The wrench has long been the definitive symbol of automotive repair, decorating shop signs the world over. It makes sense; wrenches have found their way into mechanics’ hands ever since the beginning. Today, they’re an integral component of any car fixer’s toolbox. They’re an emblem of strength, grease, and the DIY ethic.
Wrenches are just plain awesome too—think of the opening sequence in The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, where Sean slides a comically huge wrench from behind his arm in the parking lot before the epic construction-zone race.
Indeed, every mechanic should have an arsenal of wrenches available, so we picked some essential sets from Amazon and beyond. Now get to work and let your car do the talking; they don’t call it “wrenching” for nothing.
Automotive 3/8-Inch Drive Socket Sets You Need in Your Toolbox
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Combination Wrench Set
This starter set from Tekton is perfect for occasional use. With SAE sizes from 1/4 to 1 inch and metric sizes from 8 to 22 millimeters, they’ll cover just about every size you need while staying affordable. These wrenches are open on one end with a 12-point box on the other.
Premium Chrome Combination Wrench Set
These wrenches are more expensive, but built for the professional. Proto is one of the top brands for hand tools, and its combination wrenches are very solid. There are 18 wrenches in this kit, ranging from 1/4 to 3/4 inches and 10 to 18 millimeters.
Stubby Combination Wrench Set
You’d be surprised how handy stubby wrenches can be, and this kit from GearWrench takes the cake. These won’t deliver tons of torque, but in a tight place, they are hard to beat. The sizes are both SAE and metric, ranging from 3/8 to 15/16 inches and 10 to 19 millimeters.
Mini Combination Wrench Set
If you need access to the smallest of spaces, this set of mini-wrenches is a lifesaver. These can be used on carburetors, under the dash, or anywhere else where a conventional wrench won’t fit. The sizes range from 4 to 11 millimeters, and they aren’t much longer than your finger.
Ratcheting Wrench Set
Ratcheting wrenches are among the best inventions, right up there with electric toothbrushes. GearWrench—as the name implies—is one of the best companies for these, and we like this 16-piece metric set. These aren’t reversible, and you’ll just have to flip the wrench over to go the other way—but that keeps the wrenches slim, and that’s a bonus. Sizes range from 8 to 24 millimeters.
Flex-Head Ratcheting Wrench Set
Just when you thought a ratcheting wrench couldn’t be improved upon, we were blessed with flex-heads. These beauties will save you time and knuckle bandages. This set from Bulltools features 180-degree rotating heads to get on the toughest bolts, and those heads include a 72-tooth gear. Sizes range from 8 to 19 millimeters.
Extra-Long Box-End Wrench Set
These box-end wrenches are designed to be extra-long to reduce the amount of grunts you make while loosening a fastener. The box heads allow access to bolts tucked away in the car’s deepest crevices. The sizes in this set range from 8 to 19 millimeters.
Offset Box-End Wrench Set
Offset wrenches might not be used that often, but by golly they’re a blessing when you need them. Each head is manufactured with a 45-degree offset angle to loosen fasteners that even the craftiest engineer can’t hide. This set includes sizes from 6 to 22 millimeters.
Double-End Flare Nut Wrench Set
This entry is entirely based off our personal field work messing around with brake lines and such. These are by far the best flare nut wrenches on the market—something you’ll want to invest in. The heads allow for more surface grip, and you just slide it on over the line up to to the nut. The more grip, the less likely you are to round off (which is very annoying with flare nuts). This set from Snap-on includes sizes from 9 to 21 millimeters. They’re expensive, but worth it.
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