4 Tips for Shopping at Harbor Freight

harbor freight toolbox

Harbor Freight is a well known place among mechanics, carpenters, electricians, contractors, builders, do it-yourselfers, etc. Essentially anyone who needs a tool for something or likes working with their hands has gone to Harbor Freight at some point.  If you don't know about Harbor Freight… just don't go! Seriously once you know about it it essentially impossible not to go there.

You won't believe some of the discounts and prices they have on tools there. Mostly everything is imported from China, but when you need a tool you need a tool.  Harbor Freight is great if you need that tool only once or some spare odds and ends.  You know like gloves, small flashlights, hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.  Here are my 4 Tips for Shopping at Harbor Freight.

  1. Always use Coupons: Harbor Freight frequently circulates flyers, ads, and emails with coupons on many of their products. It would be stupid to not utilize them as much as possible. Paying regular prices for a lot of their product is too much for what you get. You can find 20% off coupons for any item in the store.  Of course a lot of items are excluded for these 20% off coupons.  Typically you can also find HF coupons in the back of magazines. You can also find coupons when you get items for Free, just for making a purchase. There are lots of mega threads for Harbor Freight coupons on forums all around the internet.  Do a search and you can print some out.  (I print them out in Black and White to save color toner.)
  2. Make a List: Inevitably if you go to Harbor Freight without a list, you will spend more than you really want to. Obviously this is how they want it, but don't fall for this trap. Try to make a list of necessary tools, items, and equipment you need. Try not to get too distracted by things you don't need, since there will probably be a lot.
  3. Pay with Cash: When I make a trip over to my local Harbor Freight in Parkville, I try to only pay with cash and what's on me. If I use my card, I would probably spend a ridiculous amount of money everytime I go. This allows me to say “I will only spend this much today. I can come back and get that later if needed.” It's easy to spend only a small amount of money for different and various items you need but easy to spend a lot on items you don't.  If you are buying a larger item and expensive item, such as a toolbox, you can obviously break the rule and use a credit card as that would be easier (and safer) than bringing cash.
  4. Check Reviews: If you look on a lot of forums and sites around the web you can find reviews of what you should and should not buy at Harbor Freight.  I would recommend checking them out as I have found people have written reviews for almost anything there even down to small screwdrivers sets.  This has made it so that I have made good buying decisions at Harbor Freight, like my toolbox, and avoided bad items there.

I know a lot of you have a love-hate relationship with Harbor Freight, like I do, but sometimes you just need to go there.  It's a guy thing I guess! 🙂

If you think my list of tips is good, please leave a comment below and let me know.  If you think something should be added about Harbor Freight also leave a comment.

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Best Floor Jack Ever, Arcan XL35R from Costco

Arcan Floor Jack (11)
Arcan Floor Jack

If you need a Floor Jack, look no further than Costco!  I got this Arcan XL35R Floor Jack from Costco, when I bought my floormats.  The price for the Arcan jack was $100, which was a great deal on a floor jack of this quality and weight capacity.  (Actually we renewed our Costco membership just to get this jack, so in essence it was $150.)  The Arcan Floor Jack is rated for 3.5 Tons or 7000 pounds.

arcan floor jack box

So far I have only used the Arcan Floor Jack to lift-up my Mom's Chrysler van (aka the Crapler).  However, I can already tell what a great jack this is.  Lifting the van was like, “cutting through butter” as they say.  It lifted the backside up with ease and little effort on my part.  Even a lot of professional floor jacks I have used require a little muscle to get the vehicle up.  It has a low lift height of 3.5 inches, and goes to almost 21 inches.  The design also makes it easy to get under the rear tire of the van, where as most jacks might get stuck.  I am extremely impressed with the quality of the Arcan.

arcan xl35r floor jack

Best part about it, if the floor jack ever breaks, you can return it to Costco for a refund or exchange.  No Questions Asked!   Even a few years later if it breaks, they will accept a return.  Costco has has a great return policy and makes sure it's customers are happy with all purchases.

My only complaints are it is a bit heavy at a little over 100 pounds.  I hurt my back getting it out of the car and out of the box.  Of course, I would rather have a solid floor jack made from good metal and steel, rather than a cheap one.

arcan floor jack box

I don't think I could have found a better floor jack, at a better price.  Even with having to renew our Costco membership for $50, I still think it was worth that cost.  If you are in the market for a floor jack, I highly recommend you buy an Arcan XL35R from Costco.  If you know someone who needs a floor jack, this might make a great Christmas gift.  Of course, you might have a difficult time getting it under the tree.

Recently at a car show I saw a company that sells professional equipment to auto repair shops selling the Arcan XL35, which is basically the same model, for $160.  Most stores and retailers I have seen sell it for that price or a lot more.  Kind of crazy Costco offers such a good price and return policy on a floor jack like the Arcan.  I would even say the Arcan XL35R is the Best Floor Jack I have ever used and probably one the Best Deals in tools or equipment you will find out there.

costco floor jack

Where to Buy Arcan Floor Jack

Amazon actually carries a few Arcan Floor Jack models with Prime Shipping if you prefer to have items delivered right to your house.   There is the Arcan XL20 – 2 Ton Capacity Low Profile Floor Jack which seems like a great option if you don't have a Costco near your house and are already an Amazon Prime member.  There is also two lightweight Aluminum Arcan Floor Jacks available on Amazon, the Arcan ALJ2T Aluminum Jack with a 2 Ton Capacity and for those with slightly larger cars the Arcan ALJ3T with a 3 Ton Capacity.   (The Arcan ALJ3T Aluminum Floor Jack goes in and out of stock on Amazon.)

floor jack

I should let people know I have not bought or used the Arcan XL20, Arcan ALJ3T, or the Arcan ALJ2T but I feel that the Arcan makes such a good products I wouldn't hesitate to buy any one of those jacks, site unseen.  My Arcan XL35R is such a good floor jack for the price is still blows my mind.

If you have any questions about this Arcan XL35R Floor Jack I have, feel free to leave a comment below.  I will any questions as quickly and the best way I can.  Also if you found this post helpful please share it on your favorite auto or vehicle forum and share it on social media.  This helps me continue to produce useful articles, videos, and audio content online.

Click Here to Order an Arcan Floor Jack

xl35r car jack

Arcan Floor Jack

Another Freebie, an Actron Scanner

Nice, an Actron Scanner!

On Monday I received this in the mail.  It's an Actron Pocket Scan Plus Scanner.  It's used for retrieving diagnostic trouble codes from vehicles, when the Check Engine Light is on.  A lot of scanners just read codes, but do not tell you what the code means.  This Actron scanner does both, in a very small unit.  It reads OBD II and CAN codes too.  This will be a useful addition to my tool collection.  Code readers are useful for any serious or DIY mechanic.  The best part?  It was sent to me Free of Charge by Actron so I can test out it and write about it.  I can't wait to find some cars to hook it up too.  A thorough review to be posted soon!

My Harbor Freight Toolbox

harbor freight toolbox
The Harbor Freight Toolbox

Last Wednesday I made a trek up to Harbor Freight to get something fun, the US General Harbor Freight Toolbox.  This is actually my first toolbox I have ever bought.

I had looked around at all sorts of different options for toolboxes about everywhere you could think of besides Harbor Freight.  I went to Sears  and checked out the Craftsman line as well as the website extensively.  They had nice setups, but most were too much for what I wanted to spend.  I went to Lowes and Home Depot, poorly designed units that were waaay overpriced.  I even checked online and tirelessly prowled Craigslist for months.  I considered spending a good bit of money on Mac unit, using my 50% student discount.  That probably would be worth it, but I don't have much money.

I kept coming back to the Harbor Freight Toolbox though.  With 13-drawers and considering the quality… honestly for the money you can't beat it.  Out the door, with tax, it came out to be around $370.  It's not the best quality toolbox, but for home use and what I need it should be fine.  It's sturdy, the slides on the drawers work well and have smooth action, and it holds a good amount of tools considering how much we loaded it with.  I was just tired of having tools all around the garage unorganized and impossible to find.  I'm pleased with it and I should get good use out of this Harbor Freight toolbox for years to come I believe.

Do you own a Harbor Freight Toolbox?  What do you like or dislike about it?  If you are consider getting this Harbor Freight toolbox leave a questions below if you have want to know something about it and how it has held-up.

Review: Cripe Distributing

I recently made a wrench set purchase through a company called Cripe Distributing, which is an online tool vendor and Ebay store that sells overstocked tools and equipment for great prices. I thought I'd writeup a review of my experience for others

I read about Cripe on GarageJournal, which is a great online forum for garage junkies, gearheads, and craftsman of all types. I had been looking to get a set of Gearwrench X-Beam Ratcheting Wrenches or similar set for awhile. I saw that Cripe had a great deal on an 8-piece set for $35, which was a mighty good deal. I used a coupon code (RDKBS) for an additional 5% off with PayPayl orders. That brought down the price to $33.25, which was an even better deal. Including UPS ground shipping, which was $11.54, the order total came out to $44.79. I felt shipping was a little pricey, but still worth the cost.

I emailed Cripe to ask if there was anything that could be done about the shipping costs, such as mailing them in a USPS Flat-Rate box. I got a response in 1 day, which was very surprising since this was on the weekend. However, I didn't use the customer service email I used the email the PayPal payment was sent to. I think that probably had something to do with it. Here was the email response.

we try to make our shipping costs as actual as we can…… we don't use the shipping as a profit center like most people do
when someone overpays shipping by more then a few dollars…. we do our best to refund them…..
or
we could build the shipping into each item…. but we feel that that is unfair to the person who buys multiple items
we really do try to be as fair as possible…
you can always try our website where it figures your shipping based on your zip code…. and gives you different shipping options to choose from

I thought this was a reasonable response and is understandable.  It is annoying when ordering items through Amazon Prime I realize the shipping price is built into the price of the item.

I ordered the wrench set on February 9th and received it February 22th. The package was delivered when expected by UPS and was packaged decently. Check the pictures below.

My complaints with Cripe Distributing would be they're ordering system and website. I setup an account on they're website, and several days after my order was placed… there was no record of any orders. I found this strange. Also they're website is somewhat difficult to navigate and doesn't have the best layout and navigation, which can be annoying. On some items I've noticed there are key pieces of information missing. For example, I noticed on sockets sets sometimes they do not list the drive size the sockets are for. I guess it's understandable that they don't have the best website and software since they most likely keep costs down in order to maintain good pricing. They should provide the correct and accurate information on they're website for products though. On a lot of items you also won't find much of savings when you calculate shipping costs.

There are 2 ways to order through Cripe Distributing, you can order directly on they're website or on the Ebay store. I might consider ordering from the Ebay storefront. Actually if you check Ebay, they offer different items on there and sometimes different items through they're website. I find this equally strange and confusing.  However, Cripe does have great prices on a lot of tools so I will most likely be using them again.

PROS

  • Good customer service
  • Great pricing on tools
  • Good pacakging

CONS

  • Difficult to navigate website
  • Different products offered on website vs. Ebay
  • Shipping Costs

Overall I'm happy with Cripe and will order from them again most likely. if the price is right and shipping isn't ridiculous.

 

An Interesting Tool… Matco/Craftsman Ratchet

The Snap-On truck stopped by at work today. I noticed something interesting on the truck. This Matco stubby ratchet that the Snap-On man had.


He told me, “This was a ratchet that one of my customers sent back to Matco for warranty replacement. They sent him back this one! It was a manufacturing mistake. This Matco ratchet is $75 on the Matco truck, while at Sears it's $20. I keep it to show people if you are going to pay premium prices for a tool, you should get a premium quality tool!”

The first thing that crossed my mind…  maybe the Snap-On dealer bought the Matco and Craftsman ratchets, then put the Matco head on the Craftsman handle. Obviously he wants you to feel like spending big money on his tools is worth it.  As Snap-On tools are quite expensive.

Of course you do need to consider Craftsman and Matco hand tools are both made by Danaher. It's totally possible this is manufacturing defect that they overlooked. Maybe both the Matco and Craftsman ratchets are made in the same factory and on the same line.

If you have an on opinion on this, please post a comment below. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Mac Tools Student Tech Program

Yesterday I received this nice folder and catalog from Mac Tools. Mac has what's know as the Student Tech Program (STP). You can get 50% off for being student in a technical program on most tools and toolboxes they sell. Students in Automotive Technology, Collision Repair and Refinishing, Diesel Maintenance, and Motorcycle Repair programs are all eligible for the program and discounts. I thought the folder was nice, and it was sent via UPS. I might just order some tools through them soon.