In 2023, buying a cheaper tool truck equivalent is effortless
There was a time when buying a high-quality tool that would last loner then the rest meant buying from one of the tool trucks. In 2023, this is no longer the case. I’m going to convince you in this post why your next tool won’t come from Snap On, Matco or Mac Tools.
- We live in age where tools can be bought cheaper and delivered just as fast with a click of a button. Buying online makes tool truck equivalents more and more appealing. I’m not talking about replacing your Snapped On tools with ones made in a Chinese sweat shop by a twelve year old. I’m talking about high-quality, cheaper tools that perform as well or better than Snap On, Matco or Mac Tools and can be bought much cheaper online.
Why your next tool purchase will be on Amazon.
I’m not going to ask you to take my word when I tell you that there are cheaper alternatives to Snap On, Matco or the other tool truck brands. Instead, I’m going to give you several reasons to buy your tools online instead of paying a premium on the Snap On truck.
Snap On, Mac and other “tool truck” brands rarely make what they sell.
If everything you bought off the tool truck was exclusive and worked better, there would be no reason for a post on tool truck equivalents. Headed into 2023, this is not the case though and most of Snap On or Mac’s tools can be bought cheaper from the manufacturer. I’ll give you just a few examples of tools sold by Snap On, Mac or Matco that can be bought cheaper straight from the source.
Snap On Digital Test Light (EECT400)
Snap On sells a test light (EECT400) with a digital voltage display on the truck that lists for $109. If you have a decent rep and you spend five figures a year on the truck, maybe it’ll cost you $99. I can show you where to buy the equivalent to the EECT400 for under $50 with the same warranty.
I’m not a tool-truck hater, I just like to save money on tools and if I can buy a Snap On equivalent for half the price, I’ll deal without the logo.
Matco Neck Lights
Matco Tools sell a set of rechargeable neck lights for over $100 that are actually made by EZ Red and can be bought for $45 without the logo on them. These aren’t a different set of neck lights made for Matco. They are literally the exact same lights stamped with a Matco Tools logo on them and sold for more than double the price.
Like I said, I’m not going to make false claims that you can buy Matco-equivalent Tools on Amazon. I’ll back it up with the proof below. If you own a set of Matco or Snap On neck lights, you paid too much. The pair below is made by EZ Red and makes both the Snap On and Matco versions for each respective brand.
Snap On Probe Tester (EECT900)
The Snap On EECT900 Multi-Probe is made by Power Probe and aside from very minor cosmetic differences, the PPH1 is the same as the Snap On EECT900 probe tester. In all aspects of functionality, the two are totally equivalent and the Power Probe version lists over $100 cheaper.
Even better than that, there is a probe tester on Amazon made by TopDiag that is identical to Power Probe’s “The Hook” (PPH1) in both functionality and appearance but costs less than $200!
Hand tools are made for Snap On, Matco and Mac by other manufacturers also.
It isn’t just electronic tools that Snap On buys the rights to and sells with its logo. Everything from locking pliers to specialty tools sold under the Snap On and Matco brand are sometimes made by somebody else and sold cheaper online or straight from the manufacturer.
Snap On Hose-Clamp Pliers
One of the most useful tools I have ever used are hose-clamp pliers like the ones in the set below. I bought my first set from Blue-Point, my second set from Snap On and the final set of pliers for hose-clamps came straight from Amazon. As you can probably guess, the first two pairs broke prematurely and although they were warrantied, I still wanted a set for home and found one like these for under $50 on Amazon.
Where hose-clamp pliers are most useful is on “squeeze” radiator clamps and other hard to reach spring-type clamps. For the price of a Snap On set that only includes the cable style pliers, I was able to buy a whole kit with the squeeze pliers included plus a 6-piece set of Duratech clamping hose-pinch pliers for blocking off a hose. This is just one more example of a tool truck alternative that I will never regret buying.
EZ RED XL5500 Hands-Free Automotive Work Light
I recently came across a new automotive drop light released by EZ RED under the part number XL5500 and I was pretty blown away by the look, quality and warranty of the LED work light. Compared to the price of anything equivalent from Snap-On or even MIlwaukee, the XL5500 can be bought on Amazon for a small fraction.
The EZ RED XL5500 sells for less than $40 in three different color variations on Amazon or as a package of four including the most-popular red and black (~$70) for about $200.
Each XL5500 work light comes with a 400-lm main bulb and 150-lm top spotlight inspection bulb. It is designed with magnets on the back and bottom plus has a hook on top for hands-free use.
Tool truck warranties are no longer the best
One of the most common reasons to buy Snap On tools is due to the company’s reputation for having an excellent warranty and it’s mostly true, but it applies more heavily to hand tools. Buying an electric or battery operated tool from Snap On or Matco Tools, etc. is not going to have any better warranty than competitors.
In fact, it may be the opposite. Electric tool power houses such as DeWalt and Milwaukee both routinely offer a better warranty on cordless electric tools than Snap On.
All hand tool’s are warrantied for life in 2023
If you can find me a hand tool in 2023 that does not offer a lifetime warranty, I’ll show you a tool that was bought in the checkout line at Autozone. Even saying that isn’t really fair since Autozone’s store brand Duralast is fully guaranteed for life and they offer in-store replacement on any broken hand tool.
In an effort to compete with the likes of Snap On, Matco and even Craftsman, almost every hand tool sold anywhere comes with a lifetime warranty in 2023. It’s no longer a valid reason to pay a premium for Snap On hand tools based on the warranty policy.
Popular brands that have emerged on Amazon as tool-truck equivalent include TEKTON, Lexivon and of course Craftsman and DeWalt are still widely available online. Even companies like NoCo have emerged as alternatives to Snap On jump packs in the last couple years.
Tool Truck Credit Lines have higher interest than payday loans.
If you have even half-way decent credit, Snap On will give you a size-able loan to buy tools off the truck but is it worth financing on the tool-truck?
I’ve personally had interest rates well over 20% through Snap On credit and while searching the web and talking to friends I found out I was not alone in paying payday loan-type interest financing tools on the truck. If you are adamant that you need to buy Snap On tools because your friends do, or because of the status symbol it represents- at least do so on a truck account.
Even when it comes to large purchases like tool boxes and diagnostic scanners, there are tool truck equivalents that won’t cost more than your house. One that comes to mind for toolboxes would be Icon from Harbor Freight, which are beautifully built and nearly identical to Snap On. Another are Extreme Toolboxes, which are just as customizable as the tool trucks but cost a lot less.
Diagnostic Scan Tool’s are often financed but there are alternatives.
For diagnostic scan tools, check out Autel’s lineup. The MaxiSys Ultra which is a Snap On Zeus competitor is literally half the price. You may still have to finance an Autel scanner, but the principal amount will be half and the quality comparison of the MaxiSys versus Snap On Zeus will be one hundred percent.
Another budget diagnostic scan tool you can find on Amazon that is comparable to the Snap On Zeus is the Launch X431 which sells for under a grand and has great reviews and ratings. No matter your financial situation, I’m confident that there will be no benefit to a Snap On credit line in 2023.
Snap On sells the most exclusive tools, but there’s always an alternative.
One thing I can’t take away from Snap On is the company does offer the most exclusivity among tool truck brands. For example, Snap On does make its own diagnostic scanners, cordless electric tools, air tools and most of its hand tools. This is compared to Matco and Mac Tools who rebrand almost everything, but even so there are still much cheaper alternatives to Snap On.
When it comes to air tools, one can hardly ask for a better tool than the ones Ingersoll Rand makes. Cordless tools? Milwaukee and DeWalt both offer tons of impact guns, cordless ratchets, drivers and saws. All of these brands cost much less than Snap On and offer equal if not better quality alternatives.
Conclusion- Tool Truck Equivalents are a Good Alternative
I hope that by time you get this far, you are convinced there is a tool truck alternative for every tool Snap On, Mac or Matco sells. In this post, we looked at tools made by other companies for Snap On, Matco etc. We talked about the warranty of tool truck brands compared to cheap alternatives and we talked about the lack of benefits that Snap On, Matco or Mac credit lines offer.
It was never my goal to give you an equivalent to every tool truck tool. It was only my hope to convince you that it’s worth comparing the price of Snap On and other truck brands to those sold on Amazon and other online tool stores heading into 2023.
I’ve been a mechanic for close to twenty years and if I had all the money back that I spent on tool trucks, my house and my cars would be much nicer. Finding quality alternatives to Snap On at a better price was an art I just learned the last couple years. Maybe I just taught you the lesson early enough to lessen the tool buying burden we auto mechanics face every day.
Author- John Green
If you purchase through my website, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. All posts are well researched and meant to find you better tools at a cheaper price.