12 Types of Socket: Features and Uses

Sockets are among the most familiar tools with mechanics, DIYers, and folks who engage in maintenances. This tool comes attached to a ratchet or socket wrench and other effective tools that loosen or tighten fasteners. Interestingly, you would find that there are different types of sockets.

Whether manual or electric-operated sockets, you would notice this tool’s adaptability and notice how it aids in handling projects involving bolts and nuts. Hence, it appears as an indispensable part of toolboxes for mechanics and maintenance experts.

The varying types and sizes of sockets work well for various applications, depending on the available workspace, clearance amount, and fastener type. With that in mind, you can rely on this technical guide to learn more about the existing socket types, features, and uses.

Common Types of Socket and Their Uses 

Sockets come designed as cylindrical tools, which come in varying sizes to fit over the heads of fasteners. You would often find such tools with recessed squares that connect them to other wrenches or suitable turning tools.

This tool is pretty essential, and as such, you would find them supplied by many tool brands out there. From removing O2 sensors to removing the crankcase while fixing rod knock issues, you would find sockets very crucial in different auto repairs.

 Are you keen on knowing the different socket types there exist? Below is a list consisting of some of the common types of sockets tools.

Hex Sockets

Hex Sockets

One of the commonest sockets is the hex socket, and this tool comes constructed either as a bi-hex/12 or hex/6 point socket. A close look at this socket type would reveal the square drive socket used for a secured attachment, at one end and the other end having the hex or bi-hex recessed socket head that fits on fasteners.

This tool can come in handy for disconnecting car batteries and removing bolts and nuts from various areas. Most of these hex sockets come constructed with top-quality alloy steel or chrome-molybdenum steel.

Excellent options are available in the market, supplied by top brands like GearWrench, Sunnex, and Craftsman. From $9.98 to $54.99, you can get excellent hex socket sets that come in varying sizes to suit different fastener sizes.

Spark Plug Sockets

Spark Plug Sockets

For most automotive experts and car owners, spark plug sockets appear pretty common. As the name implies, this socket type comes in handy for fitting or removing spark plugs from engines. 

You would often find this tool appearing longer when compared to standard sockets, and spark plug sockets have rubber inserts that would often prevent damage on the spark plug as you work on it. 

Famous brands like GearWrench, Ares, Lexivon, Craftsman, and Apex tools supply some of the best spark plug sockets. The estimated cost of getting a suitable spark plug socket set ranges from $5.98 to $21.98.

Impact Sockets

Impact Sockets

This type of socket often comes distinguishable by its color (black) and industrial surface finishing. These options come solely designed for various power impact wrenches, and please note that impact sockets have non-corrosive finishing on thicker walls.

Hence, they appear pretty durable and manage all forms of vibrations during operations. The cost prices of these sockets vary, but you can get excellent options between $7.99 and $146.75. Top suppliers of this tool include Wera, Stanley, Sussex, Tekton, and DeWalt.

Universal Joints Sockets

Universal Joints Sockets

In a case where the bolt heads appear to be in a less convenient area, you can always depend on the universal sockets to work on them. The spring-loaded pins that come constructed with this socket type offer a better grip on fasteners. 

Again, it has a swivel ball that allows it to turn about 360 degrees. Interestingly, this tool appears compatible with varying fasteners, irrespective of their sizes and head designs. Brands like Neiko, Spicer, Hart, and Moog offer excellent universal joints. With a budget between $8.77 and $71.94, you can get effective universal joint sets.

Insulated Sockets

Insulated Sockets

This tool comes in handy for use with another insulated turning tool (like insulated ratchets), and as such, offers excellent and safe insulation when dealing with electrical projects. The insulated sockets come designed with a 2-layered coating that keeps the tool safe while working on projects with live currents.

Most of these insulated sockets would have their coating colored red and yellow. Some brands to look out for when purchasing these sockets are Knipex, Wiha, Facom, and Titan, as they offer some of the best options. The estimated cost of such tools appears within $27.98 to $311.77. 

Socket Bits

Socket Bits

Socket bits possess a square-shaped ratchet end that works well for getting them attached to suitable ratchets. This tool appears like the popular hex socket, but you would find it has some bits within it. 

In most cases, the bits appear like screwdriver bits; still, you would find them in varying types. There are excellent options from $9.88 to $97.50. Kindly note that MulWark, Neiko, and Stalwart offer some of the best socket bits in the market.

Pass-Through Sockets

Pass-Through Sockets

The essence of this type of socket is that they effectively work on any bolt without any issues associated with the length. The “hollow tube” design works well for loosening and tightening long studs or bolts.

Nevertheless, it would help if you had a suitable ratchet that clamps around the socket to work with this tool. Some of the best pass-through socket set brands include Channellock, Craftsman, GearWrench, and Crescent. Whether you are on a budget or seek professional pass-through sockets, you can get excellent ones from around $5.99 to $76.98.

Adjustable Multi Sockets

Adjustable Multi Sockets

If you often work on different bolts and nuts, it would help to get adjustable multi sockets. This socket type does the job of differently sized sockets. You can rely on this tool to prevent the “rounding” of the bolt or stud corners since it gets equal forces distributed across all the fastener’s sides.

Adjustable multi sockets possess adjustable jaws for fitting purposes as they contact the heads of these fasteners. You can expect Neiko and Sunex to offer some of the best adjustable multi sockets when it comes to durability. You can make your budget from around $199.99 to $169.97.  

Bolt Grip Sockets

Bolt Grip Sockets

When it comes to damaged or corroded fasteners, you would often need a tougher tool to grip right and get these bolts or nuts removed. The bolt grip socket appears to be an excellent option, constructed to appear concave.

This tool possesses a reverse spiral design, whose edges dugs into metals heads of nuts and bolts for easy removal. The estimated price range of this tool falls from $22.09 to $80.92, and you can depend on brands like Irwin, Ares, and Topic to provide excellent options.

Oil Filter Sockets

Oil Filter Sockets

One crucial tool for oil changes and replacing a car’s oil filter is the oil filter socket. This tool appears large but shallow and has walls that are thin compared to some other sockets. 

Hence, this tool does not necessarily need withstanding high torque forces, especially as oil filters come with plastic threads. Motive, Innovant, Craftsman, Tekton, and Neiko appear to be top suppliers of such tools. This tool has sets that come at estimated prices of $5.77 to $49.95.

Flex Sockets

Flex Sockets

When working on projects that involve fasteners located at varying angles, you would find flex sockets pretty helpful since they work with fewer obstructions. This socket type comes constructed with a hinged joint, and as such, it can work from other angles aside from 90° that appears relative to the ratchet.

GearWrench and Craftsman are two top brands that provide excellent flex sockets in the market. The cost of this tool varies, and you can look out for suitable options with a budget of $8.76 to $204.65.

Non-Sparking Sockets

Non-Sparking Sockets

The contact of two metal surfaces is more likely to cause sparks, and as such, this type of socket comes designed with non-ferrous materials. With such a tool, you can rest assured that there will be few sparks when working on metal fasteners, which further prevent fire in explosive areas. 

In essence, this tool would help ensure a safe operation in areas with explosive atmospheres such as flammable liquids, gases, vapors, and different particulates. There are excellent non-sparking sockets from $9.99 to $149.34.


What are the different types of sockets?

There are various types of sockets, as they come constructed with varying features that suit different applications. Nevertheless, there are two main groups of sockets based on their sizes; the metric sockets and the standard sockets.

You can find them being measured in millimeters. These sets have different sizes of such sockets, with their physical dimensions scaling up according to the socket wrench sizes. The standard sockets (SAE or Imperial), on the other hand, come measured in inches and appear to be sized infractions. Standard sockets are the common option in the United States.

Which is better, a 6 or 12-point socket?

Whether you use a 6-point or 12-point socket tool, your choice would often depend on the size of the fastener. Nevertheless, 6-point fasteners appear pretty common compared to 12-point fasteners.

Still, it would be best first to determine the type of fastener head you would be working on before getting either a 6-point or 12-point tool. A proper match would ensure maximized surface area, and as such, the tool is less likely to slip.

What are the most common socket sizes?

Sockets come in varying sizes, as they are designed to fit different sizes of fasteners, such as bolts, studs, and nuts. However, some of the commonest options you would find are 36mm sockets and 10mm sockets.

Considering the standard sockets, you can find four common types, and they include 3/4–inch, ½-inch, 3/8-inch, and ¼-inch sockets. Most of these options mentioned above come with bits that would fit Torx screws.

What is the difference between a ratchet and a socket?

Ratchets are handles that appear snapped to the end of sockets with the aid of a connector (square drive connector). In essence, the ratchet would often pose as the drive tool for supplying sufficient torque to turn the fasteners.

Nevertheless, Sockets are either electric or manual designed to fit the heads of bolts or nuts. Kindly note that sockets cannot work without a drive tool; hence, they are often attached to ratchets to loosen or tighten a fastener.

How do I choose a socket set?

When it comes to choosing the right sockets, there are many things to consider, and one is the size type. However, this would further depend on the work, as metric sockets would work better for fasteners with metric sizes, which applies to imperial sockets.

Another thing is to decide whether you would need impact sockets instead of the standard options. It would help if you also thought about the drive size, and as such, it would help to learn how to measure socket drive sizes.

Final Words

When it comes to auto repairs and maintenance, home improvements, and various professional projects, sockets are one tool that appears famous. This tool is a piece that folks attach to ratchets, wrenches, and other suitable turning tools, which aids in tightening or loosening fasteners.

Sockets come with varying features and designs, which work effectively for different uses. So, how many types of sockets are there? You can find different socket types; nevertheless, this piece holds twelve common types of sockets that you can use for varying applications.


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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