Automotive Gift Guide 2014

As well as you know your friends and family, it’s not always easy to shop for them during the holidays! That’s why Harbor Freight is here to help pick through the clutter and find that perfect present. We know that there are all sorts of tool types out there and for those who would rather look under the hood than under the Christmas tree, a special surprise could be the very thing that makes their holiday season the best ever!

So we’ve compiled a handy list of the best automotive gifts to pick up for the auto enthusiast in your life. No matter what your price range might be, we have a great selection of tools and accessories that will fit your budget.

Under $20

12 Volt Deluxe Battery Maintainer and Float Charger (Item #: 61911) – $19.99

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Don’t be alarmed if you have no idea what this tool does. The car buff you’re buying it for will know. And they’ll be impressed at your auto tool knowledge as well. But your secret gift selection process is safe with us. However, in case you get asked, this handy float charger essentially keeps truck or car batteries fully charged even during long storage periods. Easily attached to the vehicle’s battery, the float charger maintains a full charge so that when the vehicle is started up again, the battery still works like new!

16 ft. 6 Gauge Heavy Duty Booster Cables (Item #: 60396) – $19.99

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That’s right. Booster cables. Jumper cables. Whatever you want to call them, these automotive mainstays are essential to any car owner, let alone mechanics and gearheads. And a set of cables from Harbor Freight aren’t just affordable but reliable as well. Jumper cables are designed to get you out of a jam and when you need a jump, you need cables that you can rely on to get you down the road for repairs. By hooking up your car buff relative with these booster cables, you’ll ensure that they are never stranded with a dead battery.

 

Under $50

120 LED Rechargeable Under Hood Work Light (Item #: 60793) – $34.99

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If there’s one place that automotive enthusiasts love to be, it’s under the hood of a car, checking things out. But in order to check things out, you have to be able to see! Even the most savvy mechanics can’t make their way around an engine in the dark so why not help your relative or friend shed some light on the situation with a 120 LED Rechargeable Under Hood Work Light? With its rechargeable Lithium ion battery, this really is a gift that keeps on giving since it can be used over and over for a vast range of automotive projects! Featuring two brightness settings, this shatterproof work light is easily adjustable to fit the task at hand.

Solid Steel Auto Ramp Set (Item #: 68365) – $39.99

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A ramp set might seem like a fairly unimpressive gift choice but these are incredibly versatile to anyone working with vehicles. These ramps don’t just make it easy to lift trucks, cars, and other vehicles up to 6,500 pounds for general maintenance, but they’re also helpful for handling oil changes and car repairs from the comfort of your own home or garage. If you want to ramp up your gift giving this holiday season, try picking up a pair of these solid steel automotive ramps.

 

Under $100

Digital Inspection Camera (Item #: 67979) – $99.99

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This highly versatile and helpful automotive accessory is a must-have for anyone working under a vehicle (or with home appliances, inside electrical equipment, and more!). This rechargeable inspection camera allows you to get into tight spaces and recesses like engine bays or air conditioning units and other appliances for maintenance and repair. The camera features a high resolution lens for clear visibility and a zoom function to get an even closer look. You can even hook the inspection camera up to your laptop or home computer for review.

3 Ton Low Profile Steel Heavy Duty Floor Jack with Rapid Pump® (Item #: 61282) – $92.99

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If you’re going to work on vehicles, it’s often necessary to raise the vehicle for repairs or maintenance underneath. Of course, the perfect automotive tool for this task is a Floor Jack. But what if you’re working on cars with a low profile? In that case, the 3 Ton Low Profile Steel Heavy Duty Floor Jack with Rapid Pump handles the job perfectly, complete with Rapid Pump technology that allows for quick lifting and easy lowering of vehicles. The low profile aspect won’t always be necessary but whoever you plan on gifting this floor jack to will certainly appreciate the extra feature that is sure to come in handy several times over.

 

Over $100

OBD II & CAN Professional Scan Tool (Item #: 60694) – $110.00

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Now we’re getting to higher end items that are great if you want to really impress the automotive fan in your family. This advanced OBD & CAN Code Reader is an excellent choice for mechanics and anyone who needs to diagnose engine issues in vehicles.  The scan tool makes it easy to read troubleshooting codes and get to the bottom of automotive problems quickly. Plus, the code reader is just the right size for stocking stuffing!

500 lb. Capacity Hydraulic Table Cart (Item #: 61405) – $159.99

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This is a fantastic item not just for the automotive enthusiasts out there but anyone who works in a shop or tinkers in a garage. The 500 lb. Capacity Hydraulic Table Cart is ideal for lifting and raising work pieces up to 500 pounds, taking the “heavy” out of heavy lifting. And the best feature on this convenient table cart is the foot pedal. This make it both easy to lift the table cart while also keeping your hands free for positioning or supporting a cumbersome work piece as it’s lifted. Whether it’s an engine or your next metalworking project, the hydraulic table cart takes it to the next level.

 

Hopefully this gives you a good idea of the range of automotive products available at Harbor Freight Tools as well as several good ideas on what to get your car-loving friends and relatives! Whether you’re looking for something small and thoughtful or a special gift that will stand out from the rest, you can find it all at your local HFT. If this still doesn’t help you figure out the perfect gift, keep in mind that a Harbor Freight gift card is always in season!

10 Legendary Favorites from Harbor Freight Tools!

Everyone’s got their favorite tool or accessory that they got from Harbor Freight Tools. Even if nothing else in the store tickles their fancy, there’s that one thing they either love to own, or dream of getting someday.  Actually, it’s more like 20 or 30 things, but for the sake of this post, here are 10 of the Customers’ Favorite Tools from Harbor Freight:

 1. 3-Ton Low Profile Steel Heavy-Duty Floor Jack #61282

3 ton steel jack low profile

You won’t find another deal like this classic workhorse– for the price, this baby can’t be beat! Tired of paying someone else to do your tires, brakes and rotors? The Pittsburgh 3-ton Low Profile Steel Floor Jack almost immediately pays for itself. It rolls smoothly on the garage floor, fits under the low, low show cars, lifts to almost two feet and lowers with ease. Plus, the floor jack’s dual-piston Rapid Pump technology lifts most work loads in just 3-1/2 pumps. Sells for $92.99, but you can usually find a coupon or sale on the 3-ton steel jack for even less. Read the customer reviews and you’ll be a believer, too!

2. 13-Drawer 44″ Roller Cabinet #68784

13 drawer tool cabinet

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you, this is a real nice box. For all the sizes and types of tool chests Harbor Freight has, the U.S. General 44″ Industrial Roller Cabinet is the darling of the bunch. Sizable and sturdy enough to handle a slew of tools, yet easy to roll around the shop floor– not to mention smoothly opens and closes the drawers on ball bearing sliders– the 13-drawer tool cabinet hits the sweet spot like no other. Priced at a doable $389.99 (and that’s when it’s NOT on sale!), it’s built with the same industrial quality as other brands that go for 4-5 times as much. Comes in a glossy powder-coated red finish, guaranteed to snazz up the garage and turn the neighbors green.

3. 12-inch Double-Bevel Miter Saw with Laser #69684

12 -in double bevel miter saw with laser

“Pleasantly surprised,” “Nice handling,” and “Holy crap, that’s sweet!” come to mind when operating the Chicago Electric 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw with Laser Guide. At $199.99, it handily surpasses all expectations with its smooth, clean cuts and precision accuracy– at a fraction of the cost you’d pay elsewhere. It cuts through lumber like butter, and will even go through old oak without chipping. And powered with an ample 15 amp motor, the 12″ miter saw will tackle any house job you’ve got to throw at it.

4. 90-Amp Flux Welder #61849

90 amp flux wire welder

Welding continues to be a growing hobby in this country, and the “5-star”-rated Chicago Electric 90 Amp Flux Wire Welder has been a wildly popular choice for beginners to get their feet wet. Extremely easy to start and practice with, the 90 amp welder doesn’t require gas to operate and needs only 120 volts. Great for 18 ga.- 5/16″ steel and stainless steel, it’s a great go-to tool for vehicle repairs, creating shelving brackets, making a welding cart and other structural components, trailer hitches, small welding repairs and cleaning jobs… If you’re a newbie, or just looking to do small jobs around the property, or if you’ve ever considered trying your hand at welding, this wire-feed welder is the ticket! Goes for $111.99, but like the other Harbor Freight favorites, a coupon or sale is always around to seal the deal.

5. 8750/7000W 13 HP Generator #68530

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Predator generators have built a rock-solid reputation for quality, price and staying-power, and the EPA-certified Predator 8750 Peak/7000 Running Watt, 13 HP (420cc) Generator has literally been a light in the storm for so many power-deprived families and preppers. This generator, hands-down, is the best buy for your buck. While the rest of the neighborhood struggles in darkness, this bad boy will keep the lights on, as well as the fridge, central air, big screen TV, electric water heater, etc. When you consider the motel and fast food costs you’ll be saving– or the comfort of sleeping in your own bed, cooking your own food and getting the hot showers you so love, without a hitch… the $599.99 investment is a sweet price point. But don’t believe me. Check out the reviews by the actual owners!

6. 4-pc. Ratcheting Tie Down Set #61524

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Whether you’re moving furniture, securing a kayak to your trailer, strapping gear on the roof rails, hauling timber, holding a garden tractor or ATV on the truck bed, or keeping your tool box from rattling around the back of your Jeep, these Haul-Master Ratcheting Tie-Downs are the greatest invention since sliced rope. Easily adjustable to secure loads to truck beds, roof racks and trailers, their ratchet handles make it a snap to adjust strap length and pull tight. The tie downs’ vinyl-coated S-hooks also prevent scratching on painted surfaces. At $13.99, these weather-resistant straps are an extremely popular “no-brainer add-on” for customers who come to Harbor Freight with other purchases in mind.

7. Mini Moving Dolly #61899

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Move 1,000 pounds for $11.99? That’s what we’re sayin’… cheaper than buying your buddies pizza and beer to help you move the stuff. Is it any wonder why the Haul-Master Mini Mover’s Dolly is on Harbor Freight’s Top 10 Favorite list? Save your back as you move stacks of loaded boxes, heavy machinery, engine blocks and transmissions, or furniture when the wife’s got a hankering to redecorate. The carpeted surfaces protect furniture finishes and the hard-rubber swivel casters won’t mar your floors. Did I already mention, they’re $11.99?

8. 8-Channel Surveillance DVR with 4 Cameras #61229

8-channel DVR with Cameras

A great addition for home protection, the Bunker Hill Security 8-channel DVR with 4 Cameras and Motion Detection installs easily and can be set up to monitor on your computer or smartphone, so you can keep an eye on things while you’re away! Each camera offers a wide view span with a high resolution, so you can spread them over the areas you want observed and glimpse the four shots simultaneously. It even comes with night vision to keep you apprised of any nefarious nocturnal characters that venture onto your property (imagine your neighbors’ surprise when they see their kid up to no good on Facebook). The 8-Channel Surveillance DVR set sells for $299.99, and you can often find it on sale or a coupon. You can also use the Harbor Freight 20% Off coupon. Hey, where else can you get a room with a view at such a low price?

9. 3-Gallon 100 PSI Oilless Air Compressor #61615

3 gallon 100 psi oilless air compressor

If you’re looking for a small air compressor to keep in the garage for filling tires and balls, or maybe using with a blow gun, airbrush, brad nailer or other small jobs, the Central Pneumatic 3-Gallon PSI Pancake Air Compressor is just the ticket. For an airy $59.99, this little gem is there to save your family bike trip, keep the bounce in your game and help put up the trim and Christmas lights. The fact that it’s “oilless” means less maintenance for you, and the “pancake” low-profile shape means you’ll save garage space and easy portability to wherever the air compressor is needed. How’s that for a breath of fresh air?

10. 12,000 lb. Off-Road Vehicle Electric Winch #61256

12000 lb off road winch

Finally, the top ten list rounds out with the uber-popular Badland 12K Off-Road Vehicle Electric Winch with Automatic Load-Holding Brake. Smell the mud, don’t get stuck in it! This off-road winch is a veritable lifesaver in the swamp, snow, ice and that black, slimy, stinky stuff that they don’t have a name for. Awesome for trucks, ATVs, Jeeps and other 4-wheelers… even great for uprooting trees. It also comes with an incredibly handy remote for easy operation. Don’t be the bud who needs his bacon saved– save your buds’ bacon with the Badland 12K winch!

So, there you have it– the legendary favorites of the Harbor Freight Tools catalog. Chances are you already have one of them. Chances are even better that you’ve got a mind to go buy one (or four) real soon!

Low Cost Auto Restoration Tools

dazed chevelle Remember back, driving your parents’ station wagon or sensible Buick, dreaming of the cool wheels beyond your reach? Cherry Bomb and header and 4-barrel carb were part of our vernacular, just not part of our lives. It’s funny how, now as we get older, we can do all the cool stuff we wanted to do when we were punk teenagers. We were car crazy, man, and many’s the time I envied the guys in the neighborhood who were out on their front lawns, working on their Dodge Challengers or GTO “Goats”—

—not just because they HAD them (which would have been enough), but because they WORKED on them. They probably borrowed their dads’ tools, saved up working shit jobs to get parts and supplies, and spent Satyurdays doing whatever it took to keep their wheels “cherry.” Nowadays, though, when you hear (and feel) a carb-powered 426 Hemi thundering down the road, it’s a geezer you’re more likely to see behind the wheel than a punk. And chances are, that geezer is one of us. Classic car restoration is more popular than ever, and with the help of online parts stores, chat forums and YouTube videos, guys who thought they’d never get to rebuild their favorite classic rides are now living the dream– in their garages (and on their lawns), doing just that. If you’ve decided to restore a vehicle yourself, I salute you. Not only will you save thousands of dollars, you’ll be embarking on a long, challenging– even therapeutic– journey that will reap rewards for years to come. But before we start doing that victory lap, to “Eye of the Tiger,” let me suggest some basic tools you’ll want right out of the gate to make the dream a reality (unless, of course, you like repeatedly going back & forth to the store when you’re in the middle of doing something): The Must-Have Tool The Air Compressor will quickly become your best friend over the course of your restoration. It’s the first thing you’ll need for your arsenal. Between the Die GrinderPaint Sprayer and Impact Wrench, you’ll get a lot of use out of it and, believe me, you’ll thank yourself every time you facea big chore that you don’t have to do manually. It needs to have a decent enough CFM—at least 5-6 CFM per minute at 90 psi– so that the long bursts of sanding, buffing or cutting won’t wear too hard on the compressor. You could get the job done with a 29-Gallon Tank Unit, but if you can swing it, go for a 60-Gallon Compressor, with power to spare. By the way, the Die Grinder is great for polishing the inside of the head ports, cleaning up metal and using with a cut-off wheel to repair panels. Air power, man… it’s a bacon-saver.

Engine Work Compression Tester will help diagnose vital motor issues, such as worn piston rings, burnt valves and bad head gaskets.  This is a great first tool to use when you get your new project car home. You can even take it with you to test a car before you buy it! While it’s not vital for the project, you may want to consider picking up a “cherry-picker” Engine Hoist, especially if you’re planning to restore more than one vehicle. A good 2-Ton Shop Crane should be sufficient, and will more than pay for itself in the long run. Most likely, you should have the cylinders re-bored. A cylinder bore gauge is needed to check for taper, out-of-round and oversize on the cylinders if you are rebuilding the motor yourself. Any critical wear on the cylinder can be reached with this gauge. An Engine Cylinder Hone will de-glaze the cylinder walls and give them a nice, smooth finish. Next, you’ll want a Valve Spring Compressor to remove the valves for a rebuild. Also a cheap valve lapping tool, with grinding compound, helps reseat the valves. Piston Ring Pliers will help you remove and replace the rings on the pistons without breaking them. A Piston Ring Compressor is needed for the installation of the pistons. Also, a piston groove cleaner will remove the carbon crud from the piston grooves. A Dial Indicator is used to measure run-out on things like the flywheel, and endplay on the crankshaft. While there are various types of mounts, including magnetic base and screw mounts, I recommend the clamping mount because it’s faster and easier to work with. Next, a Stud Puller is necessary for removing stripped, rusted and otherwise stubborn head studs, as well as exhaust & intake manifold studs. Another tool you cannot live without is the Torque Wrench—two, actually. Get both a 1/2″ drive and 3/8″ drive for your tool cabinet. These are essential to torque all your bolts to factory specs. Have a complete Tap and Die Set on hand, preferably with both SAE & metric. You’ll find this invaluable for cleaning up old bolts and restoring rusted holes. A good Digital Micrometer is needed to precisely measure anything.

Body Work MIG Welder. You won’t get through a restoration job without it. Why a MIG welder, as opposed to another type? Well, for starters, if you’re new to this kind of project, the MIG is the easiest to learn. Also, they work with the most common types of metals, overhead welding is easier, and the MIG welder works fast. You’ll also want a Hammer & Dolly Set, otherwise known as a “Body & Fender Set.” These tools go a long way in repairing and straightening steel panels, and all-around custom fab work. This one, made by Pittsburgh, probably has the best price you’re going to find, and one look at the customer reviews should convince you there’s no need to keep looking. A Step Drill is essential to make quick, clean work out of drilling large diameter holes for auto-body jobs such as installing chrome trim, and for firewall holes. A Spot Weld Cutter works great in restoration projects and does just what its name implies. Also, a Plumber’s Torch is great for softening and shaping metal. As you work on your project, you’ll find a Bench Grinder and Drill Press are extremely helpful in the auto restoration process.  Plus, a Wire Wheel on the grinder is a must and makes cleaning up parts quick and simple.

Additional Work Make sure you include various Brake Tools, a Tubing Bender and brake flare tool. Finally, get a CreeperPaint StripperTransmission JackDent Repair Kit, and a Comprehensive Mechanics Tool Kit, and you’ll be equipped to tackle most everything involved in your car restoration, as well as many other future projects. Of course, you’ll inevitably be needing cleaners, sealants, lubricants and the odd part along the way, but consider yourself the proud owner of an equipped auto restoration garage.

gremlin Now, get out there and make that Gremlin Funny Car a reality!

Firebird Restoration Tools: Harbor Freight vs. the Competition – Pt. 2

Engine Removal Tools

Last week I started a series illustrating how much could be saved buying products from Harbor Freight Tools– as opposed to the competition– for the ’67 Firebird Restoration project. Breaking it down phase by phase, we’re comparing the prices of tools used in the project with similar (if not exact) products that the competitors advertise. The competitors I chose were Craftsman, Northern Tool, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Grainger. It should be noted that exact matches weren’t always found, so I substituted the closest comparison available. As I suggested last week, I don’t think this compromises the test because we’re only talking about differences in size and shape, not function. It should also be pointed out that not all the listed competitors carry all the tools used in the project.

In the first segment, we looked at Harbor Freight’s tools used in the vehicle’s disassembly video. This week we’ll be exploring price differences on the engine removal phase:

 

This powerful shop crane delivers the lifting power you need to easily hoist engines and transmissions, move heavy machinery and load equipment. And when you’re done, it just folds vertically up against the wall or in a corner, taking up very little space. Made of heavy-duty steel, Harbor Freight’s rock solid and sturdy shop crane is an invaluable, cost-effective addition to the garage.

  • Sears – Dragway Tools 2-Ton Engine Motor Hoist Cherry Picker Shop Crane Lift – $279.99
  • Northern Tool – Torin Big Red Folding Shop Crane – $279.99
  • Home Depot – N/A
  • Lowe’s – N/A
  • Grainger – Shop Crane, 4400 lb. Cap. – $517.50

 

An excellent addition to your home or shop, this all-steel stand employs an “I”-shaped design to keep even complete big block engines from tipping. Heavy-duty casters enable you to move the engine around easily and smoothly, and its four adjustable arms allow you to easily mount the engine. Check out the reviews and see why Harbor Freight Tools customers love this engine stand!
  • Sears – Black Bull 1000 lb. Four Wheel Engine Stand – $69.99
  • Northern Tool – Torin Big Red 1250 lb. Engine Stand – $109.99
  • Home Depot – 750 lb. Engine Stand – $104.16
  • Lowe’s – N/A
  • Grainger – Automotive Engine Stand 750 lb. – $186.25

 

This industrial-quality impact wrench is a must for the home garage or shop. The twin hammer delivers a max torque of 425 ft. lbs. and the impact wrench features a forward/reverse regulator with five speeds, allowing you total control. With a free speed of 6,500 RPM, this impact wrench is a powerhouse for tightening or loosening nuts and bolts!
  • Sears – Eastwood 1/2″ Drive Twin Hammer Air Impact Wrench – $59.99
  • Northern Tool – Wel-Bilt Air Twin Impact Wrench – $79.99
  • Home Depot – PowRyte 1/2″ Heavy Duty Air Impact Wrench – $69.99
  • Lowe’s – Kobalt 1/2″ 500 ft.-lbs. Air Impact Wrench – $79.94
  • Grainger – Chicago Pneumatic Impact Wrench 1/2″ Drive – $334.25

Check out The Video to see the tools in action during the engine removal process!

In the next installment, we’ll take a look at the tools used for stripping and priming the car, and compare them to the competition’s. Until then!

The Many Lives of the Motorcycle Lift

Harbor Freight’s made a decent name for itself for, among other things, its motorcycle and ATV/motorcycle lifts. A quick glance at the customer reviews– not to mention independent bike forums– will show Harley, Goldwing, dirt and Big Dog Chopper (to name a few) wrenchers across the country doling out praise for the garage equipment they’ve come to rely on.

Look deeper, though, and you’ll find ATVs and motorcycles are not the only things Harbor Freight’s motorcycle lifts are being used for…

Recently, on an auto parts forum, a member shared how he used a Central Hydraulics Lightweight Aluminum Motorcycle Lift as a drivetrain jack for his 914.

Coincidentally, on a different site, another guy was asking advice on employing the lift for removing his Porsche 914 engine. But then, as a twist, a very different idea was offered in a product review:

This is about the perfect tool for working on clinical equipment and gurney wheels. It is easy to keep clean which is very important. Safer than makeshift methods using levers, work progresses better and it has paid for itself in time saved.

On Lumberjocks, a woodworkers’ site, a member told of how he bought a table saw, but as his wife needed the garage space for her car, he had to find a mobile base. Due to high costs and lackluster reviews for what was out there, though, he suddenly had a stroke of necessary genius, and…

…instead,  got a Central Hydraulics 1500 lb. Capacity ATV/Motorcycle Lift for the job. More than enough for the task, the lift easily maneuvers the shop equipment into a corner with plenty of room for the Mrs.’ ride.

The ingenuity doesn’t stop there. Another guy used his 1500 lb. lift to spruce up the office:

I bought this to lift and/or move office furniture so I could get carpet tile under the furniture. It worked beautifully and an incredible bargain compared to the alternatives. It allowed me to work by myself, saving me the cost of hiring a grunt. It lately has been used in a garage that I store materials in. Makes a dandy little pallet jack for my homemade pallets. Roll them under the shelving, drop in place, doesn’t take up much room. Someday, I may try it on my bike. A very versatile investment. And unlike the grunt, it’s still with me.

Last (but certainly not least), is the Central Hydraulics High-Position Motorcycle Lift

which not only lifts furniture—it becomes furniture! In fact. TWO product reviewers discovered this to be the case—one using it as an adjustable work welding table and the other, a great portable workbench (“I have a table top that easily clamps to the arms. Extremely stable and very strong”). That’s not to say it doesn’t carry its weight. After a quick review, I found the affordable high-position lift is used for boosting riding mowers and lawn tractors, pressure washers, and snow blowers. And did we mention, it’s great for lifting bikes and ATVs?

“This is a very handy lift,” noted one happy wrencher. “I easily give it 5 stars.”

Whether you own a motorcycle or ATV– or don’t– check out the product reviews and all the great ways you can use an affordable, heavy-duty motorcycle lifts from Harbor Freight.

Seriously, don’t get a grunt.

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Harbor Freight does not endorse any other business or organization or any technique in any customer video or blog post. Always follow all of the instructions and warnings included with our products. Harbor Freight makes no representation or warranty of any kind by including the information on this website.