What is the Best Oil Filter Wrench?

The easy answer is that it is the one that works for your application. Now, having said that, let’s explore the different types of Oil Filter Wrenches and their pros and cons in any given situation.

We start by defining 3 general types of Oil Filter Wrenches, Band Type, Cap and Socket Type, and Pliers and Jaws type. Now we will look at the pros and cons in more detail.

Band Type Oil Filter Wrenches. In our definition, this category contains the Steel Band Type Wrenches (with a swivel handle and without it), The Chain Band Type, The Fabric Strap Type, and the Rubber Strap Type.

Pros:

  • This Type fits multiple different sizes of Oil Filters.
  • This type can generate the force necessary to remove stuck filters of any size.
  • These typically retail for $5.00 to $25.00.

Cons:

  • If the proper amount of clear space is not available around the filter, these may not be able to remove/install the filter.
  • With a narrow band, such as a chain band, enough force may be able to be generated to actually crush the filter case.

Cap and Socket Type Oil Filter Wrenches. These wrenches grip the top of the filter using a specific number of facets or flutes (flat surfaces evenly spaces around the filter diameter) to provide the surface to grip the filter and apply the force necessary to install /remove it.

Pros:

  • These type of wrenches can function in areas where a band filter may not because they need access only to the top of the filter where the cap/socket wrench connects.
  • These types of Oil Filter Wrenches typically retail for $5.00 to $ 10.00 each.

Cons:

  • Because this type of wrench grips the oil filter at the top using a set of facets or flutes (flat surfaces) that contain a specific number of flat surfaces to generate the force necessary to remove/install an oil filter, these types of wrenches must match the diameter of the filter exactly and the number of flutes must match exactly. These types of wrenches typically can only fit one or two different filter sizes and flute counts.
  • Trying to use one of these on a filter that it is not designed for usually results in the wrench not fitting over the filter or it fits so loosely that it will not grip the filter tight enough to remove it.
  • Continuing from the above point, a loose fitting cap type filter wrench can become deformed by the wrong filter to the point where it will not even work on the filter it was made to fit.
  • MANUAL DRIVES ONLY for these style of wrenches! Powered drives such a pneumatic drives can damage the wrenches beyond repair, or they may cause a catastrophic failure that could result in injury to the operator. Even if the wrench withstands the power drive torque, a sudden application of high torque could cause the oil filter or fuel filter to be damaged or in a worst case scenario snap off and be unable to be removed from the engine! It is best to stay with the manual drives here!

Pliers and Jaws Type Oil Filter Wrenches

Pros:

  • Adjustable to fit multiple filter sizes.
  • Some models feature a short jaw and a long jaw which makes gripping filters placed close to a metal plate on your engine easier.
  • Made of heavy steel with multiple sets of sharp teeth for grip strength.
  • Cushioned rubber handles (NOT RECOMMENDED FOR ELECTRICAL USE!).
  • These type of wrenches typically retail for $10 – $20.

Cons:

  • These are our heaviest Oil Filter Wrenches.
  • The teeth really are sharp and can easily scratch paint on your fuel powered device.

After all the Pros and Cons of the various types above, it really comes down to which wrench type will afford you the access you need to install / remove your oil filter and after that it is personal selection. Every type of wrench we have discussed and every type of wrench we have discussed has its place in the world of changing oil filters. Your job is going to be to gather the information you need to make your choice and then make that choice. BTW, if your first choice does not work out as you believed it would, keep in mind that none of these wrenches are especially expensive, so making a different choice is not out of the question. Happy Oil Filter Changing!