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Tool News: Dangerous Tool Alert – Harbor Freight Faces Lawsuit Over Exploding Breaker Bar

Pittsburgh Pro ratcheting breaker bar

Harbor Freight is a popular retailer for affordable tools, but one of its products is being called into question. The PITTSBURGH PRO 3/8 in. Drive 18 in. Ratcheting Breaker Bar SKU 66388, which is designed to loosen nuts and bolts, has been at the center of a lawsuit filed by a man who lost his sight in one eye while using the tool. According to the lawsuit, while Nick Geraci was trying to loosen a lug nut on his truck, the ratcheting mechanism broke, and pieces of metal flew into his eye. He has undergone multiple surgeries and will require more in the future.

The lawsuit also claims that Harbor Freight knew about the defects of the breaker bar because other customers had posted photos and reviews of the same type of failure. Some of the reviews on Harbor Freight’s website warned that the tool was cheaply made and broke easily even under light loads, and that the ratcheting mechanism was especially prone to breaking.

While the company has not commented on the ongoing litigation, the incident raises questions about the quality and safety of Harbor Freight’s products. It is crucial for customers to carefully research tools and read reviews before making purchases, as cheaper products can often have more significant risks associated with them. In the case of the PITTSBURGH PRO 3/8 in. Drive Ratcheting Breaker Bar, the dangers of the product have been made evident through Geraci’s tragic accident and the reviews of other dissatisfied customers.

Broken Pittsburgh Pro ratcheting breaker bar

The numerous negative reviews of the PITTSBURGH PRO 3/8 in. Drive Ratcheting Breaker Bar provide insight into the possible dangers of using the tool. One reviewer said that the tool was “cheap made junk” that broke on the second use, while another warned that the ratchet teeth broke on the first use. Other customers complained that the ratcheting mechanism broke after only a few months of use, while others reported that the tool shattered or broke in half. These reviews should serve as a warning to potential buyers about the possible dangers of using the tool.

Nearly 100 of the total 530 reviews of this item mention the tool breaking. Despite this the Harbor Freight website says 86% of buyers would recommend this product and the product page gives the item greater than 4 out of 5 stars.

It is important to be cautious when purchasing affordable tools, especially those from Harbor Freight. While the company may offer cheaper products, the quality and safety of those products may not be up to par with more expensive tools. As the lawsuit involving the PITTSBURGH PRO Ratcheting Breaker Bar demonstrates, the dangers of using these cheaper products can result in life-changing injuries. Customers should do their research and read reviews before making a purchase to avoid such incidents.

Verified buyer reviews from Harbor Freights website:

“Not for heavy duty work
I got this to tighten lug nuts. It snapped and I fell on my face. Not good for that job. On the plus side – they replaced it for free. Haha!”

“Not great
Broke ratchet teeth on first use”

“Junk don’t buy it
Cheap made junk, broke the second time I used it. It’s suppose to be a breaker bar for breaking tight bolts, The end of it flew apart on the second use.”

“Terrible tool!!
As soon as u tried to remove the 1st lug nut this item broke DO NOT BUY.”

“Do not buy
Have only had this tool for a few months. Worked well for short time then ratchet end completely broke into pieces. There was not much force or weight put on the breaker bar when it broke.”

“The breaker bar broke on first use.
The breaker bar broke on first use. I recommend wearing gloves.”

“Broke the first time I used it.
Harbor Freight got me again! This breaker bar broke the first time I used it to remove lug nuts from a wheel on my car.”

“Junk steel
Did not even use 3/4 of my full strength and did NOT use a cheater pipe and the ratchet broke in half on an 02 sensor I spent 3 days soaking with penetration oil. Don’t buy, cheap steel.”

“I have had four of them! Three shattered.
What a great concept. I think with about 10% more material, they would break half as often. As you can tell, my first three already broke – The ratchet shatters – wearing safety glasses is a must.”

“Broke first use
Breaking lug nuts loose and it broke the first use. Took it back to exchange for another and it did the same thing.”

“Cheaply made
Wouldn’t recommend this product. Cheaply made. Didn’t last long before the ratcheting feature stopped working. Breaker bar feels very flimsy like it’s about to break under heavy torque”

“A breaker bar that breaks the first time you use it.
Had a stuck nut in a tight space so I purchased this ratcheting breaker bar. It broke at the ratchet on my use.”

“Not very durable
Broke first time used HF replaced it”

“Don’t waste your money!
Pulled apart just taking the plastic hanger off. Returned!”

“Breaker bar broke!
Breaker bar broke! Notice there is a darker colored cap on the tip of this breaker bar where the socket attaches. It is a thin metal and granted I was putting a lot of torque on it (all of my weight) to remove a bolt but this cap broke off and I went to the ground side of my head first. Really hurt myself on the second bolt I was trying to remove after purchasing the bar that same day. I Exchanged the breaker bar later that day with one that was a solid piece tip, no additional metal cap that could break off.”

“Broken breaker bar
Didn’t even get through my first weekend with it. Ratcheting feature was the whole reason I picked it up, but it proved to be the weak point. To add insult to injury, I went to use the lifetime replacement warranty and no close stores had it. All around disappointment.”

“Broke the first time I used it.
will be returning. shattered at the head the first time I used it.”

“not very good quality
the second time I used it it broke the second time I used it it broke not even very much pressure on it. I did return it maybe this was a fluck but we’ll see how this one holds up not happy with the first one.”

“Broke it 1st time using it
Wouldn’t buy it again”

“Blew apart first 5 seconds
The housing for the ratcheting head is also the drive post as well. I placed this on the nut I wanted to break loose and as soon as I applied pressure, jagged pieces of the head went flying in multiple directions. The head and drive are manufactured from very weak machine injection molding (MIM) parts. Just buy a regular breaker bar or use it like a long handle ratchet on already free nuts and bolts.”

“Don’t use as a breaker or it will break
Was trying to remove a stuck o2 sensor with extractor socket. It broke sending the back of my head to my jack stand (ouch!). I’ll return it for a new one but it will not be put to heavy duty use anymore. Will probably go to 1/2″ non-ratcheting breaker to get the job done.”

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