A decent inspection lamp is a must for car DIY enthusiasts, and you don’t have to be tackling a rebuild to justify one. Extra light can help if you’re topping up levels, checking for leaks or swapping wheels.
While mains lamps are still available for those who need light all day, cordless LED tech makes most sense. Modern LED lamps are far brighter than old incandescent bulb versions, they won’t die if they’re knocked and they don’t generate masses of heat.
Plus, you needn’t use an extension lead, or fight with the power cable when trying to position it, so LED models are more practical. But which is the best for DIY maintenance? We charged eight to find out.
We began our tests by placing each inspection lamp a set distance from a surface, so we could measure each beam’s intensity, width and evenness. Then we considered practicalities such as ease of positioning and aiming. Stands, magnets, hooks and bases that are hinged or swivel jointed from the main lamp body help tremendously.
As lamps get smaller and brighter, run times between charges are often compromised, so we looked favourably on models with reduced, power-saving modes. We also took into account charging; models supplied with mains and 12-volt chargers were preferred. Finally, we looked at prices from a range of online sources as we went to press.
Ring’s RIL3600HP MAGflex Twist is bright, easily positioned and keenly priced, so it secures the win. Close behind, in every respect, is the Laser 6185, with its range of charging options. The Ring RIL4000 is also simple to position, and takes the final place on our podium.