of sockets and other attachments with different or less common sizes.
Keep everything in one place. Almost all mechanic tool sets have a case included with the kit. While the quality of the case varies, often depending on the price point, one place to keep everything together equals better organization and more efficiency with common automotive tasks. A small mechanic’s toolset is also portable enough to take with you if you want an emergency kit or do some automotive work away from the garage.
Top Brands of Mechanic’s Tool Sets
Craftsman has a special place in many professional toolboxes, whether it’s on a truck or on a job site. The wide range of tools the company offers has a lot of quality that working professionals rely on as a good long-term investment. For professional and everyday use, the 320-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Set is one of its best mechanic’s tool sets.
Founded by Raymond DeWalt in 1922, the company that bears his name has been a staple in hand and power tools for decades. It’s signature yellow scheme is recognizable nearly anywhere, and the company offers a level of construction that matches its brand recognition. While it excels with general use tools, mechanic’s tool sets like the 181-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Set have won the company a place in many automotive garages.
Mechanic’s Tool Set Pricing
- $50 and under: Budget mechanic’s tool sets are usually limited in size and quality. The best ones still have high-quality tools, but some corners may be cut with the case or included accessories, especially anything made of plastic. It is common, however, to find a decent 100+ piece in this range.
- $50-$100: In the midrange, there are many durable mechanic’s tool sets for DIYers. You will tend to either find smaller kits with better tools or larger kits that cut the same corners with the included accessories.
- $100 and above: This is the range you will want to consider if you want something that is near professional quality. Professional kits use materials that can survive the typical abuse automotive maintenance can dish out and include larger sets with less common tools you may need every so often.
It may seem rather obvious, but the most important feature of any tool set is the selection of tools it offers. All kits are different in the number of pieces they include, but most tend to offer a standard array of common tools and sizes as a start. At the very least, the kit should come with a complete wrench set and a healthy assortment of sockets, nut drivers, combination wrenches, and hex keys. Look for larger, more expensive kits if you want less common tools like a tape measure, utility knife, spark plug sockets, and torque wrenches. If possible, make sure the set includes tools made of the same material like chrome vanadium steel or alloy steel.
The more tools you have, the more you will need in terms of storage and portability. This is where a quality storage case or tool chest comes in handy. For the most part, the case needs to offer a decent amount of protection and organization to keep everything in place. Hard plastic cases are the most common type. Make sure the outer surface has enough rigidity to survive knocks and scrapes or the unexpected fall if necessary and an anti-slip coating to keep the case in place. On the inside, the case should have a dedicated spot for each piece it includes with slots that will hold the tools in place if you move the case around.
- Automotive Needs: There isn’t a single best mechanic’s toolset available. Instead, the best one is the one that meets your unique needs. To know which one that is, you need to think about the types of automotive issues you want to address. Do you need one for simple, periodic maintenance? Do you need something more expansive to cover less common problems? The needs and intended use of the toolset will help you determine which one you really need.
- Multiple Sizes: The real benefit of the best mechanics tool sets is the modularity socket wrenches and sets offer when it comes to dealing with different fastener and part sizes in a vehicle. This makes the size of the sockets and other attachments important. First and foremost, you should have a set that has both metric and SAE sizes. You should also have the most common sizes for typical fasteners you’re likely to find in your local hardware store.
Best auto mechanic tool set
BEST OVERALLDewalt Mechanics 204-Piece Tool Kit
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This five-star kit has 204 pieces, including ratchets, extensions, swivel heads, short- and deep-set sockets, combination open-end and box wrenches, Allen wrenches, and screwdriver-tipped sockets.
The knurled beauty rings on the ratchets give you a firm grip and the sizes on the sockets are laser-etched so they are clearly marked—which means a lot less fumbling around in search of the correct sized socket. The 72-gear system gives you high torquing ability while the 5-degree arc swing provides maneuverability, especially in tight areas. The carrying kit is great for storage and transporting the tools to the work area where you need them.
There are a couple of downsides, though. The hex wrench sizes may not be big enough, especially for doing brake work. Also, the pieces can get loose in the case and the full case is quite heavy to carry around.
BEST VALUECrescent CTK170CMP2
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The Crescent CTK170CMP2 Tool Set makes a great starter or upgrade kit for mechanics and DIYer alike. The set actually comes with a few different options for included pieces, but the 170-piece kit offers the most bang for the buck.
Meeting ANSI and ASME specifications, the tools around the 170-piece kit are geared around the most common automotive tasks and parts. Coming with a variety of sizes of rachet and socket wrenches (both metric and SAE), the tools are high end and feel sturdy in the hand. The size of the case also makes it easy to store in a vehicle or in the garage in compact spaces.
While the tools are good, the case is a different story. Made of the typical cheap plastic near-budget tool sets use, the case is flexible and hardly impact-resistant. It’s also somewhat difficult to keep the individual tools organized within the case since the plastic organizers and slots don’t keep everything together when carrying the set around as well as more expensive options.
HONORABLE MENTIONCraftsman 450-Piece Tool Set
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When it comes to sheer bulk, Craftsman’s 450-piece mechanic’s tool set takes things to the extreme. Using three quick-release ratchets, the kit includes a number of sockets, extension bars, and combination wrenches to tackle almost anything a vehicle can throw at you. Outside of a few pliers, gloves, and other random automotive tools, this kit includes it all.
The real draw of this kit is the variety of tools and bits it includes. For working on different cars or different areas of a single car, this kit comes the closest to being “ready for anything” outside of 1,000+ piece kits. Quality wise, the tools share the same construction quality as other Craftsman tools (and other mechanic’s tools around the same price).
Given a large amount of included pieces, carrying around the entire set is less than ideal due to the weight. The kit is divided into separate cases, so you can take a portion of the overall toolset if needed, but it’s less convenient. The cases also suffer from the common toolset issue of failing to keep tools in place while moving the kit around.
Before You Shop
Don’t feel like you need to buy everything at once. Invest in a few essential tools or a basic set, and then purchase additional tools as you need them for projects.
Think about how often you will use your tools when deciding what quality to purchase. For example, if you only need to pound in the occasional nail, a cost-effective hammer will meet your needs while leaving room in your budget to purchase other tools. However, if you know that a big home renovation project is in your future, consider investing in something more durable.
If you’re looking for an easy and economical way to stock your tool box without the hassle of buying all the components separately, consider purchasing a tool set. These sets contain the most essential tools and often include a convenient storage case.
A durable claw hammer is useful for a variety of different projects. The head is used to drive nails, while the claw back can be used to pull them out. These hammers are available in a variety of sizes. A 16-ounce claw hammer is the right size for many household tasks while a 7- to 8-ounce claw hammer is best for work in small, confined areas.
Your toolbox should include two different types of screwdrivers: a Philips-head screwdriver and a flat-head screwdriver. A Philips-head screwdriver features two blades in the shape of a cross, while a flat-head screwdriver has one flat blade. Certain screw heads are designed to work with Philips-head screwdrivers, while others are designed for flat-head screwdrivers, so it’s good to have both options in your toolbox. You should also have them in several different sizes for different jobs.
A set of pliers is a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of tasks. A standard set of adjustable pliers can be used for gripping and adjusting nuts and bolts. A set of long-nose pliers is also a useful tool to have. The long nose allows you to grip small items and reach awkward places. A standard 5-10W size set of pliers will work for most household tasks.
Getting accurate measurements is important for any project. A tape measure can be used to measure windows, furniture, lumber, pipe, and much more. Most tape measures are spring loaded, so the tape will retract after you release it. They are available in several different sizes, but a 3/4″ wide by 16′ long tape measure can be used for most household tasks.
A level is used to determine if a surface is straight. Torpedo levels feature a glass tube filled with liquid. A bubble is formed inside the liquid and will appear in the center of the tube if the surface is level.
Laser levels are also available. These levels use a laser to project a straight line, making them especially useful for hanging pictures and shelves or mounting TVs.
There are several types of wrenches that you should have in your toolbox. A socket wrench can be used to quickly tighten or loosen bolts. Most socket wrenches have a 90° handle. Another type of wrench that should be included in your tool box is an adjustable wrench. In addition to tightening or loosening bolts, an adjustable wrench can be used for a variety of plumbing tasks. This wrench features an adjustable jaw, so it can fit a variety of different fastener sizes.
A utility knife allows you to cut through a variety of objects, including corrugated cardboard and other packaging materials. Consider purchasing a replacement blade pack so you never have to attempt cuts with a dull knife.
Including a headlamp in your tool box can help you work in situations without a lot of light. Whether the power’s gone out or you’re working in a naturally dark space, having a headlamp allows you to keep your hands free and your workspace illuminated.
Not only do cordless drills provide you with additional strength to drive screws, but they also allow you freedom of movement without being limited by an electrical cord, allowing you to take your cordless drill virtually anywhere! Cordless drills can be used to drive screws and drill holes. They can also be used for a variety of tasks with drywall and concrete.
Having the proper personal protective equipment will help keep you safe during any task. You can protect your eyes and face from flying debris with eye and face protection like safety glasses or safety goggles. Work gloves can keep your hands safe and protected during tough jobs.
As your tool collection grows, investing in storage can help you stay organized. Having a tool bag or tool box is a great way to keep your tools readily available and easily accessible in one place. Check out our tool storage buying guide to learn more about the different options available.