All mechanics have their preferred set of tools. Professionals and enthusiasts alike, beyond the assortment of necessary tools, the individual’s preference ultimately drives a lot of purchasing decisions when starting or expanding a toolset. This is what makes a standard mechanic’s tool kit so great: It provides a good starting point to get the most common tools out of the way so you can start with typical automotive maintenance tasks from the start as you expand the collection. If you don’t have your own preferred toolset, here is our handy guide to some of the best mechanic toolsets and the Best complete mechanics tool set available today.
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 a mechanic’s tool set.
Best complete mechanics 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.