Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Snap On vs Mac vs Husky vs all other tool manufacturers
For everyone who works on cars, or anything else for that matter, there is the tool debate. Are all wrenches created equal. They come in different finishes, different styles, and from all corners of the earth. They all serve the same purpose and sometimes a purpose they were never intended to have. So here it is, from a mechanics point of view.
The Snap On name is basically known as the "Cadillac" or "Rolls Royce" of tool manufacturers. The leader in tool technology as well as sponsorship to many racing teams and their shops. They already own many of the tool brands out there already... OTC, Bluepoint, etc. And of course they come at a Cadillac price. For many of the experienced mechanics in the field, a lot have the attitude of Snap On or nothing. Many know the salesman very well, sometimes for decades. Snap On does do a very good job of maintaining their customers. Mac does too for that matter. But does that $40 wrench look, feel and perform better than all other $5, $10, or $20 wrenches. In a word "Yes". It may be partly physiological but the confidence and assurance you get from high end tools is special.
The first reason that Snap On tools are so expensive is because Snap On puts their name behind every hand tool they sell. This means lifetime warranty on that specific tool purchased. It does not matter where you bought it or when or even who bought it, it has warranty. I have seen 30 year old cracked sockets, almost rounded to the point of useless but because it is damaged from normal use there are no questions asked. For any mechanic this very important because Snap On says you will never buy the same tool twice. Unless you abuse it or loose it. But that is a warranty you simply can not beat. If you work at a shop the salesman even comes to your shop on a regular basis and will do the exchange on the spot. That means no lost wages because you need to go out and get another tool. No free time lost because you must run to the parts store after work so you have tools in the morning. Just work tools staying at work and working for you.
Another reason Snap On tools are worth their dollars is the finish. Snap On assures you the chrome or powder coat will not chip, flake or crack or it is warranty. This promises the tool will always have a smooth finish that is gentle to touch and easy to work with. You literally can't remove the finish unless you put a torch on it and abuse it anyways. The finish also applies to the tool boxes and air tools as well. They also clean very easily. The finishes are beautiful.
With that finish also comes the tool's performance. Wrenches that do not slip or bend under extreme force, even when using the open end. Hammers that hit hard yet do not punish your hand. Pliers that can pick up the a penny by its face (its how the salesman demo when he sells you pliers). Its just that much better.
6 Snap On tools you need to have:
Flank drive wrenches- Metric or imperial it doesn't matter. The 12 point boxed ends grip better than most 6 points and the open ends have the special teeth that grip rounded bolts or nuts. You use wrenches on pretty much every job. Flank drive wrenches assure you that you won't need to buy another set for as long as you live and will get the job done right.
Needle nose pliers- buy them separately or in a plier kit. These are the pliers you will use the most. They grip everything and are a lot stronger than other pliers. Most pliers rust with age and become compromised. These don't rust, don't wear out and will even take a fair bit of abuse.
Pry bar set- Compare them against many other cheaper brand and the Snap On units don't bent. They transfer a lot more torque and will get you out of a jam when other pry bars don't cut it. Buy the ones with a stainless shot on the end, great for removing core plugs and other small items. And of course they don't break. Compare these when removing large CV shafts from some 4 wheel drive trucks. You'll see what I mean
Impact wrench- They are light, quiet and have a lot more power than other brands. They have adjustable tightening as well. Again will get you out of a jam when other impacts can't get the job done. Get a downward exhaust so it doesn't blow dust in your face. Your Welcome.
Air Hammer- The amount of hammering and vibration it creates is amazing. Adjustable power and looks great. Probably my favorite tool. I had to buy it because my old one let me down.
Bolt extractor kit- If you break a bolt it usually requires a lot of time and effort to remove and then repair the old threads. If you can get an extractor socket on the old bolt stud you will remove it cleanly. I have removed bolts and nuts on literally a 60 degree angle and the teeth are still sharp. Buy the impact kit. If you don't have this kit you could be drilling and taping for hours.
While Snap On makes great tools, Mac also makes quality tools. Some of their tools are very comparable in quality and sometimes a lot more cost friendly. Both companies have monthly specials but I actually find the Mac specials are usually better and give a bigger discount. Mac edge, which are comparable to Flank drive for Snap On, is a very high quality brand. There are a few other high quality brands but none as prominent as Snap On and Mac. In Europe I know Wurth is very big but just does not have such a market in North America.
I may prefer Snap On and Mac to large degree but for most people who only casually work on their cars it is not vital. Having basic tools that are not used very often is fine. Its more important to clean and oil tools that are not used often.The real question you will need to ask yourself is when you are going to do serious work as opposed to just casual work. This means are you going to do your own brakes, suspension, exhaust. This is the point where you really will need to invest in quality tools. Plus the money you save by doing your own labour will pay for the tools. Breaking a screwdriver three or fours times over a lifetime means you could have had a Snap On or Mac. And it would not have broken leaving you stranded and needed a new tool. Just because a tool is expensive should not be the determining factor. What the tool is worth to you and how it will help you get the proper job done should