The Best Topside Creepers
Every mechanic I have worked with is missing the topside creeper from their arsenal. Unfortunately, these are often only purchased by retiring mechanics who have recognized that they need a safer, more comfortable way to access the engine bay. I would argue that for the sake of your back, this is one of those tools that you should demand be in every shop you work at. They are great for doing head work and installing turbochargers.
If you’ve bent over an engine compartment for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly wondered if there was a more comfortable way to access those hard-to-reach areas of your vehicle. And, while can you use pads on all the edge of the vehicles that you work on, there is still a lot of risk of scratching the surface of your car.
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.
Twenty years from now, when you are relaxing in your big recliner without back pain, you can thank your investment in a topside creeper. (It’s probably going to be an extremely luxurious recliner, because your topside creeper allowed you to work faster than anyone else, securing more clients and a bigger paycheck. And, most importantly, you didn’t have to pay to repair any scratched up finishes.)
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 best 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
Best Topside Creeper: Traxion 3-700 Foldable Topside Creeper
While I love the customer service that you get with the Redline, I think this is one of the best topside creeper you can invest in.
You’ll see Traxion on this list a couple of times. There’s a good reason for this. 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 topside 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 their workplace innovations, and I expect them to “hold the line” for the next 4 or 5 years until more competitors enter the market.
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 the 40% more of the engine. Practically speaking, this gives you 140 inches of engine compartment accessibility, even on taller trucks.
The stairs are nicely placed 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. But this topside creeper is so stable that you are extremely confident and stable as you move up and down it.
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 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 a 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. Which brings me to the big complaint: this topside creeper is heavy. You know the old maxim: “Stable, Cheap or Light — pick two”? Traxion went with “Stable and Cheap” to the expense of the weight.
It’s worth its weight. With a 400 pound 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 absolute best 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
- No Clear Warranty On Their Site
Best Customer Service: RedLine Engineering Overhead Creeper
This topside creeper is headquartered right here in Pensacola, so it seems fitting to include them on the list. Do you like flames? We have flames! The Redline Engineering model is a refreshing change from all of the copy-cat models on this list. It is the only one that has a tool tray incorporated into the design, providing a handy place to set sockets while you work. (I’d add a small magnetic tray).
It has 3-inch casters which makes it easy to roll it around. Some of the brands that I left off the list tended to skimp on the casters, and it is great to see that Redline understands how important it is to use a high-quality locking caster.
This one also offers a higher extension than all but the Traxion 3-700 model. This Redline TopSide creeper can adjust from 53.5 inches up to 68 inches, making it taller than almost every other creeper on this list. It also comes with three different angles that you can lock it into, allowing you more maneuverability and ergonomic angles of access to choose from.
While it is sold as a foldable model, you’ll notice that it doesn’t collapse as tightly ATD model. However, it does quickly collapse down and roll out of the way. One of the downsides is that it is heavier, with a 97 pound listed weight.
With the thick padding, durable design and easy assembly, Redline brings a strong challenger to the Traxion lineup. If some of the quality control stories on the Traxion have you worried (bolts not aligning, etc), then you might spend the extra money for more verticle height, a tool tray and the ability to adjust into 3 different angles.
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. That’s some old-school customer service that our grandparents used to talk about. When you are buying equipment at this price point, that is some unbeatable customer service that is well worth any added price you might pay, especially considering that they have normal operating hours that will be convenient for the bulk of my readers.
Try getting that level of attention from Dewalt. It isn’t likely to happen
- 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
Best Cheap Topside Creeper: Traxion 3-100 Foldable Topside Creeper
This is a surprisingly affordable option, that offers the access you are looking for in a more portable package.
As with the model above, this topside 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 model is how well this creeper folds down. 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 o this model. It has an adjustable height 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 with 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
- 70 pound weight
- Documentation is only rated for 65 pounds but seems to be able to handle 250+ pound without any problems
Best For Heavy Mechanics: ATD Tools 8116F Foldable Topside Creeper
The ATD looks a lot like the Traxion model. 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 that is powder-coated 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 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 height adjusts from 44 inches to 64 inches, which means that you should carefully measure your engine bay from the ground up if you have more than 4 inches of lift on your truck.
With all of these 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 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. They also seem to have some of the best mastery when it comes to ease of use for collapsing into compact storage. Otherwise, I’ll probably be stealing their idea of padding the frame of the 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
- Rated for 400 pounds
- 70 pound weight
- At 64-inches of extension, this is the shortest one on the list
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 model brings for heavy use in a professional shop.