Mechanic Tool Financing: Best Options for You
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The success and livelihood of auto mechanics depends on the tools in their toolboxes. But those wrenches, ratchets and sockets don’t come cheap, and could cost as much as the car they’re used to repair.
Because mechanics typically supply their own tools — a large upfront expense — financing options exist to make the purchase more manageable. Most mechanics will purchase their tools on credit and pay off their balance over time, said Mike Brodfuehrer, automotive technical instructor at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
“The sky’s the limit for financing these tools,” Brodfuehrer said.
Automotive schools typically provide students with a basic tool kit at a discounted price; according to Brodfuehrer, students at York College can purchase a $5,000 set of basic hand tools for $2,000 to $2,500. Once they start working in the field, auto technicians are responsible for purchasing the specific tools needed for their area of expertise.
Mechanics typically spend $5,000 to $10,000 on tools throughout their careers, noted Brodfuehrer, but that total depends on what they need. If you’re strictly changing oil, you may spend several hundred dollars. But if you work on all areas of a car from bumper to bumper, you could spend as much as $40,000 on tools, he said.
“As you progress and add more and more areas, obviously you’re going to need more tools,” he said.
Advanced tools could include a set of impact wrenches at varying widths, which could range from $300 to $500, according to Brodfuehrer. Air ratchets could also add up to $200 to $300 for a full set — even the price of a toolbox could reach four figures, he added.
Unless the auto shop prefers all technicians to use the same brand of tools, mechanics are free to choose their own, Brodfuehrer said. For those who don’t have the cash on hand to make a purchase, we’ll help you understand your options for financing your automotive tools.
How to finance your automotive tools
Distributors for tool companies typically make weekly visits to automotive shops to sell tools straight off their trucks; according to Brodfuehrer, this is the most common way for mechanics to buy new items.
The distributors offer a credit program and allow mechanics to make weekly payments to cover the cost of the tool, Brodfuehrer said. While paying off their balance, they have the tools they need to avoid any delay in work.
Mechanics will apply for a line of credit with the tool company and then set up a payment plan to pay down the balance, Brodfuehrer said. Oftentimes a revolving line of credit can be obtained, which means the full credit amount would become available again after what was spent has been paid back.
For auto shop owners
Some financing companies offer funding for automotive tools for small business owners. Auto shop owners could apply online and find out in minutes if they’re approved for funding to outfit their whole shop. For larger or more expensive items, shop owners could also apply for equipment financing — either a small business loan or a lease — from an alternative online lender. In both cases, the equipment itself is the collateral.
Some financing companies may advertise lease options for automotive tools, but leases are not commonly used to finance hand tools, said Brodfuehrer; however, he acknowledged that auto shop owners might lease larger equipment. A lease may not give you full ownership of the tool, even though you’d be making payments.
Mechanic tool financing options
From tool companies to online business lenders, here are a few places you can find mechanic tool financing.
One of the largest sellers of automotive equipment, Mac Tools offers credit to technicians who want to pay off a purchase in weekly installments. You can make payments to the Mac distributor who visits your automotive shop weekly. You could also make payments online and you can pay off your balance in full at any time. Once approved for a line of credit, you don’t have to reapply each time you want to make a purchase. You can use your Mac credit line to buy any merchandise and 100 percent of the purchase can be financed.
Another major player in the world of automotive equipment, Snap-on extends credit to both auto technicians and shop owners. For shop owners, Snap-on offers no-interest financing for the first six months. For mechanics, Snap-on’s CreditStart program provides credit to assist with purchases of tools, tool storage or diagnostic equipment, while also helping you build your personal credit profile. Snap-on tools are sold through franchisees who bring their tool trucks to automotive shops. You can find your local Snap-on franchisee here.
Matco offers credit to full-time mechanics and students needing to finance their tools. All sales are made through the Matco distributor who visits your auto shop. After providing Matco with your local distributor information, your credit approval would depend on verification of your job as a full-time automotive technician and a credit application.
Retailers such as Sears, Lowe’s and Home Depot sell automotive tools, and they offer in-store financing.
- Sears offers no interest for 12 months on purchases made with its Sears Card.
- Lowe’s offers its Advantage Card with six months of no interest on purchases of $299 or more.
- Home Depot also has a variety of credit cards available. The hardware chain often has special promotions, such as offering 24 months of no-interest financing on qualified purchases.
- *Terms and conditions apply. These offers and/or promotions may have since changed, expired, or is no longer available.
But be careful of deferred interest with store cards — if you fail to pay your card balance in full by the end of the promotional period, you may be hit with an interest charge equal to all of the interest you would have been charged during that time.
Crest Capital is an online alternative lender catering to small business owners. The company offers mechanic tool financing for owners of independent automotive repair shops. The application and approval processes are done entirely online, and Crest Capital can finance a range of equipment, from hand tools to major equipment like air compressors and welding machinery. Crest Capital’s financing options include lease programs for various equipment.
Formerly Direct Capital, CIT is an online bank and a bank with physical branches in California under the name OneWest. Auto shop owners may apply online for auto shop and equipment financing or leasing through CIT. Equipment financing is generally available up to $500,000 with rates as low as 5.49% as of Dec. 10, 2018 within one day for qualified customers, though eligibility criteria is not included on the CIT website.
What to do if you have bad credit
No matter where you turn for mechanic tool financing, approval would be based on your personal credit history, Brodfuehrer said — “They’re not going to give you thousands of dollars of tools if you don’t have decent credit.”
For mechanics with bad credit, some auto shop owners will give them a set of tools and then take portions out of their paycheck as payment, Brodfuerher said. Making those payments to the shop owner could help mechanics build up their credit score if the shop owner chooses to report their payments to a national credit bureau.
Camaraderie can also go a long way in the industry. If you get to know the tool distributors who visit your shop each week, they may be willing to set up a line of credit for you once they find you trustworthy, Brodfuerher said.
“Once you’re in good standing, they generally give you the tool and you start paying,” he said.
After you are approved for credit, you must stay up to date with your payments. The tools act as collateral and if you fail to pay your debt, Brodfuerher noted, your tools could be repossessed and your job as an auto technician could be at risk.