Harbor Freight: Friend or Foe? - Fuelly Forums

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View Poll Results: What % of Harbor Freight Items Have Been Defective for You?
80-100% 2 5.88%
60-80% 2 5.88%
40-60% 2 5.88%
20-40% 7 20.59%
0-20% 21 61.76%
Voters: 34. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-28-2009, 10:10 AM   #1
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Harbor Freight: Friend or Foe?

I have had a problem with approximately 50% of everything I order from Harbor Freight Tools. This, combined with the end of their free shipping on orders over $50 has really cut down on my purchases from them. I just decided not to get a $99 pneumatic floor stapler from them because of past issues with their pneumatic equipment. In fact a pneumatic hose from them failed only a few days ago. I've requested they add user ratings for items on their site, but I seriously doubt they'd ever do so. They've been very good about returns (even paying return postage), but the hassle isn't usually worth it. If I lived close to one of their stores it'd be different, I suppose. Anyway, what percentage of Harbor Freight items have been defective (or just unacceptably low quality) for the rest of you?
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Main Entry: co de pen dence - see codependency
co de pen den cy
Pronunciation: \kō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē\
Function: noun
Date: 1979

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin) ; broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another
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Old 03-28-2009, 11:16 AM   #2
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Spent a little time remembering my failures with HFT items. Maybe we can spot some trends.

In no particular order:

venturi vacuum generator - internal fittings not sealed properly, fixed it myself
framing nailer - would drive multiple nails at a time - very dangerous!
wire feed welder - trigger failure - always on - really dangerous!
pneumatic hose - 250 psi rated, but failed at 100 psi - removed damaged part...we'll see if it fails again
cordless mini chainsaw - no power, short battery life, returned it
combination mill/drill/lathe - cheaply made
drill chuck for mill/drill/lathe - under moderate torque chuck came off - assume faulty shrink fit as there are no threads or other attachment device
router table - very poorly made
pocket hole jig - holes drilled at wrong angle, sent two replacements, also bad
pneumatic stapler/brad nailer - died shortly after warranty expired (my older one from them is still going strong after much use, but model discontinued)
4x8 trailer - lights & plug poor quality, trailer itself seems acceptable, however
cordless drill - short battery life. Others have reported success with these since so maybe a new model?
spot welder - no timing electronics of any sort, added them myself & works OK
1/2" router - terrible quality, bought for friend as a throw away for one specific job and it was, although it did get the job done
sander - internal electrical connections could not withstand vibration - fixed it myself - so cheap it was hard to be very upset
various very cheaply made hand tools - gifts from an uncle
one of those tubular steel, tarp covered car ports - first moderate winds mutilated it - they took it back at least


I have had success with quite a few things, however. Noticed a general trend where over time I've steadily been ordering fewer and fewer complicated or expensive items. Many fewer failures as a result. More money since college has helped with this decision.
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Main Entry: co de pen dence - see codependency
co de pen den cy
Pronunciation: \kō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē\
Function: noun
Date: 1979

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin) ; broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another
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Old 03-28-2009, 01:12 PM   #3
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I have only had one tool purchased from them fail.

I have an angle grinder I purchased back in 2005 and used daily for 2 years. Still works fine.

I bought an impact wrench, an air ratchet, and a few measuring tools two years ago. I donated the impact to my shop when I bought my snap-on, but it is still used heavily, daily. The air ratchet, I use almost daily and have had no problems with.

I bought some impact sockets and a venturi pump for air conditioners last year. The venturi pump, has been used twice, but worked excellent. The impact sockets, well i break one every once in a while. Thats to be expected with any brand, if you are hard on them.

The only thing that I had a problem with was a strut spring compressor. I used it and got the job done, but they broke as i was finishing up the last strut. I just returned it.

All in all, I have not had any major problems with them. Just keep that old adage in mind: you get what you pay for.
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Old 03-28-2009, 01:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman667 View Post
All in all, I have not had any major problems with them. Just keep that old adage in mind: you get what you pay for.
Makes me think of another one:

It's almost always possible to make something a little cheaper by making it a little worse.

I guess the practical impact is that for important items, you shouldn't go with the lowest priced item, at least without proper research or reviews.
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Main Entry: co de pen dence - see codependency
co de pen den cy
Pronunciation: \kō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē\
Function: noun
Date: 1979

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin) ; broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another
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Old 03-28-2009, 02:05 PM   #5
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I usually buy small items, not a lot of power tools or big-ticket stuff, from Harbor Freight. I've got a few. Most of what I've bought has worked out great. I've had a couple small failures; the one I can remember at the moment was a butane torch that fell apart. They replaced it.

I'm lucky enough to have a HF store about 25 miles from me. It's not far off the route to my parents' place, and there's other places nearby that I sometimes need to go, like Pep Boys, which is the only place with the oil I buy for the VW. In fact, tomorrow or next weekend I'm going to Pep Boys, I wish I had some extra dough to blow at HF.
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Old 03-28-2009, 02:13 PM   #6
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depends, our angle grinder is used and abused yet still fine. weve bought countless wrenches, sockets, pliers, etc from them all have lasted.

we have a jack from them that works just fine. we havent really bought big machine stuff from them but all the simple stuff works just fine.
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Old 03-28-2009, 02:14 PM   #7
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I'm lucky enough to have a HF store about 25 miles from me.
They keep sending me 20% off coupons that are only good at their stores! Some sort of cruel joke, no doubt.
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Main Entry: co de pen dence - see codependency
co de pen den cy
Pronunciation: \kō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē\
Function: noun
Date: 1979

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin) ; broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another
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Old 03-28-2009, 03:21 PM   #8
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My dad buys stuff from them, but I think their main problem is that they sell cheap Chinese tools. If I need a tool for one job I'll buy from them, but if its a tool that I need to use over & over I'll buy better quality.

-Jay
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Old 03-28-2009, 05:38 PM   #9
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yup, get what you pay for. the same could be said of big lots.

i buy hammers, hand saws, etc from them, but i'd stay away from drills, power saws and such.

recently bought a rubber mallet(multi-tasker) for 99 cents that serves mostly as a wheel chock.

that reminds me, gotta make a trip to big lots, tractor supply, the dollar tree, and home depot tomorrow(all w/in a square mile). oh, and advance auto.
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Old 03-28-2009, 05:43 PM   #10
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If I need a tool for one job I'll buy from them
Lately for one job I'll buy the tool from ebay (used), then sell it again when I'm done. Winds up not costing too much and I can get something that's got actual reviews. Not to mention two more points on my ebay rating!
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Main Entry: co de pen dence - see codependency
co de pen den cy
Pronunciation: \kō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē\
Function: noun
Date: 1979

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin) ; broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another
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