In recent years, tool makers have started to incorporate ratcheting mechanisms into box wrenches. Gone are the days when the only ratcheting wrench system available was the good old socket wrench. Because of their extremely high level of utility, ratcheting wrenches are an absolute must have for wrenching on cars in this day and age.
The biggest benefit to a set of ratcheting wrenches is that they allow you access to bolts that a socket wrench would be too large to reach. As the push for better and better fuel economy drives car and engine size down, engine bays are getting more cramped for space with each incoming generation. Previously, for tightly packaged bolts you would have had to rely on box wrenches for access. These would have required you to constantly reposition your wrench to continue to turn the bolt. However, with a ratcheting wrench you only need to position the wrench once making it a huge time saver, especially under the hood of modern cars.
When buying ratcheting wrenches, there are a few things you want to make sure of. First, ratcheting wrenches have moving parts so build quality matters. Additionally, unlike a crescent wrench, ratcheting wrenches are size matched to a specific bolt size so you need to make sure your set is complete with SAE and metric sizes.
The Best Ratcheting Wrench Set
When it comes to who makes the best ratcheting wrench set, there are tons of choices out there. We use the GearWrench 20-Piece Ratcheting Wrench Set (they also make a 32 piece of the same wrenches with more sizes available) and they have proven to withstand quite a bit of abuse over the last few years. This should come as no surprise since GearWrench was one of the early players in the game of ratcheting wrenches, so they have quite a few years of expertise under their belts. In fact, their ratcheting wrenches were arguably the product that put them on the map in the first place.
As a first indicator of quality, GearWrench’s ratcheting wrench sets offer a lifetime warranty, which should signal to you that they are intended to last. The wrenches are combination wrenches, so they have a standard open wrench (non-ratcheting) at one end and a ratcheting 12-point box wrench at the other. Unlike a socket wrench, these wrenches do not have a reversible trigger that lets you switch directions on the fly. Instead, you just have to flip the wrench over as the ratcheting mechanism only operates in one direction.
As far as overall quality, these are absolutely top notch. They easily compete with Craftsman, and even high quality industrial tool manufacturers such as Snap-On. Sizes range from 1/4″ to 3/4″ on the SAE side and 6mm to 18mm on the metric side. The finish is polished and is very well done. Similarly, the size markings are beautifully engraved on the side of the wrench and are very visible. As far as storage is concerned, they come with a molded plastic mounting plate, but unlike the wrenches this piece isn’t particularly robust so you may opt to get a roll up wrench holder or just hang them on your pegboard.
Overall, we have tried many ratcheting wrenches and keep coming back to GearWrench because they simply make the best ratcheting wrench set on the market. When you consider price, they are cheaper than some of the other high end competition so they also represent an extremely good value. As far as where to buy, we recommend checking out Amazon as they offer a free shipping deal that makes the price extremely attractive. That said, although we think GearWrench represents the best ratcheting wrench set value around, there are many options out there so feel free to take a look at other wrench sets on the market by clicking here if you feel that the GearWrench set doesn’t suit your needs. Happy wrenching!