Short on size, long on versatility. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Whether it’s for a holiday or birthday, this Tools Under 30 Dollars Gift Guide Series shows you important, yet somewhat uncommon, tools that any gearhead would want.

Today, let’s talk about Stubby Ratchets.


When it comes to ratchets, bigger does not always mean better.

Thanks to Archimedes‘ principles of leverage, the longer the lever, the more force you can exert—hence why long-handled breaker bars are an essential tool for turning stuck, stubborn bolts.

But what about the flipside of that equation?

Say you have a bolt or nut that shouldn’t be snugged down tightly, like an oil pan drain plug or an interior trim bracket. For those situations, you don’t want a lot of leverage.

Or say you’re in a tight engine bay and don’t have the space to fit a normal-sized socket wrench.

Enter our friend, the stubby ratchet.

A short-handled ratchet is a smart way to avoid over-tightening a drain bolt. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

A stubby ratchet is simply a socket wrench with a short, stout handle. And as alluded to above, it can be darn handy in a lot of situations.

For starters, it’s our go-to choice for oil changes, as the short lever mitigates the chance of us accidentally over-tightening a drain plug—or an oil filter, if you’re using an oil filter socket.

It also saves a ton of frustration in a cramped space: Ever spent 10 minutes listening to the thunk-thunk-thunk of your ratchet handle knocking against an obstruction while you make 1/16 of a turn at a time? Then you know what we’re talking about here.

The stubby ratchet and U-joint combo is a perennial favorite for working in tight spaces. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

All told, the stubby ratchet is a tool you get, toss in your toolbox, and thank yourself for buying it every time you grab it.


A short-handled stubby ratchet is an often overlooked tool, even for die-hard gearheads, making them excellent gifts to give and receive. Best of all, they can be pretty affordable, so there’s a good chance you can get a nice stubby ratchet for under 30 bucks.

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Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in 1972 Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.