Best $200 (or less) Tool Kit for College Student?

nwoods

Expedition Leader
I'm looking for a compact tool kit that my daughter can keep in her aging Montero that is relatively comprehensive, and not very expensive. She goes to school 1,400 miles away, so I won't be on hand to help out.
Ideally, it will be all metric, have ratcheting combo gear wrenches from 8mm to 19mm, 6-point 1/4" and 3/8" sockets from 8mm to 24mm, several types of pliers, screw drivers, and some Allen head and Torx bits.
I think a flat pack form factor makes the most sense for in-car storage, but a canvas bag or tool rolls would also work.

I would prefer not to build a tool set, but will if necessary.

Suggestions?
- Tekton
- GearWrench
- Craftsmen
- Northern Tool
- Sonic? (yeah, I wish!)
- Dewalt? - this one is pretty nice
- Harbor Freight? (I'm honestly hoping for something a bit better than this)
- Crescent has this one that doesn't look too bad. This one is smaller, but has 1/2" sockets also
- Kobalt/Lowes has one that is not very complete
- This no name Amazon kit looks pretty good, for a stupid cheap price. Kinda like the Cresent kit
- Here is another Amazon kit that is going a different direction, but might be handy
- Or this one?

I'm open to ideas and suggestions, with links preferably.
 

NatersXJ6

Explorer
Does she have the skill to do basic maintenance herself? Is this an emergency repair kit? Will it be used? If she is likely to be using these tools for years on her own, I would suggest getting less stuff of higher quality. If this is just to make you feel good and her boyfriend might use it if she’s lucky enough to find a smart one…. Go cheap-cheap or buy it when needed locally.
 

Hegear

Member
I always buy the Costco kits for my cars, I think there usually crescent sets. I have one that’s been in my Jeep for 10 years, used a lot with no problems.
 

billiebob

Well-known member
I'm looking for a compact tool kit that my daughter can keep in her aging Montero that is relatively comprehensive, and not very expensive. She goes to school 1,400 miles away, so I won't be on hand to help out.
Ideally, it will be all metric, have ratcheting combo gear wrenches from 8mm to 19mm, 6-point 1/4" and 3/8" sockets from 8mm to 24mm, several types of pliers, screw drivers, and some Allen head and Torx bits.
I think a flat pack form factor makes the most sense for in-car storage, but a canvas bag or tool rolls would also work.

I would prefer not to build a tool set, but will if necessary.

Suggestions?
- Tekton
- GearWrench
- Craftsmen
- Northern Tool
- Sonic? (yeah, I wish!)
- Dewalt? - this one is pretty nice
- Harbor Freight? (I'm honestly hoping for something a bit better than this)
- Crescent has this one that doesn't look too bad. This one is smaller, but has 1/2" sockets also
- Kobalt/Lowes has one that is not very complete
- This no name Amazon kit looks pretty good, for a stupid cheap price. Kinda like the Cresent kit
- Here is another Amazon kit that is going a different direction, but might be handy
- Or this one?

I'm open to ideas and suggestions, with links preferably.
AAA buy the premium package.
The last thing you want is yer daughter at the side of the road trying to fix it.
AAA plus the best cell phone coverage available. Do not hold back on technology and a buy her a NEW Subaru.
Done and sleep well.

PS, include a can of MACE.

For the past 40 years my wife has driven new Camrys, Accords, Subarus... and a VW for a year.... massive mistake.
She drives new, follows the factory maintenance schedule religiously at the dealership, and has never been let down.
I told her to never stop on the highway, drive on, call the police first chance. She drove by a body on the shoulder at 6am... called the RCMP next town.
A few days later they called to say thank you.... he was on Canadas 10 most wanted list.

Crazy to buy anyone a tool kit.... if they are inclined to fix it they will buy their own tools.... my son included. He picked the tools he needed/wanted.
Better investment pay yer girls books or ski vacation or spring break than tools unless she is a mechanic.
 
Last edited:

Alloy

Well-known member
A kit to fix it at home is a good idea but on the road there's a good chance parts will be needed so it will get towed.

I don't buy kits because only 20% of the stuff is usefull and the rest of the stuff you do more damage trying to use it.

Best thing would be to try and figure out what sizes are needed and buy accordingly.

You want spanners with a box ends like this
1655526665462.png
Don't forget Vise Grips, 3lb hammer and a good wrench.
 

Paddler Ed

Adventurer
I used to run a Victorinox Swiss tool as that was the limit of what I could fix - ie if it needed that, then I was OK - more than that and I was out my depth.

Over the last 10+ years I've been running a Crescent set that goes up to 19mm and 3/4", with both 3/8 and 1/2" drive ratchets (and adaptors for 1/4" in the smaller sockets). I've supplemented it over the years for the car(s), with a 24" breaker bar, torque wrench, impact sockets (and rattle gun), old skool heavy duty jump leads (I run 4.5 litre petrol and 3.6 litre diesel, wife has a 6.0 V8 petrol, so they all need a decent lump of CCA). For really long trips I'll add in a 1/4" ratchet and a set of ratcheting spanners (8-19mm), multimeter, wire and spare connectors (oh, and 12v soldering iron + solder), as well as a tyre plug kit to go with the compressor.

Personal choice would be
  • breaker bar (with the instruction to use the stock wheel brace to do the nuts/studs back up with)
  • ratchet handle to suit
  • some sockets to suit both above.
  • spanner roll of 8-19mm or so
  • pliers
  • Jump leads
As others have said, if it needs much more than that, it won't be getting fixed at the side of the road.

I've fixed a couple of fan belts/accessory belts on the side of the road, and changed several tyres, so that's generally what I set my tools for. Any more than that and it's recovery time.
 

ripperj

Explorer
I’d go with AAA too unless she has mad mechanic skills, however, that’s not what you asked .
This is what I throw in my truck for long trips: I have a 2-3 decade old version of it that is in a better suitcase type box, but the contents are similar


This is mine





I have a tool roll that supplements and has a big and small pair of vice grips, a couple adjustable and a few screwdrivers




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

wordsmyth

New member
Granted, @billiebob approaches the problem (daughter needing roadside repairs or assistance) in an entirely different manner, but after thinking it through I agree wholeheartedly.

AAA buy the premium package.
The last thing you want is yer daughter at the side of the road trying to fix it.
AAA plus the best cell phone coverage available. Do not hold back on technology and a buy her a NEW Subaru.
Done and sleep well.

PS, include a can of MACE.

For the past 40 years my wife has driven new Camrys, Accords, Subarus... and a VW for a year.... massive mistake.
She drives new, follows the factory maintenance schedule religiously at the dealership, and has never been let down.
I told her to never stop on the highway, drive on, call the police first chance. She drove by a body on the shoulder at 6am... called the RCMP next town.
A few days later they called to say thank you.... he was on Canadas 10 most wanted list.

Crazy to buy anyone a tool kit.... if they are inclined to fix it they will buy their own tools.... my son included. He picked the tools he needed/wanted.
Better investment pay yer girls books or ski vacation or spring break than tools unless she is a mechanic.
As a married man and father of two grown daughters, I would suggest teaching her how to do basic preventive and pre-trip maintenance (check all fluids, air and assess tires; how to change a flat, etc.) and then make sure she has the type of info noted above. We have not always been able to afford "new," but I always made sure the wife and daughters have vehicles that are mechanically sound and that I would personally feel comfortable traveling in across country.

There's just too darned many people on the roadways to day up to no good. Get to a safe haven as expeditiously as possible underpins the conversation anytime mine are traveling. After that we worry about specific repairs.

As a motorcycling gear-head and DIY'fer, I am enjoying the tool kits part of the discussion.
 

ducktapeguy

Adventurer
If she has no mechanical skills a tool kit will not do anything. AAA Premium can't be beat.
x2. What’s her skill level? And what’s her motivation to fix it? A fully stocked garage won’t help if she doesn’t know how to or want to fix it. In most cases for a young college student a Leatherman tool and AAA card would be a lot more useful than a tool kit that has a higher probability of being lost or borrowed/stolen than fixing anything.

Harbor freight would get my vote, they’re great for car fool kits because they’re cheap and durable. I doubt theres any roadside repair that requires a higher quality than HF.

If she does have some basic knowledge and mechanical skills, a set like this would cover most repairs. I have this as my backup tool kit and the quality is decent. However, even I don’t carry this many tools in my vehicle tool kit because it’s just overkill.

Crescent tool kit

personally I would avoid ratcheting wrenches, never found them very useful except for very specific tasks. Most of the time the large heads just get in the way. Since this is more For emergency repairs and not for a mechanics job, speed really isn’t a factor.
 
Last edited:

stihl036

New member
Hey,

I have three daughters, 13 years old 15 years old and 17 years old. For my oldest daughter’s graduation I spent about $300 CDN on a home/car/everything tool kit. The Mastercraft socket set was $99 CDN for 184 pieces. Father’s Day sales happen at the exactly time as graduation! ;o)


She already has a smart phone, Leatherman rebar and a Pink Camo Ruger 10.

I like the Crescent tool kit posted just above by ducktapeguy, too.

PS - I drive a cheap mans Toyota, a ‘92 Mazda B2600i 4x4 that has been in our family for +20years.
 

ThundahBeagle

Well-known member
AAA buy the premium package.
The last thing you want is yer daughter at the side of the road trying to fix it.
AAA plus the best cell phone coverage available. Do not hold back on technology and a buy her a NEW Subaru.
Done and sleep well.

PS, include a can of MACE.

For the past 40 years my wife has driven new Camrys, Accords, Subarus... and a VW for a year.... massive mistake.
She drives new, follows the factory maintenance schedule religiously at the dealership, and has never been let down.
I told her to never stop on the highway, drive on, call the police first chance. She drove by a body on the shoulder at 6am... called the RCMP next town.
A few days later they called to say thank you.... he was on Canadas 10 most wanted list.

Crazy to buy anyone a tool kit.... if they are inclined to fix it they will buy their own tools.... my son included. He picked the tools he needed/wanted.
Better investment pay yer girls books or ski vacation or spring break than tools unless she is a mechanic.

I see so many people on the side of the highway fiddling with a flat tire. Like you, I tell anyone I know, either call AAA and stay put, or drive it slowly off the next exit and fix it off the highway.

Agree...if she hasn't done her own maintenance in the driveway on a sunny day, how can you expect her (anyone) do do so under emergent circumstances at night in the rain.
 

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