If you’re a bit of a car lover, the thought of setting up your own mechanic shop has probably crossed your mind on more than a couple of occasions. But getting set up and turning your home garage into a mechanic shop is easier said than done. Not only do you have to have space, but you also need to deck it out with tools too. As anyone in the auto mechanic business will tell you, there’s a lot that you need to collect.
The good news, however, is that there are a growing number of companies offering all-in-one mechanics toolsets that allow you to keep all of your gear in a single box. They’re neat, tidy, and, most important of all, provide a vast number of pieces to start kitting your garage out.
It’s worth pointing out that these toolsets are by no means comprehensive. You’re not going to be able to use them to de-gas your air conditioning unit. But they will give you the option to work on your vehicle without taking it to the shop, should you choose to do so. In this review, we’re going to find out what the best mechanic toolset you can buy is. Let’s take a look.
Dewalt is one of the leading brands in the tool space and prides itself on the quality and longevity of its products. The company’s aim with its 192-piece Mechanics Tool Set was to provide mechanics with all of the ratchet and socket attachments that they might need, all neatly arranged.
Indeed, the 192 pieces in the tool kit let you tighten and untighten most bolts on most models of car, but that isn’t what makes the toolset special. What makes it special is the Dewalt stamp of quality.
Dewalt knows that pieces in toolsets have to take a lot of abuse. Instead of going down the cheap route and settling for stainless steel, Dewalt uses polished chrome vanadium finish. This finish not only makes the bits look attractive but also helps to make them more robust. You can use the wrong size bits on awkward heads for years on end, and they will continue to perform like the day you bought them. It’s almost miraculous.
Dewalt arranges everything in the toolbox intuitively, and every item has a hard-stamped marking, making it easy to find the piece that you need. It’s the type of mechanics tool kit you can imagine passing down through the generations. Few other options on the market are more robust.
With competition from companies like Dewalt, Craftsman knew that it had to do something special with its 230-piece Mechanics Tool Set. The clue to its strategy is in the name: 230-pieces. You get 38 more pieces in this set than you do in the Dewalt.
The Craftsman Tool Set, therefore, is for people who want to work on older cars with legacy bolt sizes. It includes pieces that are compatible with both imperial and metric systems, giving you the freedom to work on modern and classic cars alike.
While the set features much of the same high-quality parts as the Dewalt, Craftsman has put less thought into making its mechanic’s toolset easy to open. You have to be careful when opening the box. Open it at the wrong angle, and some of the pieces will come loose, spilling out all over the place. Most customers would prefer to be able to open the box at any angle and for all the pieces to stay in place. Returning 230 parts to their segments isn’t most people’s idea of fun.
The other issue is that all of the deep well sockets are ¼” and are not compatible with ⅜” or ½”. Overall, it’s a good beginner set, but perhaps not for those wanting greater ratchet compatibility.
Stanley, like Dewalt, is another big name in the tool space. And, like Dewalt, it uses chrome vanadium forged piece bodies to increase both toughness and strength.
The big advantage of the Stanley Mixed Tool Set is that it provides a range of SAE and metric sockets, making it compatible with a variety of ratchets, combination wenches, and mechanics tool accessories. The kit also comes with Stanley’s special anti-corrosion protection and lifetime warranty, giving you immediate peace of mind. What’s more, if one of your pieces breaks or wears out, you can contact Stanley and ask them to send you a replacement. It’s a no-quibble system that helps you extend the life of your set.
Are there any downsides? One issue you might have is getting the drill bits to stick in the sockets. Stanley doesn’t magnetize them as some brands do. The other slight problem is the snap plastic system that holds the bits in the case. It’s pretty firm, and in cold weather, you often need to use a tool to prise out the bits you need.
Overall, though, the Stanley Mechanics Tool Set offers considerable versatility for the budding car mechanic. The fact that the bits are compatible with a range of standards will be a boon for some.
When DEKOPRO were developing their Mechanics Tool Set, they had value in mind. Their goal was to create something which provides all of the pieces that a car mechanic would need while simultaneously keeping the price down. Of course, whenever a company adopts a strategy like that, the worry is that quality will suffer. You can often get costs down, but the quality tends to suffer too. Is this the case for the DEKOPRO?
It turns out that this isn’t what’s happened with the DEKOPRO at all. In fact, it’s quite the reverse. Just like the leading brands in the space, the DEKOPRO toolset offers full chrome vanadium forged bits for extra durability. Plus, all of the pieces conform to ANSI critical standards, and the casing material is reassuringly robust.
The only downside of the DEKOPRO is that it’s missing some of the tools that most mechanics would like to see in an all-in-one toolset product. The most notable absentee is wire cutters – something that car mechanics are utterly dependent upon for all kinds of work they need to carry out on car electronics.
Also, despite containing more than 192 pieces, the DEKOPRO does not include a full drill bit set. You may, therefore, find yourself reaching for your regular drill set or keeping a pot of extra bits, for when you need them.
Overall, however, the DEKOPRO is an excellent option for people looking for an affordable starter kit to get them going. The company arranges all of the pieces intuitively, making it easy to see what you’ve got and where to replace things once you’ve finished with them. However, if you require a full drill bit set and don’t have one already, then you might want to look elsewhere.
The AmazonBasics Mechanics Tool Kit takes the DEKOPRO approach to value and takes it up a notch. As with all other products in the AmazonBasics line, it’s a no-frills approach that Amazon hopes will provide you with everything you need to get started.
It’s worth pointing out that although we’re interested in the 145-piece set in this review, you can get versions of the AmazonBasics toolset with both more or fewer pieces. Right down on the low end, you can buy inexpensive sets with just 40 pieces. At the high end, you can get sets with 201 pieces. The 145-piece kit we discuss here sits towards the upper end of the range.
Most people who spend money on a cheap toolkit have low expectations, but because this particular set carries the Amazon brand, you expect a minimum quality. The AmazonBasics toolset is, therefore, under pressure from the start.
There’s no doubt that this toolkit performs. It comes with a wide range of tools – more than you might expect at the price point. And the tools themselves have the industry-standard chrome vanadium finish.
What’s impressive is the way AmazonBasics manufactures each item in the set. Despite being made in China, you don’t get raw cast metal tools. The manufacturer has taken the time to smooth everything off, giving you something that feels just as robust as a product from Dewalt or Stanley. Everything looks polished and premium.
Just as with the Craftsman, the AmazonBasics tool set case isn’t quite calibrated perfectly to keep all of the pieces in the correct place. You need to be careful to open it at the right angle to prevent the contents from falling out all over the floor.
Overall, the AmazonBasics set provides unbeatable value. Surprisingly, the tools themselves are good enough for a professional mechanic to use, so it certainly makes the grade as a home product. What’s more, you’re not paying over the odds for a bunch of tools, accessories or brand that you won’t use.