Best Mechanic's Tool Sets: The Fix Is In

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Top 7 Best Mechanic's Tool Sets

Gearheads are lucky. We’re interested in vehicles, so the natural extension of our interest is to pick up a set of tools to poke and prod at the very machines we enjoy. Someone who is interested in horses would be well-advised not to do the same, for example. Or those who have more than a passing interest in household electricity.

Buying a set of tools isn’t a problem. They’re sold everywhere from high-end retail stores to highway rest stops. The quality of those tools, however, varies greatly. Few things on this earth are more frustrating than getting halfway through replacing a thermostat only to have one’s ratcheting wrench start to spin futilely in its gear set.

We’ve picked out several different options for the shadetree mechanic, all of them with different strengths. Most good gearheads seem to accumulate tools over the years; perhaps these will make the grade and take up residence in your basement or garage.

Try doing that with a horse.

Table of Contents

1. Editor's Choice: DEWALT Mechanics Tools Kit and Socket Set, 204-Pieces

Choosing a tool kit from a well-known brand is usually a safe bet. After all, only the silliest of companies would put their name on subpar equipment (ahem *Black & Decker* ahem). This set from DeWalt immediately puts your author in mind of Matt Kenseth's NASCAR racer, a testament to modern marketing efforts.

As for the set, it is packed with most of the common sizes of sockets one will need to tackle the majority of basic automotive work. The ratchets are advertised to have 72 teeth, a feature that should permit the removal of bolts in even the tightest of places. Three drive sizes are in the kit, along with some box end wrenches and spark plug sockets.

Pros

  • Good name, great reviews

Cons

  • Make sure you get exactly what you ordered

Bottom Line

  • A solid start for the budding gearhead

2. Crescent SAE/Metric Mechanic's Tool Set - 30 Pieces

If all you need to carry around in the back of your pickup is a basic set of sockets for common repairs, this kit might do the trick. Included in the plastic blow-molded case are deep and shallow sockets of both 6- and 12-point variety. If you don't know why 6-point sockets are a benefit, give us a shout when you round off your first bolt.

Said to be an updated version of a previous offering, this set has a new sturdier case with steel hinges and 2 latches to keep your tools organized and secure. The ratchet has 60 teeth inside its teardrop-shaped head (sounds like we're talking about horses again) and is 10 percent longer than the ratchet in their old set. May the torque be with you.

Pros

  • Compact size, includes most common tools

Cons

  • Nothing else is included but sockets

Bottom Line

  • Tuck this one safely under the seat

3. WORKPRO Tool Set with 3-Drawer Heavy Duty Metal Box - 408 Pieces

These chrome vanadium forged tools are advertised by the seller to have the toughness and durability to withstand our ham-fisted repair attempts. A full polished chrome finish helps with anti-corrosion duties if you leave the things out in the rain, you slob.

The piece count is padded by the likes of Allen keys but does also include an agreeable number of sockets and screwdrivers. The tools are organized in a sturdy aluminum box that has three drawers so you can pretend to be a real mechanic, at least until you start snapping off exhaust header bolts with reckless abandon. No mention is made of the ratchet tooth count, a worrying omission for an off-brand product competing with the big boys.

Pros

  • Includes oddball kit like a tape measure, the toolbox is included

Cons

  • Small items simply pad the piece count

Bottom Line

  • Impress your gearhead spouse on their birthday

4. Craftsman Mechanic's Tool Set - 450 Pieces

While your author would love to pretend and explain American bankruptcy law, he is far better equipped to explain the finer points of a Weber carburetor. Yes, this brand was tightly knit with the now-defunct Sears department store chain but does appear to stand on its own now that the bricks-and-mortar shops have been shuttered. Digging into specifics caused this scribe's head to spin with words like 'tortfeasor' so let's just agree that the Craftsman name has a bit of weight and leave it at that.

These tools also have a bit of weight, with customers reporting a pleasing heft and smooth ratchet actions. All three drive sizes are represented by a variety of sockets in 6-, 8-, and 12-point configurations. Half a dozen extension bars of varying sizes and drives help you reach that third bolt on the starter motor.

Pros

  • Brand name (you judge if that's a good thing), wide array of tools

Cons

  • Expensive, less-than-great carrying case

Bottom Line

  • A big red box full of good stuff

5. Iron Forge Tool Box Kit - 39 Pieces

Some shoppers don't need the benefit of having hundreds of tools on hand, content with only having the minimum they need to handle small issues that might arise in their 37th-floor condo. This starter tool kit is fine for assembling furniture, putting up a picture, and perhaps a couple of very minor repairs on the car.

Included in the little case are a set of slip-joint pliers, some screwdrivers, and a hammer. The latter should be saved as a last resort when assembling furniture, especially if it's from IKEA. It is all conveniently sized to fit under the sink in a small apartment or in that cupboard above the stove.

Pros

  • Affordable, cheap insurance

Cons

  • Not intended for anything beyond very light duty repair

Bottom Line

  • It's better than trying to fix the bathroom fan with your bare hands

6. AmazonBasics Mechanic Socket Tool Kit Set With Case - 145 Pieces

Yes, the House of Bezos has even managed to put its stamp on a set of mechanic's tools. Despite my sneering introduction, this set is filled with 6-point sockets, a delight when most kits feature wretched 8 pointers (or, worse, 12s).

Metric sizes go up to 17mm while SAE measures reach 11/16. Both of those are 3/8-inch drive sockets, by the way. Only those and 1/4-inch drives are included, it should be noted. Customers report good quality, though how much of that is simply in the 'better than expected' category is unclear. There's a spark plug socket and a few screwdriver heads in here as well.

Pros

  • Positive reviews, includes deep and shallow sockets of many sizes

Cons

  • You'll have to explain the brand name to yer buddies

Bottom Line

  • A seemingly successful rebranding effort

7. Kobalt Polished Chrome Mechanic's Tool Set - 227 Piece

If the DeWalt set reminded your author of Matt Kenseth, then this Kobalt-branded kit has Jimmie Johnson written all over it. It includes 117 commonly used 6- and 12-point sockets plus a trio ratchets with which to spin them. The balance of the piece count is made up of combination wrenches, Allen keys, and other assorted tools.

Packaged in a natty blue box with three drawers and a lift-top lid, the whole kit and kaboodle weighs about thirty pounds. Best to keep it on your workbench, then. By the way, the third drawer is purposely kept empty so you can add your favorite tools to this set. Shrewd move, Kobalt.

Pros

  • Six-point sockets, great feedback in terms of tool quality

Cons

  • Allegedly poor quality drawer inserts

Bottom Line

  • Great tools in a middling case

Which tools do professional mechanics use?

When talking about car repairing, there are some essential gears without which the vehicles cannot be fixed whatsoever. If you are new or want a brief set of tools to keep in the boot for emergencies, the following is a list of some mandatory items that you must consider buying:

Hand Spanners and Wrenches

These come in both open-end and box-end variants, and must be bought in a set that comprises those ranging from 11mm to 19mm.

Special Wrenches

You may also want to buy some adjustable wrenches so you don’t get stuck in the middle of the repairing process if no static spanner or wrench matches the size of the nut/bolt. The jaws of these adjustable wrenches can be expanded or contracted to ensure a firm grip.

Pliers

Pliers are one of the most important tools in any toolkit. For car repairing, it is advisable to get corrosion-resistant pliers made of tempered steel. You may also want to check if the handles of the pliers provide a good grip.

Screwdrivers

It is advisable to buy both flat-tipped and cross-tipped screwdrivers of different sizes (usually come in sets). Also, as it is with the pliers, you must also check the grip of the hands, and even assess their length for convenient usage.

Oil Change Wrenches

These wrenches must perfectly match the size of oil filters for flawless and smooth installation. Make sure to check if these wrenches are enough in numbers to be used with a variety of car filters.

Spark Plug Gauges

Spark plugs work well only when the electrode gap is accurate. Therefore, spark plug gauges are the must-have items in your toolbox.

Who makes the best quality mechanics tools?

Understanding the fact that good things don’t come cheap if you’re looking for the best quality car mechanics tools, SK 850-Piece Senior Mechanic’s Tool Set ( buy here) is a toolset that you may want to check. Although the kit costs somewhere around $26,200.00 USD, if the price is not an issue, this set is definitely worth having as it comes with a plethora of benefits like a lifetime warranty, maximum corrosion resistance, and much more.

What is a good brand of tool set?

Among all other manufacturers in the industry, many users have given positive reviews to DeWalt and Husky. The tool sets manufactured by these brands come in several variants to choose from according to your need and budget. Nevertheless, both the companies are known for producing toolkits that offer a decent overall performance.

What is the best tool set you can buy?

If you’re looking for a pocket-friendly tool set with all the necessary items like pliers, spanners, screwdrivers, etc., Crescent 170-Piece General Purpose Tool Set ( buy here) is worth considering. At the time of this writing, the kit costs $184.90 USD which is a pretty affordable amount. At this price, you get 170 pieces of tools to fix various issues that your car may encounter.

What is a mechanical tool set?

A mechanical tool set is a set of tools that comprises various items like screwdrivers, pliers, spanners, wrenches, etc. to help you repair your cars. Tool sets come in various sizes that may differ according to the number of pieces they contain. For instance, some are 16-piece tool sets whereas some have 46 pieces, and so on. These tool sets can go up to 1000+ pieces per kit. The price of each set depends on the brand and the number of items it has.

What is a good beginner tool set?

As a beginner, you may not want to invest much in the tool set, and yet wish to have enough tools to fix your car without borrowing any item from your neighbors. If that’s the case, you can safely go for the CRAFTSMAN Mechanic Tool Set ( buy here) that comprises 189 pieces and, at the time of this writing, costs around $189.05 USD.

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main photo credit: Ant Photo Studio / Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

More by Matthew Guy

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  • Mopar4wd Mopar4wd on Dec 16, 2021

    I used to need my tools for my job (and still get to turn a wrench for work on field service when needed). When I started working I bought sets of Craftsman tools to augment the Husky set I got as a teen. Back then ( 20 years ago) most Craftsman was made in the US and pretty durable. As I worked i picked up SK, MATCO and even a few Snap on tools. They were better but the Craftsman was still fine and got the job done. I still have the old tools, but the new stuff is basically anything I think is a good deal. I have some Kobalt, gearwrench, tekton, Wera, Whia and the one that hasn't been mentioned here much yet Pittsburgh PRO and Quinn from Harbor freight. I wouldn;t source everything from HF but over the years their quality has really improved and their mid priced stuff is very competitive. I see more and more HF stuff at mechanics shops which should tell you something. Guys starting out used to go craftsman now it's really heavy HF for the young guys in the trades.

  • SoCalMikester SoCalMikester on Dec 16, 2021

    just been buying whatever ends up useful at HF. got some ryobi ive been happy with

  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.
  • 1995_SC Can you still get some of the tax credits under the new program?
  • Analoggrotto HyundaiGenesisKia saw this coming a long time ago and are poised for hybrid and plug-in hybrid segment leadership:[list=1][*] The most extensive range of hybrids[/*][*]Highest hybrid sales proportion over any other model [/*][*]Best YouTube reviews [/*][*]Highest number of consumer reports best picks [/*][*]Class leading ATPs among all hybrid vehicles and PHEVs enjoy segment bearing eATPs[/*][/list=1]While some brands like Toyota have invested and wasted untold fortunes into full range electric lineups HyundaiKiaGenesis has taken the right approach here.
  • EBFlex The answer is yes. Anyone that says no is just….. wrong.But the government doesn’t want people to have that much freedom and the politicians aren’t making money off PHEVs or HEVs. So they will be stifled.
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