Some of the most common mechanic stories begin with the quote "so, I was trying to reach this bolt when all of the sudden" – and ends with them visiting the hospital getting stitches. Every mechanic understands that the engineers who design today's modern cars, trucks, and SUVs often don’t consider ergonomics or the sanity of mechanics when they make bolts virtually impossible to remove with a standard ratchet or socket set.

Fortunately, there are engineers at tool companies who have been mechanics themselves and develop low clearance ratchet and socket sets, which allow mechanics to get those hard to reach bolts and nuts without too much struggle.

What is a low profile ratchet and socket set?

One of the first tools that young mechanics learn to really appreciate is having a complete socket and ratchet set that includes ¼", ?”, and ½" drives, with both metric and standard sizes at their disposal. However, there are times when they'll look at the placement of a nut or bolt and wonder how they are supposed to remove it without banging up their knuckles or burning themselves on hot engine pieces.

This is where a low profile ratchet and socket set comes in really handy. A low profile socket set is different than a standard ratchet and socket set in the fact that the ratchet head is extremely thin. Combine this with a low-depth socket and you can save as much as 2" trying to attach the socket to that hard to reach bolt or nut. Even though the ratchet might appear to be "lean," it's actually incredibly stable; especially when it's a high quality tool made out of alloy steel.

How is a low profile ratchet and socket set beneficial to a mobile mechanic?

When a mechanic works on the road, at customers' homes or on job sites, they truly respect the concept of time being money. Although being paid by the hour is sometimes considered a luxury in the automotive world, professional mechanics realize that the more jobs they take on, the better income they will receive; especially when those first time customers become repeat customers. Having access to low-profile ratchet and socket sets gives the mobile mechanic another critical tool to remove those hard to get to bolts and nuts without scrambling for the right method or tool that will most likely cause more time and injuries.

Most of the companies that manufacturer these types of socket sets understand that due to the low clearance issue they need to be made from high-quality steel for strength. They also offer mechanics multiple benefits including:

  • Being made out of alloy steel but have a chrome finish to resist rusting and chipping

  • The ultra-thin socket design allows easy fitting over long bolts in tight clearance areas They adapt to all standard size sockets

  • Believe it or not, these low clearance ratchets are up to 45% stronger than standard ratchets

  • Many of them, like the ones offered by Craftsman, have lifetime guarantees.

All mechanics, especially those who work on the road, understand the value of having the right tools in their toolbox. When a mechanic invests in a low-clearance ratchet and socket set, those hard-to-reach bolts and nuts become much easier to access. If you’re already a certified mechanic and you’re interested in working with YourMechanic, submit an online application for an opportunity to become a mobile mechanic.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as The Best Tool for Mechanics Working on Cars With Limited Clearance Areas and was authored by Tim Charlet.


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