An underhood work light is the best method of lighting up your engine without having to hold a light. They securely attach to both ends of the hood with protective hooks and are available as a corded or cordless unit. Unlike a mechanics work light, the underhood alternative is completely hands-free and provides a greater light output. The wide design also allows you to efficiently work on your car without the need to move it.
If you require a quick answer, the best underhood work light is the Milwaukee M12 Kit, which produces 1,350 Lumens and adjusts from 48 to 78 inches to fit the majority of hoods. However, if you are on a tight budget and want an affordable alternative, the Neiko 40447A is the best option.
To rate the underhood work lights within this article, we based our recommendations upon our own experience (the above photo is our underhood light), research and multiple factors. The factors we considered included the Lumens output, hooks, extendable length, power supply, construction, warranty and value for money.
Table of Contents
- The Best Underhood Work Light
- How We Rated The Underhood Work Lights
- Underhood Work Light Buying Guide
Underhood Work Light Comparison
|Underhood Work Light||Adjustable Length||Lumens|
|Milwaukee M12||48 to 78 Inches||1,350|
|Neiko 40447A||47 to 76 Inches||1,200|
|ATD Tools 80357||55 to 83 Inches||2,000|
|Nightstick SLR-2120||48 to 77 Inches||1,200|
|Performance Tool W2404||18 to 78 Inches||513|
|SuiTech Light Bar||52 to 72 Inches||1,250|
To ensure that the light works with the majority of hoods, most manufacturers use extendable widths that attach via hooks on each side. The majority adjust from 40 to 80 inches to suit all passenger vehicles but there are some exceptions that use a clever design to extend further. For example, some may hold the light over the engine using integrated magnetic plates or rotatable hooks.
Below is a list of the best underhood work lights that extend in length to suit a range of hoods and provide excellent illumination across the engine.
The Best Underhood Work Light
1. Milwaukee M12 LED Underhood Light Kit
Milwaukee is a highly reputable brand and their underhood work light kit is one of the best available. It has been designed to withstand the toughest of environments and comes with an impressive 5 year tool warranty and lifetime LED warranty. In terms of the compatibility, the mounting hooks extend from 48 to 78 inches, which is suitable the the majority of cars and trucks.
Other features of the Milwaukee M12 Kit include:
- 1,350 Lumens
- 2 brightness settings to preserve battery
- REDLITHIUM 4.0 XC battery pack
- Patented “FINISHGUARD” hooks
- Impact and chemical resistant
- High quality with a long warranty
The Milwaukee M12 is the ultimate underhood work light with a high definition LED output and superior build quality when compared to the alternatives.
The main drawback is that it comes with a premium price tag. However, when you consider the superior performance and long warranty, it makes the M12 a worthwhile investment.Check it Out
2. Neiko 40447A Underhood Work Light
The Neiko 40447A is a relatively affordable option that’s powered by an impressive 202 SMD LED’s. As with other underhood lights, it’s able to adjust to fit the majority of passenger vehicles with a telescoping design that spans from 47 to 76 inches.
Other features of the Neiko 40447A Work Light include:
- 1,200 Lumens output
- Rechargeable 8,000 mAh li-ion battery
- UL/CUL certified charger
- Ergonomic non-slip rubber grips
- Low battery warning indicator
- Detachable magnetic hooks
- Impact resistant polycarbonate housing and lens
- 3 to 6 hours run time depending on brightness
Overall, the Neiko 40447A is an excellent all-round LED underhood work light that’s durable and offers excellent performance. Compared to similar priced alternatives, it’s packed with far more intuitive features that makes it easier to use.Check it Out
3. ATD Tools LED Underhood Light
Another premium underhood light is the ATD Tools 80357, which features an intuitive design and produces an impressive 2,000 Lumens of light output. It’s also powered by both a 25 foot long power cord or a cordless rechargeable power pack.
Unlike other underhood lights, the 80367 extends from a much longer 55 inches to 83 inches, which is ideal for larger SUV’s and trucks.
Other features of the ATD Tools 80357 include:
- 2,000 Lumens output
- Large padded hooks
- LED battery level indicator
- Run time between 2 to 4 hours
- 5,200 mAh li-ion battery
- UL/cUL listed
- Two brightness modes
The ATD Tools Underhood Light Bar provides the performance of a corded light but the desirable convenience of a rechargeable alternative. It does come with an expensive price tag but its a worthwhile investment that you won’t regret.Check it Out
4. Nightstick SLR-2120 LED Under hood Light
The Bayco Nightstick SLR-2120 is a high performing underhood LED light bar that’s perfect for working on cars for long periods. A desirable feature of this light is the fact that it includes both an AC and DC power supply.
In terms of the compatibility with vehicle hoods, it’s able to span from 48 to 77 inches via the dual spring loaded grippers that are built into the cradle.
Other features of the Bayco Nightstick SLR-2120 include:
- Two light modes that output 1,200 and 600 Lumens
- Foam covered grippers that stretch from 48 to 77 inches
- Attaches to metal surfaces with the integrated magnets
- Able to hang it using the 360 degree rotatable hook
- AC and DC power supply (4.6 hour battery life)
Overall, the Bayco Nightstick SLR-2120 is an excellent all-round example that combines performance with value for the money. With a respectable 1,200 Lumens output and a width capacity between 48 to 77 inches, it’s suitable for the majority of mechanics working on a range of vehicles.Check it Out
5. Performance Tool LED Underhood Work Light
Another affordable option is the Performance Tool W2404, which isn’t the largest light but is able to span from as small as 18 inches to an impressive 78 inches in length, which will be suitable for the majority of car hoods.
Other features of the Performance Tool W2404 include:
- Two brightness settings at 513 and 256 Lumens
- Uses a rechargeable 18650 li-ion battery
- Padded hooks to prevent damage
- Wide angle LEDs
- Can be charged via direct plug or USB cable
If you are looking for a cheap underhood work light, the Performance Tool W2404 is the best option. However, compared to the alternatives, it may feel far less superior in terms of light performance and build quality.Check it Out
6. SuiTech Underhood LED Light Bar
The SuiTech is a cordless underhood light bar that uses a 2,000 mAh battery and provides up to 5 hours of light on the lowest brightness setting. The brand claim that it’s suitable for every hood with an adjustable length of 52 to 72 inches. A useful feature of the SuiTech light is that it has a “twinkle mode”, which outputs a red light, which is an ideal alternative to an LED road flare.
Other features of the SuiTech Underhood Light include:
- 1,250 Lumen rating
- Includes a 1 year warranty
- Retractable and foldable design
- AC/DC 110-240V charger
- Spring loaded legs for a secure fit
The unique design of the SuiTech underhood light makes it an excellent option to the alternatives listed within this article. It also offers great value for money with a one year warranty included for complete peace of mind.Check it Out
How We Rated The Underhood Work Lights
As we have been using an underhood work light for many years now, we have a great deal of experience using them and know what to look out for. However, we also based the recommendations within this article upon plenty of research as well as multiple factors. The factors that we considered included the Lumens output, hooks, extendable length, power supply, construction, warranty and value for money.
Underhood Work Light Buying Guide
Inspecting under the hood will require adequate lighting and the best option is an underhood work light. They attach to the inside of the hood by using hooks that extend to each side.
Depending upon your budget, you will have the choice of a variety of units that vary in performance and designs to suit your requirements. To help you make an informed buying decision, we have produced the below guide regarding underhood work lights.
One of the most important factors to consider is whether or not the light is compatible with your hood. The majority of manufacturers claim that they are completely universal but we advise that you measure your hood beforehand. Most extend from 40 to 80 inches but there are some exceptions such as the Performance Tool W2404, which spans from as small as 18 inches.
The higher the Lumens rating, the more brightness that the light will output. Lumens is a measurement of brightness that you can use to determine which outputs the most amount of bright light.
However, just because a light may be brighter, it doesn’t mean it will be the best option. Too much brightness can be blinding and the light can reflect from the engine back into your eyes, which can become frustrating.
Most underhood work lights come with multiple settings that allow you to choose the amount of light you require. This will also allow you to choose a setting that helps preserve the battery life too.
Corded vs Cordless
When working on a car, power cords can begin to get in the way and be a problem. This makes using a cordless light the best option but you do have the issue of keeping it fully charged.
Choosing between the two is a matter of personal preference but some units have the best of both worlds. For example, the SuiTech underhood work light allows you to use it as a cordless light but switch to using the power cord when it’s low on power.
To avoid any damage to the hood, its vital that the hooks that attaches to it are padded. This helps protect the paintwork from scratches but also provides a secure fit that doesn’t slip.
Due to the fact that the underhood work light is going to be used primarily in a garage environment, durability is a big factor. The construction needs to be able to withstand chemical and impact damage, which it will be exposed to on a daily basis. The warranty that’s provided by the manufacturer is a good indicator to how durable the light is going to be. For example, the Milwaukee M12 comes with an impressive 5 year tool warranty and lifetime LED warranty.
Unlike other work lights, using an underhood alternative makes working on your car far more efficient. It’s completely hands-free, easy to attach to the hood and is far larger than any other work light. All of the recommended underhood work lights are suitable for a range of budgets. If you can afford the M12, it truly is the ultimate light for inspecting the engine but there are other cheaper alternatives that perform just as well.