Need a flashlight for working on cars or the like


Newly Enlightened
Aug 13, 2014
I'm sorry if this is a double post, but I got a blank post the first time I hit "submit new thread". If so, please disregard this post.

First off a small introduction. I got referred here by a friend when I asked him for advice on getting a flashlight.
My use for this flashlight would be to be able to shine some extra light in spots that hard to reach for larger lights.
This will be while working on cars/pinball machines or the like. Important things are a good rechargeable battery, enough light to be able to see things really well.
Just let me know if I'm forgetting anything here!

Question's where I've marked multiple things can be either one of them.

1) How would you prefer to purchase the light?

____I would like to purchase the light in person from a brick and mortar store. I am located in ______________.
__X_This will be mail-order or Online (location doesn't matter).

2) Budget: An easy question, but you may change your mind after answering the rest! :)

____I don't know yet
____Up to $25.
__X_Up to $50.
____Up to $100.
____Up to $200.
____Up to $300.
____Essentially unlimited.

3) Format:

____I am not sure, please help me decide.
__X_I want a flashlight (hand held/self contained).
____I want a self-contained headlamp.
____I want a headlamp with an external pack/power source.
____I want a mounted light (typically for a bicycle or vehicle)
____I want a lantern/area light.
____I want a portable spotlight (it may have an external power source).
____Other ____________________________________________

4) Size:

____MICRO - Keychain size.
__X_TINY - Every day carry (2-4 inches).
__X_SMALL - Every day carry (4-7 inches).
____MEDIUM - Holster/belt ring carry. (>7 inches)
____LARGE - Big enough to need its own travel case.
____I don't know/I don't care.

5) Emitter/Light source:

__X_LED (known for efficiency, longevity, and compactness)
____Incandescent (known for superior color rendition)
____HID (known for max output, but often at the expense of size)
____I don't know.

6) Manufacturer:

__X_I want to buy a light from a large/traditional manufacturer that is ready to go out of the box.
__X_I would like a light from a specialty manufacturer (Possibly limited run/Custom).
____I am interested in assembling my own components. (for example a "host" or flashlight body from one manufacturer, and a "drop-in" emitter from another source).

7) What power source do you want to use?

____I intend to use "Primary"/Disposable Alkaline batteries based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D sized cells common to most stores.
____I intend to use "Primary"/Disposable Lithium batteries based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D and CR123 sized cells common to most stores (often a cold weather or long storage choice).
____I intend to use Rechargeable cells (NiMH or NiCD) based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D sized cells common to most stores.
____I intend to use Rechargeable cells based on less common formats (18500 or 18650 Li-Ion, RCR123, et-al).
__X_I want a light with an integrated rechargeable battery pack.
____I don't know/I need more information on power sources.

Integrated Li-ion or LiPO would be preferred.

7a) If you have selected a rechargeable option
__X_I want a light that plugs directly into the wall (literally with prongs built into the light)
__X_I want a light that has a recharging adapter (your typical "wall wart")
__X_I want a light that snaps into a cradle (usually mounted on a wall)
__X_I want a separate/stand-alone charger (this involves removing the batteries to charge)
____I don't care

8) How much genuine out the front (OTF) light do you want/need? Sometimes you can have too much light (trying to read up close up with a 100 lumen light is not a happy experience).

____I want to navigate a dark room or read a map (1-10 lumens).
____I want an indoor "blackout" light (15-50 lumens)
__X_I want to confidently walk around an unlit/unpaved rural area (60-150 lumens).
__X_I want to illuminate my entire backyard or a campsite (150-300 lumens).
____I want to illuminate an entire field, the neighbor's front yard several houses down, impress my friends and neighbors, etc. (300-700 lumens).
____I want search and rescue type illumination (800+ lumens).

____SPECIAL NOTE: Burst/Turbo mode Category - There are several lights that will run at a super bright maximum for a very limited period (usually 5-10 minutes) and then will "step-down" to a lower level for thermal control. Check here if this is acceptable.

9) Flood vs Throw: Flood covers an area, Throw reaches out to a distance.

__X_All Flood: I am doing "arms length" tasks like reading and campsite cooking.
__X_Wide Flood: I want a defined flood area for semi-close tasks like after-dark campsite tasks or working on a car.
____Narrow Flood: I want a sharply defined flood area that will project some distance for tasks like trail walking.
____Wide Throw: I want a beam with a noticeable hot-center for distance throw and a significant amount of "side-spill". Good for rough trail hiking, search and rescue, and general distance work.
____Narrow Throw: I want a beam with a very tight "hot center" and minimal "side-spill". Good for distance viewing, fog, and looking through dense undergrowth.
____Turbohead: I want a far-distance projector with a sharply focused spot of light and minimal or zero side-spill. Good for extreme distance and impressing your friends.

9a) Distance: How far away will you typically need to see with this light (check all that apply)
__X_Less than 1 yard/meter (reading, other close work)
__X_Less than 5 yards/meters (looking for something inside a dark shed/garage/basement)
____5-20 yards/meters (check out a noise in the backyard)
____30-50 yards/meters (I have a big backyard)
____50-150 yards/meters (I live in a very rural area/farm with wide open spaces)
____150+ yards (I am searching from a helicopter)

10) Runtime: Not over-inflated manufacturer runtime claims, but usable brightness measured from first activation to 50% with new batteries (Measured on maximum continuous output).

____Up to 30 minutes (I want the brightest [and potentially smallest] light for brief periods)
____30-60 minutes (I have plenty of batteries just ready to be changed)
____90-120 minutes (Runtime is moderately important, but still not critical)
____3 hours + (I critically need this light to run on max for extended periods in between battery changes/charges).

11) Durability/Usage: Generally the old phrase "you get what you pay for" is very accurate for flashlights.

____Not Important (A "night-stand" light).
__X_Slightly Important (Walks around the neighborhood).
__X_Very Important (Camping, Backpacking, Car Glove-box).
____Critical (Police, Fire, Search & Rescue, Caving, Survival).
____I don't know.

12) Switch Size, Type, and location (choose all that apply):

__X_Any size switch will do.
____I need a BIG switch (I'll be using gloves or have very large hands or coordination issues).
____I want a forward clicky (Helpful for momentary activation and signaling).
____I want a reverse clicky (For use with multi-mode/level lights).
____I want a momentary switch (Predominantly for use with signaling and short bursts of momentary light only).
____I want a twisty switch (Tighten the head/tailcap to activate, and the light will stay on until the head/tailcap is loosened).
____I want a body mounted switch (near the head, like on a Maglite).
____I want a tail mounted switch (found on the majority of today's high end lights).
____I want a remote switch (usually found on high-end bicycle headlights)
____I don't care.
____I don't know.
____Other, please specify____________________.

13) User Interface (UI) and mode selection. Select all that apply.

____A simple on-off with only one output level is fine for me.
__X_I want 2 light levels. (Brighter/short runtime and Dimmer/long runtime.)
__X_I want multiple light levels. (Some lights have 5-16 light levels.)
____I want a programmable light.
____I want a selector ring.
____I want a strobe mode. (Oscillating pattern to confuse/blind aka "Police Mode")
____I want SOS mode. (blinks in ---...--- emergency pattern)
____I want a beacon mode. (Regular flashes at full power to show location.)
____I don't care.
____I don't know.

Preferably, single light level or anything else is fine too.


____Plastic/composite body (this may limit your choices significantly).
__X_Anodized Aluminum – either type II or III (Hard Anodized) (Aluminum, specifically HA, is the most common material/finish for today's higher end flashlights).
__X_Stainless steel (durable, but much heavier than aluminum)
____Titanium (durable and nearly as lightweight as aluminum, but can be moderately to significantly more expensive).
____I don't care.
____I don't know.
____Other, please specify____________.

15) Water resistance
__X_None needed
____IPX4 (Splash resistant)
____IPX7 (Waterproof to 1 meter/30min)
____IPX8 (Submersible to greater than 1 meter for 4 hours)

Don't need it, but having it would be very nice.

16) Storage conditions
__X_In house (temperature/climate controlled environment)
____Emergency kit (long standby periods)
____Automobile glove-box (wide temperature swings, long standby periods, critical reliability)
____Other_________________________________________ ____

17) Special Needs/extras: Is there anything else you want or need that hasn't been mentioned? Select any/all below.

____Red filter (for preserving night vision).
____Other filter colors (Amber, Green, Blue, _________).
____Dedicated R/G/B secondary LEDs.
____"Hybrid" light (bright incandescent combined with long running LEDs)
____Pocket/belt clip
____Wrist/Neck Lanyard
____Crenulated bezel
____Non-sparking, Intrinsically Safe (IS) for use in explosive environments

Would be nice if it had a little clip or something similar so I can lay it down during work where I need 2 hands.

Thanks in advance!


Flashlight Enthusiast
Mar 18, 2006
Anaheim, CA.
I work on my car and I find a flashlight with a tighter spot helps more when trying to see in small places. A flood light does not let you see that well in certain areas.


Newly Enlightened
Aug 13, 2014
Thanks for the advice!

I was actually looking at the Foursevens MMR-X. It is pretty much what I want out of a flashlight. The only thing I don't really care for is the 800 lumen turbo mode.
Unfortunately though it is above my budget, but if nothing else comes up I'll probably get it. But for now I'll wait a little bit to see if any else has a better recommendation on here :).


Jan 12, 2012
I work on my car and I find a flashlight with a tighter spot helps more when trying to see in small places. A flood light does not let you see that well in certain areas.

I sort of find the opposite, that a flood helps the most...BUT, for some tight spots, a spot is better. As most automotive work involves either inspection to see WTF needs to happen/broke, etc...followed by task lighting, its nice to NOT have to AIM the light to see stuff, maybe just lay it some where useful/tailstand it, I can see the bolts AND the sockets I might be reaching for, all at the same time, the part I'm cutting through AND the electrical cord the cutter is using, etc.

If you use high lumen lights, the bounced lighting is typically super useful. Wee spotlights, given the holes/lines of sight are typically tight enough/close enough, a very tight spot is a good way to get your eye and the beam inline to see into a narrow opening, etc. You can also shine the beam at a mirror angled to show what the beam is hitting, etc.


Flashlight Enthusiast
Oct 27, 2009
North Wales UK
What you need is the tool vans best seller.The famous Led Lenser 7.2,the stalwart of the automotive trade,stands up to real abuse month in and month out.


Newly Enlightened
Aug 13, 2014
Thanks for the suggestion, but so far the Olight Baton S20-L2 seems like a better choice. It costs about the same including Li-ion batteries and a charger while having a handy magnet on the back.

I'll take it in to consideration before making my purchase though!