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Buying Sockets

Whether you’re a mechanic or home-improvement novice, you need a solid set of sockets. These components provide firm contact on each side of the bolt and deliver large amounts of torque with each turn. There are a number of different sets to consider when outfitting your tool box. Here are four main types of sockets every workshop needs to get any job done right.

Types of Sockets

SAE Sockets

If you're working on an American-made vehicle, you'll need SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) measurements. These sockets are measured in inches and fractions based on the standard imperial system, and they come in standard, deep and short models.



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Metric Sockets

Imported cars typically use bolts and other fasteners that require metric sockets. As noted in their name, these sockets are based off the metric system and measured in millimeters. Like SAE sockets, they come in standard, deep and short models.



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Impact Sockets

These sockets are built to be used in tandem with impact wrenches. They're made to sustain high torque and can remove rusted bolts. They come in both SAE and metric measurements and are available in swivel models to handle tight spaces.



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Torx Bit Sockets

These specialty sockets are fitted with bits that can fit Torx screws. They come in a wide range of sizes but use the same measurements as SAE sockets. Torx sockets are used for their ability to apply the desired level of torque without slipping, making them ideal for heavy-duty projects.




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Other Considerations

Socket Lengths

While it’s important to know which types of sockets to consider, you should also determine which lengths are best for the job. There are two general lengths to consider when purchasing a set.

  • Shallow sockets - These models are made for tight spaces, and some short models can rotate, allowing you to tighten bolts in tight angles.
  • Deep sockets - Deep sockets are meant to reach out of the way bolts that are tough to reach. These are especially useful for auto work, since you'll need to reach between other pieces to get to your work.

Which Should You Buy?

Having a good set of both metric and SAE sockets is recommended. You run the risk of stripping the bolt and the socket if you try to use a SAE socket on a metric bolt and vice versa. If you're working on heavy-duty or specialty projects, you'll want to invest in impact and Torx bits.