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Harbor Freight's Dirty Little Secret Revealed Helps DIY Mechanics

Does Harbor Freight have any dirty little secrets behind their tools and business success? Here’s one tool source reveal that will have you rethinking your tool purchases.


From Craftsman to Harbor Freight

In previous articles, I’ve admitted without any shame that I do shop for many of my tools at Harbor Freight. My latest purchase was a $14 Dremel-esque power tool to help widen and bevel some oil passages for an engine. My $70+ original Dremel after years of faithful service developed so much spin slop from wear that it necessitated replacement rather than risk scoring a bearing surface.

This purchase initiated a conversation with a professional mechanic I know who admitted to me that to cut down on costs, he too shops at Harbor Freight after years of learning some painful tool lessons from name-brand mobile franchise tool suppliers.

Today, he only uses those services when it’s a specialty tool he can’t find elsewhere. The lesson both he and I have learned over the years is that too often we paid too much for many of our tools. However, to be fair, Harbor Freight did not exist some years ago and some of those oddball off-brand tools available back then were truly horrific knuckle scrapers.

This is one reason why I stuck to Craftsman for so many years---they worked and were affordable.

Related article: Transmission Problem Diagnosis with This Simple Tool

Today, however, I am more cost-conscious and became a Harbor Freight convert…with caveats.

Harbor Freight Reveal Those caveats are the message behind a recent Harbor Freight reveal from the DIY Dave YouTube channel where the host talks about 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. But more importantly, he also provides 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. The value of this video is that he is spot-on with his assessment and advice which can save DIY and professional mechanics a significant amount of money.

Furthermore, the video also hints at why tool shoppers should take a closer look at just exactly where tools are manufactured due to you may discover that a name-brand tool and its off-brand mimic actually come from the same factory.

However, not only is the video useful, but there is value in reading the comments about the video too where viewers share some useful advice when it comes to buying tools. That said, here is the video posted below that should prove to be one of the easiest ways to save money for anyone who works on cars.

Harbor Freight's Dirty Little Secret - How Their Tools are so Cheap and Which Ones You Should Avoid

And finally… One last piece of advice: When it comes to buying many tools at Harbor Freight it is always a good idea to check the shopper comments and look for YouTube videos where at least one person has reviewed the tool and what to expect.

Oftentimes reviews will also show how to modify a cheap Harbor Freight tool into making it work just as good as a much more expensive tool. In fact, some creative individuals have made a business of supplying upgrade kits for some Harbor Freight tools.

For additional articles about tools related to outfitting your garage, here are a few recommended for your perusal:

A Top Rated and Bargain Brand Cordless Portable Tire Pump Choice for Your Car

Best Extension Cord for Your Garage: Here’s What to Look for and the Brand to Choose

Save Money with This Small Anti-Scam Investment for Your Current or Next Car

COMING UP NEXT: Avoid This Lexus Model Advises Toyota Mechanic

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.

Image Source: Pixabay


Mike W (not verified)    August 12, 2022 - 11:34AM

I agree with most of this. I have had good luck with the table top belt sander and also I would definitely recommend only using the Daytona brand floor jacks. I bought the biggest one a few years ago and love it. No issues with anything yet. I also have the 10,000 lb Badlands winch which work well, but truth be told, it is mounted on my car trailer to pull non-running vehicles on. No I don't trust the winch to hold my 78 Bronco. I bought a Superwich brand for that.

Cameron Mael (not verified)    August 13, 2022 - 10:37AM

In reply to by Mike W (not verified)

Oh come on...nice comment, buy it faded about not wanting to use that Badlands on your '78 Bronco. I agree that perhaps the cheaper Harbor Freight winches might need passing on...but not that 10,000 lb Badlands. It's definitely good enough for your real. It sounds like you mainly wanted to brag on your Bronco, lol. I get that...very nice ride...but you actually trashed Harbor Freight and don't think you realized it. Otherwise I agree entirely with your reply. It sounds practically identical to how I was with them...except I'm biased because my son has had a very good job with them for a long time now. They treat their employees very nice, and you can just tell they all like their jobs. That alone says great things about Harbor. Yeah...there's the dang China thing, but again...come on people...look around and notice that evidently China has greatly improved what they sell. It's always best to make friends, not enemies. As a retired Army vet I assure everyone we really don't want to be enemies with so many countries that could be dangerous. It's not the 1940's anymore, and it's not just us that has Nukes now. I am leery if China of course, but let's not get silly about things like buying Harbor Freight items just because their from China. That kind of mentality isn't wise. China is hardly the only country we need to get along with. I don't trust them, but going to war with the likes if China or Russia, etc is plain stupid. Not just for us, but the world.