Best Socket Sets for Mechanics & DIY Car Maintenance

Whether you’re looking to modify your car or following up on routine maintenance, you’ll need the proper tools to get the job done. And some of the biggest staples in a mechanic’s toolbox are the sockets.

With socket sets, you’ll find that there are tons to choose from. And getting the wrong set can lead to hours of frustration, plenty of broken tools, and busted knuckles.

To help you out, this comprehensive guide takes you through the best socket sets on the market. But first, we’ll dive into the different types of socket sets and everything else you need to know so you can get the right set the first time.

What to Look for in a Socket Set

If you’re new to automotive mechanics and workshop projects, it can be a little overwhelming to find the right socket set for your needs. There are thousands of choices out there, but there’s only one right choice for you.

To make your search easier, we’ll break down some of the most important factors when it comes to picking out your socket set. Read through this and by the time you get to the reviews you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for.

Drive Size

This is the most critical factor to consider when picking a socket set. Your socket’s drive size will directly affect how much power you can put behind it and what size bolts the sockets will fit.

For most automotive applications, there are three main drive sizes to choose from:

  • ¼”
  • ⅜”
  • ½”
Socket set drive sizes

Quarter-inch drive ratchets and sockets are used for smaller applications like hose clamps, but sometimes you can make a ⅜” ratchet drive socket work for these too.

⅜” drive sockets are the most practical sockets for most automotive jobs. If you can only pick one drive socket set — you want a ⅜” drive set. However, these still won’t let you complete any job.

½” drive socket sets are the largest drive sockets that most mechanics need. You’ll see automotive mechanics using ½” drive sets for changing heavy car parts like brake calipers, wheels, or suspension components, and other tasks that require a little more torque on each bolt.

While ¾” drive ratchet sets exist, you’re unlikely to need them unless you’re a diesel mechanic working on large pieces of construction equipment — if you’re a DIY mechanic certainly won’t need them!

Number of Points

Another important factor that you need to consider when selecting a socket set is the number of points on each socket. There are two main options here — six-point sockets and twelve-point sockets.

Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Six-point sockets give you better grip — so if you have a rusted-on bolt, a six-point will provide you with the best chance of getting the bolt off without slipping.

The tradeoff is that six-point sockets can be harder to line up. That’s because each point needs to line up perfectly on the bolt to fit. Meanwhile, twelve-point sockets have twice as many points and double your chances of getting it to line up.

While this might not be a big issue for most jobs — if you’re trying to get a socket on a hard-to-reach bolt, a twelve-point socket can make things a lot easier.

Portability

Having an excellent socket set is nice — but having the ability to quickly find the right socket size and get the job done is the mark of a great mechanic. That’s where a lot of these kits excel.

Portable socket set

Not only does this save you a ton of frustration and time, but it also lets you throw your tools in the back of your car or truck without worrying about losing a socket as you drive.

Everything stays right where it belongs — that way, when you need it you can finish the job and move on.

Types of Socket Sets

Not only are there different factors that go into the construction of each socket — but there are also different types of sockets to choose from.

We’ll go over the six most common socket types here. That way, you know exactly what you need and what you’re looking for.

Impact

If you’re using air tools you can’t just use a regular socket. Instead, you’ll need an impact socket to get the job done.

Impact sockets are thicker than regular sockets, which gives them the added durability they need to withstand the force of an impact gun. While you can get a standard socket to fit on an impact gun, you risk it blowing up while you’re using it — which can be incredibly dangerous.

You might think that you should invest in impact sockets for everything, but there are two main drawbacks. First, they’re more expensive than regular sockets. Second, they’re thicker than regular sockets.

While that helps them hold up to impact guns, it sometimes prevents them from fitting into the area you need to use them.

Mechanic using impact gun and socket on a car wheel
Mid adult mechanic servicing car tire with impact gun in garage

Manual

Manual sockets, also known as non-impact or regular sockets, are run-of-the-mill sockets and what 99 percent of DIY mechanics use. Moreover, professional mechanics also use a non-impact socket for most jobs.

Manual impact sockets are cheaper than their impact counterparts and they’re thinner, which allows them to fit into tighter spaces.

Imperial

Imperial sockets, also known as standard or SAE sockets, refer to sockets that use the standard measurement system. These measurements are in inches and they go up ¹⁄₁₆” of an inch at a time. For instance, you’ll have ¼”, ⁵⁄₁₆”, and ⅜”.

When looking for a socket set, you’ll need imperial sockets as there are bolts on every vehicle that use standard measurements.

Metric

Metric sockets use the metric system when determining their sizing. They increase in size 1mm at a time — except if you’re using smaller socket sizes. At that point, you get into half and quarter-mm sizes.

While it would be convenient if a vehicle either used standard or metric measurements, the truth is that most use both. That’s why it’s essential to have both a metric and standard socket set when you’re looking to complete repairs.

Torx

DIY home mechanic using Torx bit and socket wrench

Torx bit sockets are an entirely different style of socket — although they do fit on regular ratchets. Instead of metric or standard units, they have a unique star-like design.

If your vehicle requires Torx bits, then neither metric nor imperial sockets will get the job done.

However, not every vehicle uses Torx bits. Take a look under the hood and see if your vehicle uses Torx bits. If it does, you’ll need to invest in a socket set.

Pass-Through

Pass-through sockets are an excellent workaround for hard-to-reach bolts. They eliminate the need for deep sockets by allowing the stud to completely pass through the socket.

Pass-through sockets require a unique ratchet, as the ratchet fits around the entire socket and allows the stud to push through. While these sockets are useful, they do take up a lot of space which can be a bummer when you’re trying to get to hard-to-reach places.

Pass through socket and wrench

Best Socket Sets for Car Maintenance

Now that you know a little bit about sockets, you’re ready to pick out the right socket set for all your automotive needs.

Whether you’re looking to save a few bucks or want to build up your own professional toolkit, you’ll find just the right socket set below.

Budget-Friendly Socket Sets

Who says you need to spend a ton of money to get high-quality tools? If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of automotive maintenance, a beginner socket set will serve you just fine.

Below are some of the best socket sets for DIY mechanics and the best part is that they’re all affordably priced.

Stanley 30 Piece

Stanley 30 Piece socket set

Manufacturer: Stanley
Part Number: 92-804
Number of Pieces: 30
Warranty: 2-years limited
Buy On: Amazon

If you’re on the hunt for a smaller socket set and don’t want to spend a ton of cash, this ¼” set by Stanley has what you need. It comes with the necessary ratchet, a universal joint, a ¼” extension bar, and 27 sockets that come in both standard and metric units.

While a ¼” drive socket set isn’t enough to complete your maintenance set, it’s a great starting point for smaller jobs or an addition to your existing tool collection. The two-year warranty is a great perk too — especially for a socket set in this price range.

Finally, it comes in a portable travel case that keeps all your sockets right where they belong — for easy access when you’re ready to use them.

WORKPRO 39 Piece

WORKPRO 39 piece socket set

Manufacturer: WORKPRO
Part Number: W003067A
Number of Pieces: 39
Warranty: 1-year limited
Buy On: Amazon

If you’re looking for a low-priced starter set, this WORKPRO 39-piece socket set is an outstanding choice. Not only does it offer both metric and imperial ⅜” drive sockets, but it also comes with a few ¼” drive sockets and a small ⅜” drive extension bar.

Aside from this, it comes with a carrying case and a 1-year warranty. For a socket set at this price point, it’s a definite bargain. Just don’t think that you’ll get enough sockets to rebuild your engine either.

Neiko 60 Piece Torx Kit

Manufacturer: Neiko
Part Number: 10083A
Number of Pieces: 60
Warranty: 30-days
Buy On: Amazon

If your vehicle has Torx bolts, this socket set comes with every size Torx bit that you’ll need. These Torx bits come in ¼”, ⅜”, and ½” drive, but the set doesn’t come with the necessary ratchets.

Moreover, the 30-day warranty is decent but nothing to write home about. Chances are if you run into problems or break a socket you’ll be on your own to replace it. But for a complete Torx bit socket set, it’s still affordably priced.

DeWalt 34 Piece

DeWalt 34 Piece socket set

Manufacturer: DeWalt
Part Number: DWMT73804
Number of Pieces: 34
Warranty: Lifetime
Buy On: Amazon

Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean that you need to get a no-name brand. These DeWalt ⅜” drive sockets are affordably priced and have a lifetime warranty — giving you the best of both worlds.

While it might not boast the most number of pieces, it’s a great starter kit and even comes with a few attachment pieces like a step-down converter and an extension bar.

Also, its easy-access carrying case makes this the perfect option to throw in the back of your car for roadside emergencies.

URGENEX Universal Set

URGENEX Universal Socket Set

Manufacturer: URGENEX
Part Number: YQ17-DE2-101
Number of Pieces: 4
Warranty: 30-days
Buy On: Amazon

Universal sockets are a unique option for those that don’t want a full socket set or can’t afford one. Just know that while universal sockets are convenient, you can’t get a bunch of torque with them. So if the bolt or nut is stuck on there, you won’t be able to get it off with a universal socket.

This Universal socket comes with a ⅜” and ¼” drive socket and two wrench adapters. You don’t get a ratchet, but overall it’s a low-priced option to give you a wide array of sockets.

EPAuto 40 Piece

Manufacturer: EPAuto
Part Number: ST-003-1
Number of Pieces: 40
Warranty: 30-days
Buy On: Amazon

Another incredibly affordable option for a ¼” and ⅜” drive ratchet set is this EPAuto 40-piece set. While it doesn’t come in a wide array of sizes, it’s the perfect starter kit to complete basic car jobs.

The carry case is both sturdy and compact with all the sockets fitting in perfectly. Since the pieces in this set are corrosion-resistance and crafted from high-quality chrome vanadium steel, you won’t have to worry about the 30-day warranty.

DEKOPRO 23 Piece

DEKOPRO 23 Piece ratchet set

Manufacturer: DEKOPRO
Part Number: TT23
Number of Pieces: 23
Warranty: 30-days
Buy On: Amazon

If you’re looking for a versatile and affordable impact socket set, this DEKOPRO set is what you want. For starters, it’s a powerful ½” drive set, and it even comes with a ½” drive ratchet.

There are both metric and standard sockets in this kit and it comes with a convenient carrying case. Keep in mind that these sockets only come with a 30-day warranty, but for the price point — it’s a steal.

TEKTON 14 Piece

TEKTON 14 piece impact socket set

Manufacturer: TEKTON
Part Number: 4880
Number of Pieces: 14
Warranty: Lifetime
Buy On: Amazon

While this might not be the largest socket set out there, it’s still a stellar choice if you’re looking for an affordable set of ½” drive impact sockets.

For starters, the whole set comes with a lifetime warranty, so you’ll never have to worry about replacing it. However, you’ll have to pick between a metric or standard set — or spend a little more to get both.

Steelhead 52 Piece

Manufacturer: Steelhead
Part Number: SH-01-MTS-C52-0-1
Number of Pieces: 52
Warranty: 30-days
Buy On: Amazon

This Steelhead socket set is a great starter kit for an amazingly low price. It’s got 48 different socket sizes for both metric and standard, but it has two extension bars, a universal joint, and a ratchet.

Even better, it comes with a carrying case and both six-point and twelve-point sockets. It’s a great all-rounder kit for a DIY mechanic or to simply store in the back of your car.

Amazon Basics 123 Piece

Manufacturer: Amazon Basics
Part Number: AMZ1703
Number of Pieces: 123 – 201
Warranty: 1-year
Buy On: Amazon

While we highlighted the 123-piece tool set here, Amazon Basics offers three different sized kits with 123, 145, and 201 piece options. This is the perfect way to jumpstart your toolbox without spending a ton of cash.

Even better, all Amazon Basics products come with a standard 1-year warranty, which means you have plenty of time to test your tools and make sure they’ll last.

Professional Grade Socket Sets

If you’re looking for something a little more durable or complete, we’ve got you covered. While the tools above will get the job done for the average DIYer, you’ll need something a little more durable and complete for a professional setting.

While these tool sets might cost a little more upfront — they can handle a lot more and have even more sizes and accessories for you to choose from. That’s exactly what makes them the best socket sets for mechanics.

KBOISHA 87 Piece

KBOISHA 87 Piece impact socket set

Manufacturer: KBOISHA
Part Number: WQ018-87
Number of Pieces: 87
Warranty: 1-year
Buy On: Amazon

If you happen to have an impact gun and the necessary air compressor, these KBOISHA ⅜” drive impact sockets are an outstanding choice. KBISOHA offers them for an extremely affordable price, and they even come with a carrying case and multiple impact extensions you can use too.

While KBOISHA might not be the biggest name in the industry, the one-year warranty gives you a little peace of mind that your sockets are going to last.

Sunex 3580 80 Piece

Sunex 3850 impact socket set for mechanics

Manufacturer: Sunex
Part Number: 3580
Number of Pieces: 80
Warranty: 1-year
Buy On: Amazon

This ⅜” drive Sunex impact socket kit might be a bit more on the expensive side, but it comes with everything you could possibly need for your next job. It includes 74 different impact sockets along with four extension bars and a universal joint.

Just as important, it comes with a carrying case that has a spot for each socket, so it’s easier than ever to find what you need and get the job done. Please note that this kit does not come with a ratchet.

Williams 47 Piece

Williams 47 piece professional socket and drive set

Manufacturer: Williams
Part Number: 50666
Number of Pieces: 47
Warranty: Lifetime
Buy On: Amazon

While this Williams 47-piece socket and ratchet set made it onto our professional list, it’s one of the more affordable options here. Not only do you get a high-quality set without breaking the bank, but it also comes with a lifetime warranty on all of the tools, so it’ll be the last set you need to purchase.

This set comes with both deep and shallow sockets in addition to having both standard and metric measurements. You’ll even find two extension bars, a ratchet, a universal joint — all tucked into a convenient carrying case.

Craftsman 12 Piece Torx Set

Craftsman 12 Piece Torx bit socket set

Manufacturer: Craftsman
Part Number: CMMT49293
Number of Pieces: 12
Warranty: Lifetime
Buy On: Amazon

Craftsman is one of the top names in the tool industry which means that you know you’re getting reliable tools — even if you have to spend a little more to get them. This Craftsman kit is a 12-piece Torx Bit socket set, which is more than enough for most automotive applications.

While you get a lifetime warranty with these tools, they don’t come with a traveling case or a ratchet. If you already have a toolbox, that’s no big deal, but it can be a bit of a headache if you don’t.

GearWrench 57 Piece

Manufacturer: GearWrench
Part Number: 80550
Number of Pieces: 57
Warranty: Lifetime
Buy On: Amazon

Another top-notch yet affordable choice is this GearWrench 57 piece ratchet and socket set. Inside the kit you’ll find a regular and stubby ratchet, as well as deep and shallow sockets. It features a sturdy carrying case in addition to two extension bars and a universal socket.

All of the tools come with a dependable lifetime warranty which makes this one of the better deals out there. Overall, it’s a great choice if you’re looking to get a ⅜” drive ratchet set.

Craftsman 48 Piece

Craftsman 48 piece heavy duty deep impact socket set

Manufacturer: Craftsman
Part Number: CMMT16548
Number of Pieces: 48
Warranty: Lifetime
Buy On: Amazon

Another epic socket set by Craftsman, this one is probably the best impact socket set that you can get your hands on. While it might not be the most affordable kit out there, and it doesn’t come with a carrying case, you still get a lifetime warranty and top-notch craftsmanship.

This kit includes both metric and standard sockets in addition to having both shallow and deep sockets. It’s a top-notch impact socket kit, and probably the last one you’ll need to buy.

Stanley 201 Piece

Stanley 201 piece socket set for mechanics

Manufacturer: Stanley
Part Number: STMT71654
Number of Pieces: 201
Warranty: Lifetime
Buy On: Amazon

If you’re looking for a comprehensive socket set with everything you need to complete most jobs, this kit from Stanley is the perfect pick. Not only does it have ¼”, ⅜”, and ½” drive sockets and ratchets, but it also has wrenches, specialty bits, a spark plug socket, and more.

With all these tools, you might expect a price tag through the roof, but it’s quite the opposite.

What’s even better is that all the tools come with a lifetime warranty, and the entire kit comes with a convenient carrying case.

Neiko 65 Piece

Neiko 65 piece impact socket set

Manufacturer: Neiko
Part Number: 02448A
Number of Pieces: 65
Warranty: 30-day
Buy On: Amazon

When it comes to premium socket sets, this 65-piece impact socket set from Neiko might not be the most comprehensive, but it surely doesn’t disappoint either.

To begin with, it includes a ratchet, four extension bars, and two universal joints. Those tools join both the deep and shallow impact sockets making this an extremely versatile kit.

However, this kit is a bit more on the expensive side, and you only get a 30-day warranty with it which leaves more to be desired.

Craftsman 135 Piece

Craftsman 135 piece automotive tool set

Manufacturer: Craftsman
Part Number: CMMT12024
Number of Pieces: 135
Warranty: Lifetime
Buy On: Amazon

If you’re looking for a comprehensive tool set complete with wrenches, sockets and more, look no further. Designed by Craftsman, this tool kit comes with a ¼”, ⅜”, and ½” drive ratchet and sockets. But that’s not all.

It also has eight combination wrenches, 34 specialty tools, and one convenient carrying case.

Overall, it’s a 135-piece masterpiece that comes with everything an aspiring mechanic needs to get started, and it’s not nearly as expensive as you might think. And of course, it still comes with Craftsman’s dependable lifetime warranty.

SK Tools 49 Piece

SK Tools 49 piece SAE and metric socket set and ratchet driver

Manufacturer: SK Tools
Part Number: 94549
Number of Pieces: 49
Warranty: Lifetime
Buy On: Amazon

Crafted by SK Professional Tools, this 49-piece socket set proves that you don’t need a lot of pieces to get the job done. Not only do you get both deep and shallow sockets, but the entire kit is protected with a lifetime warranty.

While the price is a little on the higher side, having everything you need in one compact space is a huge perk.

Our Favorite Car Socket Sets

Sometimes you just need a quick recommendation from a trusted source so you can add the best kit to your cart and move on with your day.

These are the best socket sets for car maintenance that we found, and no matter which set you go with, you won’t be left disappointed.

Best Value for Money: Amazon Basics 123 Piece

If you’re looking for the best value socket set that comes with everything you need, Amazon Basics delivers. Not only do you get a top-notch set, but you also get a 1-year warranty.

Best Professional Grade Socket Set: SK Professional Tools 49 Piece

If you’re a mechanic looking for the best socket set out there, you’ll probably choose this reliable and compact kit. Crafted by one of the best socket brands out there, this kit even comes with a lifetime warranty.

Best Overall: Stanley 201 Piece

This 201-piece tool set comes with everything you need to get started on some of the toughest jobs. Not only does it have great tools, but it has the best socket organizer of any of the socket sets that we reviewed.

Did you like what you read here, or do you have any questions about what socket set you need? Leave a comment below or check out some of the other great content!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *