The Best Underhood Work Lights For 2020

Best Value

DEWALT DCL050

Best Overall

Milwaukee 2360-20

Budget Pick

Cat CT1000

You might need to go under the hood of your vehicle to change the serpentine belt, replace spark plugs, and perform other operations. What makes it even more challenging is the low-quality light.

Whether you are a professional mechanic working at an automobile repair shop or a car owner, chances are you are going to need high-quality underhood work lights to repair the motor or fix some regular issues. Sometimes, it gets nearly impossible to illuminate the engine and other tricky areas that are almost invisible to our eyes.

That’s why many mechanics and car owners store an underhood work light to illuminate the hard to reach or invisible spots in their vehicle.

Despite being smaller in size, the underhood lights produce a considerable amount of light, which is enough to have a clear picture of the car parts.

They are especially recommended for mechanics who work in poorly-lit garages.

What is Underhood Work Light?

Underhood lights are not only for the mechanics and automobile repair specialists. In fact, this light is a great tool for those who need to repair the hard-to-access parts in their vehicle (mostly the motor and parts located underneath your car). Now, the best feature of these lights is their portability. Not only does it make it easier for the car owner to store and carry them, but their compact design enables you to fit these lights anywhere you want.

Underhood work lights are mainly needed in emergencies, such as blackouts. Overall, these lights are extremely useful to illuminate the hard-to-reach parts. As mentioned before, underhood work lights might be small and compact but they deliver a sufficient amount of light. One safety tip to consider when using these lights is to avoid touching them. Just like how you never touch the bulbs in your home, the underhood work light is no different. Furthermore, make sure you attach the light securely to the car. There is a good chance the bulb will break if it falls.

Double-check the magnets, hook, and extendible arms to ensure that the light is fixed firmly. Now, different types of underhood work lights are available on the market. Before you pick the best one, consider a few important factors such as the run time, brightness, build quality and materials, weight, and more. We will discuss these features later in this post. Let’s have a look at the top 10 most affordable and premium underhood work lights.

1. Nightstick SLR-2120 LED Underhood Work Light

Designed specifically for mechanics and people working in the automotive industry, Nightstick SLR-2120 LED Underhood Work Light is a hands-free and rechargeable LED light. The model comes equipped with a flexible cradle with high-quality grippers. The grippers have the potential to extend up to 77 inches to easily attach to any part of the car. The best part about this Underhood work light is its ability to rotate almost 360 degrees, enabling users to adjust the light according to their preference.

Nightstick SLR-2120 LED Underhood Work Light has two lighting modes. You can switch to high-light mode if you are working in a poorly-lit environment or keep the brightness low if it is straining your eyes. The light bar comes with 3 magnets that are attached to each handle. They make it easier for you to attach the light bar wherever you want. The two buttons are located on each end of the light bar. If you press the button once, the light will be on (in high power mode). On pressing the button twice, you can switch the brightness to the low-power mode. Pressing it thrice will turn the light off.

Nightstick SLR-2120 LED Underhood Work Light comes with an AC & DC charger. You can recharge the bulb when the battery is running low. The battery allows users to charge the light while using it. It needs at least 6 hours to charge fully. A fully charged battery will run for 4.5 hours straight if the brightness is set at full power. If you switch it to the low-light mode, then the battery can last up to 8.5 hours.

Features

  • AC & DC power supplies included in the package
  • Needs 6 hours to charge
  • 3 magnets
  • Extend up to 77 inches for an easier fit
  • LED light
  • USA-designed model
  • Two modes available

The Pros

  • Safe
  • Compatible with AC and DC power
  • Hands-free use
  • Easy to fit
  • Adjustable cradle

The Cons

  • Users often complain about its durability

2. Milwaukee 2360-20 M18 Trueview LED HP Flood Light

Milwaukee 2360-20 M18 Trueview LED HP Flood Light comes with three power modes, allowing users to switch to the convenient lighting mode. The highest brightness level is 3000 lumens, which is quite good for automotive repair companies. If you often have to work in a poorly-lit garage and other places with low lightings, then Milwaukee 2360-20 M18 Trueview LED HP Flood Light can be your ideal solution.

The light bar can be rotated up to 240 degrees. This means you can rotate its head to throw light wherever you want. The model comes equipped with two keyholes, which makes it easier for the DIYers and mechanics to hang the light on almost any dry and flat surface. The only downside is that it doesn’t come with a battery or an electric cord. Even though the model is compatible with both, you are going to have to spend a few extra bucks on the battery. The model is quite heavy as compared to the other lights mentioned on this list.

Features

  • 24-degree rotating head
  • 12 lights available
  • 3 lighting modes available
  • 3000 lumens
  • 20% brighter than standard lights

The Pros

  • Delivers bright light
  • Convenient to use
  • Fit anywhere
  • Rotates up to 24 degrees
  • Portable and safe

The Cons

  • It is quite heavy
  • Very expensive
  • Battery is not included

3. Bayco SL-864 60-LED Underhood Work Lights

This corded underhood work light features 60 LED lights that deliver a great output in all conditions. Bayco SL-864 60-LED Underhood Work Lights is a USA-made, tested, and proven option. You can hang it from the car hood if you need to illuminate the engine. However, its highest level of brightness is not as good as the other options on this list. The model comes equipped with a retractable cord that has a length of 50 feet.

Bayco SL-864 60-LED Underhood Work Lights can be used for multiple applications. This waterproof and chemical-resistant LED light is designed specifically for automotive repair applications. But, it can illuminate all sorts of dark and poorly-lit areas. Bayco SL-864 60-LED Underhood Work Lights offers hands-free lighting benefits.

It has a magnetic base, which enables users to attach the light anywhere they want. It also features hooks for easy installation. The company offers this product with a 1-year warranty period. The best part about this light bar is that it doesn’t require a battery. You can use it for as many hours as you want without having to recharge it.

Features

  • USA-made underhood work lights
  • 35,000-hour life
  • Retractable metal reel
  • Chemical and water-resistant
  • Corded light

The Pros

  • Versatile
  • Heavy-duty materials
  • Durable
  • No batteries required
  • Waterproof
  • Compact and lightweight

The Cons

  • Lights brightness could have been better

4. DEWALT 20 Volts MAX Handheld LED Underhood Work Light

DEWALT 20 Volts MAX Handheld LED Underhood Work Light comes equipped with 3 bright LED lights that are sufficient to deliver bright lights to dark corners. The model features two lighting modes. You can adjust the brightness at 250 lumens to save the run time or switch to the highest brightness level, which is 500 lumens. It has a rotating head, enabling mechanics to rotate the head of the bar to whichever angle or direction they want.

Available at a reasonable price, DEWALT 20 Volts MAX Handheld LED Underhood Work Light features a 360-degree hook that could be used to hang the light wherever you need. The best quality of this model is its high run time. The battery can last for as long as 22 hours even after constant use. The battery comes with a 3-year warranty period. The only drawback is that it doesn’t come with a battery. You are going to need to purchase a battery separately.

Features

  • 22 hours battery run time
  • 2 brightness settings
  • Pivoting head
  • Rechargeable battery
  • 3 bright LED lights
  • 360-degree rotating hook

The Pros

  • Good run time
  • Versatile
  • Durable
  • 3 year warranty on the product

The Cons

  • Its highest brightness level is 500 lumens, which is quite low as compared to the standard underhood work lights.
  • Batteries are not included in the package.

5. Aain LT002 Underhood Work light Bar

Aain LT002 Underhood Work light Bar features a robust and compact design. The head can be tilted to throw light in different directions. It features extendable arms for easy and smoother mounting. The model comes with a charger. This rechargeable underhood work light needs only 4 hours to fully charge. Its run time is 3 hours (if you keep the setting to the highest light mode). You can charge it while using the LED light. The head can be rotated to 180 degrees. The mounting options include the padded hooks that hang the light securely. It features 40 LEDs and produces light up to 1400 lumens.

Aain LT002 Underhood Work light Bar has the power to illuminate all dark and poorly-lit corners. Whether you want to fix something or clean the underside of your car, turn on this bright LED light and get a clear view of your automotive parts. Say goodbye to those annoying cords. This cordless underhood work light gives a wonderful performance.  The design is quite flexible. You can fold the light bar when not in use.

Features

  • 40 LED lights
  • 1400 lumens brightness
  • Charge fully in 4 hours
  • 8000 mAh battery required
  • Heavy-duty aluminum material
  • AC / DC adapter included
  • Foldable design

The Pros

  • Delivers bright light
  • User friendly
  • High-quality build material
  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Lightweight and portable

The Cons

  • The light drains the battery quickly.

6. Caterpillar CT1000 Pocket COB Light

Caterpillar CT1000 Pocket COB Light comes with a technology that ensures that the product delivers the best and brightest light without consuming too much power. The model delivers up to 175 lumens of light. No matter how dark the area is, you can count on Caterpillar CT1000 Pocket COB Light for throwing bright light.

The light is extremely portable. You can keep it in your pocket or use its magnetic base to attach it wherever you want. You can also ask your friend or co-worker to hold the light for you. Its portability and compact design make it a perfect model for hard-to-reach areas. You can fix the leaking sink, repair the damaged parts of your vehicles, and illuminate the underside of the car. You can use the light for 7 hours without having to worry about its battery. The model uses 3 AAA batteries (that are included in the package).

Despite being extremely portable and lightweight, Caterpillar CT1000 Pocket COB Light is made of high-quality materials. So, its portability does not compromise the build quality. The light bar features a heavy-duty ABS plastic, which can resist liquid and dust. Additionally, the product features a pocket clip.

Features

  • 3 AAA batteries included
  • 175 lumens
  • Portable
  • Hands-free operation
  • Magnetic base available
  • Reinforced pocket clip

The Pros

  • Flexible
  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Affordable
  • 7 hours run time

The Cons

  • The magnetic base is not as strong as advertised

7. OEM Tools 24604 Underhood Work Light

The OEM Tools is known for introducing some of the best qualities underhood work lights in the market. OEM Tools 24604 Underhood Work Light is one such advanced and premium product that can be used for multiple applications. Not only an ideal option for under the hood repair requirements, but OEM Tools 24604 can also be used for under dash lighting purposes. The best quality of this underhood work light is its 39 LED lights that deliver up to 1000 lumens of light beams. It produces sufficient light to illuminate dark corners and poorly-lit garages.

The mounting options include 2 strong magnetic bases on both ends of the light bar. You can attach the light to any flat surface. Its magnetic base can work on non-metal surfaces as well. You only need to use its rubber casings to fix the light bar on a non-metal surface. The compact design and portable nature make it the best option for those who need to carry the underhood work lights in different places. You can pack it in the backpacks or store it in your car trunk. Whether you are going camping or traveling to places with dim and poor light conditions, OEM Tools 24604 Underhood Work Light can deliver sufficient light to illuminate your car parts.

The USP of the brand is its 5 light modes, which include high, low, medium, strobe, and SOS. You can switch to the medium mode if you want to save the run time. The brightness of the light can be up to 1000 lumens. The 17600 mAh battery has the capacity to last for hours even after constant use.

Features

  • 1000 Lumens at the high light mode
  • Magnetic strips attached at both ends of the light bar
  • 5 light modes
  • Extended battery life
  • Li-on technology

The Pros

  • Portable and compact design
  • Good run time
  • Versatile
  • Five operating modes
  • East to attach

The Cons

  • Construction quality is not good

8. Snap-on 922261 LED Underhood Work Light

With the ability to produce up to 2000 lumens, Snap-on 922261 LED Underhood Work Light is designed in a way that it stays cool to the touch. Unlike CFL bulbs and incandescent lights, Snap-on LED lights are safer. In addition to automotive applications, this light can be used for videos, photography, construction purposes, home applications, and more.

The bright LED lights in this light bar deliver the best output. Being a versatile model, Snap-on 922261 LED Underhood Work Light can be used indoors and outdoors. You can use it to illuminate almost every dark corner or areas with poor lighting as long as it is placed on a dry surface. The light can be tilted and rotated. Moreover, it features a convenient and flexible handle that makes it easier for mechanics and car owners to carry it around. LED lights consume low power. This corded light features a 6-foot long cord and 46 LED lights.

Features

  • 2000 lumens brightness
  • Padded carry handle
  • Low power consumption
  • Used on dry surfaces
  • 46 LED lights

The Pros

  • The light stays cool to touch.
  • Consume limited power
  • Versatile
  • Safe to use
  • Portable and lightweight

The Cons

  • The cord can be annoying
  • It can be used in dry locations only

9. Ustellar 10,000 Lumen Underhood LED Work Light

As the name implies, this light bar has the capacity to produce up to 10,000 lumens (which is the highest brightness level on this list). The model comes with a switch that could be used to turn the brightness from 50W to 100W in one press. Ustellar 10,000 Lumen Underhood LED Work Light is a corded light. It comes with a 25-foot long cord, which makes it easier for the car owners to use it for multiple applications. You can use it in dry locations. You can tilt or rotate its head to throw light beams at different angles. The head can be rotated to 30 degrees.

Ustellar 10,000 Lumen Underhood LED Work Light is a waterproof model. If you are working in an extremely dark workplace, you can switch to 100w for the highest brightness level. Moreover, it is an eco-friendly product. It does not feature lead, mercury, and other hazardous elements. This versatile light bar can be used at the warehouse, workshop, attic, garage, construction site, plumbing, home garden, and more. It features 2 brightness modes, allowing you to generate light according to your preference.

Features

  • 25-foot cable
  • 50w and 100w
  • 360 degrees rotating head
  • Generate high brightness
  • Can be used for different applications

The Pros

  • Eco-friendly
  • Long cable
  • Versatile
  • Easy to install
  • Long life
  • Waterproof

The Cons

  • The on and off switch can be a little annoying
  • It is heavy

10. Bosch Max LED Cordless Underhood Work Light FL12

Featuring 10 LEDs, Bosch Max LED Cordless Underhood Work Light FL12 offers a clear and bright light. You can switch to low and high lighting modes (whatever fits your requirements). It features a self-stand bracket, making it easier for you to throw the light at any angle. The 12-volt batteries are known for offering a good run time.

The 10 LEDs are designed to deliver the brightest light beam. It can illuminate areas with dim-lights and dark corners seamlessly. The dual power lighting mode allows car owners to switch the lighting to the low-light mode and save run time. You can switch to the dim light mode to save some battery.

Bosch Max LED Cordless Underhood Work Light FL12 has excellent mounting features. It has two strong magnetic bases, 200 degrees rotating head, a nail hook, and a clip. The run time of the battery can vary depending on the battery power. If you use a 2.0 Ah battery, the light can operate for 6 hours straight. If you want a higher run time, consider 4.0 Ah battery. It gives a constant run time of 12 hours (when fully charged). However, the battery and the charger are not included in the package. You will have to purchase them separately.

Features

  • 10 LED lights
  • Up to 12 hours run time
  • 330 lumens
  • 200-degree rotating head
  • Two light modes

The Pros

  • Versatile
  • High-quality construction
  • Bright light
  • Good run time
  • Durable
  • Hands-free use

The Cons

  • The battery and charger are not included in the package. You will have to spend extra to purchase a battery.

Factors To Consider When Shopping For Underhood Work Light

Even if you work in a well-lit garage, you are going to face some issues when working under the hood. Inadequate light can result in damages and costly mistakes. Well, no need to worry. The underhood work lights can help you illuminate almost every space.

Each work light comes with a different price. Some offer a better run time than others. Likewise, some lights are more portable than their counterparts. With plenty of options available on the market, the decision of buying the best work light can be quite overwhelming for mechanics. To help you make the best decision, here we have listed a few important features you must take into consideration when shopping for underhood work light.

Build Quality

The first and most important factor is the build quality or construction. This includes the quality of the bulb as well as the material that houses the LED. The construction needs to be strong enough to resist wear and tear. LED light that features low-quality plastic will not last long. Moreover, poor quality materials mean the bulb is prone to damage if it slips from your hand.

Mounting

Obviously, you can hold the handheld light for as long as you want. However, you will need someone to hold the light for you so that you can focus on repairing the damaged parts. If you need these lights for hours, then you need to fit it somewhere. Choose the lights that can be mounted easily. The best lights are the ones that feature a strong magnetic base, which enables you to attach them to the side of your car or underneath the vehicle securely.

Some underhood work lights feature mounting hooks. Hooks are a great option for those who need to use the work lights for regular repairs.

Run Time

Not all underhood work lights are portable and compact. The corded lights can be super annoying. Remember that you are buying underhood work light to access the areas that are almost invisible. This means you might need to fit the light underneath your car to access the motor, battery cable, control wire, and other parts. The run time of a bulb depends on lumens. The brighter the bulb, the more battery it will drain. Some bulbs come with a battery that lasts for up to 6 hours.

Cordless work lights are extremely convenient. You can fix them anywhere you want without having to deal with the annoying cords. However, cordless lights do not have a good run time. A corded underhood light can work infinitely. But, that is not possible with a cordless light. So, it is important to check and compare the run time, size of the batteries, convenience, and portability before making a purchase.

Brightness

The main purpose of buying an underhood light is to get adequate light so that you can replace the damaged part or make necessary repairs in poorly-lit areas. A high-quality bulb will deliver sufficient light – no matter where you use them. As much as a bright work light is important, the light should not be too bright to strain your eyes. A light that illuminates the hidden car parts will do. No need to go for extraordinarily bright lights.

The brightness of an LED or bulb is determined by its lumen count. The higher the lumen count, the brighter the light is. If you are looking for a bulb with an average brightness, then 350 lumens is the best option. You will also find the bulbs that deliver up to 1000 lumens. It is best to consider your workstation and choose a normal and adequate level of brightness

Battery Level Indicator

The batteries that need to be charged must also feature a battery level indicator. This tells you the remaining battery percentage and how long you need to charge the bulb. Make sure that the product you choose features a battery level indicator so that you know when the LED needs to be charged.

Waterproof and Dustproof

Nowadays, manufacturers have started designing water-proof and dust-proof lights. Considering the fact that water and dust happen to be the two major causes of most of the issues in electrical appliances, it is best to purchase a waterproof and dustproof bulb. The IP65 lights are waterproof. The IP67 lights, on the other hand, offer full security against water and dust. Even if it is submerged in the water, it will stay unharmed.

Waterproof and dustproof bulbs tend to last longer than standard lights. They are especially needed if you are working in a garage.

Budget

Last but not least, the budget is an important factor to consider when investing in underhood work lights. Remember that the price of a work light depends on the quality of materials used for its construction. So, the better the quality of the product, the higher its price will be. It doesn’t mean you should buy the most expensive work lights. Set your budget and find a light that matches your preference. But, don’t stick to your budget. If you need to spend a few more bucks for a high-quality work light, go for it.

Portability

The underhood work lights can come handy at any time. You might need to use them in the middle of the highway or in a garage. That being said, you need to consider the weight of the light before making a purchase. The bulb needs to be portable enough to be carried around. However, portability doesn’t mean you should go for an extremely lightweight bulb that is made of poor quality components.

Lighting Modes

Now, the good news is that the underhood work lights have three lighting modes. These are designed keeping in mind the varying requirements of mechanics and automotive specialists. As mentioned before, car owners may need to use the underhood work lights in different places. Depending on the light in the area, you can set low, medium, and high lighting mode.

Some lights feature SOS lights and other light modes, which are designed for emergency purposes. Some bulbs come with extra lighting modes. If you think you are going to need the underhood work light frequently, then we recommend the bulbs with extra lighting modes.

Bottom Line

If you are working in an automotive repair company, then the underhood work lights can be your long-term investment. It will make it easier for you to access any car part. You can choose the underhood work light depending on what you need the lights for and your preference. The budget is also an important factor to consider. Like other car accessories, these lights are available at a different price.

Even car owners need to have an underhood work light. You never know when you are going to need one. It is better to store them in your car so that they are handy when needed. Try to buy a handheld light so that you can adjust it according to your requirements.

FAQs

  1. Which is the best mounting option for work lights?

    The answer depends on where you want to use these lights. If you want to illuminate the entire engine, then underhood work lights featuring extendible arms will be your ideal option. If you want the bulb to illuminate a specific car part, then work lights with hooks will work wonders. These bulbs can be hung almost anywhere.
     
    The last option is the lights with a magnetic base. They are recommended for those who need to attach the light to the side of the car or bumper for a clear view. So, which one works best for your car depends on your preference and the work environment.

  2. Can the brightness of the underhood work light be adjusted?

    Yes, some work lights feature an adjustable lighting mode. You can set the lighting mode to high in a poorly-lit area. Likewise, you can switch to low and medium modes. However, not all underhood work lights feature an adjustable lighting mode. It is best to read the manufacturer’s description or contact the vendor before making a purchase.

  3. Can underhood work lights be used for other applications?

    Underhood work lights are specifically designed for vehicles. They help illuminate the poorly-lit areas, allowing you to access your car parts. But, these lights can also be used for other applications. As long as you choose the cordless and portable underhood work light, you can carry it anywhere you want. If you are willing to use these lights for home applications and other purposes, then try to find a portable and pocket-sized light that is easy to carry around.

  4. Can underhood work lights strain your eyes?

    First things first, underhood work lights are not the standard bulbs. They are brighter than a usual bulb or flashlight. There is no denying that some bulbs can strain your eyes and can bring on sudden dizziness and fatigue. But, that only happens when you stare at the bulb for too long. Just make sure you don’t stare at the lights. You only need them to deliver adequate light underneath your car and other parts. If you are concerned about your eyes and overall safety, we recommend the underhood work lights with a low level of lumens.

  5. Can underhood work lights cause a fire?

    Overheating is the primary cause of a fire in bulbs and LEDs. Fortunately, an LED cannot catch fire because they do not overheat. They might be brighter than regular lights, but they produce light at a relatively lower temperature than typical bulbs. It might still be pretty hot to touch (we highly recommend you avoid touching or starting at the light). But, it is better than halogen and CFL bulbs.

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David Rodriguez

David lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana with his wife, three children, and Hugo, his adorable medium-sized dog. For the past 11 years, he has been working for several automotive dealerships in Fort Wayne due to his lifelong passion for cars. He's one of the new authors on CarGuided.