Amateur mechanics the world over have the same problem. Getting under their vehicles easily and comfortably to perform maintenance, repairs, and upgrades. If you’re like most people, you’ll flatten that giant box your most recent Amazon.com order was shipped in, lay it under your car, try to maneuver yourself under there without straining or pulling a muscle, getting dirt and grease all over your backside, and once you’re in the perfect position, realize that the tool you actually need is just out of your reach. Enter the amazing product which professionals use daily and too many DIYers have no idea it even exists… the mechanics creeper.
Once you have a mechanics creeper (aka: garage creeper, shop creeper or automotive creeper), you’ll wonder how you ever worked under your car or truck without one. Pairing a creeper with a good set of car ramps allows you to change your oil in record time. But not all creepers are the same. A lot has changed since the first mechanics creeper was introduced in 1975. Below are some of the things you should be considering when buying a car creeper. While some features may be critical for some, others may have no use for them. You’d be wise to avoid many of the cheap creepers found in your local auto parts store. While they may look similar to a couple of the models below, the comfort and build quality is usually poor.
What to Look for
Obviously, a mechanics creeper’s job is to allow you to lay on a horizontal platform which rolls on the floor to get you in the right position. The types of wheels or casters used on the creeper play a big part in how smoothly it rolls. In the early days, small steel wheels were used which had the tendency of getting stuck whenever they encountered a small crack or tiny pebble. These days, most manufacturers have moved to slightly larger urethane creeper wheels with ball bearings which in most cases are perfectly fine for the average user working in a garage or concrete driveway. A few “big wheel creepers” also use oversized wheels which are able to roll over the occasional larger pebble, screw, rough asphalt or even gravel.
Another thing to look at is the comfort level. There are two main types of materials used on creepers: molded plastic or metal frame (with foam padded top). Because today’s plastic creepers are ergonomically shaped, to me they are as (or more) comfortable than a metal/foam model. It’s all a personal choice but most people seem to agree that molded plastic is preferred these days with an additional benefit being the easy cleanup of spills and the wear and tear factor. Also, if you plan on doing any type of welding under there, a plastic garage creeper will obviously take hot sparks better than a foam padding. Over time, the vinyl covered padding of some creepers will get worn, lose cushioning, or tear. This alone is reason enough for those who use their car creeper on a daily basis to stick with a molded plastic design. Normal DIY mechanics would be fine using either material.
So without further ado, here are what we believe to be the best mechanics creeper models available today.
Lisle has perfected the formula for a low profile creeper. It may not look as fancy as some other models, but it has almost everything you’d want in a good creeper. It’s lightweight (11 lbs), durable, waterproof, comfortable (ergonomic with padded headrest), low profile (4 inches tall at the top of the wheels), easy to assemble, and incredibly easy to clean. The urethane wheels are your typical 2″ size but are good quality and roll well on smooth surfaces. If you have a lot of cracks or small pebbles on your floor, you would probably be better off going with a model with larger wheels such as the Bone Creeper below.
The Lisle creeper’s body is a full 2-inches longer than most competitors so it’s a good option for those over 6 feet although it’s also perfectly fine for those under. Rated at up to 300 lbs, the creeper just feels solid with virtually zero flex. If you want a professional grade mechanics creeper that’s made in the USA by a company that KNOWS creepers, be sure to check out the Lisle lineup (available in red, yellow, blue, or black). We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their prices compared to other higher end competition.
The Dale Adams Bone creeper has a very unique (weird?) design. The reason for this is that each corner has an enclosed 5(!) inch wheel which allow the Bone to go where other creepers can’t. Of the creepers we recommend, this is the only one that doesn’t have much issue rolling over things such as gravel, grates, and even extension cords. Rated up to 300 lbs, it’s also the largest of the three so if you are over 6′ 3″ or so, you might* feel most comfortable in the Bone. Made in the USA and backed by an outstanding warranty.
*Regarding comfort: I may be in the minority, but the hard-ribbed pattern on the head rest is a bit less comfortable than others. Getting in and out is also a bit difficult at first due to the large wheels at each corner but I quickly got used to it. It’s hard to be so nitpicky about this model, because otherwise it’s a fantastic under car creeper.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Omega is its 2 in 1 design. With a simple pull of a pin, the flat creeper folds into a “Z” shape so it can be used as a mechanic chair. This is great if you’re working on your brakes or detailing your car. Sure, you could instead use any old shop stool in place of a creeper chair but we like the design and it works very well. Six 3-inch polyurethane wheels are a slight improvement over the Lisle above and the creeper as a whole supports up to 450 pounds. While we’re typically not big fans of padded beds on a creeper, the Omega’s is nice and thick and good quality. While it’s not as low profile as the Lisle and not made in the US, the Omega Z creeper seat is still an excellent piece of engineering and the 2 in 1 design is perfect for some people.
Best Topside Creeper
There is more in the creepers’ world than just the ones that slide under cars. Another type is one that allows a mechanic to work above the engine. These topside creepers make it easier to approach the various parts of the engine from above with comfort and safety. An over engine creeper is almost a necessity for those with large pickup truck or SUVs. Traxion is well-known for making a great truck creeper and one model stands out in particular.
Its wide wheel base provides more stability and support for mechanics up to 400 lbs. The Traxion topside creeper has an I-base design that allows for more flexibility while servicing the vehicle, and the five inch casters made of synthetic rubber, allows them to safely navigate over and around the typical miscellaneous parts and pieces found on any shop floor. Because two of the casters can be locked into place, you’re able to have much more leverage as needed for those hard stubborn parts that are often serviced.
Height adjusts from 53″ to 75″ making it perfect for Rams, F150s, Excursions, Silverados, and other full size trucks and SUVs. The Traxion overhead creeper can be folded for convenient storage to save on space inside your shop. If you do any amount of engine work on your truck, you’ll soon understand that a topside creeper is a must-have item for your garage.