If you’re new to the automotive program at your college, or are considering it, you probably need to buy quite a lot of tools. One of the most important tools you will buy, is the one you use to store the rest of your tools. Having the proper amount of space, reliability, and usability, all while not breaking the bank is no small task. As someone who struggled with the same decision when joining my community college’s automotive program, I understand your dilemma. Personally, it took me a long time to come to a decision on which toolbox to go for, working without a box of my own for about a month before deciding on the right one. Most student’s hesitation is understandable, as many toolboxes and chests go for upwards of $800, no small amount of money to most college students.
So, what is the best toolbox for automotive students? In my opinion the best bang for your buck out there is the 27-inch 4-drawer tool cart made by Husky available here. For around $600, you get plenty of space from a brand that has created quite a good name for itself by selling affordable, long-lasting tools and equipment. Its matte black design is sleek and unassuming; I never was a fan of the bright colored red or green carts you see everywhere.
As previously mentioned, this cart has 4 drawers, all on ball-bearings for smooth opening and closing. The 3 lower drawers all measure 23.3 inches wide by 15.2 inches deep, and 6.2 inches tall, with the bottom drawer having an additional .8 of an inch of height. Even though the top drawer only measures 3 inches tall, it is ironically the drawer I got the most use out of.
The system I developed while working out of the cart, was putting my most-used tools in the top drawer for easy access, and sorted everything else into the other three drawers by category, such as my larger tools in the bottom drawer for obvious reasons. For that reason, having that top drawer being so easy to access, made this cart all the more convenient for me.
This cart also comes with 2 keys for locking up your tools when you aren’t using them. This is especially for students working in shops with a large amount of people around constantly, as opposed to just having a cart that sits in your personal garage. The sad reality is there are people out there who will steal your tools, even your fellow technicians and students. Because of this, having a single lock that secures all 4 drawers is a blessing.
Husky also added 4 wheels to the bottom of the cart for easily moving around the shop; it also as 2 locking wheels to keep it in place when you have it where you want it. On the topic of moving the cart, it is relatively light at just over 80 pounds, more than light enough to load and unload into a vehicle by yourself, but I would still recommend having a buddy give you a hand, just in case. You’ll probably want to empty the cart before moving it, not just to protect your tools and the interior of the cart, but because there is a small gap between the inside of the drawer and the walls of the cart. This means there is a chance some of your smaller tools (especially those in the top drawer) can fall out of the drawer and into the inside of the cart itself, making them impossible to reach without removing a drawer. While the drawers themselves are not difficult to remove, they can be a pain to re-attach without an extra set of hands to help you line up the rails. The rails are also held on by somewhat flimsy plastic, and while it never happened to me, I imaging these plastic pieces could be subject to breaking if removed too many times.
That being said, I was definitely not very kind to my tool cart as far as preventing damage or potentially damaging liquids to get on the box itself, and has held up admirably. I still use the cart to this day, as it is an extremely convenient size to be moved over to where I am working. Even though I used this cart to this day, it won’t be the last cart you purchase in your automotive career, eventually you will need more space. However, I consider this one of the best “tool” purchases I ever made, and is definitely one of, if not the, best tool carts you can get at this price. Be sure to check it out if you’re looking for a toolbox to use while working towards an automotive degree.