Along with the trusty torque wrench and hydraulic jack, the mechanic’s creeper is one of the most essential of all garage tools. Without a good-quality creeper, we’re stuck laying on the cold, bare concrete or perhaps a flimsy, old piece of cardboard.
That’s why owning a mechanic’s creeper is a no-brainer for the DIY auto enthusiast.
Fortunately, choosing the right creeper is pretty much a no-brainer, too. There are many options from which to choose, but there are six simple considerations that will help you pinpoint the right automotive creeper for you.
In the world of garage creepers, there isn’t a wide range in prices. On the Summit Racing website, for example, flat-style creepers (not overhead topside creepers) go from around $35 up to the $150 range. You can find high-quality creepers at the lower end of the range, but be sure you don’t sacrifice comfort or durability. Inexpensive wood creepers can often (but not always) be less comfortable than padded creepers and can also show oil, coolant and fluid stains.
Balance your desire to save with your need to be comfortable.
Summit Racing creepers have padded, non-slip PVC covers and thick back pads and headrests. Six ball-bearing casters, mounted low in the MIG-welded frame, let you move easily under your work. A black powdercoated finish on the frame makes for good looks and a long work life.
Speaking of comfort, there are a few key features to look for to ensure yours.
Make sure your automotive creeper has either a sturdy backboard or solid frame to support your back. Padded creepers are usually a more pleasant alternative to wood or molded plastic options. You can also find models that have adjustable headrests with extra padding.
Sunex Tools adjustable creepers are available in 4-caster and 6-caster configurations — both with an adjustable headrest. They feature a black powdercoated frame, a cushioned red vinyl cover, and high-quality casters to roll you in and out with ease.
Many mechanic’s creepers now come with urethane wheels; others have steel wheels.
We’d recommend urethane wheels because they’re less likely to get stuck in a crack. Creepers with urethane ball-bearing wheels are typically smoother-rolling for a more pleasant, convenient experience. Oversized urethane wheels are even more mobile.
The Traxion King Crawler creeper features 1 inch of ground clearance and a low center of gravity on four “super-large” 5-inch swivel casters. Their premium axle bearings and oversized casters allow for easy rolling over air hoses, cords, bolts, etc., so the frustration of rolling and suddenly locking up is eliminated.
If you anticipate working with very limited clearance under your vehicle, you’ll need to consider one of the many low-profile creepers available. With recessed wheels, these creepers place you as little as 7/8-inch off the floor.
Lisle low-profile plastic creepers feature a comfortable, body-fitting design to roll around the floor. So what exactly do we mean by “low-profile?” How about an amazing 7/8 in. of floor clearance!
Size and weight matters — your size and weight!
If you’re the type that shops at the local big and tall shop, you may want to opt for a wide-body creeper. Even if you don’t need all the space, this will give you extra room for added comfort. Creepers also come in slightly varying lengths, so you can also somewhat tailor the size to your height.
Traxion Pro Wide Body creepers feature a wide, contoured, padded deck that has nearly 20 percent more space than standard professional creepers.
Creepers are generally wood, molded plastic, or padded vinyl or PVC.
All things being equal, choose padded for maximum comfort. Plastic creepers are contoured to provide good support with superior resistance to oils, greases, or solvents. Reinforced wood can also supply excellent back support at a lower-end price. Other options include woven fabric that allows air to circulate around your body during high temperatures.
The Sunex Tools plastic creeper features an ergonomically designed plastic frame that provides superior comfort and is resistant to most solvents, grease, and oil found in common shop use.
There are plenty of great creeper options available.
Finding the right one comes down to striking your optimal balance between the six factors above.