To work on your car, you need a baseline of essential tools before you are equipped to accomplish many of the common tasks. While you can buy things like hex wrenches and adjustable wrenches separately to piece together to make an entire tool kit, a far more economical way is to get a good mechanic’s tool set.
When it comes to mechanic’s tool sets, there is a lot of variability as far as what they contain. First, we should mention that a true mechanic’s tool set should not be confused with a general tool set. A general tool set will contain items like needle nose pliers, adjustable wrenches, channel locks, etc. On the other hand, a mechanic’s tool set is specifically geared for automotive work and will contain socket wrenches, hex wrenches, nut drivers and bits, extensions, and in some rare cases even breaker bars.
In addition to differences in what tools they contain, there are also differences in how many tools they have. This can range from 40 pieces to well in excess of 500 pieces. Realistically, 150 to 200 pieces tends to be the number that most people find to be about right. Any fewer pieces and avid mechanics tend to find that they are occasionally missing a necessary socket size or something of that nature. When you get up above 200 pieces, the costs tend to go up without giving you a whole lot of added capabilities that smaller sets don’t already offer (other than the capability to brag to your friends).
Best Mechanic’s Tool Sets
When it comes to the best mechanic’s tool sets, there are tons of options out there. The following are a few of our favorites.
Pretty Much Any Craftsman Mechanic’s Tool Set
Yep, we said it. Craftsman. Why should you consider a Craftsman mechanic’s tool set? Well, the answer is simple. Their tool sets are an extremely great value. When it comes to quality in any mechanic’s tool set, the tools with moving parts are what set the best apart from the worst. Craftsman’s ratchet handles are fantastic. They have great reliability, are relatively smooth, and have a nice ball bearing detent that allows you to securely snap in sockets without worrying about them slipping off. Their non-moving parts such as sockets and open wrenches are also excellent. They are well made, the castings don’t have burrs or hot spots, and the chrome finish doesn’t flake off as it is prone to do on cheaper tools. The cost of entry is definitely more than the budget mechanics tool sets, however still significantly cheaper than the higher end professional grade stuff such as Snap-On and Matco (although the quality is honestly almost as good).
Perhaps the absolute best part about Craftsman mechanics tool sets is that each part has a no questions asked lifetime warranty. While a lot of companies say they offer this, Craftsman continues to actually live up to their word. We have taken our own Craftsman ratchets that we have *ahem* abused and had the ratcheting mechanisms rebuilt free of charge. Additionally, another nice feature of Craftsman’s warranty is that you can bring tools to a Craftsman vendor such as Sears and have the tools replaced on the spot. No need to pay to mail and wait for someone to review the situation. As such, you really do buy these tools for life which makes the value even better. Overall, you simply can’t go wrong with Craftsman when it comes to choosing the best mechanic’s tool set.
Stanley 201 Piece Mechanic’s Tool Set
If you aren’t a Craftsman fan for whatever reason, fear not for there are other terrific mechanics tool sets out there. Another of our favorites is Stanley’s 201 piece kit. It contains everything you need, nothing you don’t. To give you a quick rundown, it has metric 6 point 1/4″ drive sockets in deep and shallow, SAE 6 point 1/4″ drive sockets in deep and shallow, metric 6 point 3/8″ drive sockets in deep and shallow, SAE 6 point 3/8″ drive sockets in deep and shallow, 1/2″ drive SAE shallow sockets, 1/2″ drive metric shallow sockets, a spark plug socket, ratchet handles in 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ drive, socket extensions, combination wrenches in both SAE and metric, hex keys, a nut driver, and nut driver bits. All of these tools come housed in a robust molded black case.
Each tool is forged with a chrome polished finish to inhibit corrosion and increase tool longevity. Overall quality is great, although perhaps not quite as nice as the Craftsman. That said, Stanley’s mechanics tool sets are a good bit cheaper than Craftsman’s, so when it comes to comparing values they are neck and neck.
As far as warranty, Stanley tools come with a limited lifetime warranty against defects. Unlike Craftsman, Stanley’s warranty has exclusions that they do seem to enforce. Incidental damage or damage due to neglect or misuse will void your warranty and force you to buy a replacement tool. Not a deal breaker, but not quite the same as the Craftsman warranty. Nonetheless, we still think that Stanley offers one of the best mechanic’s tool sets for the money and think you will be happy should you decide to go this route.
So we hope that this guide has pointed you in the right direction when it comes to choosing the best mechanic’s tool set. While we have chosen our favorites, we know that there are tons of other options out there that are also great. If neither of our suggestions quite fit your needs, feel free to have a look at some other options on the market by clicking here. Happy wrenching!