Best Work Gloves For Mechanics: The Great Glove Debate

Mechanics working on a car with gloves on

Caiaimage/Agnieszka Olek / Getty Images

You've seen those specialized mechanic's gloves on the shelf at your local auto parts store. But do you really need a pricey pair of gloves to repair your car? Do you need gloves at all? 

To Glove or Not To Glove

It's the stuff of lunch table debate. To glove or not to glove. It's the question, alright, but who cares? We obviously don't need gloves to work on cars. Glove proponents claim an overall cleaner, safer work experience. They can touch hot parts without fearing a scar. At the end of the day, they can take off their gloves and leave their work behind while they go home to their families.

On the other hand, there are the no-glovers. Old school mechanics almost never wear gloves. Sure, their hands may look like gloves, but that's because they're serious about getting things done in a hand-to-hand combat sort of way. They don't care whether their hands are supple.

Whichever side you find yourself on, you're sure to run into opposing opinions, along with the occasional choice insult. If you think gloves are for wimps, stop here. If you wear gloves or are interested in wearing gloves while you're under the hood, read on.

Mechanic's Gloves vs. Cheapies

So you're a glove person. Congratulations. I wrenched bareback for years, always scrubbing grease out of my cuticles, drenching my hands in nasty cleaners, and inevitably missing one big black spot that shows up while I'm eating at my in-laws. Now I wear gloves. Part two of the glove debate hovers around which gloves you're going to wear. Two camps seem to develop -- specialized mechanics or latex-dipped gloves. The mechanic's gloves are more expensive for a pair than the latex-dipped that only cost a few dollars.

Mechanic's Gloves

Mechanic's gloves are designed to protect your hands from the harsh elements of auto repair while leaving your tactile senses intact to do things like thread a nut. You can spend a lot of money, but to be more realistic, we chose a commonly available version. They work well. You have to find the glove that fits your hands or the extra bit hanging off the ends of your fingers will hinder your work. I could feel what I was working on pretty well. The gloves breathed well enough to stay comfortable, too.

Generic Dipped GLoves

These are those knit gloves dipped in latex. I know a lot of people who swear by these. On the plus side, they're waterproof in the fingers, the mechanic's gloves were not. You can touch some nasty stuff with these and it'll never seep through to your skin. They're super comfortable and also come in different sizes so you can find the right fit. Did I mention they're cheap? On the downside, you don't get as much feeling in your fingertips. The blue is a little thick when it comes to fine-tuning. For the price, they're great.

The Gloves Verdict

We've compared the two most commonly used glove types, along with the bare knuckles method. All of them have qualities that are inarguably worth mentioning. Mechanic's gloves give you a better feel, but latex-dipped gloves offer better protection. Bare hands are free but don't forget to budget in all that hand cleaner.

So which setup is best? None of them! It's a personal call all the way. Go with what your personality, or your significant other, says is best. Try some out and see what works for you. Don't settle, though. When it comes to being comfortable while you're working on your car, you shouldn't shortcut. Fatigue or even discomfort can be the first step toward carelessness, and safety is number one.