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A vehicle lift is typically the centerpiece of our garage sanctuary. Not everyone's garage can fit one and not everyone's budget can afford one, however. So what's the next best thing? The ever-handy creeper.
Every mechanic knows how irritating (and dirty) it can be to crawl under a vehicle on their hands and knees. These portable nap-mobiles allow you to roll under a car on your back, decreasing knee pain (and unintelligible grunts) tenfold. We brought in a few different styles and put them through the Gear Team gauntlet to help you decide which creeper is right for you.
Our Top Picks
Things to Consider When Shopping for a Car Creeper
Where you'll be working: When you're in the market for a creeper, the number-one thing to consider is your floor. If your garage or workspace floor is as smooth and clean as a showroom, consider a creeper that's low to the ground for maximum room to wrench underneath the car.
But if your workspace floor is bumpy like a driveway, littered with air hoses, or covered by a textured floor covering, consider a creeper with larger wheels that can traverse the ground without getting hung up. These won't be able to get as low to the ground as creepers suited for smooth floors, but there's nothing more irritating than getting stuck in a rut or on a loose bolt while you're on a creeper.
Functionality: There are many creepers on the market (and in our test) that double as stools via some nifty fold-and-lock mechanisms. Some creepers also have backs that tilt up like a recliner, which can unlock even more angles to work. The caveat to these is added weight and more pinch points.
Comfort: Do some research on the cushion quality of the creeper you're considering. Some of the plastic varieties just have a foam headrest and sculpted indents for the body—lie in them at your own risk. We measured the cushion depth for each creeper to help you choose which one fits your needs.
Ease of assembly: Some creepers come pre-assembled, while some come in pieces, lacking the necessary tools to assemble them. It's a minor consideration but something to keep in mind.
Our Test Vehicle
How We Tested Automotive Creepers
For our creeper test, we had a little fun, including running each one through a little obstacle course. In total, we tested each creeper based on these parameters:
- Cushion depth and length
- Adjustable features
- Smoothness and speed
- Ability to traverse bumps, cracks, air hoses, and an assortment of loose nuts and bolts
- Ease of assembly
Comparing our notes on each of these parameters, we were able to decide which creeper was best for certain situations and which ones just missed the mark. Here are our picks for the best mechanic's creepers.
How We Tested Creepers
We wanted to test these creepers in a real garage environment, so naturally, we chose the Car and Driver garage. Before we ran them through our obstacle course, tester Katherine Keeler unboxed and assembled each one, taking notes about this process on fitment, tools included, and overall ease of assembly.
Next, we had members of the Car and Driver staff try out each creeper. We tallied up their rankings on comfort, adding them to a chart; 3 was the most comfortable, and 1 was the least comfortable. We averaged each creeper's comfort rankings to come up with a "Comfort Score," and took that into consideration.
In the garage, we tried to roll each creeper on our textured vinyl floor, through a pile of loose nuts and bolts and over an air hose. We took notes on how well each creeper rolled over these challenges. We also sent each creeper down a pair of our vehicle ramps, marking the distance on how far it traveled as a metric of smoothness and speed. And after a final ride on each out in the parking lot, we gathered our findings.
Are mechanic's creepers worth it?
Absolutely. These handy tools prevent you from crawling on your hands and knees under a car—which typically isn't the cleanest place. Being able to move and pivot on a creeper also allows you to complete the work easier and faster.
Why is it called a mechanic's creeper?
A creeper allows a mechanic to scooch around on their back freely, without needing to get up and down constantly. While working, wrenchers can disappear in the blink of an eye and reappear somewhere completely different—like a creepy-crawly. It's magic, frankly. And not a redundancy.
What are the other names for a mechanic's creeper?
Creepers go by many names, but they all mean the same thing. Mechanic's dolly, garage creeper, under-car roller, car creeper, and automotive creeper are just a few.
Can you use these while on your belly?
Have you ever gone sledding face first? Imagine hitting a bump with the front—except without any soft snow to cushion your faceplant.
Why Trust Us
Hearst Autos combines the talent, resources, and expertise of three of the largest, most influential automotive publications in the world. The Gear Team has tested a wide variety of automotive products, parts, accessories, and gear, such as gps trackers for cars, OBD2 scanners, and electric car chargers. We get our hands on each and every product we test. Most are purchased; some are supplied by manufacturers.
Hearst Autos doesn't need to game algorithms for traffic or promote lousy products to earn a buck. Instead, we're far more concerned with our legacy, our reputation, and the trust that our readers have in Autoweek, Car and Driver, and Road & Track to deliver honest opinions and expert evaluations.
Collin Morgan is an Associate Commerce Editor at Hearst Autos, where the former Rust Belt mechanic and gadget enthusiast presents the best gear for your automotive endeavors.
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