Lately a few people have asked for a few recommendations when it comes to the best mechanics creepers, and while we don’t think there are enough feature based differences between models to justify writing a full on buyer’s guide, we did want to address these questions with a few of our notes to point those folks in the right direction.
What is a Mechanics Creeper?
A mechanics creeper, also often referred to as car creeper or shop creeper, is a platform outfitted with swivel casters designed for a mechanic to lay on when wrenching underneath a car (that has been properly supported by jack stands).
Being able to lay on a wheeled platform is an advantage to a mechanic for a number of reasons. First, climbing out from under a car and back repeatedly can get tiring very rapidly. A creeper takes a lot of the necessary energy out of this equation by allowing a mechanic to effortlessly slide around the floor, much like a toboggan over snow or a skateboard over cement. Second, creepers are often more comfortable than a cold hard concrete garage floor. More often than not, shop creepers have some form of padding or contour which conforms to a mechanic’s body. Furthermore, since a creeper is elevated off the ground by a little bit thanks to the wheels, it keeps a mechanic from sitting in fluids that have pooled beneath a car, such as oil or coolant.
What to Look for in a great Shop Creeper?
Creepers have relatively few differences in design in general, but there are a few things to look out for. The biggest difference in quality that a mechanic will notice is in the casters. Casters with good bearings are going to keep the wheels spinning freely well into the future. Cheap bearings that get gunked with debris are quickly going to fail and you’ll find yourself dragging your creeper around the floor before you know it (which is worse than dragging your body without a creeper…trust us). Another interesting feature that some of the more expensive creepers have that we find useful on occasion is that you can fold some of them into creeper chairs, which can be a nice perk when you are doing suspension work. Realistically a stool works just as well as a mechanics creeper chair, so we don’t necessarily recommend spending the extra money for this feature.
When it comes to materials, most are either metal or plastic. The metal ones are typically going to cost a little more, and may edge the plastic ones out on longevity. You are slightly more likely to find decent casters on metal versions as well. As far as supporting your body, an injection molded plastic shell is going to do just as well as welded aluminum or steel.
When it comes to padding, there are a variety of foams that are used. We prefer foam that is slightly stiffer as the softer stuff tends to degrade and lose shape a little more quickly. It’s also nice to have a little extra padding in the head area.
Best Mechanics Creepers
Amid the hundreds of various creepers and creeper chair hybrids on the market, here are a few of our favorites.
Omega 91000 Black 40″ Foldable Z Creeper
Our favorite all around creeper is the Omega 91000 Foldable Z Creeper. This tool is made from using a formed steel construction, which is robust and will pretty much last forever. It comes with six 3″ diameter swivel casters which nicely distribute a mechanic’s weight across the floor. The casters are smooth and swivel very freely, making directional changes as well as rotating in place when you are on your back easy and painless to execute. This creeper is rated for 450 pounds, so it will sustain the weight of even the most…rotund…mechanics. The padding is extra thick on it, and has density high enough to give it a nice quality feel. Overall length is 40″ which should be plenty long for most people who aren’t power forwards in the NBA. Lastly, it’s important to note that this creeper does fold up into a chair, as its name implies. Overall it has high quality and high value. If you can’t decide which one to get, this one will cover all of your needs.
Torin TRP6240 Plastic Creeper
The Torin TRP6240 Plastic creeper is the best budget creeper in our opinion. It consists of a durable single piece plastic platform with six casters. The only padding this creeper has is in the head area, but fortunately the plastic has some give to it and still offers some compliance when a body is laying on it. The plastic also has some contour to it to eliminate pressure points. Make no mistake, it’s not nearly as comfortable as the Omega above, but it’s not all too bad for less than half the cost. The casters are of decent quality and in our opinion won’t give you any trouble over the long term. Like the Omega, the Torin is also 40 inches long which means that it will fit most body heights and types. While we don’t necessarily consider it the pinnacle of automotive tool engineering, it’s durable, cheap, and will do the job better than the other budget creeper offerings on the market.
Traxion ProGear Wide Body Creeper
If you want the damn finest non-folding car creeper money can buy, look no further than the Traxion ProGear Widebody Creeper. In short, it’s pretty boss. The construction is welded steel and is more or less bombproof. The most glaring difference between the Traxion and other creepers is that the Traxion only has 4 casters, and they are 5 inches in diameter. Because the construction is robust enough to support the rated weight without flexing, the casters offer some nice benefits. Because they have such a large diameter, they won’t get hung up nearly as easily if you mistakenly try to roll over a tool, nut, or bolt. This is analogous to the way a 29″ mountain bike rolls over obstacles on a dirt trail more easily than a 26″ bike. The weight capacity is a solid 401 pounds (yep, can’t forget that extra pound!) which means that it will support anyone whose body can realistically shimmy under a car. The deck is contoured with excellent padding that provides good support for a variety of body shapes. The platform is rather large with a little extra room along the width (hence the extra wide moniker) which we like. Overall, this is the most expensive creeper on our list, but it has some nice features that are worth checking out. We are confident that you will be happy with this creeper.
So there you have it, your questions have been answered! Hopefully now you have a better understanding of what to look for when making a creeper purchase. Additionally, you really can’t go wrong with any of the mechanics creepers that we have recommended, so you can purchase with confidence! That said, if none of them tug at your heartstrings, you can check out some of the competitive tools from other manufacturers by clicking here. Happy wrenching!