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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Harbor Freight tools to avoid or not expect much from

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47 replies to this topic

#26 BoxerRebellion


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Posted 05 November 2013 - 01:16 AM

Since we're on the topic...

Didn't have much luck with the 24 toothperinch hacksaw blades.

Teeth bent on the double.


50 for $5.00!

Hard to say no.



#27 MilesFox


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Posted 05 November 2013 - 10:26 AM

I had a HF cutoff whell blow up in my hand as soon as i powered it on. It may hav ebeen cracked from leaving the tool lay around. I used it with a milwaukee angle grinder. I am on my 3rd electric impact after the 2nd one wakled away(continued to work after blowing a pawl out the side of the head). The first time i used it, i had to tighten down the brush as it was intermittent. But it did the job of lugnuts on ford 350 camper and ambulance swapping all 6 wheels between the 2, and then the front brake rotor on one of them.

#28 mcmillonbe


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Posted 15 November 2013 - 11:34 PM

I buy a lot of stuff from Harbor Freight know that there is a good chance that I will be taking it back.  But I guess I have been pretty lucky most of the tools have worked very well.

Good Stuff:

Torque wrenches, have a 1/2 and 3/8 that have worked well, I know its not Snap On but good enough to keep a 2.5DOHC Heads together for over 20k miles, so it must be close enough.

Impact sockets, haven't broken one yet

26 gallon compressor, have used it a lot over the past year, even if its slow to charge up the tank.

Breaker bars and pry bars have worked very good

Just bought a one man brake bleeder that hooks up to the air compressor, it worked very well for getting air out of the brake system after installing a master cylinder where tradition bleeding would not bring a solid brake pedal.

The Junk:

Bought the spring compressor that looks like a vee, you set the strut into the setup and slowly turn a bolt, did not even get one spring compressed before the unit stripped, ended up using a set I bought at Oreilyes along time ago

Ratchets, have had a couple that stripped on the first bolt

Rivet gun, broke after one rivet, ended up taking it back and using a nut and bolt for a door handle assembly in a Crown Vic I was working on.

Overall not too bad, less expensive than the name brand stuff, still mostly use Craftsman sockets and wrenches. 

#29 lvsarge


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Posted 03 December 2013 - 07:56 PM

I don't trust anything from HF, but some tools that are lightly used or have little in the way of their mechanically moving parts I will buy there.


The 1/2" breaker bar from there works great. I can get huge leverage with that on some stubborn bolts. I have nicer ones for cranking engines or for racheting, but the HF one is great for just getting gorilla on something.


They have some pliers that you just can't find anywhere. Not sure what they are actually called, but I call them "hose grip pliers" Great for getting those stubborn hose lines off. They are toothed pretty sharp and have torn a few hoses with them, so using them a lot finally wore them a bit to where they didn't instantly tear through everything. Great tools for working on cars. And they're pliers. Aside from being super stiff because Chicago tools are built shoddy and not well lubricated, they work quite well.


Impact sockets. Built well, work well. Not much to say here. They're cheap and work with the breaker bar. Especially when working on a friend's car who takes their stuff to a shop that uses impact drivers on wheels that are at about 1000lbs/ft. <sarcasm> :/


Stuff I've found to be UTTER crap from HF:


Hose clamps. NEVER use their hose clamps. Complete garbage. Couldn't get one to stay on without breaking, and if you did get one, I would definitely not trust it.


Test lights and multimeters. Crap. Spend an extra 10 or 20 on something that works. 2 of my three test lights failed out of the box and the third one didn't make it 4 months.


As a matter of fact let me throw in anything electrical. Even their spade connectors must be made from rocks as I can't really get good current through them.


Air compressor. I purchased a little one to take around with me, the types that roll on two wheels and are horizontal to the ground. I ensured the thing was oiled and cleaned regularly... But all it takes is to tip that thing over one time and the air filter completely broke off. It's plastic, and all of the housing was completely shattered. I didn't drop it off a truck it just tipped over on it's side. Very cheaply made (obviously). 


You just have to stick with pure metal with little moving parts at HF and you're usually okay. Other than that don't trust it.

#30 1-3-2-4


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Posted 05 December 2013 - 09:32 PM

^ My friend I let him use my air compressor, mind you I've had it for 3 years now and he let it tip and it broke the filter as well, so now I have to replace it with a metal one.




Now having said that I'm about to pick up the 750Lb engine stand tomrrow so I can start tearing down the EJ22.

#31 matthewr262



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Posted 24 December 2013 - 09:22 PM

3.5 hp 60 gallon upright compressor owned for 3 years no problems and they dont sell it anymore.
Paid $400 made over $10, 000

Stud welder. On my fourth, paid $100 plus the warranty, so with much hassle got four for the price of one.

110 amp dual mig, paid $180 plus $35 for regulator. This blue machine is a rockstar.

$10 paint guns. I use them for 2k primer, once they become gunked up or spray poorly even after cleaning I toss em.

Cut-off wheels last me but the disc holder wear out and can't firmly grip the disc( after a few years)

The 12 ton press, jacks, 1 ton engine hoist, jack stand, U.S. generally tool boxes unless the competitor had it cheaper you couldn't sway my decision to get any of it.

Hand tool are to your discretion. I personally use a lot of matco. Harbor freight tools to avoid
-drill bits
-screw drivers
-tap and die sets
-impact sockets (round out over time)
-sand paper

Air tools I like
-angle grinder
-flange/hole punch tool
-air hammer
-dual action sander (can hurt your pinky finger)
-air ratchets(had brand name ones fail too these hurt your pocket book less.

High speed metal saw sucks. Rattles itself apart

I cant say anything about the earthquake stuff
As for impacts I only get ingersoll.

For anyone aspiring to have there own shop these tools are cheap and somtimes just as effective as big name stuff. I look at in the sense "will this tool pay for itself the first or second time I use it?" And thats all the justification you may need

#32 MR_Loyale


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Posted 29 December 2013 - 03:29 PM

The AC Gauge Manifold Set  and vacuum pump worked really well to help me get my AC going.

#33 JGromada


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Posted 07 January 2014 - 09:52 PM

hmm interesting thread.  i share most of the sentiments about HF.  That being said i have bought some stuff because of cost   (for instance wanted to keep an extra set of basic sockets  in my old BMW,  as you never know when you might need them)   and other times the sheer convenience of HF being so close come into play.  I haven't had anything outright fail on me,  but i did buy an electric  impact wrench that doesn't seem to create as much torque as i would have thought.....

#34 ferox


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Posted 07 January 2014 - 10:52 PM

Bad:  Heat gun was bad out of the box. Not much of an issue other than having to make a return trip.


Good:  The 60 piece tap and die set.  It goes on super sale for $30 every now and then.  I have cut a few threads, but I bought it to chase threads.  It's not a chaser set, but with some WD or other oiil it's great for grinding the rust out of threaded holes, nuts and bolts.  Seems like it might be a good thing to have in the rust belt.  You can clean up cast iron pretty well with it and not worry about your tap and if you have a nice tap and die set you can save wear on it.

#35 Flowmastered87GL


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Posted 19 January 2014 - 10:32 PM

I don't go to HF tools much, but I did buy the $5.99 movers dolly (the little wood square with wheels)  It is functional, but the wheels are terrible, so it left little skid marks on my floor because the wheels would not turn properly and would just skid across the floor sideways instead.  Overall not recommended.

#36 crazyhorse001


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Posted 14 June 2014 - 11:27 PM

I do industrial maintenance for a living, and i have a box full of H/F tools. I havent broken anything in a long time. I use a 1/2" impact almost daily with matching sockets. Even when working on a 1500 ton stamping press they've held up...occasionally being adapted to a 3/4 drive ingersoll shop impact. I have gearwrench brand wrenches, and craftsman for the bigger stuff, but overall the H/F stuff does what i need it to do...namely make me a living

That said +1 for thier power tools being junk!

#37 Dj7291993


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Posted 19 June 2014 - 12:19 AM

Just remembered, one of the car manufacturers has a TSB about Harbor Freight Fuses.  Something about not blowing, even with more than double their rated current going through them.  Small fires, you know, stuff that could mess up your day.  Can't remember what car that was on though....

#38 EricS



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Posted 26 June 2014 - 07:48 AM

Their cable tie gun is a piece of junk, don't even bother. Get a $25 Paladen or Eastwood from Amazon etc instead of wasting $10 on the HF one: http://www.harborfre...-gun-67076.html

#39 zombieforce


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Posted 26 June 2014 - 10:35 PM

Have been using a harbor freight 1/2 impact socket set daily for 10 years as a professional mechanic and they are still holdi g up for the most part. Good buy for 20 bucks I paid for them. Had good luck with small pick tools, pry bars, heat gun, also bought their 500lb bitch hauler and its made it to gulf shores and back without a problem. Most of the items to avoid can be seen and felt when I pick them up. Hammers are decent too. I havent bought anything large that has just totally failed me but I guess a little bit of discretion can prevent that.

#40 Crazyeights



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Posted 26 June 2014 - 11:12 PM

HF pnuematic cut off saw. I paid less than $10.00 for this thing 5 years ago. Commercial punishment all the time and it still works :wacko:   Better than some of my $ stuff. This makes it hard to justify spending money on expensive name brand air tools any more. You could buy 10 of these things for $100.00

#41 turbosubarubrat


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Posted 26 June 2014 - 11:36 PM

I mostly just buy the stuff with a life time warranty so if i break it or bend it i can get a new one. I need to take in my pry bar set since i bent the whole set http://www.harborfre...-set-69281.html. The 110v flux core wire welder works ok but get the 2 year warranty if you weld a lot had to get mine replaced twice since it stopped working once(wasn't the duty cycle it wouldn't even turn on) and another time the gun fell apart while weldinghttp://www.harborfre...lder-61849.html. I gave up on it then and went to a nice 110v Lincoln mig welder that is 30 years old and found out all parts are available from Lincoln still.

Edited by turbosubarubrat, 26 June 2014 - 11:40 PM.

#42 Dj7291993


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Posted 29 June 2014 - 09:54 PM

The 1/2 inch impact extensions are actually pretty soft.  The don't fail, but the twist quite a bit, so don't plan on using them on really tight bolts with an impact.  The 6" one, I have had twist 40+* on some motor mount bolts with my 1/2" drive Snap-On ratchet.  Not terrible if you use them mostly for hand tools, or lighter stuff.  But it gets fairly frustrating using it with an impact.

#43 lvsarge


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Posted 01 July 2014 - 09:37 AM

Titanium drill bits above 1/4" are pretty sturdy. Anything smaller tends to bend, and I am fearful of snapping with too much pressure. Almost tempted myself to buy the cobalt steel set but decided against it for titanium.


Also bought a chisel and punch set, I used the small chisel to shear off rivets and it seems to be a bit dull after about 20 rivets, but I'm hopeful they will hold up.

#44 kerandt


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Posted 28 February 2015 - 11:31 AM

Anyone have anything to say about the engine cranes HFT sells? I've been considering getting one. I'm no pro just a DIY maintenance guy. My garage is about 16' wide by 28' long but with a flat low ceiling. I don't think I have enough height for a chain hoist set up. 

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#45 Crazyeights



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Posted 28 February 2015 - 12:56 PM

I have been using a HF engine hoist at work (in a commercial setting) for years. It's solid as a rock and folds up as well. I have been through several Hydraulic rams over the years, but that is expected. I am using the two ton version.

Edited by Crazyeights, 05 March 2015 - 11:22 PM.

#46 ezapar



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Posted 03 March 2015 - 12:47 PM

Have bought some junk from there.  But you usually get what you pay for.


I am super in love with the basket that attaches to the hitch on my Jeep.  It will hold 500 lbs, was a great buy for 50 bucks.  I use the heck out of it.



#47 comatosellama


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Posted 19 March 2015 - 09:26 PM

I hear good stuff about their winches, looking at one for my leggy

#48 lstevens76


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Posted 12 April 2015 - 12:01 PM

Ok, my grandfather is addicted to Harbor Freight since they opened here in Boise years ago.  It took me a while to go in because of all the bad I had heard, but I'm glad I did.


For the most part the hand tools are as good as any other lifetime warranty brand and the nicest thing is you get no argument, no question, when exchanging a broken/non-working hand tool.


On the flip side of the hand tools I still keep my craftsman stuff handy due to the tolerance level difference.  On nuts/bolts that someone has started to round or those that are in just to damn tight I tend to grab a craftsman socket or wrench because it has a tighter fit.  But over 70% of my tools now are Pittsburgh.


The engine crane works great, I know from experience.  My grandfather owns one and I used it to do an engine swap on an acura legend.  To give you an idea I pulled a 3.2L V6 out and put in a 3.5L V6.  The whole time the car was up on jack stands so I could get under it.  The crane lifted high enough and never let go (it sat overnight w/ the engine on it).


As for the electric tools, well they are cheap..............

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