Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

How to buy an Oil Filter Wrench

Alex’s tips on how to buy an Oil Filter Wrench

There are lots of oil filter wrench styles out there. Here’s how to pick the best ones.

by Alex Steil

Every year someone comes out with another oil filter wrench and claims it’s the only one you’ll ever need. Take it from me, there is no “one-size-fits-all” oil filter wrench.

Before you can even consider which filter wrench to buy for your vehicle you first need to determine if your engine has a spin-on oil filter or a cartridge-style oil filter. A cartridge style oil filter fits inside an oil filter “cap” or in a holder mounted on the engine. To replace the filter you remove the cap or housing and then replace just the actual filter element.

A spin-on filter, on the other hand, is an oil filter element housed in a disposable metal can. You unscrew the entire unit and install a new one.

Simply look up the filter for your  vehicle at any online auto parts store and look at the picture.

cartridge oil filter versus spin on oil filter

Oil filter wrench for spin-on oil filters

Band style filter wrench

The band wrench is an oldie but a goodie. It’s works band oil filter wrenchplumber’s strap wrench where the tighter you turn the wrench, the tighter it grips the filter. To use, you slide it over the spin-on filter and operate the lever.


• inexpensive
• gets the job done, most of the time.


• Hard to use in tight spaces
• The band can slip on the painted surface of the oil filter

Improved version of the traditional band oil filter wrench

Lisle Tools makes a band filter wrench that incorporated a swivel handle and welded-on “grit” that prevents wrench slip. Here are the different Lisle models:

Lisle #53250 Large Swivel Grip No-slip Oil Filter Wrench

• Vinyl-covered handle.
• Fits spin-on filters from 4-1/8″ to 4-1/2″diameter
• Gripper “teeth”
• 1” wide stainless steel band.

Lisle #53500 Swivel Grip No-slip Oil Filter Wrench

• Vinyl-covered handle.
• Fits spin-on filters from 3-1/2” to 3-7/8” diameter
• Gripper “teeth”
• 1” wide stainless steel band.

Lisle #57020 Swivel Grip No-slip Oil Filter Wrench

• Vinyl-covered handle.
• Fits spin-on filters from 2.875 – 3.25” diameter
• Gripper “teeth”
• 1” wide stainless steel band.

Lisle #57040 Swivel Grip No-slip Oil Filter Wrench

• Vinyl-covered handle.
• Fits spin-on filters from 4.125- 4.5” diameter
• Gripper “teeth”
• 1” wide stainless steel band.

Cap wrenches for spin-on filters

Spin-on filters have “flutes” at the bottom of the filter. Cap wrenches grab the filter by the flutes along the bottom edge. These wrenches are perfect for working in tight places. Just slap on a ratchet and fit the cap wrench to the oil filter flutes.

If you’re working in a tight space where you don’t have the room for a band-style filter wrench, a cap wrench can save the day. The cap wrench fits over the flutes located on the bottom of the filter. You insert a standard 3/8″ drive ratchet and extension bar into the cap wrench and unscrew the filter.

If you stick with the same brand of oil filter and get the cap that fits it, this wrench works great. Unfortunately, no two filter manufacturers use the same size can or flute arrangement, even for the same year, make and model engine. So it’s really a free-for-all when it comes to finding the right cap wrench for different brands of oil filters. If
you want to use cap wrenches and you buy whatever filter brand is on sale, you’ll  need a complete set of cap wrenches or a universal cap wrench shown below.

The Lisle 61450 cap wrench set includes 17 pieces for:
61600 65mm – 14 Flute  61450 lisle
61540 65/67mm – 14 flutes
61640 68mm – 14 flutes
61520 73/74mm – 14 flutes
61560 74/76mm – 15 flutes
61570 76mm – 14 flutes
61650 76mm – 30 flutes
61550 80mm – 15 flutes
61530 82mm – 15 flutes
61610 86mm – 14 flutes
61660 86mm – 16 flutes
61620 88.4mm – 15 flutes
61580 93mm – 15 flutes
61590 93mm – 36 flutes
61510 93mm – 45 flutes
61630 96mm – 18 flutes
61670 100mm – 15 flutes

Universal cap style wrenches for spin-on filters

If you’re not into searching for the right cap wrench for your filter, choose one of these universal “cap style” wrenches. They work just like a normal cap wrench but without the hassle of finding the right diameter and flute count. Just open the spring loaded jaws and push it over the end of the spin-on filter, then add a
ratchet and you’re ready to go.

Lisle #63250 Wide Range Filter Wrench

Fits Filters from 3-1/8” to 3-7/8” diameter. 63250 lisle filter wrench

Lisle #63600 Import Car Filter Wrench

Same as above but fits filters from 2-1/2” to 3-1/8”

These two wrenches cover all filter sizes, which of course is a pro. A con, however, is if you can’t get a ratchet or ratchet and socket along with maneuvering room, this wrench isn’t for your car.

Pliers style oil filter wrenches for spin-on filters

This is a grab and go type pliers tool. Just reach up, grab the oil filter andcrushed oil filter crank away. A pro of this wrench is that it save lots of time, since all you have to do is grab and twist. A
con, of course, is that if the filter is stuck, there is a potential to crush and puncture the
outer can. Then in an oily mess, you have to figure out how to remove the torn up and battered filter.

Lisle #50750 two-position slip-joint pliers style wrench

Two-position, slip-joint handle produces the range 50750 lisle oil filter wrenchof three separate conventional filter wrenches. Overall range 2-1/4″ to 4″.  The jaws are bent at a 20° angle to fit more applications. Sure-grip teeth prevent slipping. Cushioned handles provide comfort. Overall length of tool is 11-1/2″

Lisle #50720 Mega-Gripper Filter Pliers

Pliers Give You Tremendous Gripping Force with 32 Biting Teeth that Grab onto the Filter.

Two-position, slip-joint handle easily adjusts to fit different size filters. Dual durometer non-slip grip. 11″ / 14″ overall length. The jaws open from 3″ to 5.5″ wide. The unique angle of these pliers allows you to reach around hot exhaust manifolds without burning your arms.

Cartridge style oil filter wrenches

Cartridge filters can be mounted under the engine like a traditional spin-on filter or on the top of the engine. All cartridge style filters have a cap that holds the filtering element in place. On late model cars, those caps are plastic, so using the correct wrench is critical. Use a universal wrench and you’ll strip the hex bolt or even crack the plastic. Worse yet, some car makers locate the filter cap in such tight quarters that you can’t use an ordinary socket to loosen the cap.

In these cars, you’ll need special low clearance sockets. Other car makers don’t use a hex bolt and instead use a series of flutes and grooves. You’ll need a special wrench for those too.

Lisle #13270 7- piece Low Profile socket set for cartridge style oil filters

The set contains very low profile, 6 point 24mm, 13270 socket set25mm, 27mm, 28mm, 29mm, 32mm and 36mm sockets for use on oil and fuel filter canisters when replacing the element. Use with 3/8″ drive.

13280 25mm for Fleetgaurd Filter on Motorhomes, Buses, and some Medium Size Trucks with Cummins Engine. Also some K&N Filters 13290 28mm 2010-2018, 6.7L Dodge Cummins Fuel Filter Canister
13310 24mm Cadillac and some BMW
13320 27mm 2003 and later Mercedes 1.8L, Smart and some VW 14500 36mm Ford 6.0L Diesel Fuel & Oil Filter Housings, Mini Cooper, Some BMW Oil Filter Housings, Mack Truck Oil Filter Housings, and 2016-2018 Duramax Fuel Filters
14600 29mm (1-1/8”) for Dodge Cummins Fuel Filter Housing 14700 32mm (1-1/4”) for GM Ecotec, 2.0L 2.2L and 2.4L Four Cylinder Oil Filter Housing; Some Saturn & Saab.

Lisle #40600 Low Profile, 6 Point Wrench with Offset wrench set

3/8” Square Drive for Clearance in Hard-to-Reach Spaces.

4061024mm for Cadillac and some BMW
4062025mm for Fleetguard Filter on Motorhomes, Buses, and Some Medium Size Trucks with Cummins Engine. Also Some K&N Filters
4063027mm for 2003 and later Mercedes 1.8L, Smart and some VW
4064028mm for 2010-2018, 6.7L Dodge Cummins Fuel Filter Canister
4065029mm (1-1/8″) for Dodge Cummins Fuel Filter Housing
4066032mm (1-1/4″) for GM Ecotec, 2.0L, 2.2L and 2.4L Four Cylinder Oil Filter Housing; Some Saturn & Saab
4067036mm for Ford 6.0L Diesel Fuel and Oil Filter Housings, Mini Cooper and some BMW Oil Filter Housings, and Mack Truck Oil Filter Housing
40680Case for 40600


Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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