Unless you use a socket wrench set regularly, you might not know that there are both deep sockets and shallow sockets available. Both have their own uses and can normally be purchased as part of a set. It is also possible to buy semi-deep sockets that are of an intermediate depth so they can fit into tighter spaces. These are often a good compromise between the deep and shallow types of socket.
Shallow sockets are the type most commonly found in socket wrench sets. In many circumstances, people will need no more than a shallow set of sockets. The can fit into tighter spaces and are particularly useful for carrying out jobs on car or motorcycle engines where space is more limited. The majority of DIY enthusiasts will never need anything more than a shallow socket wrench set.
Since shallow sockets usually come with a socket wrench set, there’s no extra cost involved in buying them as an addition for your socket wrench unless an individual socket cracks and you need to replace it. You can always buy a stronger set made of steel but most users will never need to worry about such expensive alternatives because they’ll only use a socket wrench sparingly.
Most automotive jobs can be carried out with shallow sockets. Deep sockets are usually only needed for specialized work that require higher skill levels than most home DIY enthusiasts possess.
Because they come in a set, shallow sockets are usually purchased in a case with a driver and handle which makes them extremely portable and convenient to use around the house or the garage. Each socket has it's own spot in the case, making it easy to keep track of them.
Deep sockets are better for specific jobs instead of general use. If you have bolted joints, they make a much better option for your socket wrench than shallow sockets. If you need to replace your exhaust, you’d find it much easier to loosen the clamp bolts with a deep socket. Because the length of the bolt means the nut will need to go further into the socket, deep sockets are a much better choice.
Rather than purchasing a full set, you can buy individual deep sockets to use with your socket wrench. This means you won’t have sockets that are never used sitting around in your workshop. The chances are that you will only need one or two deep sockets. However, you can still consider buying a full set if you do a lot of work on vehicles. Although they cost more money, they can still represent a good return on any investment you make in them.
Because they’re not considered standard toolbox items, deep sockets do tend to cost more. However, the fact that they are considered to be specialized equipment means that they are generally stronger than cheap shallow socket sets.