LAST UPDATED: October 8, 2019
Best Mechanic Flashlights: Illuminate Your Work Space
Use these mechanic flashlights to create high-visibility working situations
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON October 8, 2019
Forget the large and heavy flashlights that don’t allow you to multitask when working in your garage. Most modern flashlights are compact enough to fit in your pocket and are bright enough to help you see everything under your car’s hood. However, buying a flashlight isn’t as straightforward as it seems. There’s a process for determining the best option that will work for your profession. We will help you pick out some top options in the buying guide below.
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Benefits of Mechanic Flashlights
- Reliable lighting. For complicated projects where you need to work under a vehicle or the hood, a flashlight will work better for focusing the light on the workspace. You can hold it at any angle to get a better view.
- Make roadside repairs with ease. In the past, you may have relied on the light from your phone for random roadside repairs. However, it gets hard trying to balance your phone while repairing your vehicle. Mechanical flashlights are small enough to fit in your mouth, and some come with a magnetic base, swiveling hook, or headband to help keep your hands free as you work.
- Illuminate pathways at night. You can use the flashlight to illuminate parking garages, home doorways, footpaths, and driveways at night to reduce the risk of falling and injuring yourself in dimly lit paths.
- Take it anywhere. You can use it for other purposes besides mechanic work. You can hang it on your keychain and have it on hand whenever you need to illuminate a car lock or go camping.
- Find missing objects. It’s easier to find a small nut in your toolbox with the help of a flashlight. Also, it will come in handy for finding a small tool in a messy trunk or one that has rolled under your work table.
Types of Mechanic Flashlights
Tactical flashlights are designed to handle the abuse of a harsh outdoor environment. As a result, it’s typically associated with military use. However, tactical flashlights are now available for civilians and are popular for their durability; they can withstand accidental drops and are corrosion-resistant, waterproof, and flame-resistant. They can also be used as a weapon due to the strong military-grade construction.
Standard or regular flashlights come in many designs, but most have compact, ABS plastic or cheap aluminum bodies. Most peak at only 100 lumens, which is enough to cover about 10 feet. They are not meant to withstand abuse or harsh outdoor environments. Therefore, they have to be replaced often.
Since its inception in 1973, Streamlight remains dedicated to offering the best lighting solutions to first responders and sporting and outdoor enthusiasts. It’s headquartered in Eagleville, Pa. Some of its products include headlamps, handheld flashlights, weapon-mounted lights, and work lights. Check out the Streamlight Stinger LED Flashlight, which is one of its best-rated flashlights.
CAT is an American Fortune 100 corporation and one of the apex producers of construction, mining, and lighting equipment that has been around for more than 85 years. It’s a family-owned company that’s headquartered in Illinois. Its lighting products use the latest LED technology and industrial-grade material. Try out the CAT CT1000, which is a high-quality mechanic work light with a magnetic base.
GearLight offers reliable and affordable LED lighting products that are designed at its headquarters in Southern California. Some of the products include tactical flashlights, bike tail lights, headlamps, camping lanterns, and safety lights. One of its best-selling mechanic flashlights is the GearLight S100 LED Pocket Pen Knife.
Coast has more than 50 years of experience making LED lighting and cutting tools suitable for workers who put in more than 60 hours a week. Its lighting collections include rechargeable, battery-powered, and tactical flashlights. Some of its top products include the Coast G20 Inspection LED Flashlight and the Coast 7839 Nano Tac LED Flashlight.
Mechanic Flashlight Pricing
- Under $20: Expect to mostly find EDC flashlights with less than 500 lumens within this price range. Most are compact penlights that can fit on a keychain. They typically have a button at the rear end to make it easy to switch it on with your thumb. Also, most have a rubberized finish to reduce the risk of accidental drops.
- $20 and up: Typically, the prices of the flashlights go higher with the increase in lumen count, so expect to find heavy-duty tactical flashlights that can offer up to 1,000 lumens within this price range. Also, the flashlights carry more user-friendly features to mechanics like a magnetic base, corrosion-resistant housing, and multitools with screwdrivers.
Most mechanic flashlights have a standard size that is about 6 inches long, but you can get a larger size if you’d like to use it for other outdoor activities. However, we recommend going for the smaller penlights, since they don’t strain your hand and can be held with your mouth to leave your hands free.
What matters most is how well the flashlight can illuminate your workspace—its level of brightness. The higher the lumens, the brighter the flashlight will be. However, you should note that more lumens shorten the battery's run time. For mechanic work in dimly lit spaces, anything above 50 lumens will suffice. However, if you plan to use it outdoors, you could go as high as 1,000 lumens.
You need to consider how far and wide the flashlight can shine depending on where you need to use it. You may need a spotlight to focus the light on a tight space or a wider beam to get a full view of the engine parts. This is why we recommend going for a model with a zoomable focus for the versatility it offers.
- Power Source: There are rechargeable flashlights and ones that run on batteries. If you don’t want to run to the store every time your batteries die, you should get a rechargeable option. However, the latter can let you down when you get an extended power blackout.
- Durability: With your hands greasy, you can expect to drop your tools occasionally. Therefore, you should select a model that’s sturdy enough to survive the drop. Anodized aluminum is a strong material that will protect the internal components from damage in case the flashlight accidentally falls.
Best Mechanic Flashlights Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Nobody wants to be burdened with a heavy flashlight, especially when you need to use it for a long time. This is why the Infray penlight flashlight tops our list. It has a slim profile that’s only 5.7-inches long. It's made from an anodized, aircraft-grade aluminum construction with a scratch-resistant polycarbonate lens. The unit offers three light modes: high, medium, and low. On the high setting, it emits 220 lumens of light, which is enough to cover 230 feet for seven hours. On the low setting, it can run for 14 hours.
You can zoom the beam for more focus or to increase the length of the light. It’s IPX4 waterproof rated and will, therefore, come in handy for unexpected breakdowns in the middle of a heavy downpour. In addition, it comes with a convenient clip for securing it on a keychain or your breast pocket. The LED bulb has a lifespan of 80,000 hours and runs on two AAA batteries.
Unfortunately, there are a few nagging issues with this model. One is that it can overheat when used on the highest setting for more than an hour. Also, the battery life may be shorter than expected when used on the highest setting.
Looking at the small size and the price, you are likely to underestimate the Coast G20, but it’s a handy item for illuminating tight spaces. It emits a uniform, narrow inspection beam to help you see every detail of hard-to-reach areas. When it comes to the design, it features a durable aluminum body that’s IPX4-rated for water resistance and can survive a 3.3-foot drop. Also, it can illuminate a 65-foot beam distance.
It has an ergonomic rear switch system, and you can secure it in your pocket with the help of its adjustable clip for the next time you need to use it. In addition, it runs on two AAA alkaline batteries, which provide a 2.5-hour runtime. Also, you have several colors to choose from, including red, blue, and green.
There are a few drawbacks to this model. First, it isn’t rechargeable, and you have to keep replacing the batteries if you have to use it for more than an hour daily. Also, at times, the power button may jam. Moreover, despite the aluminum construction, the body and lens can still get damaged if it's dropped.
A staggering 50,000 hours of runtime is what you get from this compact flashlight. Therefore, it’s not only good for mechanics but also for outdoor enthusiasts. Its long lifespan is exceeded only by its durable construction made from anodized aluminum with a rubberized grip. The lens is made from polycarbonate with a scratch-resistant coating. It's IPX4-rated for water resistance and can survive a 3.3-foot drop. It can also survive extreme temperature changes, being mishandled, or being left on ice.
Using C4 LED Technology, it emits a brilliant light with three intensity modes: high produces 800 lumens for 1.5 hours, medium operates at 400 lumens for 2.5 hours, and low produces 200 lumens for five hours. It can also emit a strobe light for signaling for three hours. Also, a rubberized coating helps to maintain a comfortable, anti-slip grip.
However, we noted some complaints about how fast the battery drains with frequent, extended use. Also, the switch may stop working with frequent use. Moreover, it’s more expensive than most standard flashlights.
The Streamlight Stylus Pro is as large as an average pen and is just about as light, so it is simple to carry around. It’s a sturdy little flashlight designed with a strong aluminum casing to withstand drops and dings. One of its best features is its ability to be recharged—it has a handy USB charging port for easy and quick charging. It also comes with a pocket clip and holster so you can reach it quickly and keep it handy at all times. It’s bright and efficient even for its small size.
You may find an issue with the on/off switch as there have been complaints about it not working properly or being too difficult to press. The holster isn’t the most durable, and the seams come apart if you attach it to a thicker belt.
The Anker Rechargeable Bolder Flashlight is a reliable and tough device to have on hand. The flashlight is highly versatile and functional with five different settings to choose from, featuring a modern design with easy grip ridges. Another excellent thing about the flashlight is its price. For a relatively small amount of cash, you get a rechargeable light with a micro USB cable, increasing its usefulness and cost-effectiveness. It also recharges quickly, is water-resistant, and is cased in a strong aluminum housing.
However, the clip may be one of its design flaws—while it is useful on pouches and belts, it can make carrying the light around a bit more uncomfortable. It may also be rather hefty on your belt, which can be a problem when you want to place it in your pocket, as it is large.
With this product, you get two pens for the price of one. Plus, it fits right in the palm of your hand, giving you a firmer and more comfortable grasp on the tiny light. It features an aluminum body for increased durability, is weather-resistant, runs off AAA batteries, and includes a clip to attach it to your belt or pocket. Perhaps one of its biggest positives is the simple on/off switch—there aren’t any extra modes you have to sift through to get to the main beam.
That being said, it doesn’t have any other settings aside from a standard powerful beam of light. Another issue is that you will have to pay for extra batteries as they may not last long.
While this flashlight may appear to be quite large, it is compact enough to be held in the palm. It can be recharged through its micro USB port and comes with a cable to do just that. The flashlight includes five modes, and you can choose from high, medium, low, moonlight, and strobe settings, making it more functional than just a mechanic flashlight. It’s constructed out of an aero grade aluminum that is also waterproof and submersible to up to 2 meters.
The flashlight is a bit more expensive than a few of our other choices, but it isn’t all that pricey when you consider what you get. There have also been complaints about the size and stiffness of the on/off switch.
This BYB Rechargeable Flashlight is highly water-resistant and can be submerged. It’s also reasonably priced and features 800 max lumens. The light is rated to last up to 60 hours on a single charge in its lowest setting. And when it’s out of juice, it can be fully charged through a USB cable in around four hours. It’s lightweight as well and includes a nice sturdy clip to attach to your belt.
Cycling through the different settings can be quite annoying and time-consuming. Since you have to click the on/off button multiple times to reach your desired setting, it can be difficult to use if you need the normal light quickly. The light also does not turn off immediately due to this design. The clip can be a pain to attach, as well.
- Try to use gloves every time you use your flashlight. That way, you will keep the gadget clean and less prone to contamination that may degrade the outer construction. Also, avoid using your teeth to hold the light
- Remove the batteries when you are done using the flashlight. The gadget may drain the batteries even when it's not switched on. Keep the batteries and flashlight in your toolbox for easy access the next time you need to work.
- Any kind of light is bad for your eyes if it’s directed at your face for a long time. LED flashlights cause irreparable damage to the retina. Remember to protect your eyes every time you are servicing, maintaining, or repairing your vehicle with the flashlight.
Q: Are LED lights better than Xenon bulbs?
A: LED bulbs are better since they are efficient and can last for up to 50,000 hours. They have no filaments, which break easily and reduce the lifespan of the bulbs. Xenon lamps produce a brighter light that mimics natural sunlight, and for that reason, they are less energy-efficient and don’t last as long.
Q: How long does an LED flashlight last?
A: It depends on the quality of the flashlight and how often you use it. A well-maintained flashlight from a high-end brand can last up to 100,000 hours. LED lights can outlast any other flashlight, including incandescent bulbs. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations on how long the battery can last on low and full power.
Q: Is there a way to prevent the flashlight battery from dying?
A: Rechargeable batteries die from constantly charging the battery and prolonged use at a high power setting. You should charge a new battery overnight to get the maximum capacity of the battery and prolong its life. However, you shouldn’t make overcharging a trend, since it can significantly shorten the battery life. Only recharge the battery when its close to being fully discharged.
Our top pick is the INFRAY LED Pen Light Flashlight. The material of the flashlight is great for working in open environments, and it has good battery timing. It’s also easy to carry around and is a great tool for professional mechanics on the move.
You could also consider the Coast Inspection LED Flashlight, which is a more affordable option.