If you, like most home mechanics, lack a lift and rely on or a , you've probably spent a lot of time on your back swearing at under while enjoying all the cold comfort a concrete garage floor has to offer.
There's no reason you have to lay on the floor, though! There are all kinds ofout there to make working on your car a little easier -- from and to and . However, one of the most useful products is the mechanics' creeper.
So, welcome to the wonderful world of mechanics' creepers. There are creeper models for every budget and I guarantee you that even the worst is better than an oily piece of cardboard. I've tested a bunch and here are my favorites.
While not quite as posh as its Pro counterpart below, the $70 savings here with the Creepex FastBack makes it the best choice overall. Lay yourself down in this mechanic's creeper and you're not only comfortable and relaxed, but you have unparalled stability. The three-wheel design means you can only move in one direction or rotate, which takes a little getting used to. But, it means you can lean on that stuck bolt without sending yourself flying across the garage floor. The big caster wheels for easy movement also cruise over cracks and air hoses, while you can choose two ride heights to ensure you're ground clearance is as low as possible. And this plastic creeper has a heavy-duty 500-pound weight capacity. When you're through, an optional wall mount keeps this thing out of the way.
You knew there was something coming from Harbor Freight, right? This Pittsburgh Automotive mechanic creeper option looks awfully similar to the Gearwrench option, and isn't as comfortable, nor are its castors of the same quality. But it sure is easier on the wallet, and it comes with a padded headrest for added comfort when you're under your vehicle and features a 300-pound weight capacity.
I hate to use a cliche, but this is truly the Cadillac of creepers. The Creepex FastBack Pro car creeper offers all the comfort and stability of the base FastBack, but here you get magnetic bolt-holding hubcaps and even rechargeable lights in addition to the padded headrest. Not cheap, but buy once cry once, right?
GearWrench has managed something impressive: It's created a comfortable plastic creeper that's also smooth-rolling with a low-profile design. The slender bits of EVA back and headrest padding are just cushy enough, while the magnetic tool tray and bolt tray on either side ensure things are right where you need them. The six, three-inch caster wheels offer the right blend of ride-height and smoothness, while the one-piece frame design means this vehicle creeper feels damn-near bulletproof.
Need a foldable creeper that doubles as a seat? Look no further than the Z Creeper from Pro-Lift. It looks like a traditional padded creeper with a beefy steel frame, but with a quick fold it turns into a basic creeper seat. It's perfect for scooting around and swapping wheels as a mechanics seat, then folding flat so that you can go chase after that one lug nut that rolled under the car. It's relatively thick, so not the best if you're dealing with limited space, but I do love it when a tool does the job of two things.
Comparison of the best mechanics' creepers
|Best mechanic's creeper overall||Creepex||FastBack||$139|
|Best affordable mechanic's creeper||Pittsburgh Automotive||40-inch Low-Profile Creeper||$35|
|Best mechanic's creeper if money is no object||Creepex||FastBack Pro||$199|
|Best low-profile mechanic's creeper||GearWrench||40-inch Creeper with Magnetic Trays||$130|
|Best folding mechanic's creeper||Pro-Lift||C-9100 Foldable Z Creeper||$84|
Some notes on the best garage creepers for mechanics
- How low can you go: It's important to get a creeper that can actually get you under your car. If you want to be absolutely sure, get your car up on the jack stands you use and measure the distance between its lowest point (probably the exhaust) and the ground. Then, lie on your back and have someone measure your thickness. Your creeper needs to lift you no higher than the difference.
- Mobility vs. stability: Most creepers have free-spinning casters that will send you shooting in any direction you want to go. That's great for mobility, but not the best if you really want to lean on a stuck bolt when you're under a vehicle. The Creepex models are the only ones on this best mechanic's creeper list that let you stay in position and really torque down.
- Big wheels: Bigger wheels mean easier rolling. This not only means less resistance to you going from headers to muffler, but it also means you'll cruise over air hoses or bits of gravel more easily. However, bigger wheels also usually mean a thicker creeper, so make sure it's not too thick.
- Color counts: Your average creeper is black, but if you can I'd recommend getting something in a brighter color. Just imagine what'd happen if you accidentally stepped on one of these...
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