Harbor Freight Tools Review

Published: January 29, 2017

This page summarizes my experience with various Harbor Freight tools and whether I think they are a good buy.

Jacks

Harbor Freight jacks can be a hit or miss in terms of quality control. I would definitely buy extended warranty when purchasing a Harbor Freight jack.

My current jack is an HF low profile 3 ton steel unit. It weighs 103 lbs which makes it a pain to haul around and especially load and unload from the vehicle. It is also big. However its size gives it unrivaled ability to get under the frame rails of lowered cars, and it also raises the cars very high which is nice.

The first jack lasted me just short of 2 years before it broke. I got the replacement jack via extended warranty. The replacement jack has been going on for about 4 years I think. I do keep the jacks outside when it rains during track days so they see a fair amount of water.

I also bought a Harbor Freight press and the jack that came with it was leaking right off the bat. It felt less than ideal in operation and it could not hold pressure but I did not want to apply too much pressure anyway due to reports of Harbor Freight press plates shattering. I was going to replace the jack toward the end of the extended warranty period but it never got worse.

Ratchets

This includes ratcheting wrenches, ratchets and torque wrenches. I would stay away from Harbor Freight for these items. I had a 3/8" HF torque wrench break its ratcheting mechanism on first use and a 1/2" HF stubby ratchet do exactly the same. I have a set of flex-head ratcheting wrenches and on one of them the ratcheting mechanism started to stick after about a year of ownership. GearWrench etc. wrenches and ratchets are more expensive but I would get one of those instead of an HF unit.

Phillips Screwdrivers

Harbor Freight screwdrivers are made from soft metal and tend to bend and break their tips, which also ruins fasteners. My strong recommendation is a [Vessel Phillips/JIC screwdriver]https://www.amazon.com/Bessel-Vessel-Difference-Screwdrivers-No-220w-3/dp/B00E55DL4I(), it's worth the money and works much better on higher-torqued fasteners than HF units. These days I only use HF Phillips screwdrivers when I don't care about reusing the fastener.

Flathead Screwdrivers

I think the flathead screwdrivers from Harbor Freight are fine, unlike the Phillips screwdrivers. Not much wrong can go wrong with the flathead ones.

Grinders

I've had a 4 1/2" Harbor Freight grinder for several years now. It has given me no issues so far, I would by another one if needed.

HF grinding wheels work fine, though I have not used other brands to compare longevity.

Cut-Off Tools

I've had a 3" Harbor Freight cut-off tool for several years. Like the grinder I have had no issues with the cut-off tool.

HF cut-off wheels seem to have issues cutting metal when the wheels are somewhat used. It seems to me that this should not happen. That said the cut-off wheels are very cheap and eventually they do cut whatever I am trying to cut.

Drills

I have a 1/2" HF drill and a 3/8" HF angle drill. Both have given me no issues to date.

Drill Bits

I tried a big box of Warrior drill bits which are I believe a HF store brand. These seemed duller than other drill bits I've used for cutting metal. As a result I had to apply pressure on the drill bit to make reasonable progress, resulting in many bits breaking through 1/4" size which I honestly think is a bit too thick of a drill bit to break like that.

I am trying other brands of drill bits now.