Different Types of Socket Sets and Their Uses

Chances are you work in mechanics or maintenance, and you probably know what socket wrench are. They are tools that can be either manual or electric, and they usually compromise two parts - a ratchet and a socket. Thus completing the socket sets. If you move the ratchet one direction and the lock it by turning in other direction. But with so many different types of socket sets and their uses, it can get really overwhelming. This why we decided to cover all the ins and out of different types of socket set available out there.

​6 Most Useful Types of Socket sets:

Hex Sockets

These types of sockets were primarily intended to fit around the outside of a hexagonal fastener head. But its wide ranges of use drastically changed what we used to understand by a “hex socket”. That is, any shaped socket that doesn’t need to position into the fastener head, and manages to fit around the outside of a fastener, is called a hex socket.

Hex sockets can mainly be found in two types: (i) Hex/6 point sockets and (ii) Bi-hex/12 point sockets.


The former type sockets are engineered to fit the head of a hexagonal fastener. For example - you can use them on nuts or bolts. The inner walls of the hex sockets are designed in a somewhat curvy way. This structure aids in decreasing the revolving of the fastener-head. It also provides the opportunity to apply increased amount of torque to the fastener in a secured way. Such nature is good for having them reliably attached with sturdy substances like hard wood or metal.

On the contrary, the later one (bi-hex sockets) contains 12 points in its internal walls. This shape comes handy in fitting over the head of squares fasteners, which is impossible with any other regular hex socket.

Akin to any hex socket, this one is also meant to tighten or loosen hexagonal shaped fasteners. What makes it special is - its capability to fit 6 point fastener heads with twice more combinations than the number a traditional hex socket is capable of. Turns out, you can easily position them onto the fastener in compact zones.

Its multi-purpose use includes turning the heads of square (4 point) and bi-hex (12 point) fasteners.

Impact Sockets

In terms of both appearance and usage, impact sockets are dissimilar to a regular socket. The oxide coating used on this type of sockets give them a black (and therefore, not too shiny) look. The coating may not make them look attractive, but what is does instead is protecting from getting worn or eroded.


​Apparently, these sockets are softer than a regular socket, but that doesn’t mean they lack in toughness and durability. Besides, they possess thicker walls which are constructed out of either chrome-molybdenum or chrome-vanadium alloy steel. So, strength and endurance in them are guaranteed.

Akin to any regular socket set, this sort of sockets comes with the variety of 6 and 12 points, as well as deep and shallow. However, the big difference between impact sockets and regular sockets is the way of reinforcing them to work. For example- you can boost up their energy using compressed air. Both electricity and hydraulic means can also work here.

​Together with an impact wrench, this socket produces a lot of torque to the head of a fastener. For getting rid of seized nuts and bolts from vehicles, garage workers or mechanics are tend to use impact wrenches. Another use includes inducing large torque loads to wheel nuts by racing teams when they are aiming to ensure a tight grasp within the shortest possible time.

Spark Plug Sockets

The sockets that are used to place or detach the spark plugs from engines are called spark plug sockets. This type of sockets contain rubber insert inside them which comes handy in securing and gripping the plug with the socket. Usually, the socket houses a foam rubber insert for holding the spark plug comfortably. Consequently, the plug hardly gets injured by the inner walls of the socket.

​In terms of length, these sockets are longer compared to traditional sockets. Such structure includes larger clearance and opening depths - that help the socket reach the top of the spark plug.


​Using these sockets is similar to standard sockets. You can connect them with the turning tools that are applicable for standard sockets. In case, you’re operating the spark plugs yourself, its better you use a torque wrench and don’t forget to follow the instructions from the manual. The reason for using the torque wrench is to make sure the spark plug doesn’t get over tight following havoc. Do some research on finding the accurate torque setting for your vehicle's spark plugs. This is where you mainly require the handbook.

Socket Bits

Bit sockets are mainly a fusion of a hex socket and a screwdriver bit. It has a common feature that you’ll see in other sockets as well - the square end. Attaching the socket bits with a turning tool (a ratchet) demands such structure. Just manage to bring a square drive socket in the process.

The widespread use of socket bits covers performing in support of impact drivers as well as other manual tools. Socket bits come with 2 different designs. So, getting puzzled about which type of socket bits will suit your needed purpose during your purchasing the socket bits, is normal. But understanding that - the socket bits that contains one part has the screwdriver bit secured for life, and the one with 2 parts offers the liberty to detach the screwdriver bits according to your requirement can ease your buy.


Pass Through Sockets

Pass through sockets are the only type that don’t contain any square drive at its other end. Then how do they manage to serve the purpose? The secret lies in its specific kind of ratchet, known as ratchet spanner. As the name suggests, the socket own a hollow area through which the bolt shaft passes.


Its primary usage includes eliminating or replacing nuts even from constrained zones where deep sockets can hardly reach. Turns out, you can use it in any type of bolts, irrespective of their length.

Insulated Socket

When high electrical currents are your target point to work on, the type of sockets we recommend to us is the insulated socket set. Because it contains a plating that keeps them enclosed and makes ready to face AC and DC current. More precisely, the wrapper is constructed out of either nylon or PVC (poly vinyl chloride).

Structurally explained, the plating comprises 2 layers (usually red and yellow). These color differences work as visual indications. In case, the insulated cover has undergone any damage, you can detect it from the worn out color of the first coating.


There are different types of socket sets available in the market. Each of them is designed keeping their individual purpose in mind. In case, you’re an amateur and don’t know which one will serve your need best, here we have tried to cover almost all sort of socket sets to help in your quest.

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David E. Wilson

Hi, I am David E. Wilson. I am a professional auto engineer about 8 years. i have lot of experience about auto tools and equipment. I am here share my knowledge and expertise with the people who are interested in it.

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