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Are Snap-on Tools Worth the Investment? Pro Mechanic says Yes

If you have spent any time looking for new tools, you have no doubt come across the Snap-on name. The brand has built a reputation as one of the highest-quality tool manufacturers. They, however, command such a high price that you might ask yourself, are Snap-on tools good?

Snap-on is a premium-grade tool used in mechanical workshops by many professional mechanics. Snap-on is an excellent tool and one of the few brands still manufacturing their products in the United States. Although expensive, the company offers a lifetime warranty on its products.

Snap-on tools in a box

If you use tools daily, then it is a worthwhile investment, especially with their lifetime warranty. However, those who only occasionally have to use tools might not see the value unless they are the type to buy things for life.

I’m John Cunningham, a Red seal qualified and experienced auto technician, and in this post, we’ll cover the following:

I love Snap-on tools; my father (also a mechanic) introduced me to them many years ago. He’d always say that buying the best tools may look expensive, but they’re the cheapest option in the long run.

BMW workshop

After a few years of wrenching in a busy shop, you understand the value of well-designed, premium performance tools.

Snap-On Tools History

Finding its roots in the early days of the automobile, Snap-on was started in 1920 by coworkers Joseph Johnson and William Seidemann. The two spent weeks handcrafting an interchangeable toolset featuring only five handles and ten sockets.

This interchangeability of sockets is where the name “Snap-on” originated. Thanks to this innovative design, the work of fifty wrenches could now be done with one smaller set. The idea would quickly catch on, and the two would open a manufacturing facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, just a few months later.

Since then, Snap-on tools have been on hand for many of the world’s important engineering feats. Their quality would extend their influence outside the automotive sphere and into aviation and railroads. The brand would serve as the preferred tool supplier to the US during World War II.

Many innovations would take place during this time, but most importantly, the US would increase the specification requirements of these tools. This led to the military authorizing the purchase of nickel alloy steel which would eventually become a Snap-on standard.

Following the war’s end, Snap-on would consolidate all of its innovations and make them available to the general public. Snap-on provides tools or develops new ones for the likes of the Navy and NASA. Snap-on would even go on to be the on-hand tool of choice for repairing the lunar rover and Space Shuttle.


Snap-on owns a ton of top-performing brands, all designed for professionals.

A century later, Snap-on tools are still one of the most respected tool manufacturers in the world.

Where to Buy Snap-On Tools

You cannot simply go into your local auto parts store and find Snap-on tools. Since the tools are meant for working professionals, there is no need for them to be stocked where the average Joe would go shopping. Snap-on’s higher price also makes them a hard sell when stocked next to less expensive alternatives.

Instead, Snap-on functions with a more novel form of selling their tools that came about after the end of World War II. Snap-on offers franchising opportunities through their van-based mobile stores, resulting from the belief that customers shouldn’t be wasting their time traveling to a store.

So, approximately once a week, a van stops at different mechanic shops and offers the full range of Snap-on tools. Customers can pay for their tools weekly when bought through the van, allowing for a smaller upfront cost.

However, if you are not a mechanic yourself, this is a troublesome way to try and obtain Snap-on tools. Thankfully, Snap-on also has an online store with its full range of tools available. For those looking for a good deal, you can also reliably find very usable sets of tools on sites such as eBay.

Thanks to their longevity, you should still be able to squeeze out many years, even from an abused set of wrenches. Do keep in mind, however, that you may be unable to use the warranty if you were to purchase a used toolset.

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Snap-On Tools Warranty

To back up the quality of their products, Snap-on offers a lifetime warranty on their hand tools, such as their wrenches and screwdrivers. There are two different ways to get your tools replaced or fixed.

The first is to contact Snap-on themselves and provide your proof of purchase and other information so that you can ship them the product. The terms in the warranty agreement state that the warranty only applies to the original customer. This content is owned by moc.sotuaytsur.

This means a second-hand eBay set might not allow you to use the warranty. However, stories do exist where some individuals have bypassed the proof of purchase requirement, so it wouldn’t hurt to try, even with a used set.

With that in mind, if you can visit a mobile store, you might be able to save yourself a potential headache. A large part of the appeal of Snap-on tools is their robustness. You may never have to buy replacement tools, these tools are for life.

My experience with Snap-on has always been first class, I’ve rarely needed to return a tool for repairs, but when I needed to, it was no questions asked; the tool was repaired or replaced.

My father, although retired still uses his Snap-on tools, some of which were my grandfather’s. I love using his old tools; it’s a sentimental thing, often wonder if these old tools could talk.

Snap-On Tools Products

While Snap-on has grown its product lineup considerably since its inception, its bread and butter are still its hand tools. As such, Snap-on also produces regular wrenches with their Flank Drive Plus design for better grip on fasteners.

The tool that most will gravitate towards from the Snap-on lineup is their ratchet set. In particular, the low-profile version allows for use in even the tightest of spaces. Additionally, its 80-tooth gear allows for less arc to engage the next tooth, further decreasing the need for a large amount of workspace. If there is one tool to get from the Snap-on line, it’s probably this one.

Aside from that, many customers have also praised Snap-on pliers and screwdriver sets as well. The solid lifetime warranty allows these tools to be heavily used without much worry.

Snap-on tool box in red

Stepping outside the scope of hand tools, Snap-on also provides tool storage and various power tools, such as impact wrenches and drills.

While of high quality in their own right, these tools have not received anywhere near the same level of praise that Snap-on’s hand tools garner.

Sum Up

Snap-on is a premium-grade tool used by many professional mechanics, known for its quality and made in the USA. Although expensive, Snap-on offers a lifetime product warranty, making it a worthwhile investment for those who use tools daily. You can buy Snap-on tools through their van-based mobile stores or online, but not in local auto parts stores.

Snap-on’s lifetime warranty applies only to original customers, but some have reported success in getting warranty coverage for second-hand sets. However, this can depend on the temperament of the Snap-on franchisee. Despite their high cost, Snap-on tools have a reputation for durability and longevity, making them a favorite with this mechanic.

About the Author

John Cunningham is a Red Seal Qualified automotive technician with over twenty-five years of experience in the field. When he’s not writing about car repair, you’ll find him in his happy place – restoring classic cars.

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