Every car mechanic or beginner that would like to get into maintaining their own car must have a socket set. There are a range of socket sets from big or large that can come in a handy tool box or be kept above your garage tool chest.
If you think you can get a way with a few random sized sockets, a ratchet and a hammer for car maintenance, think again. With modern cars, the size of the nuts and bolts vary and its not like the golden years where the majority of bolts were 10mm.
Table of Contents
Best Socket Sets For A Car Mechanic
|Socket Set||Case Size||Pieces|
|Craftsman Tool Set||Large||165|
The socket set that you buy will need to be of the highest quality. The last thing you need is for a socket to become rounded whilst loosening a tight bolt. It is known for cheap sockets to sheer under heavy force, which is often needed whilst performing maintenance on a car.
For a beginner socket set you will probably not want to spend more than $100. For the professional DIY’er or mechanic, you may want to buy the best socket set you can buy but the price can vary from anywhere up to $1000.
A socket set will usually include everything you need to work on your car to home improvements. Such things you should expect are sockets, ratchets, drive tools, screwdrivers, hex keys and much more depending on your budget.
Below is a list of the best socket sets for the money that will certainly be able to help you work on your own car.
Stanley STMT71652 123-Piece Socket Set
The Stanley socket set is probably the most popular you can buy. It contains 123 different pieces that are all neatly stored into a compact box. Thankfully, the box has been specifically for the tools so that they “snap” into place that ensure they don’t go everywhere.
All the 123 pieces included are covered by the lifetime warranty that is offered and each are labelled appropriately. The sockets are all finished high-polish nickel chrome that prevent corrosion and also makes them look aesthetically pleasing.
Stanley sockets in particular are inline with their patented “Max Drive” design that provides 15% more torque over standard. As you would expect, they also exceed the ANSI specification with flying colors.
Considering the high quality of all the pieces included, the sheer value for money is truly incredible. For amateur mechanics to the professionals, the tools included will always come in use and come with the all important lifetime warranty. It is by far the best socket set for the money and its clear to see why its so popular worldwide.
EPAuto 40 Piece Drive Socket Set
For people looking for the best cheap socket set that is ideal for keeping inside the car, EPAuto have their own 1/4″ and 3/8″ 40 piece set. The sockets themselves are hardened treated Chrome vanadium steel alloy.
Included in the small socket set are 15 SAE sockets 1/4 inch drive, 13 metric sockets 1/4 inch drive, 3 SAE sockets 3/8 inch drive, 3 metric sockets 3/4 inch drive and much more.
If you are not a professional mechanic but you are looking for a small socket set with everything you need, the EPAuto 40 is perfect.
Crescent CTK170CMP2 Mechanics Tool Set
The CTK170CMP2 socket set is the latest with improvements with the case and the crescent screwdrivers, compared with the previous set they produce.
The Stanley socket set is the main competitor with both displaying huge amounts of quality in every tool. However, as the pricing goes, the Crescent socket set provides additional tools and have been producing tools for over 100 years.
Overall, the Crescent CTK170CMP2 socket set has every tool you need for mechanical and consumer applications. The case is compact even though it holds 170 pieces, which is great for storage. If you want the full package including sockets, screwdrivers, spanners and much more, this will be the best buy.
DEWALT DWMT73804 Drive Socket Set
Dewalt are a huge name in both the home and automotive tools market due to their sheer quality. The 34 piece socket set comes with a durable 72 tooth ratchet, which are covered by Dewalt’s excellent lifetime warranty.
The DWMT73804 Drive Socket Set is the smallest in this article with only 34 pieces but it has everything that is required for simple jobs. It also means that its portable for taking to remote locations for working on cars.
The socket set case is very clever and well designed. Its a locking stackable case with a removable tray to customize your tools. The cover is also transparent that allows you to quickly glance to ensure that you have all the correct tools present.
The DEWALT DWMT73804 Drive Socket Set is more expensive than the EPAuto 40 alternative but it feels much better in terms of quality. The case in particular is modern and is miles ahead of the cheap molded copies. It is by far the best small socket set you can buy.
Craftsman 165 Piece Mechanics Tool Set
Craftsman have created a 165 piece socket set to target consumers wanting more tools. Included are 92 sockets (1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 inch), ratchet in each drive size, two extension bars, two universal joint and much more.
This is perfect for a mechanic with currently zero tools to their name. The tools are made in China and not US made which may put people off, but personally they are great quality anyway.
The socket set case is 18.2 x 13.6 x 4 inches but could still be stored in your car or be portable for remote locations. The hex wrenches are kept in a separate container and not within the case but everything is fairly compact inside of the case.
Considering the price per tool, the Craftsman 165 pc Mechanics Tool Set works out as the cheapest socket set you can buy. Of course, this not be the main reason you would buy this socket set. However, it is safe to say, the Craftsman is the best large socket set for the money.
Socket Size Comparison
A big mistake that many beginners will do is only purchase a few socket sizes to save a bit of money. However, you can guarantee that when you are half way through working on the car, you will need a socket size that you do not have.
Mechanics from the US will use a different dimension system (dual inch) over foreign cars that use metric sizing. Knowing the exact measurements of each will give you an insider to the correct socket set to buy. Below is a socket set comparison chart for each dimension.
|Bolt Diameter||Sock Size (Dual Inch)||Socket Size (Metric)|
|1/8 inch||5/8 inch||8 mm|
|3/16 inch||3/8 inch||10 mm|
|1/4 inch||7/16 inch||11 mm|
|5/16 inch||1/2 inch||13 mm|
|3/8 inch||9/16 inch||14 mm|
|7/16 inch||5/8 inch||16 mm|
|1/2 inch||3/4 inch||19mm|
|9/16 inch||13/16 inch||21 mm|
|5/8 inch||15/16 inch||24 mm|
|3/4 inch||1-1/8 inches||29 mm|
|7/8 inch||1-5/16 inches||34 mm|
|1 inch||1-1/2 inches||38 mm|
Its important to note that sockets can come in different lengths that include shallow, semi-deep and deep. To the average household user or mechanic, you will only need shallow and semi deep sockets.
However, if you are working on cars frequently, investing in the best socket set with deep sockets will give you the edge when working on hard to reach bolts or nuts.
Socket Drive Size v Socket Size
A wrench in order to use a socket correctly, with the most popular being a ratchet but high quality impact wrenches are easier for tough bolts. A wrench will twist a drive on the end of a wrench that connects to the socket that turns with the ratchet to loosen a bolt.
Many people confuse the drive size to the size of the socket itself. The socket drive size is the rear of the socket that attaches to the wrench and there are only a few, that include:
- 1/4 inch
- 1/2 inch
- 3/4 inch
- 1 inch
- 1-1/2 inch
- 2-1/2 inch
Socket sizes come in a whole range of sizes as shown in the table above but they are just the most popular sizes.