Best Mechanics Tool Set For the Money (2018 Reviews and Buying Guide)
Many things in this life are complex and have no hard-and-fast – and simple – answer, most things are vague or somewhere within shades of gray.
You have certainly chosen a ‘lesser of two evils’ once or twice, we all have. Mechanic tool sets have some of these qualities, not in their construction or use, but in the choice of which ones you will need and those which you should then own.
Buying the best mechanic’s tool sets can be a difficult process since the tool you need will almost always be the one you don’t have.
Put another way: you can’t really know until you are actually working on a project, knee deep in oil and grease, nose embedded in an old shop manual, and figure out that the tool you are reaching for is not yet owned by you.
Here on this site we have some help for you with making a decision on the set of mechanic’s tools which will suit your purpose – and needs – best.
- 0.1 1. Stanley 96-011 170-Piece Mechanics Tool Set review
- 0.2 2. Stanley 91-988 201-Piece Mechanics Tool Set review
- 0.3 3. Crescent CTK148MP 148-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Set review
- 0.4 4. Apollo Precision Tools DT1241 95-Piece Mechanics Tool Kit review
- 1 What do you need?
- 2 What do you want?
- 3 Make the decision to buy that which you have decided upon…
The Stanley 96-011 170-Piece Mechanics Tool Set is one of the more complete portable kits they make. A specialized plastic carrying case allows it to be taken along anywhere you find yourself with a need for a good tool.
Chrome vanadium forged steel makes up the bulk of what Stanley uses to create the 96-011 170-piece mechanic’s tool set. It also allows them to hold this set to a very high standard – meeting or exceeding ANSI – and give it a lifetime warranty.
Each of the components polishes up very well, too, as the chrome is well-done and very durable.
Included are the usual culprits in such kits, with a slightly increased variety of sizes being the most noticeable difference. There are our favorite ¼ and 3/8” pear-head ratchets, plus a ½” cousin to join in the fun; next are the 28 ¼” sockets both standard and deep welled, 24 3/8” sockets both standard and deep welled, and 10 ½” sockets, with those being evenly divided between SAE and Metric sizes.
Add to that the bit holder, over 70 bits of various types, eight combination wrenches, extensions, hex keys, a spark plug socket and that finely molded plastic case. For the mechanic on the go, or the handy van or truck owner, the Stanley 96-011 170-piece mechanic’s tool set is what the manufacturer recommends.
The full list of what sits in the Stanley 96-011 mechanic’s tool set package:
(1x) 1/4″ Dr. Pear Head Ratchet, (1x) 3/8″ Dr. Pear Head Ratchet, (1x) 1/2″ Dr. Pear Head Ratchet, (16x) 1/4″ Sockets – 6 pt., (12x) 1/4″ Deep Sockets – 6 pt., (18x) 3/8″ Dr. Sockets – 6 pt., (6x) 3/8″ Dr. Deep Sockets – 6 pt., (10x) 12″ Dr. Sockets – 6 pt. (1x) 3/8″ Dr. Spark Plug Sockets – 5/8″ (1x) 1/4″ Dr. Bit Holder, (1) 1/4″ Dr. Extension Bar – 3″, (1x) 3/8″ Dr. Extension Bar – 3″, (8x) Combination Wrenches, (55x) Specialty Bits, (26x) Hex Keys, (12x) Nut Bits, & (1x) Blow Molded Carry Case.
Though it seems cliché, with Stanley’s hand tools you almost always know what you are getting, and it is usually well-made.
The Stanley 96-011 170-piece mechanic’s tool set does this reputation justice. The tools are well styled to make using them easy and dropping them more difficult.
Since the idea here is for the semi-professional, Stanley has managed to craft them in a way to make them easy to use, quick to change when needed, and their ratchet heads operate smoothly and without difficulty.
The variety of this set is already evidenced by the list above, so all one need worry about if the Stanley 96-011 mechanic’s tool set is the solution for the need is the cost…and that is fairly reasonable.
Mechanics need tools, we all know that, and so do others who have the same inclination to fix and repair things such as a car, a motorcycle or the many appliances which surround the place in which one lives.
Among your more important considerations would have to be the variety of tools included in any set; it needs to be enough to get any job done, but not so much that some pieces never get used.
Stanley produces a set of mechanic’s tools which will make you want to use each and every one of its 201 pieces – the 91-988 ¼-inch 3/8-inch ½-inch Drive Mechanics Tool Set.
Stanley builds the contents of the 91-988 Mechanics Tool Set of the common and very durable chrome vanadium – also helping them to meet or exceed the ANSI standard, which is good worldwide.
The set features ¼-inch, 3/8-inch and ½-inch round headed, quick-release ratchets which work with six-point regular and deep sockets in SAE and Metric sizes.
Eight combination wrenches – four each SAE and Metric – are included with hex keys, nut bits, and other commonly used adapters within a molded plastic case sporting a “snap-in” feature to hold everything in its place. The Stanley 91-988 has even more than that, a total of 201 pieces to be precise, and everything a kit with this spec should have.
Complete list of included tools:
(10x) 1/4-in Dr. 6 Pt. Sockets – SAE, (13x) 1/4-in Dr. 6 Pt. Sockets – Metric, (10x) 1/4-in Dr. 6 Pt. Deep Sockets – SAE, (11x) 1/4-in Dr. 6 Pt. Deep Sockets – Metric, (9x) 3/8-in Dr. 6 Pt. Sockets – SAE, (14x) 3/8-in Dr. 6 Pt. Sockets – Metric, (5x) 3/8-in Dr. 6 Pt. Deep Sockets – SAE, (3x) 3/8-in Dr. 6 Pt. Deep Sockets – Metric, (6x) 1/2-in Dr. 6 Pt. Sockets – SAE, (8x) 1/2-in Dr. 6 Pt. Sockets – Metric, 1/4-in Dr. Pear Head Ratchet – Quick Release, 3/8-in Dr. Pear Head Ratchet – Quick Release, 1/2-in Dr. Pear Head Ratchet – Quick Release, 1/4-in Dr. F x 3/8-in M Adapter, 3/8-in Dr. F x 1/4-in M Adapter, 1/4-in Dr. Bit Adapter, 1/4-in Dr. Extension Bar, 3/8-in Dr. Extension Bar, (4x) Combination SAE Wrenches, (4x) Combination Metric Wrenches, (28x) Hex Keys, (12x) Nut Bits, (55x) Bits, and a Blow Molded Carry Case.
As many who have purchased them will know, Stanley has most of their tools made in China, but the companies they use to do so are held to strict standards guaranteeing well-built products. This is how it is possible for the 91-988 to come with a limited lifetime warranty; anytime a Stanley tool fails, simply exchange it for a brand new piece.
Again, as one would expect from Stanley, the tools included within the 91-988 do have a solid heft to them indicative of a solidly built product.
The ratcheting action is smooth, sockets stay firmly in place – though, as with most, they are rather tight when new – and the variety is a sensible one with broad application for many common jobs.
The hex keys come in very handy as do the included nut bits and combo wrenches, especially around any sort of engine or motor vehicle chassis.
The case which Stanley ships all of this in works very well and does a good job of hauling the entire 201 piece 91-988 mechanic’s tool set everywhere it needs to be taken.
A good set of tools has a wide variation of sizes across both standards and several additional specialized bits mixed with some combination of other needed tools such as pliers and quality combination wrenches.
It also helps if the price is right and you can pick them up nearby or through the mail. Crescent (otherwise known as Cooper Hand Tools) has made their products available at a wide array of hardware stores and at many sites online.
The CTK148MP 148-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Set stands as a rather complete kit from this budget manufacturer, let’s see what it gets.
Crescent put together their best sockets, quick-release ratchets, driver bits, combination wrenches and other hands tools – 148 of them, in case it’s not obvious – to create the CTK148MP.
Contained in the set are ¼, 3/8, and ½-inch 72-tooth, quick-release ratchet drivers, 70 Metric and SAE sockets for use with them, 44 bit driver sockets, 18 hex keys, various extensions for those tough to get spots, spark plug sockets, six combination wrenches, two pairs of cutting pliers, magnetic screwdrivers, a magnetic bit driver, and a plastic ‘cathedral-door’ case with a carrying handle.
With a list of tools like that, the intention of this set is obvious – the Crescent CTK148MP mechanic’s tool set is sold for someone with industrial-grade work to complete, and the average homeowner or apartment dweller would be hard pressed to find a more appropriately crafted tool kit.
The complete list of the 148 parts in the Crescent CTK148MP:
(5x) ½-inch 6-point sockets – SAE, (5x) ½-inch 6-point sockets – metric, ½-inch socket five-inch extension, (8x) 3/8-inch 12-point sockets – SAE, (8x) 3/8-inch 12-point sockets – metric, (5x) 3/8-inch 6-point deep sockets – SAE, (5x) 3/8-inch 6-point deep sockets – metric, 5/8-inch spark plug 3/8-inch socket, 13/16-inch spark plug 3/8-inch socket, 3/8-inch socket three-inch extension, 3/8-inch socket six-inch extension, 3/8-inch (female) to ¼-inch (male) adapter, (10x) ¼-inch 6-point sockets – SAE, (10x) ¼-inch 6-point sockets – metric, ¼-inch socket three-inch extension, ½-inch 72-Tooth Quick-release Ratchet Drive, 3/8-inch 72-Tooth Quick-release Ratchet Drive, ¼-inch 72-Tooth Quick-release Ratchet Drive, 8″ Long Nose Cutting Pliers, 6″ Diagonal Cutting Pliers, MAGNETIC Screwdrivers: 1/4″ x 4″ Slotted, 3/16″ x 3″ Slotted, #2 x 4″ Phillips®, #1 x 3″ Phillips®, Dura-Driver™ MAGNETIC Bit Driver, (44x) 1″ Driver its with Holders: Phillips®, Slotted, Torx® and Hex, (18x) SAE Hex Keys with Holder, and a Plastic, Cathedral Door, Storage Case with Handle
All tools in the Crescent CTK148MP mechanic’s tool set meet or exceed ANSI and ASME standards and come with a “full satisfaction guarantee.” Thus, Crescent produces tools that meet the need for rigorous utilization without failing and the company stands behind what they manufacture.
Though it is only minor in the grand scheme, it is worth mentioning that the bi-fold case which the Crescent CTK148MP mechanic’s tool set ships with has some nicely-designed raised-letter identification information for where each tool is to be stored; that makes it very easy to locate the right sized tool you need as soon as you open it up.
The tools are strong, durable and comfortable to use, and they have the right professional look. There is some limitation in the size assortment of the sockets, but this kit is for a broad application, not specific projects, and it suits that purpose well.
The one area where this kit does have a problem is with the adhesive used for the magnets – they come off far too easily and must be secured in place again.
Overall, the Crescent CTK148MP mechanic’s tool set is exactly what one would get from a kit costing much more, and it should hold up quite well during its lifetime.
Apollo Precision Tools does not have the famous name of some others out there, but their reach is rather widespread and diverse. They can be found at department stores and auto parts stores as well as big retailers and online; their brand can be found nearly everywhere in North America.
Since this is all about tools for mechanics, both busy and occasional, looking at the most popular of what our subject company offers in that category makes some sense. Here is the Apollo Precision Tools DT1241 95-Piece Mechanics Tool Kit…
The Apollo Precision Tools DT1241 mechanic’s tool kit has a tool for almost any eventuality. Since mechanics often need an enormous variety of sized and shaped implements, the group at Apollo decided to do their best to include the necessities for working on any motor vehicle whether it has one, two, three or more wheels.
Inside this kit are the usual ¼ and 3/8 inch drive ratchets, obligatory extensions and over 30 sockets – ¼ and 3/8 inch sizes, SAE and Metric – bit drivers and numerous bits, 10 combination wrenches, screwdrivers, hex keys, and much more.
The tools are all made of either 45C carbon or chrome vanadium steel, meet or exceed ANSI standards, and come with the now industry standard lifetime warranty. Everything the home mechanic or handyman needs is included in the Apollo Precision Tools DT1241 mechanic’s tool kit.
Here is the complete list of what is contained within the Apollo Precision Tools DT1241 95-piece mechanic’s tool kit:
(1x) 3/8-inch drive ratchet handle, (1x) 1/4-inch drive ratchet handle, (1x) 3/8-inch x 3-inch drive extension bar, (1x) 3/8-inch drive x 13/16-inch spark plug socket, (1x) 3/8-inch drive x 5/8-inch spark plug socket, (12x) 3/8-inch drive sockets, (1x) 3/8-inch drive 1/4-inch adapter, (20x) 1/4-inch drive sockets, (1x) ratcheting bit driver, (20x) 1-inch bits, (8x) metric hex keys, (8x) SAE hex keys, (5x) metric combination wrenches, (5x) SAE combination wrenches, (2x) 8-inch adjustable wrenches, (1x) wire brush, (1x) slotted precision screwdriver, (1x) Phillips precision screwdriver, (1x) 6-inch long needle-nose pliers, (1x) 6-inch diagonal pliers, (1x) tire gauge, (1x) 12V voltage tester, (1x) 3/8-inch wire stripper/crimper, and (1x)
They say that variety is often a good thing, and in this case that holds fairly true. Apollo Precision Tools’ DT 1241 mechanic’s tool kit has almost everything covered.
The hand tools are made of quality materials and they feel sturdy enough to take on heavy-duty projects regularly. The added items in this 95-piece set do function well enough to be used reliably, but some of the extras do have their limitations. After all, this kit is aimed at the home mechanic, not a shop owner.
Apollo has done an admirable job with this multi-purpose gathering of tools. This set could suffice as a singular set for making repairs around the house too.
You might find yourself looking for a size not included in this set, but you can always supplement. Overall, the Apollo Precision Tools DT1241 mechanic’s tool kit is a good deal with a very wide usefulness factor; it is well worth considering if you have no other tool kit.
What do you need?
First things are always first. If you have a specific vehicle to work on, consulting a service manual, or one of the many large publishers’ guides, will have many helpful ‘required tools’ lists depending on how far you will dig into things.
However, should you be looking to work on a wide range of projects, it will be best to go with a larger set of mechanic’s tools to cover as many possibilities, and have the broadest selection of socket sizes and bits, as possible with what you can afford.
That is the simple process by which you will determine the most apropos set. Look it up and make a list, then consult the detailed information available within the reviews here.
Most mechanic’s tool sets have the same ‘core’ set of parts that all will share. One example would be the ¼ and 3/8 inch ratchets and matching sockets – virtually all kits include both.
Outside of those central pieces are additional tools which will be different between set models. Simply find the one set which has the tools you know you will need now that you have gathered that information.
Of course, with mechanic’s tool sets, you will need to shop around for a good price, too – don’t buy them at the first place you see them.
What do you want?
The ‘want’ part of buying some mechanic’s tools will always depend on what you want to do, and what you can afford, to some degree.
Most of us would likely go with the lease and/or buy process offered by the professional-grade tool companies that drive around their fancy trucks and come to you, but few can afford such things.
Knowing what you need gets you to look around; your plans for future projects and the size of your wallet help you take the next steps. Here, on this website, you will see what is available and how it matches what you have on your mind.
Of course, there is something to be said for having a set of mechanic’s tools which you like to use, so ergonomic choices do make a difference. Get the right feel and you will do better work.
In the end, buy the mechanic’s tool set that has what you want as well as what you need…at a good price!
Make the decision to buy that which you have decided upon…
The last part of the process is the easiest in this modern world – simply buy mechanic’s tool set you decided on at a local retailer or at an online shop. You are done! Take good care of your set of mechanic’s tools and they will take good care of you.