Best Mechanic’s Tool Sets: Get Your Wrenching Career Started

Make sure you always have high-quality tools for the job.

byHank O'Hop|
Best Mechanic's Tool Sets Reviews and buying Guides

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

BYHank O'Hop/ LAST UPDATED ON May 21, 2024

Let's face the facts. If you're working in a professional environment or have money to burn, you always buy top-shelf mechanic tools. That isn't an option for most of us, though. We have to spend a ton of time sorting through the more affordable entrees. The goal is to figure out the best possible option for the money we have to work with. That can be said a lot easier than done these days. Rebranding, ownership constantly changing hands, and production practices fluctuating really muddy the waters for shoppers. I'm here to help. I've been testing mechanic's tool sets for a few years now. This buying guide is a compilation of what I find to be the best for DIYers based on real-world performance. 

Best Overall

Craftsman 230-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Set

Summary
A solid choice for any new or seasoned DIYer. This Craftsman set offers a high-tooth-count ratchet, a solid range of sockets, and is backed by that signature warranty Craftsman savants rave about.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Decent quality 
  • Backed by a lifetime warranty 
  • Expansive coverage of necessary tools
Cons
  • Cannot access entire drawer without removal
  • Ratchet internals can see improvement
Best Value

Stanley 69-Piece Black Chrome Set

Summary
A respectable, yet affordable starter set from Stanley. It includes a lifetime warranty, a wide range of sockets and extensions, and comes with two 72-tooth ratchets coated in a black and silver finish.
Pros
  • Competitive pricing
  • Aesthetically appealing
  • High-tooth count
Cons
  • Quality control issues
  • Ratchet internals can use improvement
  • Finish and laser etching wear away
Honorable Mention

Gearwrench 68-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Set

Summary
For those who enjoy the finer things in life, the attention to detail that goes into this tool set helps it to do more than perform as a well-equipped starter set featuring 90-tooth ratchets.
Pros
  • High-quality construction
  • High tooth count
  • Aesthetically pleasing
Cons
  • Terrible storage case
  • No seal on ratchet internals
  • Limited metric spread

Summary List

Our Methodology

We're in the age of information when finding data to back opinions and confirm speculations is easier than ever, but that's not what you'll find here. While I am reviewing key features and characteristics of these mechanic’s tool sets, I base my evaluation on my experience from using them with my 1969 Dodge Charger project car. So, as these tools and parts arrived, I blindly selected them for whatever job was at hand to see if they could get it done, which included the installation of exhaust components, shock absorbers, sway bars, brake pads, and much more. Spoiler alert, all sets pulled through. Still, my hands-on approach did help me to determine what is and isn't to like about each set.

Best Mechanic’s Tool Set: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Craftsman 230-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Set

Pros

Affordable

Decent quality

Backed by a lifetime warranty

Expansive coverage of necessary tools

Cons

Cannot access entire drawer without removal

Ratchet internals can see improvement

I keep this 230-piece mechanic's tool set in the trunk of my 1969 Dodge Charger at all times. Therefore, it belongs at the top of my list. It's a Craftsman tool kit. It's affordable, it's got a killer warranty, and the quality is more than good enough for the average DIYer. The storage case and vast coverage make it perfect for use as my primary tool kit on the road and an excellent starting point for any collection.

The only thing I don't like about it is the fact that it's a pain to access the inner third of the drawers without removing them completely. However, they do function well as tool trays when they're removed. Other than that, the internal design of the ratchets could see improvement, but that's not really a deal breaker for the caliber of use they see in my hands.

Best Value: Stanley 69-Piece Black Chrome Set

Pros

Competitive pricing

Aesthetically appealing

High-tooth count is great in tight spaces

Cons

Quality control issues may be common

Ratchet internals can use improvement

Finish and laser etching wear away easily

As the most recent owner of the Craftsman line, it's likely no surprise to see Stanley Black and Decker following our Craftsman selection. What drives our decision is that it shares a lot in common with the above, including the 72-tooth internals of the ratchets, which are identical and even interchangeable. Though this particular listing isn't attached to the lowest price we’ve seen, the price per piece is excellent. That, paired with an internal design I trust, makes it the obvious choice for this spot. 

This set includes a 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch ratchet, two extensions, a 5/8-inch and 13/16-inch spark plug socket, and a total of 63 metric and SAE shallow and deep well 6-point sockets. I used this set to add an X-pipe to our homemade exhaust system, and though it handled well, we’re somewhat concerned that the internals won’t stand up to severe stresses. I also received a set that had missed any QC measures as sockets were missing and imperfections littered the entire kit. Speaking of imperfections, you should know that the John Player Special color scheme isn't long for this world, as both the black finish and laser-etched stamping wear away quickly.

Honorable mention: Gearwrench 68-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Set

Pros

High-quality construction

High tooth count

Aesthetically pleasing design

Cons

Terrible storage case

No seal on ratchet internals

Limited metric spread

In the realm of hand tools for DIYers, Gearwrench sits on the higher end of the scale. Some will argue that it has a place in a professional setting based on the fact that they come with a lifetime warranty, the quality is excellent, and some tool trucks are beginning to pop up in the wild. These are some of the same reasons I feel it's one of the best premium offerings to the average consumer. That, and the attention to detail that goes into these tools. 

While they're another polished set, the inclusion of tasteful engravings to call out the internal tooth count, the direction of the drive, and even to separate metric and SAE sockets help these to stand out. And the 90-tooth mechanism and thick housing help us to fall even more in love with this set. I used this to install a rear sway bar on our project car, and the tooth count does make a difference. However, the horrible case is better left behind if you don't want to rearrange all 68 pieces constantly. I should also point out that it is a little light on metric deep well sockets.

Best Impact Set: Neiko 1/2-Inch Drive Master Impact Set

Pros

Comprehensive impact socket selection

Ratchet and attachments included

Better construction than most budget impact sets

Cons

Massive storage case

Poor warranty coverage

Relatively high price point

Ok, so this award is given out to Neiko’s set with something of a handicap as this is the only impact set that I put to the test. Even so, I firmly feel that this is the way to go if you need to handle the power of impact sockets around the home garage. The main draw to this kit is the piece count. I used this any time our testing required wheels to be removed, harmonic balancers pulled, or anything else that required the use of impact tools and then some. The fact that you get a total of 58 shallow and deep well metric and SAE sockets makes it hard to leave out of the equation whenever you start wrenching. 

It also comes with a 1/2-inch ratchet, three extensions, two drive adapters, and a universal joint, which makes it the only kit you'll need for many situations. The quality is in line with most budget impact sockets, if not better. However, the price of this kit is hard to ignore and I should also point out that there is only a 30-day warranty, and the massive case does make storage hard to sort out.

Best for Tight Spaces: DeWalt 131-Piece Mechanics Tool Set with Toughsystem

Pros

Covers a wide range of useful fasteners

Affordable

Includes Stackable Cases

Cons

No quick-release button on familiar design

Bits Round Easily

DeWalt's 131-piece mechanic tool set with ToughSystem is the perfect closer to this list. It's packed with unique features that make it a stellar choice for DIYers. Firstly, the narrowed heads on the ratchets help them fit into tighter spaces than other options might. That, plus the inclusion of a range of useful socket sizes for typical applications, really works in its favor. Its ToughSystem cases are another huge reason to consider it. The trays are easy to transport and stack, which positively boosts the working experience.

As for the downsides, the bits included do round easily. It's awesome to include the driver along with sockets and ratchets, but this can be really frustrating in any case. Also, the lack of a quick-release button on the back of the ratchets will turn many users away if they're fans of the older DeWalt ratchet design.

Best Wrenches and Sockets: Craftsman 284-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Set

Pros

Increased grip on rounded fasteners

Comprehensive set

Backed by lifetime warranty

Cons

Quality control issues are common

Bulky ratchets due to 180-tooth mechanism

Craftsman's Overdrive mechanic's tool sets are worth considering if you need a mechanic's tool set that can do more than most. What really helps elevate this system is the High-Torque Technology design featured on the sockets and wrenches. This gives them extra bite on rounded fasteners, and it really does work. This particular 284-piece set also includes everything you'll need to start up a collection. Three ratchets, sockets to match, hex keys, bits, a bit driver, and combination wrenches really cover all of the bases. Of course, a lifetime warranty to back it all up is a really nice touch. 

In my hands-on review, I found quality control issues to be the main setback. While Craftsman does stand by its customers, mismatched sockets and slight defects are things you will need to deal with. Also, the 180-tooth ratchets do trade size in favor of the tight swing arc, which can interfere with the intended benefits of the mechanism. 

Our Verdict on Mechanic’s Tool Sets 

Since we're talking to folks working in their home garage, it's hard to suggest anything but the Craftsman 230-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Set based on the excellent warranty process and decent quality. The Stanley 69-Piece Black Chrome Set is another solid choice if you want a little more bang for your buck.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!

Q: What should a mechanic’s tool set include? 

A: A mechanic’s tool set should at least include a ratchet, some sockets, and extensions. If you need more to start with, you can buy bigger kits with more ratchets, hand ratchets, an even more comprehensive range of sockets, and additional tools you may need. What's appropriate does depend on the type of work you will perform and what your projects call for. 

Q: What makes a good mechanic’s tool set? 

A: It all depends on your experiences and what you're working on. In any case, a mechanic’s tool set should include tools to deal with any fasteners you'll come across. From there, features such as ratchet design and quality can be taken into consideration.

Q: Are cheap mechanic’s tool sets worth it? 

A: Everyone will tell you to stay away from cheap tools, and for good reasons. However, if you give a master mechanic cheap hand tools to work with, they can still get the job done. Therefore, they are still worth it if that's all you can afford. Quality issues do warrant investing in higher-quality tools when you can afford them, though.

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more
stripe