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Harbor Freight's Dirty Little Secret Response by Harbor Freight Execs

Turns out, executives from Harbor Freight caught wind of a popular YouTube video titled “Harbor Freight’s Dirty Little Secret” and have taken issue with some of the video claims. Discover now what they said and find out what Asian tool insiders reveal about the HF tools they make.

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Harbor Freight's Dirty Little Secret
In an earlier Harbor Freight-related article, I directed readers to a video from the DIY Dave YouTube channel where Dave discusses what makes Harbor Freight so successful and how those tools can be sold so cheaply in comparison to brands found at Lowes, Home Depot and other stores.

Furthermore, he also provided advice that tool shoppers should heed when trying to decide whether to risk a purchase from Harbor Freight or go with a more expensive brand tool seller.

I chose to alert readers to his video due to---IMHO---the value of watching his video is that he is spot-on with his assessment and advice that can save DIY and professional mechanics a significant amount of money.

Related article: Best Floor Jack Comparison Tests Reveal Which Harbor Freight Jack to Buy and Which to Probably Avoid

Harbor Freight Execs Were Not Amused
As it turns out, however, wind of what became a very popular video caught the attention of the Harbor Freight executives and they in turn contacted the host of the DIY Dave YouTube channel and had a discussion with him about his video. In short, they had some issues with it.

Here’s a summary of what was discussed as well as what some overseas manufacturing insiders had to add about how HF tools are made. In the video you will hear about:

• The claim that HF uses lower quality materials and poor-quality control

• Tools Harbor Freight considers to be high quality

• How Harbor Freight places the blame of bad tools on their customers

• Whether Harbor Freight tool ratings are being manipulated

• How HF works with Asian manufacturers for their tools

• Why the cost of HF tools is affected more by features than by the quality of materials used

Harbor Freight called me after my last video! Here is what we talked about...

And finally…

For additional Harbor Freight-related articles, here are a few for your enjoyment and help in choosing the best tools for your budget:

Harbor Freight Makes the Top Ten List of Top Tools for 2022

Mechanic Responds to Harbor Freight Tool Shaming

The Harbor Freight Gift Every Car Owner Needs

COMING UP NEXT: The $10 Harbor Freight Tool That Can Save You From a $1,000 Scam

Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.

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Emmy Spam (not verified)    December 27, 2022 - 5:19AM

I do not keep receipts. However, from HF, I DO. Reason being - 98% of the time, I will return it for not performing as expected. HF tools are disposables.

Timothy Boyer    December 27, 2022 - 11:31AM

The value of buying many HF tools is that often they are needed only once for a particular job and thus saves the DIY mechanic a significant amount of money on a tool that they might never need again. So, a one-use, disposable-tool view is pretty reasonable. I do this a lot to save money.

Bill Griggs (not verified)    December 28, 2022 - 9:56AM

In reply to by Timothy Boyer

I am not a tradesman, I purchase tools from HF that have never failed me due to their limited use.
I built an additional Room and Bath in my previous home, I used a $99. Chopsaw that I had purchased from HF. It proved to do an amazing job. Here I am 11 years later finishing up a room and bath within my previous house. Along with some other small hand tools, I purchased a $119. Chopsaw from HF. I am so very Thankful that there was no need to buy a $500. Chopsaw 11 years ago.

Anthony Rich (not verified)    December 29, 2022 - 10:29AM

Harbor Freight is good for some I expensive stuff, roll of tape, zip ties, etc. Tools ? If your serious about tools then this is the last place you will go to if at all. Cheap, inferior products, no good.

John (not verified)    December 30, 2022 - 7:50AM

Great video. You told it like it is. Comments about tool use seems spot on. I have bought numerous tools fromHF and have had no problems,but they are tools that get limited use.when there was a problem there was no hassle in returning the item. HF is a what you see is what you getboperztion. Great videos Dave!

Ericr (not verified)    December 30, 2022 - 9:37AM

Harbor freight tool quality has been exceptional. I use a lot of their power tools daily for years. The Bauer line hasn't failed me and it's a fraction of the cost of the big names. Do they have the highest torque? No but it's enough to allow me to maintain my two trucks and trailer. The batteries last all day while I work. I'll gladly pay 1/4 of the price of Milwaukee

BobbyZ (not verified)    August 20, 2023 - 12:13PM

In reply to by Ericr (not verified)

The prices are not 1/4 of name brand tools, they are more like 75% of the price of the name brands. Most of the items that are not hand tools are only guaranteed for 90 days. So it works when you first use them, but 6 months later after needing them to use again thay are spotty at best as to usability. I keep my purchases to things that are not powered by battery or line voltage. When the son of the Owner took over several years back, the pricing immediately went up. So now when you see an item on sale, it is usually back the the regular price from a short time ago. Harbor Freight needs a competitor that sources from Taiwan.

Terry McDonald (not verified)    January 3, 2023 - 10:25AM

My experience with HF has been excellent. After diligent research I have purchased many of their tools. I am a heavy duty user of tools. As with many other popular brands, there are sometimes problems. The difference is HF does not argue about returns whereas other brands make you jump through hoops.

Rudy Urrabazo (not verified)    January 3, 2023 - 12:46PM

I bought a 1inch socket at harbor freight about 24 years ago to rebuild my Cummins engine in my semi truck since then used these socket set to remove a engine and transmission in another truck and in 2019 rebuilt that same cummins engine again .I have used these 1 inch sockets to do othere jobs on vehicles also it is 2023 and I still have the 1 inch set that I believe I payed under 40.00 dollars for in all these years not one socket , rochet or extension has ever broke the set is still in the original metal box I have had other tools I have bought and had to replace because they wear out .

Michael (not verified)    May 11, 2023 - 7:15PM

I have used hf tools for a few decades. My primary field is mechanical. The early days their tools weren't that durable, I started using them over the last 10 years professionally and have had very few issues

Winks (not verified)    September 23, 2023 - 10:52PM

I buy tools from wherever i can find what I need at what I consider a fair price and what that means is there aren’t any Snap-On, MAC, or Milwaukee tools in my shop. I am a serious DIYer and have gotten tangled up in some major re-modeling, basement finishing, and household repairs. I’ve also tackled car repairs that most people wouldn’t touch like replacing AC compressors and changing out wheel bearings. I buy a lot of HF tools, mainly from the “best” category because they look and perform like better made tools. You can often tell if a tool is low quality, things like loose knobs, things that don’t line up and so on, or they just aren’t up to the job, like a welder that I returned for the next step up. I haven’t had a tool fail or break so I am satisfied with what I’ve purchased from HF. What I DON’T like is their coupon strategy. You have to look through dozens of coupons to see if there is one on something you need and there are too many exclusions, mostly from the high end lines and the power tools, so I consider them pretty much useless.