Best Oil Filter Wrenches: Take on Oil Changes With Confidence

Yes. You really do need to change the filter, too.

byHank O'Hop| UPDATED May 14, 2022 6:22 AM
Best Oil Filter Wrenches: Take on Oil Changes With Confidence
Share

Oil filters clean out the impurities in engine oil such as dirt and debris. It's necessary to change the filter on a regular basis, and the best oil filter wrench can help you do the task more efficiently, particularly if you encounter a filter that’s jammed. Check out our guide featuring the best oil filter wrenches on the market.

It's an oil filter. You should be able to take it off by hand, right? Not always. Sometimes, the person who installed it cranked it past its torque spec. Or maybe they didn’t put a layer of oil on the seal to keep it from fusing to the oil pump. Either way, sometimes something as simple as an oil filter change can turn into a total nightmare. If you have a good oil filter wrench, however, you might be able to work right through it. Believe it or not, not all oil filter wrenches are the same, though. I'm here to help you find out which type you need for your application and what models are worth your money.

Best Overall

Lisle Standard Oil Filter Swivel Wrench

Summary
The band-type oil filter wrench that'll see you through countless jobs. The build quality and enhanced grip separate it from the direct competition.
Pros
  • Works on several vehicles 
  • Band’s internal pads offer excellent grip
  • Quality surpasses most of the direct competition
  • Swiveling head is great for using in tight spaces
Cons
  • Expensive for what it is
  • Sizing must be double checked
Best Value

CTA Tools 86mm 16 Flute Oil Filter Cap Wrench

Summary
A positive grip at a low price. This end cap wrench is a direct fit for oil filters and is ideal for use in tight spaces.
Pros
  • Creates positive fit on filter to prevent slipping
  • Can offer more leverage than other wrench types
  • Available in various sizes
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Low durability 
  • Quality control issues are common
Honorable Mention

Tekton 12 Inch Oil Filter Pliers

Summary
Who needs a wrench when you've got pliers? These oil filter pliers bite down hard on many filters, giving you the traction to tear it free.
Pros
  • Fits a wide range of filter sizes 
  • Quality surpasses direct competition
  • Long handles improve leverage
  • Backed by Tekton’s Always Guarantee
Cons
  • Hard to use in tight spaces
  • Quality control issues are common

Our Methodology

While there are some people who are lucky enough to never run into an oil filter they can’t break free with their hands, oil filter wrenches are still a necessary part of most DIYer's tool collections. Even those who plan to do the minimum amount of work to their own cars will need one or two hanging around the shop. The good news is that they are simple tools that are very easy to understand. Still, I made sure to do the appropriate research to ensure our list of recommendations and buying guide offer sound advice to readers. 

Best Oil Filter Wrenches Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Lisle
  • Part Number: 57030
  • Type: Band Style

Pros

  • Works on several vehicles
  • Band’s internal pads offer excellent grip
  • Quality surpasses most of the direct competition
  • Swiveling head is great for using in tight spaces

Cons

  • Expensive for what it is
  • Sizing must be double checked

Lisle’s oil filter wrench takes the top spot for several reasons. Just like any band-type oil filter wrench, it fits a range of filter sizes. That makes it useful for various vehicles and it may be the last oil filter wrench you buy. This particular design features textured pads throughout the band to offer maximum grip, setting it apart from most of the competition. This model also features a swiveling handle that's great for working in tight spaces. Another reason to select this model over the others is that the quality of Lisle tools is better than most cheaper models on the market. The price comes as a bit of a shock, as it's pretty high for this type of tool. Also, the sizing is a little off compared to other filter wrenches of the likes. You need to take special care and verify that the wrench selected matches the size of filters you intend to work with.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: CTA Tools
  • Part Number: A261
  • Type: End Cap

Pros

  • Creates positive fit on filter to prevent slipping
  • Can offer more leverage than other wrench types
  • Available in various sizes
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Low durability
  • Quality control issues are common

CTA Tools’ end cap oil filter wrench is a solid choice if you just want the most affordable oil filter wrench. This end cap wrench slides over the end of appropriately sized oil filters and is driven by any standard 3/8-inch square-drive tool. The positive fit and extra leverage eliminate much of the frustration of slipping band filters. CTA also has end caps available in different sizes to ensure the perfect fit for many vehicles. The primary drawback to be aware of is how fragile this wrench is. There are several reports of this tool breaking when faced with a stubborn filter. Many customers also report receiving defective wrenches, indicating that quality control issues are common.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Tekton
  • Part Number: 5866
  • Type: Oil Filter Pliers

Pros

  • Fits a wide range of filter sizes
  • Quality surpasses direct competition
  • Long handles improve leverage
  • Backed by Tekton’s Always Guarantee

Cons

  • Hard to use in tight spaces
  • Quality control issues are common

This set of oil filter pliers for Tekton is hard to ignore if you don't want an oil filter wrench at all. The operation is as simple as it gets, and it works with virtually any oil filter size the average DIYer will encounter. It also won't struggle with those stubborn filters, thanks to the 12-inch handles. This is a Tekton tool, which means the quality is far better than most competitors in its price range, and it's backed by Tekton's Always Guarantee. Unfortunately, this is not a great option for tight spaces, limiting it to use on classics and trucks or engines removed from the vehicle. I should point out that quality control issues are somewhat common, and you should inspect the joints of these pliers upon arrival as many customers report issues in this area.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: OEMTools
  • Part Number: 27196
  • Type: End Cap

Pros

  • Covers a wide range of filter sizes
  • Storage case included
  • Quality surpasses much of the direct competition
  • Competitive pricing

Cons

  • Not worth it in most circumstances
  • Some included wrenches aren’t useful to most DIYers

OEMTools’ end cap wrench set is ideal for wrenchers who work on multiple vehicles and prefer not to use band-type wrenches. Ten different end cap wrenches offer decent coverage of applications, which proves useful for handymen, professionals, or hobbyists moving from vehicle to vehicle on a regular basis. The set comes with a storage case to help keep everything neatly organized between jobs. The competitive pricing is great for DIYers, and the quality certainly surpasses most of the direct competition. Unless you buy and sell cars frequently or perform oil changes for people other than yourself, this set probably isn't worth it. It's cheaper to buy filter wrenches for two or three applications instead of this kit. Some of the sizes included simply aren’t useful to the average car owner, further reducing its value to many consumers.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Klein Tools
  • Part Number: 602DD
  • Type: Universal

Pros

  • Universal fit
  • Easy to use
  • Robust construction
  • Long shank offers ample leverage

Cons

  • Hard to use in tight spaces
  • Messy
  • Not actually an oil filter wrench

Some of you have been screaming at the screen about an oil filter wrench like this model from Klein Tools since the beginning of this buying guide. This universal wrench works by simply jabbing it through the case of the filter, then rotating the handle to remove it. What makes it better than most of the direct competition is the additional leverage of its seven-inch shank, its robust construction, and the striking cap that allows you to use a hammer to drive through the filter with confidence. About the only drawback to this oil filter wrench is that it's not always a practical choice in tight spaces. It’s also important to be aware that this type of oil filter wrench makes quite a mess during operation.

Our Verdict on Oil filter Wrenches 

The Lisle Standard Oil Filter Swivel Wrench is going to get the job done. It’s built well and covers a range of filter sizes, making it the kind of tool you keep around for a very long time. However, the CTA Tools 86mm 16 Flute Oil Filter Cap Wrench is a fantastic choice for tight spaces and for folks who prefer a precise fit. 

What to Consider When Buying Oil Filter Wrenches

Oil filters aren't all that complicated. Any of the key points I'm about to cover are all things you've probably already inferred simply by looking at the suggestions above. It never hurts to get as much information as possible about a tool that deals with one of the most vital systems in your car, though. The buying guide below will help you figure out what you need to look for in your next oil filter wrench. 

Types of Oil Filter Wrenches 

Band-Style 

Band-style oil filter wrenches are the most common and are generally the most practical choice for vehicle owners. This type of wrench features a metal band that slips over the body of the filter. A pivoting handle places tension on the band, reducing the size of the opening until it grips the filter, allowing you to break it free. What makes this type of oil filter wrench great for most people is the affordability and coverage of a wide range of oil filter sizes. Multipurpose strap wrenches, typically used in plumbing, are a great alternative that work in a similar manner. 

End Cap Wrench

Oil filter end cap wrenches are more like a socket than a wrench. They even fit onto a ratchet or other square-drive tool like a socket. The end cap slips over the filter with flutes to match the flats on the end. That positive fit makes a big difference because they are less likely to slip and don't take up much room to work as band-type filter wrenches will. The immediately evident drawback is that you can't use this type of filter on multiple vehicles unless they use similar filters. It's also important to make sure the wrench is a perfect match to the filter. A slight mismatch in sizing can lead to the wrench sliding over the flats rather than engaging, creating problems you may not be equipped to deal with. 

Oil Filter Pliers

Pliers also fail to qualify as wrenches, but that's never stopped us from using them interchangeably in any other setting anyway. A set of oil filter pliers bite down on the case while you twist the filter free. They're simple, effective, and ideal for applications with plenty of room to work in, such as trucks or classic cars. Considering most modern cars don't have a ton of room to offer around the filter, owners are probably better skipping right past these entirely unless they enjoy a challenge. 

Oil Filter Wrench Pricing 

Depending on where you go and who you buy it from, band-type oil filter wrenches and oil filter sockets typically run for around $5-$15. Wrench sets and pliers can take your expenses up to around $50, but they rarely go higher than that. Even a specialty tool for removing stuck filters, like Bogert Aviation's Talon, sells for around $50. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Should I use an oil filter wrench to install my oil filter?

A: No. Most vehicles only require the filter to be hand-tight. You should verify that's the case for your application, but you likely shouldn’t have to use an oil filter wrench during installation.

Q: What can I use to remove an oil filter besides an oil filter wrench?

A: A screwdriver is the default choice for many people. However, you can also use a bicycle tire inner tube in a bind.

Q: Where should I position the band of an oil filter wrench on an oil filter?

A: The band needs to be as close to the mounting flange as possible. The case is made with a thin layer of metal that can easily collapse as force is applied. The portion of the filter that mounts to the engine is far more structurally sound.