Monkey Wrenches: The 8 Best Mechanic Tool Sets

Oct 9, 2015

Category: Gear

True wrenchers – the folks who live with grease under their nails and exhaust in their lungs – know that the best way to construct a bombproof set of tools is to buy them one at a time, selecting the best choice for your style and needs. But you don’t always have years in which to do that and instead want to jump right into the fray with a strong, solid, starter set. For those instances where you need a toolkit that will give you everything you need in a form that won’t fail, we took a look at the all-in-one sets that could pass muster.

The biggest factor when choosing a tool set is whether or not there’s a reliable name behind it. Since even the largest kits are comprised of simple tools that have been around for ages, you won’t find anything strange that’s going to break the mold. That means seeking out a collection that is as steadfast and stalwart as possible, backed by a trusted name that can be found in any professional garage. For all you eager shade tree mechanics that need a set now, here’s the 8 best mechanic tool sets.

Stanley STMT71654

Stanley STMT71654 201-Piece Set

Pro: Box holds tools very securely
Con: Ratchet parts tend to fail over time

Baby’s First: Here’s the perfect kit for giving to a kid who just got his first beater car. It’s a Stanley set of tools, so there might be a few issues with construction, but they also won’t cost so much that you’re out hundreds when they invariably get lost or parts break. The sockets are nice and deep and you’ll get all the sizes you could need for basic repairs, along with a few combination wrenches for good measure. A boatload of screw heads and some solid ratchets, this might not last forever, but it’s more than good enough for the greenest beginner.

Purchase: $56

Crescent CTK170CMP2 Mechanics Tool Set

Crescent CTK170CMP2 Mechanics 170-Piece Tool Set

Pro: Tight, precise ratcheting action
Con: Case holsters are debilitatingly tight

Light & Quick: Rather than constructing a super-duty set of tools for those times when you’re elbow deep in a CAT during a typhoon, this is a solidly built set of tools that doesn’t weigh a ton and is comfortable for anyone to transport. The included gear – pliers, screwdrivers, sockets, and allen wrenches – is quality, but slightly reduced in size and heft for times when naked force is overkill. In a world of increasingly small and delicate vehicles, this is a handy inclusion for mobile repairs or working with a lighter touch.

Purchase: $100

Kobalt Standard (SAE) and Metric Mechanic's Tool Set

Kobalt Standard (SAE) and Metric Mechanic’s 200-Piece Tool Set

Pro: Equipped with carrying handle
Con: Can’t be expanded without adding a toolbox

Travel Kit: Many toolkits neglect to give you a carrying case, assuming you’re going to unload the entire thing into your favorite toolbox. For those who don’t have a toolbox, or want a loaded case for on-the-go repairs, Kobalt’s tool set has you covered. Plenty of combination wrenches, allen wrenches, and socket drivers come in the box, and it is built with a place for everything. In addition to being able to fit all your gear for travel, it also displays it nicely in a tri-fold frame that makes choosing the right piece as easy as possible.

Purchase: $169

Harbor Freight Tools Pittsburgh 301-Piece

Harbor Freight Tools Pittsburgh 301-Piece

Pro: Sockets and ratchets are chrome vanadium steel
Con: Box is a little flimsy

Hidden Depths: Just like a doctor making house calls needs his bag, so too does the mobile mechanic need a full toolbox that they can pack along anywhere. Exceptionally compact considering it has fully 301 pieces inside, the Pittsburgh uses a tackle box style tool layout with a removable insert. The brilliance of this design is it keeps size down, but also gives you a little extra space on the inside for stashing away a few additional items – like a volt meter – without needing to carry them loose.

Purchase: $200

DeWalt Mechanic’s Tool Set 204-Piece.attach

DeWalt Mechanic’s 204-Piece Tool Set

Pro: Knurled rings offer greater grip
Con: Weighty ratchets

Artful Crafts: Enclosed in one of their sturdy cases, this toolkit manages to impress more the deeper you dig. Sure, the layout is nice and clean, but it’s the tools themselves that show the dedication to craftsmanship that DeWalt is known for. Each piece is deeply etched with laser markings for showing the proper size, even after years of use. 72-tooth ratcheting action makes each socket turn smoothly and stick like glue when it’s employed. They’ve even minimized the amount of space needed for the ratchets to work, so bolts in small spaces are no longer a challenge.

Purchase: $274

Klutch Mechanic's Tool Set 305-Piece

Klutch Mechanic’s 305-Piece Tool Set

Pro: Very long-lasting
Con: Needs a set of torx drivers

Shining Example: Probably one of the best looking tool sets we’ve ever seen, the Klutch set proved it wasn’t just another pretty face when it was put to the test. Plenty of screwdriver options allowed it to work both inside and out on the car and gave a few more choices for jobs that didn’t take place under the hood. Our favorite parts are the stunted combination wrenches intended for getting into smaller spaces. We’re a little torn on the flip-open allen wrenches, but for those that prefer them, this is a helluva set.

Purchase: $300

Craftsman 413 pc. Mechanics Tool Set

Craftsman 413 pc. Mechanics Tool Set

Pro: Loads of one-piece wrenches
Con: Focuses almost entirely on wrenches

Turn, Turn, Turn: You’ll get a couple of pliers and a few hex wrench sets, but this is the grande buffet of socket drivers. No matter what size of nut or bolt you’re dealing with, this has at least one, if not a dozen pieces that will fit it. In addition, there’s loads of standard combo wrenches in every shape and size, extenders and unusual attachments for getting that strange bolt that’s buried somewhere deep in your engine, and every different kind of ratchet you could want. This is the way to go for the true wrench fanatic.

Purchase: $420

Snap-On U.S. Set 2

Snap-On U.S. Set 2

Pro: Contains everything you need and then some
Con: No storage included

Alpha and Omega: With a couple of hammers, a saw, and a flashlight, this isn’t just good for working under your hood; though it also does that with a multitude of drivers. Meant to be your only toolkit, this is a whole workshop’s worth of stuff, all bearing the tried-and-true Snap-On name. With everything from channel locks to a tape measure, this isn’t intended as a supplement, but rather to outfit you for the years to come. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a job that this can’t handle, or a more comprehensive set. Sure, the one-time expense is great, but odds are good you’ll never need to shop for tools again.

Purchase: $5,633

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