The other day, I happened to stumble upon a very interesting article that speaks about Auto scams. These are not the typical ones where you receive an email (most probably sent out from Nigeria) stating that you have won the grand prize from Cadillac. These are a more elaborate form of scam where customers are lured into making unwanted and expensive repairs for their cars.
In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it accounts to almost billions of dollars each year in consumer grievances. Being somewhat of a novice and a wannabe DIY auto-guru, I furrowed my brow and quickly turned the page away.
The fact is that it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and you have to be aware of the basics to avoid being scammed. Most mechanics are reputed and wouldn’t try to fleece you. But there are unscrupulous players in the business, like in any other business.
It emphasizes the importance of knowing what the inside of a car looks like in the first place. As I recently discovered, even the most seemingly daunting repair task can be completed safely and satisfactorily at home itself, provided you have the know-how and the right tools.
Replacing the clutch on a front-wheel drive
Two years ago, a front wheel drive clutch replacement would have given me sleepless nights. But a $1000 quote from a mechanic and some motivation from my 15-year-old boy prompted me to take up the job. Oddly enough, I had no clue how to go about it, except some YouTube videos and a printed manual.
The most important thing that I discovered in the bargain was that you need a specialized piece of equipment called the engine support bar to support the engine while you start to turn your wrenches. Unlike a rear wheel drive where you can just put a jack under the oil pan, the front wheel drive needs to be supported from above with an engine support bar which makes life so much easier.
Being smitten by the DIY bug, I also contemplated making the bar myself for a while but thankfully, prudence warned me against it. The next big decision was to rent the piece of equipment because it would be a one-time investment. Or so I thought.
Renting out the engine support bar
So, an hour spent on the internet armed me with some ‘engine support bar’ rental quotes and I wasn’t very impressed for two reasons.
This was my first attempt at replacing the clutch. I had no clue how long it was going to take or how difficult the job would be. Let’s say I rented it out for one weekend. But what If I wasn’t able to complete the job in a couple of days? Driving 40 miles to rent out a piece of equipment that costs under $80 on Amazon, seemed like an overkill.
Secondly, I had no idea how to use this equipment. Oh yes, folks. I was a complete noob trying to tackle, what is considered to be a difficult job even by experts. There was every chance that I could bust the engine support bar in some way.
I finally decided to buy it and that turned out to be the best decision ever. I have used it for three major repair tasks since then and have even lent it out to a couple of guys. It has been a great investment.
If you find yourself in a similar predicament and are on the fence about buying an engine support bar or renting one out, then here are the list of the top 5 engine support bars that you can buy online. These have been picked according to their durability, safety, cost and customer feedback.
1. Harbor Freight & Troy Support Bar
After doing some research about Harbor Freight and Troy engine support bars, I finally opted for this 1000 LB engine support bar for motor tranny transmission transaxle repair by Dragway tools. The reason? It is incredibly durable, offers enough safety features and most importantly, has a great customer satisfaction record. Nothing like some good old word of mouth.
This is a very well designed piece of equipment that will allow you to support the weight of the engine securely, while you go about your repair jobs. It features two rubber padded steel feet and two 28″Long Support Chains which, according to me looked like a much better choice than rubber cables, which some other models have.
Using the 1000 LB Engine Support Bar from Dragway Tools
I used the engine bar on my Buick Rendezvous 2005 with no problems whatsoever. Held up the engine perfectly and there was no pivot or lag on either side, which is one of the problems with these equipment. If you do not get the load in the center, it may start to tilt.
Not this one though. It includes load leveling adjusting screws that allow you to balance the load.
A lot of people also warned me about the two support legs instead of the recommended three. But I never felt it lacking the necessary support. Also, if I do need a third leg, I can always use a square tube.
The dimensions are 59″ (W) x 3-1/2″ (D) x 2-1/2″ (H), which is perfect for a whole range of front wheel drive cars and one of the best features is the long support chains with the 14″ Adjustable Screw Hangers which makes it extremely easy to use the channel near the fender to support the engine.
Heavy duty construction
Easy to use
Load leveling screws to prevent a lag
2 rubber padded feet (9” padding)
28” long support chains with 14” screw hangers
Would I recommend this?
Absolutely. Considering the amount of time it’d take to make something like this and also because rentals seem to be too expensive, this is a complete value for money. Save yourself the hassles and get one of these for your front wheel drive repairs. It will be totally worth it.
2. Astro Support Arm
For those who prefer the added support and yearn for the third leg, this Astro 5820 Engine Transverse Bar with Support Arm from Astro Pneumatics, is a great choice. It comes with an unbeatable price advantage and if customer feedback is to go by, then this is a very stable unit that does the job at less than half the price.
The most important difference between the Astro 5820 Engine Transverse Bar with Support Arm and our #1 rated engine support bar is the third arm which provides an extra support point to balance the center load. Is it necessary? No. But it does add that extra bit of safety you need while tackling jobs like these.
Using the Astro 5820 Engine Transverse Bar with Support Arm
If you have never used these before, then please do read the manual to understand how to hook it up. It is fairly straightforward but you may have to pull the weather stripping in the center to be able to see the channel which connects to this.
The Astro 5820 bar is very stable and does not budge one bit once installed. If you feel that the load is not uniform, then take your time to adjust it. The rubber padded feet prevent any unwanted wobble. The carrying capacity is 700 lbs. But it would be fair to say that trying to test that limit would be a stretch. Stick to the 500 lbs. range and you should be fine.
It includes 1/8″ braided steel cables and 14″ adjustable hooks. You do not have to go accessory shopping separately to complete your job.
Unbeatable price at under $60
Universally compatible with many cars
Support arm which provides the third point of support for balancing the weight
700 lbs. capacity
The package includes 1/8″ braided steel cables and 14″ adjustable hooks
Would I recommend this?
It’s a steal. Great price, durable product, gets the job done. Cannot ask for more really. If the third leg gives you the peace of mind, go for this one.
3. OTC Engine Support Bar
OTC needs no introduction and this 4324 Stinger Engine Support Bar is one of their most popular auto-repair parts that is used mainly by commercial setups and a few discerning DIY bugs. It is built like a powerful tank and will keep your engine rock steady while you are under it. It is compatible with a whole lot of cars, even the new ones and has enough bells and whistles attached to make this one of the best engine support bars in the market.
Using the OTC 4324 Stinger Engine Support Bar
The OTC Stinger 4324 has a whopping 1100 lbs. load capacity that allows you to use it with larger vehicles too. Also, it is one of the very few engine support bars that has an adjustable width of 57 inch x 27 inch. Most others have a standard width that cannot be altered.
The tubular steel construction makes it a very durable option, unlike flimsier models which are made of low quality steel.
The two hook assemblies included in the package make it incredibly easy to use it with your car. And the rubber padded legs keep it stable and wobble-free during the repair work.
The OTC 4324 relies on two 36 inch chain assemblies which is always a better bet than cables.
Heavy duty tubular steel construction
1100 lbs. weight capacity, which is one of the highest in-class
Adjustable width of 57-inch x 27 inch
Two hook assemblies for easy installation
Rubber padded legs make it stable during the repair work
Two 36 inch chain assemblies for support
Would I recommend this?
It will cost a few dollars more than some of the other engine support bars that we have listed here. But for the extra cost, you get the assurance and reliability of OTC. This is a flawless product, as evident from the 100% customer rating it enjoys. If the price is not a constraint, this is the #1 choice that you should go for.
4. Sunex Arm Support
For commercial setups that work with different cars and need an engine support bar that is flexible, the – Sunex International 5207 Engine Transverse Bar with Arm Support comes across as a good choice. It has all the features of a standard engine support bar, with a few additions that make it on par with the best in the market.
The Sunex International 5207 transverse bar extends from 34-1/2″ to a full 61″ making it a versatile choice. The adjustment is incredibly easy and it will keep the car stable and safe.
Using the Sunex International 5207
The 5207 has a weight capacity of up to 700 lbs. which is more than sufficient for most cars. The extra arm support works as a third leg giving the much-desired stability to the installation. This also helps in repair jobs for off-center loads.
On the safety and stability side of things, the 5207 boasts of 1/8 braided steel cables and two rubber padded feet. So no wobbles or instability while you go to work.
Supports up to 700 lbs. weight
Fully extendable from 34.6 to a full 61”
Padded rubber feet
Adjustable third arm with two 14″ adjustable hook screws
1/8″ x 38″ braided steel cables
Lower priced as compared to a similar model from Harbor Freight
Would I recommend this?
For a fully adjustable engine support bar with a 700 lbs. weight capacity, the Sunex International 5207 comes at a throwaway price. It is a great choice for commercial operations and for the homeowner looking for a flexible choice.
5. ATD Tools Arm Support
I first spotted the ATD Tools 747 Engine Transverse Bar at an authorized service center last month. It looked like a very well-constructed product and I almost mistook it for a Harbor Freight. A closer look and some research revealed that it is an equally popular engine support bar that comes with a cheaper price tag and boasts of a 95% positive customer rating.
The ATD 7477 has a 700 lbs. capacity and is a fully adjustable support bar that can work with a variety of cars. So, if you are bothered about clearance while doing your repair work, this should be an apt choice.
Using the ATD 7477
The ATD 7477 works like a standard engine support bar but comes with the extra convenience of an adjustable width. It can be fully extended from 38 inches to a full 61 inches. This makes it an investment that will pay for itself in very little time.
Two 14 inch adjustable hook screws allow an easy installation and will keep the engine rock steady while you work with the transaxle or other repairs. The only downside that the ATD has over other brands is that it uses two 1/8″ x 38″ cables instead of chains.
Other than the aesthetics, this has a very little effect on the stability or the safety of the product. But the appearance of a chain does look more convincing.
The customer feedback though is more than 95% positive, indicating that the cables work equally well.
700 lbs. weight capacity
Fully adjustable from 38 to 61 inches
Adjustable hook screws
1/8″ x 38″ steel cables
Would I recommend this?
Don’t let the sight of the cable throw you off. This is a very durable and safe engine support bar that will allow you to carry out your repairs uninterrupted and safely.
That’s it, folks. Enjoy your repairs and hope you save yourself some money with our list of top 5 engine support bars.