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Discussion Starter #1
Do you use impact sockets mostly for suspension work, or are there other automotive uses?

What do you think about saving money and getting 3/8" drive shallow impact sockets instead of 1/2" drive?

Here's a link in particular:


I already have a 1/2" to 3/8" impact adapter to use these sockets with a 1/2" drive impact, but a set of thirteen 1/2" is only $20 at Harbor Freight:


Along these lines, what are your thoughts about different brands of impact sockets?

Thanks
 

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I have numerous mechanic friends who have two sets of HF impact sockets so they're never stuck in the middle of a job if a socket fails. Usually they loose them before thay have an issue. It comes down to how often you use them and what for. For the DIY'er I think Craftsman are a good bet as well as Husky.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Do you mean the current Chinese Craftsman or the classic US Craftsman?

What sort of problems do your friends have with the impact sockets failing, eg splitting in half?

It looks like the HF are Cr-V. It is true that the Cr-V last longer than Cr-Mo?

Also, do chrome, non-impact sockets break only when used with air tools and impact drills, or with other tools, too?
 

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As a professional mechanic we use them a lot more than most people think especially the 3/8 and 1/2 I have had tremendous luck with the Harbor Freight impact and chrome sockets and use them everyday never had an issue ever I also use the impact adapters and extensions you can’t beat them I have a few more impact sockets and chrome from other brands and really can’t tell a difference in them. I also don’t know one person who has broken one using it they will take a lot.
 

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The only problem with their sets mostly is the skipped sizes which you will occasionally need but you could easily buy them individually from a different source since HF doesn’t sell individual sockets.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks. The Harbor Freight impacts have dull, matte finishes, unlike the Craftsman which are shiny. Do you have any issues with the impact sockets rusting? Are there things I can do to prevent rust?
 

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Thanks. The Harbor Freight impacts have dull, matte finishes, unlike the Craftsman which are shiny. Do you have any issues with the impact sockets rusting? Are there things I can do to prevent rust?
Oh yeah and yes the HF are CR-V and I have one that I have never used (11/16 in case you were wondering what size it is) and it started to get light surface rust on it after 5 years of just sitting there in my box so I sprayed some PB Blaster on and wrapped it in a shop towel overnight and come back and the rust was gone and so I oil my sockets occasionally but it takes them a while to rust but they won’t rust with normal use and I have never had the chrome sockets rust from them. They are great for the money in my opinion.
 

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Use the right tool for the right job. You're not gonna use a 1/4" drive to remove a lug nut from a Semi-Truck are you? There are times to use 3/8" drives and 1/2" drives and even 1" drives. You just have to decide when that is. If there weren't times like this, we would all be only using one size drive. Harbor Freight impact socks well get the job done with minimal issues.
 

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Thanks. The Harbor Freight impacts have dull, matte finishes, unlike the Craftsman which are shiny. Do you have any issues with the impact sockets rusting? Are there things I can do to prevent rust?
Yes, keep them in a dry location - and lightly oiled. The "finish" will quickly wear off with 1st use, I use a rag dampened w/ a light coat of motor oil to clean / wipe down, before storing. If the sockets are loose (no holder), storing them in a resealable "ZipLok" plastic bag keeps moisture out -> and the sockets together.

Edit: +1 w/ Vangm25 above - only time I've ever busted a socket is using the wrong socket -> over-torquing. Get a set of 1/2" Impact sockets, don't use 3/8" sockets for high-torque applications.
 

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In answer to the question that was asked: The key difference between impact sockets (sold with no coating, so they must be kept dry or be lightly oiled if gotten wet) and "chrome" sockets, is that chromed sockets will crack and split if used with an impact driver.

Chromed sockets come 12 point and 6 point. 12 are more convenient because there are twice as many ways they can go onto a nut, but they are also much more likely to round off a stuck nut, so I won't touch 12 pt sockets. I only own 6 point. Impact sockets are only sold in 6 pt, AFAIK, for this reason.

I'd not seen 3/8" impact sockets before. Probably because impact drivers were always at least 1/2" drive. However, since electric impact screw guns are now available in 3/8" driver size, the need for sockets that won't crack/split when used like that has become necessary.
 

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In answer to the question that was asked: The key difference between impact sockets (sold with no coating, so they must be kept dry or be lightly oiled if gotten wet) and "chrome" sockets, is that chromed sockets will crack and split if used with an impact driver.

Chromed sockets come 12 point and 6 point. 12 are more convenient because there are twice as many ways they can go onto a nut, but they are also much more likely to round off a stuck nut, so I won't touch 12 pt sockets. I only own 6 point. Impact sockets are only sold in 6 pt, AFAIK, for this reason.

I'd not seen 3/8" impact sockets before. Probably because impact drivers were always at least 1/2" drive. However, since electric impact screw guns are now available in 3/8" driver size, the need for sockets that won't crack/split when used like that has become necessary.
They actually do make 12 point impact sockets I have a few that I picked up at the pawn shop that are Pittsburgh brand and I have seen them at Harbor Freight I think it’s only the 3/8 for 12 point though but to me you probably really don’t need the 12 point impacts but I don’t know.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
CamryFL, you wrote, "don't use 3/8" sockets for high-torque applications."

Do you mean impact or regular chrome?

Another question came to mind, is there a lower-limit for torque with 3/8" impact sockets vs 1/2", both being in 6-point?

Thanks
 

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I prefer Snap On sockets (always 6 point, modern fine tooth ratchets make 12 points obsolete) and bought most of them I have now for about 15% (or less) of the truck price at estate auctions (10-32 non impact for $65 example, no owners marks almost perfect condition). As far as extensions and ratchets, I have Harbor Freight ratchets and various brand extensions, mostly accumulated at garage sales amd estate sales.
I have seen a Pittsburgh 30 inch 1/2 inch drive breaker bar, with a Kobalt 1/2 to 3/ths adaptor and a SNAP ON 3/8ths drive 22 MM shallow socket, break loose a lug nut at over 500 foot pounds of torque. When you are standing (210#) on that setup, 2+feet in the air and JUMPING UP AND DOWN ON THE BREAKER BAR, the last thing you want is for anything to break, since it could break your leg, a long way from any help at a pick and pull. (got backing plates for a forum member here)
I like the swivel impacts in 3/8th drive for tight spots, but some applications require a deep well socket.
 

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I did split a 3/8 drive one time trying to break loose a lug nut but it wasn’t a Harbor Freight it was just a cheap one with no name had it on a breaker bar and it snapped but you maybe able to pull it off with a HF since they will take a lot just never put high torque on a 6 point bolt with a 12 point socket when I first started as a mechanic I thought 12 point was better but then I realized when I kept rounding off bolts that I needed 6 points ever since then haven’t had a problem.
 

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Impact tools are used for impact guns.... anywhere they are needed, and when loosening anything. Compared to a breaker bar, you won't strip/break as much when loosening. The only issue I have with some impact sockets is that they aren't thin walled and don't always fit everywhere. So, if your budget only calls for one set of sockets, get the impact sockets. You can always buy a single thinwalled socket when needed.

Not much wrong with generic tools for the DIY'er

The tradesmen need tools that last longer and hopefully don't break in the middle of the job. Once you break or wear out a bunch of matco, snapon, mac, sk, ... you'll understand that they're not prefect either.

Starting out newbie mechanics can upgrade later. Grab the discounted tools. Whatever tools you break or if you strip something, you replace with quality tool to avoid that hassle. For many with their megamaster 20ft tool boxes, most tools aren't used too often. The ones being used constantly need to be upgraded and kept in good order.

Not everyone wants a mortgage on some tools and a toolbox.

I avoid 'cheater bars' and break bars like the plague. Use the impact tool!
 
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If you find yourself using a 3/8" impact wrench or an impact driver with a 3/8" socket adapter a lot, get the 3/8" impact sockets. Otherwise most impact stuff you will want to do will be with a 1/2" impact wrench.

As stated use the proper tool for the proper application; impact-rated stuff for impact, and chrome sockets and adapters for hand use. Impact sockets are softer than chrome, which makes them great for impact use (chrome can shatter and, say, take out your eye), but it means they'll fail in situations where a chrome tool wouldn't. I was once trying to remove a 2JZ crank bolt with a giant 3/4" breaker bar...used a chrome socket, but got an impact-rated 3/4"-to-1/2" reducer (all that was available at the parts store). The adapter sheared in half. Told the client to wait a few days, got a chrome one from Amazon, broke the bolt loose.
 
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CamryFL, you wrote, "don't use 3/8" sockets for high-torque applications."

Do you mean impact or regular chrome?

Another question came to mind, is there a lower-limit for torque with 3/8" impact sockets vs 1/2", both being in 6-point?

Thanks
Both. Impact made of Chrome Vandium (cheap), or "Regular" socket made of Chrome Vandium.

/Start of PSA:

-Never- use a regular chrome socket on an Impact Wrench.

Best case scenario is the socket splits along a point (thinnest wall of the socket). Or it "grenades", which is bad news. Splinters of chrome vandium flying everywhere .. is never a good thing.

Impact: Always best practice to use the socket, sized to the tool.

3/8" Impacts are like their bigger brothers: chamfered, 6-point, etc. ... But they are also thinner walled.

Edit: Yes, you can likely exceed the rating of a 3/8" Impact socket, using a 1/2" Impact gun. ... On a high-torque application.

If you're gonna use 3/8" Impact sockets on a 1/2" Impact gun, spend a few dollars more: and get Chrome Moly sockets. And always wear proper ANSI-rated Eye protection. Please.

/End of PSA
 

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They put it pretty excellently, pretty transparent. BTW Tekton's my go-to, I feel it's the new Craftsman.
 
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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
I looked at what I have in my tool set. There is a 17mm Lowe's Chinese Craftsman 1/2" shallow impact that has the black shiny finish eroding to bare metal. That socket is maybe 2 months old, never saw use outside my house, and was used minimally. At least I can warranty it at Lowe's. So I guess I have my answer about the current quality Chinese Craftsman impact sockets, LOL.

By the way, what cleaning products are safe to use on impact sockets?

I like the fact that Tekton sells individual sockets (1/2" drive only) and has a carry case. Harbor Freight only has a flimsy rack that will certainly break when going through the rough gravel of junkyards. Both have lifetime warranties.

My concern is Tekton's cost at more than 2x Harbor Freight, which is currently on sale for $20 for the 1/2" shallow or the 1/2" deep.

Thoughts?
 
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