How in Sam’s name are you supposed to reach those tiny areas at the back of the engine?
Most of us use a stepladder, but if your back is hurting, it is high time to “step up” to a topside creeper. Every mechanic I have worked with is missing a topside creeper from their arsenal.
A topside creeper looks like a combination between a stepladder and a regular creeper. It lets you ergonomically access your engine compartment while keeping you away from your car’s finish.
One of these might save thousands in future back surgery.
Unfortunately, these are often only purchased by retiring mechanics who have recognized that they need a safer, more comfortable way to access the engine compartment
Back health is becoming a bigger priority among mechanics. Spending a few hundred dollars on a creeper is well worth the years of back pain that can be avoided.
These are great for doing headwork and for installing turbochargers.
Heck, I used mine last week for swapping out a thermostat on my 2007 Ford Expedition. It makes the job so much easier.
Top Topside Creepers:
|Topside Creeper Model||Weight-Bearing Capacity||Height|
|Traxion 3-700 Foldable Topside Creeper||400 lbs||75 inches|
|Traxion 3-100 Foldable Topside Creeper||260 lbs||65 inches|
|ATD Tools 8116F Foldable Topside Creeper||400 lbs||64 inches|
|Redline Engineering Topside Creeper||350 lbs||68 inches|
In addition to improving productivity and speed, these creepers are essential for working on lifted trucks and semis.
Even if you are just tired of your girlfriend’s belly button ring scratching up the center of your hood every time she tries to “help” wax the truck, a topside creeper is worth the investment.
In this guide, I’m going to discuss some of the top topside creepers for sale online. And as one of the few guys online who has actually spent time on one, I think this list is going to be more helpful than most.
1. Traxion 3-700 Foldable Topside Creeper
What I Like: Better height, and the “t-shape” legs makes it easier to get close to the job.
While I love the customer service that you get with the Redline (reviewed below), I think this is one of the best options you can invest in.
Until recently, the “old guard” of car mechanics has been convinced that “if it is not hurting, you aren’t doing it right”. This generation of hardy folks is starting to retire (undoubtedly from their back pain).
The younger generation that is coming into the workforce has the mindset that “there is probably a tool that would make this easier”. Accordingly, the younger generation is looking for more ergonomic tools and is willing to invest in “underhood” creepers for their shop.
However, the trendline hasn’t picked up to the point where there are a lot of competitors in the market, yet. Traxion is leading the way with its workplace innovations, and I expect them to “hold the line” for the next 4 or 5 years until more competitors enter the market.
You’ll see Traxion on this list a couple of times.
The first thing that I love about the Progear is how far back it is angled from the vehicle. The angle is perfect for giving you access while keeping the frame back and away from the vehicle.
It is also easily adjustable to work on different types of vehicles. There are two pins on each side that you simply pop out and then you can slide the stand up and down.
I’m big on adjusting this stand while away from the vehicle and then sliding it into position, just to make sure that I don’t accidentally drop it and create a scratch on the car.
It adjusts up to 75 inches, increasing your access to 40% more of the engine. Practically speaking, this topside creeper gives you 140 inches of engine compartment accessibility, even on taller trucks.
The stairs are perfectly distanced no matter what height you have, which makes climbing up and down on this unit very quick.
Further enhancing your speed of use is the added length of the feet that extend under your vehicle. This provides an extremely secure feel as you lean over the truck and work on it.
The triangle support near the base of this creeper further adds to the stability. I’m always careful when going up and down on any step ladder — especially those that are next to a vehicle.
The “I” shape of the base works well around the tires and gives you virtually unlimited access to the engine while supplying that maximum stability that we were talking about.
As you’ll see below, most of the models use a super-wide “V-base” that sometimes struggles to get around the vehicle tires. The I-base design seems to slip in effortlessly, thanks to the low profile design.
The heavy vinyl-covered foam padding holds up well to all-day use. And, should you get it really greasy, you can remove it and give it a good washing.
The main deck support that you lean on is plywood and seems to hold up to extended use and brings good ergonomic design to a very un-ergonomic position.
If you are a bigger person, you might wish that the padded deck offered more comfort when working for long periods of time, but, all things considered, it isn’t that bad.
It also goes together really easily. When your UPS driver drops it off, I recommend assembling it right there in the driveway and then wheeling it into the shop. This brings me to the big complaint: this underhood creeper is heavy.
It’s worth its weight. With a 400-pound weight capacity, you feel extremely safe and stable as you work on it — even if you are a bigger guy (I had to ask some folks — have you seen me?)
Having worked with a team that was trying to invent a lightweight mechanic’s creeper, I can say that it is truly impressive at the quality of the tool that Traxion has managed to create.
With the added height and stability, the Traxion 3-700 is the premier topside creeper you could add to your shop.
- 75 inches of height – highest clearance on this list
- I-base provides great maneuverability
- Cord and cable management keeps air hoses close
- 400-pound weight capacity
- I-Frame Provides closer access to the car
- 70-pound weight capacity
- No Clear Warranty On Their Site
3. Traxion 3-100 Foldable Topside Creeper
This is the best topside creeper for my readers on a budget and it offers the access you are looking for in a more portable package.
As with the model above, this overhead creeper uses heavy gauge steel with a powder coat finish which should mostly prevent scratching of the tool, keeping it in top shape for when you decide to sell and upgrade.
This heavy-duty design is well demonstrated to hold up well in the greasy and abrasive environment of the mechanic’s bay. Accordingly, this model is also about 70 pounds, which doesn’t save you any weight compared to the pro-level model.
The big selling point of this foldable topside creeper is how well it collapses for storage. You pop the pins out of the deck and slide it out, and then remove the pins to lower the stand (reinserting the pins to hold it into the lower position).
Finally, there are two pins that hold the support pieces at the base. Once you pull those, you can fold the entire device flat for easy storage or rolling it onto your race trailer.
You don’t get quite the same amount of height out of this model. It has an adjustable height range from 48 inches up to a max height rise of 65 inches. This is still going to give you access to work on SUVs and Pickup trucks.
It’s not going to be tall enough to go over the hood of a lifted truck or the roof of a smaller auto. If you are needing the ability to access semi-trucks and trucks with over 6 inches of lift, then you might step up to the pro-level model reviewed above.
The base is extremely wide, which provides excellent side-to-side stability. However, you’ll quickly understand why they change the base design on the other model, as it can be slightly more limiting to work around the wider wheelbase placement.
As with the other models on here, you have locking casters to keep it securely in place while you work.
With a weight capacity of only 70 pounds, this topside creeper is probably best for mechanics who are under 260 pounds. (Keep in mind that the deck you lean on is only supporting your upper torso and not your entire body.
One of the downsides of this model is that the vinyl cover seems to be more susceptible to getting poked or torn. Several users around the web have complained of it arriving in the mail with tears on the edges.
That said, for an affordable topside creeper, this one is hard to beat. As little as I work on engines these days, this 3-100 model is ideal for my uses.
- From 48 inches of height up to 65 inches
- Two my knowledge, one of the longest-running options available for sale online
- Extremely Stable
- Foldable Topside Creeper
- 70 pound weight
- Documentation is only rated for 65 pounds but seems to be able to handle 250+ pound without any problems
4. ATD Tools 8116F Foldable
The ATD looks a lot like the Traxion topside creeper. Which, makes sense as there are only so many ways that you can innovate on the same idea.
As with the Traxion 3-100 reviewed above, this one is made from heavy gauge steel with a powder coat finish to protect it. It does have the addition of a front pad to offer further protection to your car on the chance it gets pushed up against the finish of your car.
The top vinyl protecting the thick padded deck seems very similar, and the tool pouch that is attached makes it handy for keeping those 10 mm sockets someplace where they aren’t going to get lost.
The assembly and disassembly seem very similar to the 3-100 and the two bottom supports have the appearance of being more robust. This theory seems to be supported by the higher working capacity of 400 pounds that the ATD boasts of.
The adjustable creeper height from 44 inches down to 64 inches, means that you should measure your engine area from the ground up if you have more than 4 inches of lift on your truck.
With all of these under hood creepers, the real test comes when you need to “overreach” and “superman” your way into the far back of the engine. The ATD seems to provide that support and stability that you need when trying to access the hardest-to-reach places.
The item’s weight seems to be about 70 pounds.
The ATD brand name is well-respected and you are likely getting better quality control on their manufacturing which might mean fewer frustrations with aligning bolt holes on assembly. It also collapses tightly.
Otherwise, I’ll probably be stealing their idea of padding the frame of this topside creeper and using some pool noodles for added protection on mine.
- From 44 inches of height up to 64 inches
- Stable Design
- Added Padding To Protect Your Car
- Included Tool Pouch
- Foldable Topside Creeper
- Rated for 400 pounds
- 70 pound weight
- At 64-inches of extension, this is the shortest one on the list
5. Redline Engineering Topside Creeper
Redline Engineering is a brand that tends to get unfairly overlooked by the online crowd. They got their start in 2002 when they started making motorcycle stands. As that business has grown, they’ve branched out to other types of equipment.
One of the first things that jump out at me is the included tool holder. Unlike many of the other models, this one has a nice tray for setting your tools and parts on.
As tight as engines compartments are these days, I find this to be an excellent feature that lets you stage your part and get it into the correct position before lowering it into the engine.
The tools tray recedes when it is not in use.
There are 3 angle positions that can change your approach to the vehicle. The more upright angle is handy for lifted vehicles, while a lower angle is handy for reaching the back corners of the engine.
It also adjusts from a low height of 53.5 inches up to a maximum height of 68 inches.
The padded deck has an additional thickness, making this engine creeper super comfortable for all-day use, and the oversized locking casters let you wheel around with ease.
One of the biggest selling points is their made-in-USA approach. Now, I don’t know how much of their stuff is made in the USA. But I do know that I called, left a voicemail with their sales team, and had a call back within 15 minutes.
Try getting that level of attention from Dewalt. It isn’t likely to happen. Their customer service helps put the Redline on this list as the best topside creeper for those who need a 400-pound weight capacity.
The bottom line is, if you want an extremely durable topside creeper, the Redline Engineering brand has a track record of being one that you can trust your life to.
- Easy To Reach Customer Service
- 1 Year Warranty (90 days on casters)
- Quality Construction
- 3-angle Positioning
- 53.5 inch to 68 inch telescoping height
- Well-Padded support table
- Included Tool Tray
- at 95 pounds is one of the heavier on the list
TOPSIDE CREEPER BUYING GUIDE
Here are some key things to consider when comparing the topside creepers and choosing the correct one.
Buying the right one means that you will use it regularly and enjoy better efficiency, improved ergonomics, lowered back pain, and faster vehicle repairs.
WHAT IS A TOPSIDE CREEPER?
A topside creeper is what would happen if an enterprising mechanic took parts from their regular creeper and welded it to the top of a step ladder.
You are able to climb up the rungs of this ladder, and the padding that extends over the car supports your body weight while you work on your vehicle.
This makes it much more comfortable when working in the engine bay, and protects the finish of your car from scratches as you try to lean across to reach difficult areas. This is especially handy on SUVs and Trucks, where height is a bigger concern.
How Much Does A Topside Creeper Cost?
You can generally find topside creepers in the ballpark of $100 to $400. Pricing will vary based on the capacity of the creeper, as well as its weight.
For example, a lightweight, aluminum creeper that is designed to hold 400 pounds, is going to cost more than a heavier, steel-framed model that does the same task.
All of the models reviewed above have 4 wheels in a wide-base configuration. The one notable difference is with the Traxion 3-700 uses an I-Beam design to give the coasters the ability to fit around the front wheels of the vehicle you are working on. This lets you get in more closely to all areas of the engine without being limited by the wheels.
Additionally, choosing a model that has high-end urethane or rubber coasters with steel bearings can ensure longevity and easier maneuverability around the shop. They are less likely to get stuck in a crack and can roll over air hoses easier.
There are only a few main topside creeper manufacturers. While brands like Snap-On have their own private line, mechanics shopping for off-the-shelf options is limited to a few brands.
Traxion continues to be one of the most recognized and reliable brands. When you search for topside creepers, theirs are some of the first ones to show up online. In a way, they set the pace for what the rest of the industry tries to emulate in price points and features. They generally use a powder coat finish for anti-rust longevity.
ATD Tools, INC. This local brand is another excellent choice. Their tools seem to be top-notch, designed to last, and their customer service is excellent. ATD tools is a bigger brand and have a long history of creating a wide array of products for professional mechanics.
If you are tired of buying things that break, ATD has been a trusted brand since long before Ecommerce became the main way of buying tools.
Ballkamp we don’t have any of these on this list, but this brand sold by Napa auto seems to be a good-quality option. If you are shopping at your local NAPA auto parts store, this could be a good one to pick up locally.
Redline Stands Redline is another one of those brands like ATD tools that has been creating tool drawers and vehicle lifts for some of the busiest shops.
When it comes to trusting shop equipment with your life, Redline is the brand that mechanics turn to. Accordingly, you pay a tiny premium for their products, but they tend to be a little more reinforced.
Depending on the number of vehicles you work on each week, it is likely that you will only use your topside creeper once a week. This means you’ll want a foldable topside creeper that can be stored out of the way is a key feature.
With the exception of the Traxion 3-700, most of them do not collapse entirely flat. However, all of these models fold down nicely and can then be leaned up against the wall, tucked in behind a workbench.
You also want a brand that has good pins and a solid connection when unfolded.
Weight Bearing Capacity
The greatest weight that a Topside creeper can hold is about 400 pounds. However, keep in mind that this is going to be rated for someone who does not exceed the top step so that the pad only has to support the torso weight.
It would be a poor idea to set 400 pounds on the upper padded tray.
A design like Redline Stands Over-The-Top Elevator Creeper that supports the full weight of the mechanic in a horizontal position is more reinforced and is only rated up to 350 pounds.
Topside Creepers are something you’ll use heavily when you are working on pickup trucks. It lets you get up high so you can reach into the engine bay. However, once you start using it, you’ll find yourself wanting to use it on every repair possible.
Getting one with a good height adjustment will let you use it on multiple vehicles.
Most Creepers are adjustable from 53 inches up to 68 inches. A few models will let you dial them as low as 43 inches or as tall as 72 inches.
If you are working on lifted trucks or semi-tractors, you will want a topside creeper that will adjust up to the higher end of this range.
Topside Creeper Summary
If you are doing a lot of diesel work and lifted truck work, then go for the 3-700. For the home garage, I think the 3-100 is a great choice, and I like the added ruggedness and increased height that the Redline Engineering top side creeper brings for heavy use in a professional shop (as well as the included shelf for holding tools).