The 9 Best Under Hood Work Lights

We spent 47 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Forget about trying to perform your vehicle’s next timing belt change with a weak flashlight in one hand and your tools in the other. These under hood work lights are specifically designed for when you need to access your engine bay in low light conditions, illuminating the space with bright, LED bulbs. They also free up your hands, allowing you to focus on more important things. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work.

9. Luminar Work

The Luminar Work is a rechargeable unit that is perfect for when you need a low-profile lighting solution for repairs. The recessed hooks fold away for easy storage, while the detachable magnetic stretch cord offers alternative attachment options.

  • Shatterproof polycarbonate tube
  • Includes cigarette and wall adapters
  • Not as bright as other models

Brand Luminar Work
Model pending
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

8. Stanley BF0109 BarFlex

While not primarily intended for engine work, the Stanley BF0109 BarFlex is a compact and portable option that can nevertheless help you peer into dark compartments. It can operate with a cord or off its battery when an outlet is out of reach.

  • Articulated joint helps direct light
  • Magnetic base attaches to metal
  • Beam can be a little narrow

Brand Stanley
Model BF0109
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

7. TruePower 120 LED

Suitable for a wide range of applications, such as automotive work, camping, and boating, the TruePower 120 LED conveniently folds in half for easy storage and transportation. And the extendable end clamps allow you to mount it almost anywhere.

  • Strong spring-loaded grippers
  • Includes ac and dc charging adapters
  • Cheap plastic parts break easily

Brand Gino
Model 30-3000
Weight 6 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

6. Performance Tool W2404

The pint-sized Performance Tool W2404 may not look like much, but it won’t disappoint. Retractable steel cables extend so that it can be hooked up, but when you’ve finished, it is small enough to stash away in your tool bag.

  • Transparent plastic instead of glass
  • Does not get hot
  • No wall charger

Brand Performance Tool
Model W2404
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Aceland 120 LED

The Aceland 120 LED is a low-priced, foldable model that offers many of the features seen on more expensive options. It includes three useful modes, full brightness for when you’re working, low light for camping, and flashing red.

  • Usable in place of road flares
  • One-year warranty
  • Can’t be used while charging

Brand Aceland
Model pending
Weight 5.8 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Central Tools 13003

The Central Tools 13003 features an extra thick, shatterproof bulb housing that helps protect the unit from shocks, drops, and dings from tools. The included LitePerch self-adjusts to fit any size of vehicle, including compact cars and light-duty trucks.

  • Made in the usa
  • Stays cool even after extended use
  • Can also be used for interior work

Brand Central Tools
Model 13003
Weight 6.3 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

3. ATD Tools 80050 30W

The soft, foam-covered ends of the ATD Tools 80050 30W’s telescoping bracket can be used on hoods from 47 to 75 inches wide without damaging your vehicle’s paint job, while the ample 25-foot cord means you’ll always be able to reach an outlet.

  • Ul approved and certified
  • Extremely bright leds
  • Very durable construction

Brand ATD Tools
Model 80050
Weight 7.8 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Neiko 40447A

With 202 SMD LEDs producing a whopping 1,200 lumens, the Neiko 40447A is an all-purpose offering that is useful in all kinds of workspaces. Hang it from the hood with the attached hooks, or mount it on the side of your car while you change tires.

  • Li-ion battery runs for 3-6 hours
  • Durable steel holding tube
  • Overcharge protection for longevity

Brand Neiko
Model 40447A
Weight 7.7 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Nightstick SLR-2120

With two brightness settings, the Nightstick SLR-2120 can provide just a little or a lot of illumination, depending on your needs. Plus, the tube can rotate a full 360 degrees in its adjustable cradle, allowing you to focus on those dark, hard-to-reach places.

  • Dual on and off buttons
  • Can also stand on its handle ends
  • Runs on ac and dc power

Brand Nightstick
Model 801720
Weight 6 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

Get Under The Hood

A quality work light is a beacon of hope to all the mechanics out there who may be dealing with the dim conditions lurking in an engine bay. Let’s face it, even if your shop or garage lights are dazzling, the hood is going to limit their usefulness and leave you suffering in the shadows. You’re in luck, though, because the under hood work light comes in a range of styles and has many handy features that’ll take you out of the darkness in no time.

Perhaps the number one feature that any quality under hood light will have is its ability to be positioned and repositioned. For example, many have hooks on the end that swivel so that you can adjust the light to shine in any direction. Others have hooks that pull out and retract so that you can use them with hoods of various sizes. And then there are those that fold, which are an excellent option for anyone lacking in storage space or anyone who needs a portable version.

Of course, a light won’t do you any good unless you can keep it turned on and charged, and both corded and cordless versions are available. If you opt for the former, you’ll need to purchase one with a cord that’s long enough to reach your vehicle. Cordless versions can be placed just about anywhere, but they must be charged. Luckily, manufacturers offer plenty of options to make charging simple. You’ll see those that get their juice from a 12V auxiliary power outlet, USB, or regular wall plug, for example.

Then there are the extra features that you may or may not need. Some under hood work lights offer both white and red LEDs, while others have various brightness modes for working in different conditions. Don’t forget to consider the power button, as well. It may seem like a small detail, but where the on/off switch is placed and how it’s operated can make the difference between easy use and a pain in the neck.

Lumens And Watts And Volts, Oh My

When you’re buying a new work light of any kind, you’ll see and hear several important-sounding terms bandied about: watts, lumens, volts, flux capacitor . . . okay, maybe not that last one. Many people know that they need to pay attention to volts, because an electrical device needs to run from the correct power supply. For instance, if you buy a work light made for use in the United States, where homes are wired for 110 volts, and then bring it to England and try to run it off a 230-volt power supply, the device’s functioning could be compromised.

But if you’re buying a new under hood work light, the odds are good that you’ll be able to buy it, plug it into your wall, and charge it without worrying about this too much. It’s watts versus lumens that is the trickier part, as these terms are commonly confused, but can make a big difference in how helpful your light is to you.

Fortunately, it’s easy to understand the difference between watts and lumens, even without too much technical detail. Put simply, watts measure energy output, whereas lumens measure brightness. While there’s the occasional assumption that wattage will be commensurate with a light’s brightness, this is actually a myth. The disconnect between wattage and brightness is doubly true with items that use LEDs, including under hood work lights and, in fact, more and more light sources nowadays. LEDs are much more energy efficient than their older cousin, the incandescent bulb, and can produce more illumination with less power.

So, if you’re worried about how much energy your work light will consume, you’ll want to look at the wattage. If, on the other hand, you want to make sure you get the brightness you need, you’ll need to scope out the lumens, abbreviated “lm”. Many high-quality under hood lights run in the 1,000 to 1,200 lumen range, which should be amply bright for most tasks. If you’re already in a bright space, you might be able to use a version with a lower lumen rating; if your needs are more powerful, look for something with a higher lumen rating.

Safety: A Bright Idea

Having adequate lighting will not only make your time spent working under the hood easier, it could also make it safer, as it helps you prevent mistakes and breakages. After all, when you can see what you’re doing, you’re not making a guess as to what you’re cranking on and where. But there are a few other steps that pro and at-home auto mechanics should take to protect their health.

First, it’s imperative to ensure that you’re working to prevent fires. Chemicals need to be stored properly, away from any heat sources, including your work lights. Greasy rags need to be placed in bins, preferably made of metal or a non-combustible material. And you should always have materials on hand for putting out a blaze, including a fire extinguisher.

Next, you’ll need to keep your tools secured properly. Even if you’re working under a car, don’t leave your tools on the floor, where it’s too easy for someone to trip over them. Keep them in a tool box, and put them away when you’ve finished. True, this sounds simple enough, but the “I’ll clean up a little later” mindset is always lurking around the corner. Be sure that your implements are in good working order, too. A compromised tool can break at just the wrong time, injuring either you or someone working near you.

Finally, be extra careful about the health of your spine. Working on cars can be highly satisfying, but only if your back isn’t killing you from too much time spent hunched over an engine. Take breaks to stand up straight and practice some stretching of the neck, back, and waist. Some chiropractors even recommend that mechanics strengthen their core muscles, as a strong center can help take some of the strain off the back.