22 More Do's and Don'ts of Harbor Freight Tools
Ah, yes. That coupon book made its way into your mailbox again, and you’re back at Harbor Freight Tools picking up a few things for the the shop or garage. You may have already seen our first article, 27 Do’s and Don’ts of Harbor Freight Tools, but we went back to bring you more. Our latest list of items consists of 11 tools every shade-tree mechanic needs, and 11 tools to you might want to pick up somewhere else.
1. 12 Outlet Power Supply Strip
Organization is never a bad thing. These power strips make plugging in things along a work bench easy, and are cheap enough to line multiple walls with.
2. Wheel Chocks
Safety is always key when working under any vehicle, and using real wheel chocks (not a block or 2x4) is a much safer way to keep a vehicle from rolling away. We recommend everyone grab a set of these.
3. Heavy Duty Booster Cables
There isn’t much technology to jumper cables, but we’ve found some of the cheaper ones to break at the clamps when tangled for too long. These, however, have held up to years of abuse for us, and seem to always get the job done.
4. Ball Joint Separator
Again, blunt objects such as this U-joint separator fork seem to always be winners at Harbor Freight Tools. Never bad to have one more of these laying around.
5. Step Bits
With how expensive these can be at other home improvement stores, you’d think step bits from Harbor Freight wouldn’t hold up, but you’d be wrong. We’ve used these bits for all kinds of projects in the garage and home, and they seem to work just fine, at half the cost of the name brand stuff.
6. Ratchet Straps
We here at Driving Line are firm believers that one can never own too many ratchet straps. With literally infinite possibilities for use, these straps have held everything from a new fridge in the bed of a pickup to an entire steering arm that sheared off the frame during an off-road trip through the desert. Get yourself more of them.
7. Infrared Thermometer
Although infrared thermometers are getting cheaper overall, these ones from Harbor Freight seem to read dead on to the name brand ones, and are a fraction of the cost.
8. Engine Hoist
We all have a buddy with one of these, and chances are, it’s from Harbor Freight Tools. Anyone who’s ever done an engine swap knows the importance of a good hoist, and Harbor Freight actually makes one of the best ones we’ve used. With foldable legs and heavy duty casters, this hoist is likely the last one you’ll ever need.
9. Microfiber Towels
Who doesn’t need more of these? They are a great value, even against the packs you can get at the big box stores.
10. Predator 2000 Watt Generator
Whether it’s for emergencies only, or will see frequent use, a quiet, 2000 watt generator is fantastic piece of equipment to own. Great for camping, this Predator generator is on par with its Yamaha and Honda counterparts, at less than half the cost.
11. Recovery Strap
Normally we don’t recommend buying items like this from Harbor Freight, but after years and years of use and abuse pulling off-road trucks out of tight situations, we can say with confidence at the Harbor Freight tow strap might just be the last tow strap you’ll ever need.
1. Disposable Gloves
Tear, replace, repeat. This is the typical process with these nitrile gloves. Although some of the heavy duty ones can hold up to more use, you’ll find yourself mostly dissatisfied with these gloves.
2. Vise With Anvil
It’s all in the metal. Save your pennies for a name brand vise, because the jaw on this one tends to just snap off when tightening down on something.
3. Roller Seat
Although the seat itself is pretty good, you’ll spend more time replacing the casters than actually using it.
4. Oil Drain Pan
Not all drain pans are made equal. The plastic walls on this pan are so thin, warm oil will literally begin to leak out if it creases anywhere. Nobody wants to deal with that kind of mess.
5. Tin Snips
Another example of cheap material, these tin snips can often break the tip of the blade off during regular use.
6. Jump Starter
Do yourself a favor and buy another one of these with better reviews. Charging the unit is a nightmare, and even if it does charge, good luck getting it to hold that charge long enough until you need to use the jumper again.
7. Collapsable Four-Way Lug Wrench
Great idea, poor execution. This four-way lug wrench came in handy a handful of times, but after about it’s fourth use, one of the folding sides snapped off, soon followed by the other side.
8. Tap and Die Kit
Although these might work on plastic screws, they’ll likely break on steel hardware. The metal used in the dies is too soft to cut threads, and the tap handles are susceptible to breaking off.
9. Rotary Tool
Just go buy a Dremel. Many have reported these under $10 units to be dead on arrival, or only getting a few uses out of them before they stop working.
10. Winch Puller (Come-a-Long)
Clunky, cheap and sometimes scary, these winch pullers or “come-a-longs” should be a trusted piece of equipment. Instead, the Harbor Freight models often end their lives in the returns bin. Don’t waste your time.
11. Heat Gun
It’s a roll of the dice. You might get one that works fine, or one that blows a puff of smoke before dying, or one that simply never turns on.
We hope this guide (and our first one) helps you make some better choices next time that tasty coupon book shows up in the mail and you find yourself inside a Harbor Freight Tools store. If you have any recommendations of your own, drop them in the comments below.