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I am starting my automotive mechanics courses next month. Matco is offering 14% APR payment plans. Mac is offering 9%. Mac says they are more available in town. Even though Mac is offering a cheaper payment plan, the sales rep didn't want to mention financing. Matco's sales reps mentioned the financing up front. Both reps are offering tool sets for $1700, plus or minus a few dollars. Anyone here have good/bad stories about these toolmakers? I will eventually move to motorcycle mechanics 10 years from now so that might play a factor too.
 

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I have mostly Snap on because that's the truck that came to the first motorcycle dealership I worked at back in the 80's when I started at 19. Over the years working at different shops also bought MAC. My boxes are all Craftsman. That being said, I have a mix of brands, and most likely, in time, you will prefer different brands for different tools. But, you can't go wrong with either one of those (Mac or Matco). Craftsman WAS good long ago, when they were made in USA. Now, they are made in Taiwan and far from the quality they were. Sockets and wrenches are sloppy fitting on nuts, etc compared to the other 3 truck brands. Best advice I could give ya is, try different brands and tools if you can before you buy them. Yes, the better brands are very expensive but, this is your profession, and being used all day, everyday, it is well worth it. For you, this is not just a perchase, it's an investment. They will last a lifetime. Not so for someone that doesn't count on them as much. It takes a while to realize, but there IS a difference. Snap on, Mac, Matco, and Proto are all top notch...;) I still use the same tools I started buying when I was 19, and I'm now 51. Good tools are all about quality, feel, fit, and being there when you need them. (For exchange of worn or broken, or in need of a special item) My tools, are my jewels. Your doing the right thing by asking. Always ask what, and why. Someone elses opinion or reasons, may or may not be important to you. Go to all the tool brand websites, and order their free catalogs. These were my bibles when I was starting my sets. One thing I've noticed since some aren't stamping the sizes of wrenches and sockets. These cheaper brands are now etching the sizes on them. They wear off in time, and no longer can read the sizes. Something to keep in mind if you buy etched tools. The better brands don't do that for that reason. It's sometimes the little stuff like that, that can make a difference.

Best of luck to ya...:)
 

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Here is a set of snap on wrenches that I saw in Port au Prince the other day. uploadfromtaptalk1408678170512.jpg

That's right. An 11 piece wrench set for 570 USD. That must be a huge mark-up though. I can't imagine that they're that expensive in the US.
 

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Yeah, that's way over priced. You could also find good deals on those top truck brand tools on ebay. Doesn't matter, you will still have the free exchange warranty for life of the tool. I happened to have 2 hammers exchanged about 2 months ago. The plastic handles cracked due to age, so I put them in my truck incase I saw a Snap on truck at a shop somewhere during my travels. Sure enough, in a few days, I saw a truck at a tire shop and while talking to the Snap on guy, I asked if would warranty some old hammers, he said, "Sure, come on in." So I grabbed the hammers and into the truck I went. Wow, I was in heaven...:) I haven't been in any tool truck since 1998. So when I handed hime my 2 hammers, he said they were older ones and he didn't have the same exact ones, but would give me the newer model replacements. "When did you get these?", he asked. I said, "back in 1982 or so." He said, Ok, no problem. So, that was easier than I thought. Walked out with 2 new hammers, and a new catalog. Since he is the local guy in my area, he said, "anytime you need something, just give me a call, and we can meet, or even stop at your house if I'm close that day. He was a very nice guy. I gotta say, afterbthat day, I've been thinking of how cool it would be if I could buy into a franchise, and become a Snap on dealer. But, with my poor credit now, and being disabled, it most likely will remain a dream, unless I can find a partner to go in with. Someone like me, or retired to split the work with, and both do it part time to have a full time business. I can picture the truck with my TW on the back....:D
 

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Very expensive to buy into. I checked into a few different business in late 80's and again mid 90's.
Would've should've could've .
 

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Snap-On, MAC, Matco, Cornwell. All are excellent, professional quality tools, though pricey. Visit pawn shops, flea markets and craigslist. Save a LOT!
Craftsman, Stanley, Kobalt (Lowes) and Rigid (Home Depot). These are good quality tools, perfect for home mechanics and generally ok for professional work. Good value for the money. Visit pawn shops, flea markets and craigslist. Save even MORE!

In my former career, I was a professional mechanic in the Motorcycle industry (about 10 years) and the automotive industry (about 15 years) and still twist wrenches (on my stuff). At one point or another, I had accounts with all the big 4 tool companies and acquired aboout $10,000 in tools.

RBM gave good advice, buy Craftsman (or other 2nd tier) for the bulk of your hand tools and buy specialty tools from the Snap-On, MAC, Matco, Cornwell (1st tier) manufacturers. At least as yo are getting going in your career. Because you will be buying a LOT of tools.

My best advice is to be frugal, but use common sense and get the right tool for the job. Always focus on doing the job right the first time. Stand behind your work. Doing that was how I won Pontiac Master Craftsman (twice), Oldsmobile Master Technician Elite (twice) and Oldsmobile Top Gun awards.

Congratulations on your upcomgin schooling and best wishes in your career. :)
 
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between those two brands I would go with mac .. the quality of the matco sockets are lacking .. equal to a craftsman socket with that being said over 90% of the tools I have in my tool box at the shop are snap on yes they are pricey but you cant beat the quality .. though some things I don't buy snap on here are some examples .. the best 1/2 in impact gun made is the ingersol rand 2135TI I have had 1 since it came out and still has tons of power over5-6 years later .. also the 1/4 in air ratchet I buy in a ingersol because I do a lot of timing belt jobs so I wear them out quickly I always have a complete set of gear wrenches they are great but they don't replace your normal snap on wrenches lastly as some of the others have mentioned ebay will get you the best deals just be informed as to what they cost new .. just don't fall into the trap to buy a tool box... a craftsman box will do you fine for the first few years


almost forgot a few things ..
screwdrivers only buy snap-on they are worth the price
3/8 air ratchet only buy snapon it is the strongest on the market .. but buy a new looking one (slightly used) on ebay and you will save 50%

I used to spend about $100 a week on the snap on truck these days I spend about $50 a week
 

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+1 on Igersol Rand. Best air tools made. Wish I hadn't sold my IR231.
 
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Ingersol Rand pneumatics are top-notch. I like Snap-On's little square 3/8 drive impact as it is low power and perfect for motorcycles. I prefer the feel of the old black square-handled screw and nut drivers to anything else. I also adore the old-school 3/8 drive hand impact because of the way it fits in my hand--it is the best tool ever for those soft, easily stripped engine side cover screws. New Craftsman are no better than the better line of Stanley at Walmart, about the same as Kobalt and Matco. For the most part my son's $$$ worth of Matco tools are collecting dust in my shop, while I have to go to the hotrod shop and steal my ancient Craftsman and Snap-On tools back when I need them.

4x4given is right about hitting the alternative sources. We have been hitting the going-out-of-business and estate sales snapping up the oldie but goodie Craftsman, Snap-On, and Ingersol Rand tools for pennies on the dollar. We bought a complete set of well cared for Craftsman mechanics tools in a rolling box with drawers on top for $188. Probably more than would be in that $1700 debt trap for which you're sounding dumb enough to sign your freedom away.

My motorcycle work area is U-shaped, lift in the middle, 2-foot wide tables on 3 sides, each side has a complete set of classic Craftsman hand tools except Snap-On screw and nut drivers, all on pegboard and laid out exactly the same. I can reach without looking and put my hand on exactly the tool I want. Drawers under the tables hold related specialty tools--one is full of tools for measuring length, bore, height, movement (dial indicators, rulers, calipers, etc.), another full of electrical test meters, lights, and beepers, another full of tire irons, weights, valves, etc., etc. We have 2 auto lifts, one single post and one 4-post with ramps, both set up the same way. Total of 9 sets equivalent in coverage to what you are about to pay $1700 for, better quality tools, and probably don't have much over $1700 in the entire shop. THINK!!!!!

If you care to pick up classic tools, be sure to engrave your name in every single piece, as any mechanic worth his salt will know what he is looking at and your tools will have a bad habit of running away. Trust no one. You have been warned.
 

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I have mostly Snap on because that's the truck that came to the first motorcycle dealership I worked at back in the 80's when I started at 19.
That sounds familiar. I also have mostly Snap-on because that's the truck that came to the first Yamaha dealership I worked at back in the 70's when I started at 15. [/QUOTE]

Anyway the other guy working there told me to buy a toolbox and buy tools every week when the guy came. I bought a new top box, a middle and then a used bottom. Over the years I bought what I needed from him and ended up with quite a collection. I also bought some Mac, Matco and some Cornwell but not much Sears until recently. I bought a few Sears screwdriver sets and small socket sets along with a few other items to have separate toolboxes for car, back room in house and the shed. It's hard to beat the 17pc screwdriver set for $19.99 for light use around the house.

For the OP, I would get a good tool box and start filling it up with the basic stuff first. I was never a fan of buying the big kits. Seemed like there was a bunch of stuff you'd never use. I bought specific smaller sets for the job I was doing and saved for special stuff. I remember buying a StahlWille 4 piece Metric 6-8-10-12mm set of broken stud extractors for $125 a long time ago. That was big donuts back then !!
 

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Everyone at Sears used Matco tools. That being said, about half of them were complete idiots (the "mechanics"), so take what you will from that. I just bought valve shim removal tools for my 99 4Runner from Matco. What can I say, they work and seem well made. Prices seemed reasonable compared to other sources.
 

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Qwerty: Spot on - the shop I worked at was a den of rotten thieves!
 

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Answer this question and then go searching. What do older guys wife's who left them with lots of good quality tools do with them after the husband is gone?

I have some mighty fine tools in my boxes and most of them have some other guys name on them! My wife will be forced to sell them for pennies on the dollar if I check out with little prior warning. Old tools that were good when they were new are just as good as new tools that are good and expensive!

I buy Craftsman, Snap On, Mac, Matco, Proto and lots of other nice tools at yard and estate sales all the time. Well made big tool boxes full of tools are usually a hot bargain if you know what good tools are. Call it a bundle and take it home.

GaryL
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I spoke to some mechanics at my local Toyota service shop and they said they have no preference on any tool brand. I called the sales reps from both Matco and Mac today hoping i could get check out a Matco or Mac toolbox in person. I left a measage but neither one called me back wtf. Ive seen a couple of deals on craigslist but i'm very interested in financing with matco or mac since i just ordered the parts for my TW engine rebuild and will be paying labor later. Also found out my car's shocks and struts afe worn out and will cost $600 in parts.
 

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My first choice is snap-on. So was the thief's that took mine evidently.

When fixing anything, the tool is the secret.
 

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I spoke to some mechanics at my local Toyota service shop and they said they have no preference on any tool brand. I called the sales reps from both Matco and Mac today hoping i could get check out a Matco or Mac toolbox in person. I left a measage but neither one called me back wtf. Ive seen a couple of deals on craigslist but i'm very interested in financing with matco or mac since i just ordered the parts for my TW engine rebuild and will be paying labor later. Also found out my car's shocks and struts afe worn out and will cost $600 in parts.
Just a thought here. I doubt any of these companies could do financing cheaper than your local bank or credit union. Financing is an excellent money maker for these companies so I would certainly shop and match the actual and real costs against other financial outlets. Even check with lenders if you own a home and can get an equity loan.

One other thing I always look for when I buy sockets and wrenches is how well they are marked for sizes. I own some sockets, new and old that had the size like 11MM so faintly marked it has worn off or is very hard to see. I highly prefer stamped or engraved over acid etched sizes on the sockets.

Tools are a major investment for those involved in the trades. I can buy and sell all the things I repair with my tools but the tools will be with me for a lifetime and will also be the last to go. Spend the money on the tools you will use every day and buy the very best you can find. It will pay off to buy high quality wrenches and sockets in the most common sizes and believe me when I tell you, you will need duplicates of many of the most common sizes. I would venture a guess that I have over a dozen 1/2 inch and 10mm wrenches in many different styles from open end to box and in 6 point and 12 configurations and some are thick and strong while others need to be thin to get between tight spots. You will find you don't just need a half inch wrench but you will need the right half inch wrench.

Best of luck to you in your new endeavors.

GaryL
 

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And forget about debt. You can't afford to keep your bike and car running, how are you going to make payments. Spend a little time going to estate auctions in farming country and you can come up with an awesome set of quality tools for the equivalent of a couple months payments. Seriously.

Took my 8-year old grandson to an estate auction yesterday to see kill time. Bought an old Craftsman box with a lift-out and a handle on top with a complete set of 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 sockets (12pt shallow and 6pt deep hex plus allen and torx), ratchets, breakers, extensions, swivels, adapters, 1/2inch hand impact, impact sockets, impact bits and adapter, speed handle, and 3 torque wrenches, all well oiled and not a speck of rust. All the small bits are on steal strips with handles. Yes, they are old, but new replacements would be lower quality. Price? $35. This is in no way unusual.

Also bought a $2800 commercial self-contained electrostatic spray gun with a paint pot for $40, and a 375 pound rated 16 foot fiberglass extension ladder, about $225 worth, for $15.

Invest a little effort in acquiring GOOD tools for GOOD prices--you won't regret it. You'll also find experienced mechanics don't often buy tools off trucks, they've learned from experience. As soon as you pay for those high dollar tools off the truck, they are no less used tools than what you get at an estate sale, they just cost 10 times as much.

Yes, I know, you don't like the nagging, but I really do care. See the big heart in my avatar? There's a reason for it.
 
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Get a part-time job at Sears Auto while you go to school. You get a 10% discount on tools for being an employee of Sears and another 20% for being a mechanic at the auto center. Then stock up on all the hand tools you can get, that way you have a back-up set for your pro-grade stuff while you wait for the truck to show up with your replacement of what ever you broke. Craftsman stuff is decent, and most of it is warranted for life.

You also need two years of shop experience before you can go for your ASE certs so why not get them while you are in school. And Sears will pay for your ASE tests and give a $100 bonus for every cert you get, but only one every 6 months.
 
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