We all know that guy in the shop. You know, the guy with $30,000’ worth of tools and a tool chest with pneumatic wheels. A monster set. Not the guy to borrow a tool from. So do you really need all that to be a respected diesel tech?
The monster tool chest guy can intimidate a new mechanic. Maybe you’re just starting and thinking, how will I ever afford all those tools? To beat all, how could I afford Snap-on tools, period!
Are Snap-On tools worth the price? Not really. But it does depend on the specific tool you are looking to buy. I would say that there are great tools out there for less. It really does come down to how much you are willing to spend and if you want to pay for the convenience.
Let’s dive in a little deeper here and talk about it. I want to discuss Price, Quality, Prestige 🙄, Logic, Benefits, and drawbacks. So, hang in there with me, and we will look at it all and make a wise decision.
3 excellent articles on this website if you are in the market for snap-on alternatives.
- The Tool Guide For Diesel Mechanics
- Best 10 Ratchets For The Professional Mechanic And Buyers Guide
- 6 Best Pro Mechanics Tool Chests For Under $2,000
This is where Snap-on and I part ways. I cannot support their pricing structure. I understand that everyone has to make a living and the Snap-On guy has a family but, I will tell you he is making more than your mechanics salary.
Not everything Snap-On tools ever made is overpriced. I think some things can make your job easier that is not priced into the atmosphere. The point I am making is that there are acceptable alternatives that can be purchased at a much lower-priced and you can have a lot of success with them.
When I first started as a mechanic trainee, I went down to Home Depot and bought a set of Husky Professional mechanics tools. It was a large set. It included metric and standard sockets, wrenches, and 6 and 12 points. It was a very extensive set.
I am not going to bash Snap-on tools if you came here for that, sorry 🙇. Because they do not make bad tools, they make great tools. I have some specific tools that are Snap-on because of the quality and the length of service I get or just the convenience of replacement.
The problem I have is based solely on price. Return on investment is very important when you make a mechanics’ salary and the amount they ask for these tools. For what you pay for Snap-On, they should literally last forever, and they should replace them without any questions.
That title makes me sick 🤮. COME ON! This is so ridiculous. I have heard Snap-On guys try to sell to new guys by saying that “when you own Snap-On tools, you are taken more seriously, and you can get a job because they know you are a professional. “
This is a joke. And it’s not a funny one. Some of the best mechanics I ever knew worked out of Roll Carts like these. The box does not make the mechanic. The mechanic makes the mechanic. If you have the passion and a good attitude, you will get good jobs and respect your peer techs.
Techs with more experience are skeptical anytime a new guy comes in, and it almost becomes a running joke how much the Snap-On guy has taken people for over the years. You don’t need the most expensive tools to be a good mechanic or prove anything to someone else.
You need to be a good mechanic. Yes, buy tools. Don’t borrow everything. You will make people mad quickly. But the brand won’t matter unless they are total crap. Use common sense here.
I’m not saying buy you ratchets from harbor freight. That’s a terrible idea, and you will hate them. But you can buy the wrenches above 2” there. Look on Amazon, eBay, yard sales. Be smart.
The rolling Rent-A-Center
I was talking with some friends of mine, and we began to talk about tools. All of these guys had over 10 years working on diesels. We talked about the tool regret you have when your first break in and get a job.
You think you need everything all at once. So, you get a truck account. Heck! Get a couple. And there you are 5 years from there, still making weekly payments.
The Snap-On franchise really capitalizes on the poor the same way Rent-A-Center does. I have never met a guy with credit so bad he couldn’t get approved on the Snap-On truck.
They sell tools the same way Rent-A-Center sells TVs. By the week. This is very telling about their business model. I mean, after all, that weekly payment amount doesn’t sound that bad, right?
I mean, $60 bucks a week sounds a lot better than $240 a month. They make overpaying easy. You sign up and run that card every Friday. This is not a good financial decision for anyone.
For that guy who is saying, “yeah, but john, there is no interest” Of course, there is no interest! They overcharge you, to begin with. There are tools on the truck that are literally 300% more expensive than a Kobalt, Husky, Craftsman, even Cornwell, Mac, or Matco.
In case you are wondering. I don’t suggest any truck tools other than those listed here and the ones I get cheap at a yard sale.
- Snap-On sockets are shallower than most other brands making them handier for accessing the tighter spots that we all get into constantly as diesel mechanics.
- The Flank Drive Plus wrenches do not slip very easily. They will slip with enough force, but they hold up a little longer. Other bands have imitated this with success, so you don’t have to buy these for that benefit. I will mention that this set is costly. Check the price on Amazon here. Remember, those are not off the truck, but I find the price to be similar.
- Great line wrenches. If you don’t know what a line wrench is, you are missing out. They are so nice when removing lines and fittings. Definitely a good investment for the professional mechanic. While I have used these a while, I have also found GearWrench to be fantastic as well. They make a great set, and they actually have flex heads. Check them out!
- Something I usually recommend buying from Snap-On in their drill bits and punches. While they are still very expensive than others, they will usually replace them when they get worn down.
I say that with a grain of salt 🧂because the Snap-On guy is not always happy to replace your stuff. Especially when you didn’t buy it from him originally, I don’t think that this is Snap On policy, but they are pretty difficult to deal with. Like I said, depending on you.
But this is cool because they are literally made to wear. I mean, how long does a drill but last if you use it often? If they break, the driver (if he is cool) will pop you out a new one.
- They come to you. This is a big deal for guys who work long hours and is usually why guys buy their tools anyway. They come right up to the shop. You don’t have to make a trip to Lowes or Home Depot to get a replacement.
This is also not always the case as well. Some companies will make you mail the broken or worn part to them, and they ship you a new one. That is what Husky did to me. Stanley actually owns them. (go figure) and they won’t always replace your tool down at your local Home Depot.
I have not found that to be the case with Loews. I have never been denied a replacement there. They are always helpful and allow me to get a direct replacement.
- The Tools man. You are forever tied to your tool, man. Sometimes that’s ok, and sometimes it’s not. You can only buy Snap-On from that guy unless you drive a town over and catch the other guy.
This what’s is great about the internet. You can find some great deals out there. But try to get that tool replaced you bought on the internet. Your tool guy will not be happy.
I have had one ask me where I got it and tell me they only replace tools sold on the truck. Wow, right? Snap-On is Snap-On, right? There are tons of forums out there where you can see the same.
Maybe your guy is cool, and you don’t have these worries, right? Well, if he sells his route, guess what: new guy, new rules. So, consider this before making a big purchase.
- The price obviously is a drawback. If you can buy 4 GearWrench ratchets for what one Snap-On cost, I have a hard time making sense of that, especially since almost all mechanic tool companies have lifetime replacement warranties.
We all work to support families and plan for our future, not pad Snap-On dudes’ kids’ college fund. So, we need to be smart. Yes, buy that tool that helps make your job easier but, don’t pay 3x what it’s worth.
- They do not replace your ratchet or screwdriver. They rebuild them. This may be me being a little nit-picky but, rebuilt is not a replacement. When I have needed new GrearWrench or Kobalt ratchets, I just took them in and got a new one.
- In my experience, their screwdrivers do not last that long. I also might mention that I really don’t like that they knock out the end and replace it when you have a broken one.
Sometimes the handles wear down, and you need a whole new one. You will find it difficult to get that replacement in my experience. 5. Only certain tools are still made in the USA source. This may or may not be important to you, but they like to give the air that all their tools are still made in the USA, but only certain tools are still made here.
There are so many great options for tools out there today. You can pick a price point and most likely find decent tools. When you use your tools for a living, you need to find the right ones for you. With that said, you don’t have to buy Snap-On to get professional quality tools, and they will last. Look around and try different brands. Suppose you have to have Snap-On shop online and look for yard sales and swap meets. Keep wrenchen.