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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


  1. So I'm not about to go out and buy a bunch of tools, I borrow unless I find I need it repetatively. If I do repeatedly need something I'll buy the item (I'm not a mooch). When I do, I try to buy the very best quality I can afford. Origin of manufacturing (not just company HQ) along with warranty are very important. I really want to buy North American products whenever possible, even if it costs more. Do you have any recommendation for the pro-sumer level tools? Craftsman vs Motomaster, etc?

  2. Hey Rixter..
    If you are a mechanic there is a rule, the first time you can borrow it but the second time you must buy it. Im not saying you must go out and buy all the tools you have used twice but it just so frustrating trying to do a job and not having the right tool. Of Course Snap On branded tools are made the USA while the Blue Point tools are typically offshore. The high end Mac again is made in the USA but there are some cheaper products that are offshore. As for more price friendly tools... Husky is very good for less items. The one problem I have had with husky is that you buy a tool and had a problem they were difficult with their warranties. NOW, there is no problem but they have CHEAPER items to replace the one you had a problem with. If a chrome socket broke they give you a new one but it is this cheap silver painted item. Clearly they are trying to save money with cheaper replacement tools which I was not impressed with.
    A lot of tradesmen including mechanics really like craftsman. there seems to be almost an Anti Expensive tool following with them. I like craftsman I just don't own many of their tools. Its really what you like. Go to KMS Tools, Lordco, UAP NAPA, Canadian tire, Home Depot, liquidators, ANYWHERE and check out the tools. Feel them in your hand, ask about warranties and prices. Its really up to you what you like. In general you get what you pay for as well.

  3. Word up - It's kind of on the down low but Kobalt Tools carried by Lowe's is made by Snap-On Tools in the good ole USA. Same snap-on warranty and about 20% cheaper than Craftsmen

    Tim Shackelford

  4. Hey Tim,
    Yes, I know Kobalt tools and know they are of high quality. We just don't see them very much in Canada unfortunately. Thanks for the comment Tim !

  5. Kobalt tools are not made by Snap On, only in the early 2000's were they marketed as made by SO, but were not the same tools. Kobalt is made by Danaher like most tools, including craftsman (except screwdrivers), Matco, gearwrench and even fluke; but I wouldn't judge a tool just by which conglomerate owns them.

    Although SO is my favorite tool maker, if you don't want to pay the inflated prices due to the truck service (for non-pro) mechanics) check out Behco (made by snap on), Beta tools, Stahlwille and Knipex who sell great tools but are significantly less than the truck brands (except for knipex is about the same).

    To Cal, do you have any recommendations on SO toolboxes, such as the KRA vs a KRL box and if they are worth the difference in price.

    1. they are made by jh Williams which is a subsidiary if snap on who uses danaher to make the tools

  6. Thanks for the comment Andrew,
    I use a KRA for work. I bought the KRA because it was on special as a limited colour. The drawers are a bit shallower than pretty much all the KRAs but it is a couple inches wider than the comparable KRL. It does not have the "super ball bearing" sliders for the drawers but so far I have kept my sliders clean and they have worked flawlessly. I have a complete tool set and none of the drawers have distorted and everything still feels like new. As a mechanic I have not seen the benefits of using a KRL box. As far as I know the only real big difference is the ball bearing sliders and the fact that KRAs are made in Canada and KRLs in the USA. One thing about Snap on boxes is the finish is EXTREMELY durable. You can throw the heaviest hammers and the metal will not dent. Throw screw drivers and pliers or whatever you got and the paint/powder coat does not scratch. First class finish. Plus is polishes by hand very well. Personally I can not justify the price because I have not seen anything that really could be improved on my KRA. The only reason mechanics upgrade their box is because they need a bigger one !
    By the way I know Kobalt tools are not made by Snap On

  7. all snap on tools are way over priced and rated. as for life time guarantee - good luck on that when you move on in life. Those broken fancy tools become junk, dealers will blow you off when replacement or repair is required. personal experience in los angeles, riverside, orange county with failed rachet wrenchs, screwdrivers, compression test kit (blue Point), the list goes on. Stick with craftsman tools!

  8. I have seen my Snap On dealer warranty 30 year old sockets that now belong to the son of the original mechanic. I have only good things to say about the Snap On dealers in Canada.

  9. I have an entire set of snap-on wrenches from 1/4 to 3/4, 1/4 extension set, sockets and everything has rust all over their finish. I haven't been using them because the aviation business has been slow so my tools sat in my box (never outside) but they're all rusted horribly!!! Will snap-on replace them? I'd bet no matter who I go to they'll give me a hard time!!! Is snap on what they say they are? I'll let you know once a dealer gets back to me.

  10. Some Snap On dealers / reps are definitely better than others. If you are a regular customer usually they are kind and would resolve issues like that quickly. I believe the Snap On warranty does cover the finish on their wrenches. If they are Blue Point the warranty is not as good however. If the rep does not cover the defects in the tools you can always contact the corporate hotline and customer support for an official answer on your wrench issue

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  12. As a 20 year experience tech I can say this the majority of my hand tools are craftsman and trust I have put them threw the paces. I can say this because I have had snap on tools to but they are way overrated craftsman will hold up just as good as snap on and in some cases even better I have sockets, ratchets and wrenches older then some on this page even but me some of those pro and industrial wrenches very nice wrenches hold up well

  13. I can't believe what I am reading in this article first off I have seen snap on wrenches with chrome peeling and cheaper wrenches hold up beter in that aspect if you read snap on warranty it's only good if you purchased off tool truck if you buy 2nd hand no warranty I have never broken any snap on tools that I have so I can not verify warranty issues personally, I do not think snap on tool that cost 50 percent more just because it says snap on makes it better, there are many examples where you can buy a tool with lifetime warranty that does the same job as the snap on tool. I think snap on cost is so high because the interest is built into the price and they can't have a model where the sell at many different prices. I am not a snap on hater I do like thier tools but think some are just way over priced, that said some of thier tools are worth the higher cost you just have to be smart check around and make the best financial decisions for you, and if you want your tools to be all snap on and that's how you want to spend your money that's fine its your money to spend and there is nothing wrong with that.

  14. LOL. I knkw this is old but holy hell, Scam On isn't MADE in the USA.. its made in China, Korea, Taiwan, etc.. it is only 'designed' in the USA lmao. Cant justify those outragous prices when 75% of the time they are another companies tool that they slap their name on, the other 25% you cant justify a 1000% mark up from which labor/material costed. I own 2 snap on tools and they will be my last. The pry bar because they dont bend, and a low current amp clamp that i got scammed on 300$+ on.. Amazon people. 100$ amp clamp lol, software/quality/internals are the same. Your literally paying 3x the price for a name to tell yourself u look cool.

  15. Snap Off is a rip-off. Automotive mechanics are almost amateurs if you compare with industrial technicians who work in oil, mining, mining equipment, platforms . Those guys has a $100k to $500k salary at year. (Cars mechanics get between 35k to 60k). They are in constant capacitation courses . I been an industrial tech for 25 years around the world and never NEVER meet any tech who use Snap off. The Professional tech use Proto, Williams, Nepros etc . Those brands are half the price and four times better than snap-rip off. Only ignorants poorly educated weekend warriors and automotive mechanics pay overprice amateur shinny tools and make rich the truck guy. Low IQ guys buy snap rip-off tools. they born poor and die poor. The truck guy born poor and die rich.