What Are The Best Mechanic Tool Sets? (2019 Edition)

What Are The Best Mechanic Tool Sets
When you’re looking for serious vehicle-fixing hardware, you’ll need a powerful set of mechanic tools. But, especially if you’re an amateur mechanic, you may not know exactly what to look for in a set of tools.

In this article, we’ll review a bunch of the best mechanic tool sets so that you’ll know which features you should hunt down and which features you may not need to pay extra to have.

Our #1 Pick
AmazonBasics Mechanic Socket Tool Kit Set With Case - Set of 201
Runner-up
Craftsman 230-Piece Mechanics Tool Set, 50230, Silver, 1 Set
Honorable Mention
Crescent 170 Pc. General Purpose Tool Set - Closed Case - CTK170CMP2
AmazonBasics Mechanic Socket Tool Kit Set With Case - Set of 201
Craftsman 230-Piece Mechanics Tool Set, 50230, Silver, 1 Set
Crescent 170 Pc. General Purpose Tool Set - Closed Case - CTK170CMP2
$72.99
$112.94
$70.49
Our #1 Pick
AmazonBasics Mechanic Socket Tool Kit Set With Case - Set of 201
AmazonBasics Mechanic Socket Tool Kit Set With Case - Set of 201
$72.99
Runner-up
Craftsman 230-Piece Mechanics Tool Set, 50230, Silver, 1 Set
Craftsman 230-Piece Mechanics Tool Set, 50230, Silver, 1 Set
$112.94
Honorable Mention
Crescent 170 Pc. General Purpose Tool Set - Closed Case - CTK170CMP2
Crescent 170 Pc. General Purpose Tool Set - Closed Case - CTK170CMP2
$70.49

Mechanic Tool Set Reviews

Our #1 Pick – AmazonBasics Mechanics Socket Set

When you need a mechanic socket set that has the right hardware to work with imperial or metric system parts, the Amazon Basics set is hard to beat.

Pros

  • 201 pieces
  • Chrome-vanadium steel forged body
  • Includes both metric and imperial sizes

Cons

  • Weak clasps on carrying case

Thanks to the 201 different sockets in this set, you won’t be reaching for a socket and find it lacking, which is more than what can be said for most of the other tool sets for mechanics on the market.

The carrying case is this set’s weak point. The set itself is heavier than it might be with other sets, and the clasps which keep the set closed leave a lot to be desired. They may break after a few hard knocks.

Our #2 Pick – Craftsman 230-Piece Mechanics Tool Set

Craftsman’s 230-piece Mechanic’s Tool Set is a great set because it has a comprehensive array of hex wrenches, nut drivers, screwdriver bits, and everything else that you’ll need to make serious repairs.

Pros

  • Six different combination wrenches
  • 40 screwdriver bits
  • Countless hex wrenches

Cons

  • Included screwdriver shaft isn’t ergonomic

When you open your tool set, you want the hex wrench of the correct size to be within reach and easy to find. This set has the perfect hex wrench or screwdriver bit so long as you don’t need one that’s oversized.

The biggest appeal of Craftsman’s set is that it is comprehensive. But, you should know that the screwdriver which is included in the set is a formality rather than one which you’d want to use every day.

Of course, you can still use the screwdriver, but you may find it is not very comfortable.

Our #3 Pick – Crescent CTK170CMP2 Mechanics Tool Set, 170-Piece

Crescent’s tool set is a strong offering on account of its high quality wrench set and excellent organization scheme.

Pros

  • Includes pliers and wire strippers
  • Includes 5 screwdrivers
  • Great for hanging in a workshop

Cons

  • Too complex for casual mechanics

The Crescent set is intended for professionals to hang in their work area so that they can easily find the right tool at the right time. That means with this set you’ll get a full array of tools which are built for heavy use. The case, much like the tools, is very durable.

So, it may be a bit too much for inexperienced mechanics who only need to perform repairs once in a while, despite the helpful FAQ pamphlet which is included.

Our #4 Pick – DEWALT DWMT81534 205Pc Mechanics Tool Set

The DeWalt Mechanic tool set is a great offering which includes all of the things you’d expect in a mechanic’s set as well as a few extras which sweeten the pot.

Pros

  • Heavy duty carrying case
  • Includes 72-tooth ratchet
  • Great gripping nuts

Cons

  • Smaller bits may chip or break

With this DeWalt set, you’ll get an entire galaxy of high-spec mechanic tools which you can use without worrying about premature rusting or breaking.

The smallest screwdriver bits in this set are built to the same standard as most other mechanics tool sets, but unfortunately that makes it compare poorly to the other components of the DeWalt set.

They may chip or break with heavy or careless use, but it’s hard to find any on the market which are much better, so it isn’t a major drawback.

Our #5 Pick – Craftsman 450-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Set

With this massive Craftsman tool set, you’ll get an excellent set that can sit in your workshop and keep your tools perfectly organized for the long haul.

Pros

  • 16 different combination wrenches
  • Convenient organization trays
  • Oil-resistant case

Cons

  • Not portable

The case is the winning portion of this set. The case has three removable tool trays and an additional tray under the lid on the top, meaning that you can avoid getting overwhelmed by the number of different pieces in the set.

The case is also stain resistant, so it’s safe to keep it in an active workshop or garage where fluids can get messy. But, the case is difficult to move because of how heavy it is. So, the case is great for putting on a cart to move around the garage, but not for going to house calls.

Our #6 Pick – DEKOPRO 192 Piece Mechanics Tool Set Socket Wrench Set

This DEKOPRO 192-piece Mechanic’s tool set has the standard collection of wrenches and bits as well as a wood screw set which means that it might be a good choice for people looking for multi-purpose tool sets.

Pros

  • Vertical-hanging design
  • Includes 12 combination wrenches
  • High quality build reduces chances of breaking

Cons

  • Weak wood screw kit

The DEKOPRO set is a great pickup when you want a multifunctional tool set that can widen your hobby horizon. You’ll get the screwdrivers, wrenches, sockets, and bits that you need to perform most basic mechanic activities.

The wood screw assortment set is the weak point of the kit because it is less durable and less comprehensive than the other components. But it’ll still do the trick if your only other option is to use the wrong tool or forgo essential repairs.

Our #7 Pick – DEWALT DWMT81522 Mechanics Tool Set, Black Chrome Polish

When you’re looking for a portable and positively trendy mechanic’s tool set, this DeWalt set with black chrome polish is peerless.

Pros

  • Aesthetically pleasing design
  • Highly portable kit
  • Lightweight case for easy transport

Cons

  • Black chrome sheer may scratch or chip easily

The yellow case on this set is heavy duty but surprisingly lightweight, which makes this case great for making repairs on the road. Don’t be fooled by the light weight, though. The set is fairly comprehensive as a result of its 181 different pieces, including 35 different 1/4th inch drive tools.

While the items in the set are durable, their appealing color is easy to scratch, exposing the underlying chrome. The tools don’t suffer from being scratched from a functional perspective, but it may undermine the kit’s aesthetic qualities

Our #8 Pick – Hi-Spec 67 Piece METRIC Auto Mechanics Tool Set

When you’re looking for a tool set that has the basics and doesn’t distract you with extras for applications you probably won’t need, the Hi-Spec set is a winner.

Pros

  • Made specifically for auto mechanics
  • Highly ergonomically friendly

Cons

  • Hex key fob is difficult to use

The appeal of this set isn’t that it is comprehensive, it’s that it’s comfortable to use, easy to carry, and well-organized. You won’t get overwhelmed by items which you aren’t going to need to perform most simple repairs.

The hex key fob is this set’s weakness. It isn’t that there is a common hex key missing, it’s that all the hex keys are attached to a single fob. There isn’t a way to remove the hex keys from the fob, so it’s hard to get help from a friend when you have a lot of wrenching to perform.

Our #9 Pick – Stanley STMT71654 201-Piece Mechanics Tool Set

If you aren’t sure what type of tool set you will need for your mechanic work, the Stanley 201-piece set is a great option if you aren’t too picky about your tool layout in the case.

Pros

  • Great for beginners
  • Includes 8 different combination wrenches
  • Tools snap in so they don’t move around inside

Cons

  • Poorly organized case

This set has the standard set of mechanics tools as well as a few nice extras like an awl. These extras can come in handy once in a while, and they round out the kit’s main components.

The problem with this set is that the case isn’t organized in an intuitive way. Certain elements overlap others, like the ratchets, and there is a lot of dead space which doesn’t seem to serve any purpose.

Guide to Mechanic Tool Sets

Which features do I want in a mechanic’s tool set?

When you’re shopping for a tool set, you need to be on the lookout for each set’s:

  • Durability
  • Comprehensiveness
  • Ergonomics
  • Organization scheme

Durability is a critical concern with your tool set, and it should be one of the most important features in your selection criteria. Most mechanic tool sets on the market meet a minimum standard of durability for the parts which are intended to see the heaviest use.

But most mechanic’s tool sets also hold a lower standard of durability for the parts which the manufacturers don’t consider as the core tools of the set.

So, while you aren’t about to experience a wrench bending while you’re using it, you will most likely have a complaint with the tools intended for niche use in most sets. The way you can work around this issue is by purchasing a set that emphasizes the tools you will want to use the most.

The comprehensiveness of your set is a concern which you need to weigh depending on how you intend to use your tool set. If you plan on making a few casual repairs once in a while, paradoxically you may be better served by a larger and more comprehensive set.

On the other hand, if you have a professional shop where you routinely do the same type of repairs, you can make do with a significantly smaller set that heavily emphasizes the quality of the components you use the most.

Ergonomics are also an issue which amateur mechanics don’t need to worry about as much as the professionals do. Ergonomics are often let slide in cheaper sets, but deluxe sets will be far more comfortable to use.

At the end of the day, however, the ergonomics features of a given set will vary depending on your preference. So, make sure to try the main components of the set which you will be using to ensure that they are comfortable.

The organization scheme of each set will be slightly different, and you’ll need to find the set which has a scheme that is easy for you to use. There’s no single guideline about what constitutes an easy to use tool set organization scheme, however.

Different people have different ways of reaching for their tools and different instincts about where their tools should be. It’s important that you find a set which feels natural for you to use without needing to look carefully at each individual tool before finding the one you want.

In other words, you want your tool set to be something that you can reach into and pull out the thing you’re looking at without needing to look.

Why is the tool set’s carrying case so important?

The carrying case is important because it determines where you can store the tool set and how the tools are organized.

There are a few schemes for tool sets:

  • Wall-hanging
  • Stacked drawers
  • Clamshell

The scheme you pick depends on your needs and where you intend to be using the tools the most frequently. Wall-hanging sets work well in a workshop, but they are often easy to move thanks to their carrying handle.

Stacked drawers are the least portable, but they contain the most storage for tools and they often have the best organizational schemes internally. Stacked drawers typically require more vertical space to store than other schemes.

Clamshell schemes are the most portable way to keep your tools, but they often suffer from faulty clasps and shoddy build quality. On the other hand, clamshell kits tend to be the least expensive, so they can be an easy way of picking up a comprehensive set of tools for cheap.

For casual mechanics, there’s no single answer that will fit everyone’s needs. For professionals, however, the choice is between stacked drawers and a wall mounted set.

The comprehensiveness that the stacked drawers can offer isn’t the mean appeal so much as its superior organizational scheme. Furthermore, the weight of the set isn’t a major concern if the set will be inside the garage getting used most of the time.

Wall-mounted sets are also great for professionals who work on things over a workbench rather than in a garage.

Do the aesthetics of the set matter?

There’s a good chance that you’ll be using your mechanic’s tool set very frequently — or potentially only once in a blue moon. If you’re using a set every day, you should probably consider purchasing a set which has at least some semblance of aesthetic appeal.

But, if you’re planning on using your tool set very infrequently, you can probably settle for a set which looks ugly.

While aesthetics are difficult to find in tool sets, you can probably find one that fits your workshop or garage decor without too much trouble.

Which material should the set be made of?

Most mechanic’s tool sets are produced using steel that has been treated with chrome or vanadium to provide it with a rustproof sheen. If you find a tool set which hasn’t been treated with a similar coating, you may want to look elsewhere.

High end tool sets may be made out of more exotic materials, however. These materials, like titanium alloys, can provide characteristics which you may not need, like lightweight and strength at the same time.

But, these tools made with advanced materials aren’t necessarily much more durable than the standard steel-alloy tools. In fact, they may be less durable in some situations. So, don’t jump to buying a non-standard tool set, because they may not necessarily be a step up.

Which brands are the most reputable?

There’s no single best brand when it comes to mechanic’s tools. Nor are there specific brands which you shouldn’t purchase under any circumstances. Instead, you’ll need to stay abreast of the reputation that each brand has so that you can pick a set which has weaknesses you can tolerate.

It’s hard to go wrong with time-tested brands like DeWalt, Stanley, and Craftsman, though. While each of these three has their trouble areas, the same is true of most brands. Remember, each of these brands has a different set of offerings.

Some of the offerings are intended for amateur mechanic use, whereas others are intended for professionals. The professional-grade kits are where your personal preferences regarding organization scheme and ergonomics will come into play.

Which features should I not care about?

Most mechanic’s tool sets have features which you won’t need. But, you may be paying for them anyway. So, you can save a lot by knowing which features are luxuries that don’t add much to your mechanic capabilities.

The features to ignore will vary depending on your needs. Including elements like wood screws or woodworking tools in a mechanic’s set doesn’t add much value for most people, but if you plan on dabbling in woodworking it might be useful.

Other features, like replaceable grips on tools, are typically not useful. While it may sound appealing to replace the ergonomic features of the tools using the replaceable grips, most commonly the additional grips are of poor quality and fit.

Advanced materials and coating schemes beyond a basic anti-rust coating are probably not necessary.

What upkeep do I need to perform on my mechanic’s tools?

Most mechanic’s sets do not need extensive cleaning or maintenance to remain in good working order. But, there are still a handful of things you can do to keep your mechanic’s tools in tip top shape.

To keep your tools pristine, you should:

  • Clean your tools after every use
  • Wash your tools with a rag if they are covered in liquids
  • File down areas becoming jagged
  • Avoid exposing your tools to very high or very low temperatures
  • Use your tools correctly

Using your tools in the correct context leads to them lasting a long time. That means when you use a screwdriver with the wrong size bit or a wrench with a slightly too big or too small socket, you’ll be creating stress on your tools.

This means that comprehensive selections of tools may experience lower wear and tear as a result of each individual tool being better for individual tasks. Less comprehensive sets may lead to people using subpar tools, causing problems.

As far as maintenance goes, you’ll need to do more than use your tool for the right job. In particular, oils and salts can be especially detrimental to your tools. Oils may contaminate your skin, and they may also lead to minor corrosion of the exterior coating of your mechanic’s tools.

Salts are worse for your tools than oils, however. Salts rapidly lead to corrosion and damage which can lead to rusting and total breakdown of your tools.

The single best maintenance activity you should be performing is to clean your tools with a wet rag after they have become grimy or covered in liquids which might contain oils or salts.

Cleaning doesn’t need to take long, but it’ll extend the life of your tools substantially if you’re consistent. Even if you’re an amateur mechanic, you will get the most mileage out of your tools when you keep them in good condition.

Is it necessary to have a comprehensive set of hex keys?

Many mechanic tool sets have extensive hex key collections which are ready for every single socket, whereas others opt for a smaller grouping of the most common key sizes.

Most people will be better served by having a smaller group of the most common key sizes because they may not always know which key is the correct size for any given slot that they encounter in the wild.

Having more hex keys means that you’ll have to spend a lot more time trying different keys before finding the perfect size, which may slow you down considerably.

So, it isn’t necessary for a mechanic’s set to have a comprehensive set of hex keys if you only use a hex key once in a while. Having the top few most common sizes is more than sufficient.

But, if you plan on using them all of the time, you need to have a comprehensive set because you’ll be putting undue stress on your tools every time you use one of your many keys which may not be exactly what is called for.

Which ergonomic features matter?

Ergonomics features like getting enough leverage are the most important because they affect your core interaction with the tool. This means that everything from grips to tool shape should enter into your ergonomics calculation.

The best ergonomic features are the ones which help you to use the tool effortlessly for long periods of time at peak strength. Each person’s preferred ergonomic features will vary depending on their preferences and body type.

If you sweat a lot while you work, you may find a set of tools with some ventilation around the gripping regions to be helpful. Or, you may find it helpful to have a grip to prevent your hand from slipping on tools like wrenches which may not normally have a grip.

The main thing about ergonomic features is that they tend to be lower quality than the tool that the features are meant to help you use comfortably.

So, you should be willing to think outside the box when it comes to ergonomic features — it’s hard to tell how much better using a tool will feel until you try.

Brett Gordon
 

The engine behind writing at DigMyRide.com and the brains behind its build. During the day, Brett is a thirty-something dude from SoCal climbing the corporate ladder, but by night, he spends most of his time contributing to the online world of cars, automotive tech & trends.

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