How to Use An Oil Filter Wrench

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Oil filters are designed to remove impurities such as metal particles or carbon residue from engine oil, lubricating oil, or hydraulic oil. They are primarily used in motor vehicles, ships and boats, trains, and generators.

Types of Oil Filters

  1. Mechanical oil filters (Cartridge and Spin-on oil filters).
  2. Magnetic oil filters.
  3. Centrifugal oil filters.
  4. Sedimentation oil filters.
  5. High-Efficiency oil filters.

An oil filter wrench is only necessary when you want to remove spin-on oil filters. These filters are cylindrical canisters with knurling around the edge and are difficult to grip when oily and greasy. An oil filter wrench is used to loosen and remove spin-on oil filters.

Benefits of Having Oil Filter Wrenches

  1. Saves Money. Once you buy your oil filter removal kit, it’ll come in handy for years. You will no longer need to pay a professional for their services. You’d only need to buy the oil filter and oil.
  2. It helps you avoid the mechanic. It is more convenient to change your oil filter in your home, especially if you are technically inclined. Having your oil filter wrench will save you a trip to your local garage.
  3. It makes the process easy. Discovering that the oil filter is stuck while trying to change your oil can be frustrating. It becomes more frustrating when you do not have the right tool to remove the oil filter. Having the proper oil filter wrench makes removing the oil filter easy.
  4. Prevents damage. Using any random tool to remove your oil filter might damage your car and incur avoidable expenses. Having the proper oil filter wrench helps you avoid damaging your car.

Types of Oil Filter Wrenches 

  1. Socket wrenches. This type of wrench utilizes plastic or metal socket-shaped cups. Socket wrenches attach to the bottom of the oil filter casing (or the knurling) and are used to loosen the oil filter. They come in different sizes. When you have little space around the oil filter, a socket wrench or a ratchet driver is one of your best bets.
  2. Spider wrenches. They have three geared metal prongs, two jaw plates, and two clamping legs. They have adjustable gears. Spider wrenches are of two types; claw and jaw. These two work slightly differently. Both types are great for removing oil filters in confined spaces.
  3. Strap wrenches. They have adjustable straps and are helpful for slightly bigger oil filters like the ones found in larger vehicles. They are excellent at removing jammed oil filters in larger engines. Their flexible strap also makes them excellent for smaller vehicles.
  4. Metal band wrenches. They look more like nooses than conventional wrenches. They have a metal strap that loops around the cap and a handle for turning. A metal band wrench with hinges on the handle is great for removing the oil filters of older vehicles because it can reach remote areas.
  5. Chain loop wrenches. They do not look like traditional wrenches. They have a handle for turning and a chain strap that loops around the oil filter. Chain wrenches are handy for changing really greasy oil filters.

Besides oil filter wrenches, there are also oil filter pliers. Only use them when you have no plans of reusing the filter. They bite into the oil filter and leave minor dents in most cases. They are handy in removing filters that are welded in.

A pliers-style wrench has extended handles, and is made of durable steel. Their handles are coated with plastisol to enable a firm grip. Their jaws are adjustable and sturdy.

Strap filter wrench and oil filter

How to use a Strap Wrench Oil Filter Wrench

  1. Wrap the belt around the oil filter and put the end back in the tool.
  2. Tighten the loop by pulling the strap till it’s tight enough.
  3. When you turn the tool, it will tighten up, grab the oil filter and twist it
  4. When removing the oil filter, you should twist in the anticlockwise direction.
  5. You do not need rubber strap wrenches to put the filter on. It would help if you used your hand to twist them back on. Your work is done when the oil filter is as snug as possible.

Before installing a new oil filter, make sure its ring is clean and lubricate the ring. You should also ensure your tool is positioned in a way you can easily handle the tightening mechanism.

What to Consider before getting an Oil Filter Wrench

  1. Size of the oil filter. You have to check the size of your oil filter before getting a particular type of wrench. Your oil filter may be a small one or a large one. If you are unsure which one it is, check the owner’s manual. You may also check the amount of space around your oil filter.
  2. Excellent grip. Your wrench should have a solid grip to make your work easier and faster. With a solid grip, removing your oil filter will be easier. A slippery grip will make your work slower and more frustrating.
  3. Quality. It is crucial to choose a wrench made with high-quality materials. A great oil filter wrench should withstand the strength of your arm when you’re turning it and effortlessly loosen an oil filter.
  4. An excellent finish. Metals tools can rust over time, especially when stored in damp places. When looking for an oil filter wrench, look for a wrench with an anodized coating. Wrenches with anodized finishing are less likely to corrode.
  5. Easy to use. An oil filter wrench that is not complicated but easy to use will make your job easier and faster. The best oil filter wrench should have a good grip and easily loosen tight oil filters. A complicated oil filter wrench may make doing this problematic for you.

Having more than one oil filter wrench is advisable, as one might fit a specific car better than the other. It’s necessary to have a variety of wrenches, so you’re ready for any situation. A larger wrench will not work on a small oil filter as well as a smaller wrench will.

You also shouldn’t force a tool into where it won’t fit. You could end up damaging the tool or it’s surrounding components. If the oil filter is stubbornly stuck, you probably need to put some physical effort in. But don’t overdo it. If you think you have to, call your mechanic.

How Important is an Oil Filter?

Every car needs an oil filter; it keeps the engine durable and functional. This item may be small, but it makes the car engine reliable.

If it’s your first time dealing with car engines, you can locate this component next to the car engine block. 

Engine oils are mainly composed of debris and dirt that can damage the car engine bearings. When that occurs, the engine will have low oil pressure, which is very bad. 

It damages the car engine. Fixing the engine may cost you a lot, and you may even have to change it entirely. That’s how vital an oil filter is to a car.

Different Sizes of Oil Filter Wrenches

The 3/4

These types of wrenches work only with standard 4-sided spin-on oil filters. This is the best size for ford trucks. If you have an SUV older than 1998, the odds that its oil filter falls into this category are very high. 

The 13/16

This is the next size up after 3/4. They are mostly used on GM vehicles. This wrench fits a range of filter sizes, including those with larger capacity, also referred to as High Flow.

The 7/8

7/8 wrench is next up; it fits around filters with even larger capacity, such as Dodge trucks and a few V8 engines that used them like classic Corvettes and viper engines.

The 1-Inch

The 1-inch size is common with engines with large oil filter canisters like some V6s and V8s with filters mounted on the engine top away from the front. A common example is the Buick 3800 series engines and some 6.8L, 5.4L, and 4.6L Ford engines.

The 15/16

This is the last size and is mostly used in Chrysler products such as some Dodges with V8s. It is the least common type of wrench. 

How to Select The Right Size of an Oil Filter Wrench

When choosing the right oil filter wrench size, there are several things to consider. 

  • The model of the car
  • The tightness of the oil filter in its position 
  • The space around it in your car engine

Some oil filters only work with a specific model of a wrench. So it’s easier to search for that model if you require a wrench for a particular car. But if you have several vehicles and want a wrench for all, you can obtain a universal wrench. Wrenches that may fall into that category include swivel-grip wrench, strap wrench, or pliers. With an adjustable wrench, you can use it with every oil filter size because you can set it to fit all sizes.

When using a cup wrench or socket, it’s easy to determine the correct size. A simple way to get the right size is by obtaining the oil filter specification. Once you acquire the information, you can purchase the size to go with it. 

If you are unable to find the specifications, here’s what you can do: 

  • The number of flutes on your oil filter’s top should be counted.
  • Measure the oil filter from the ends of each edge
  • Get an oil filter cap wrench with a similar number of flutes, and the internal diameter of the cap should be larger than the oil filter cup.

That helps determine the wrench size when using a socket wrench. You can use a spider-type wrench or socket wrench for oil filters that are in cramped spaces. But if space isn’t an issue, take any wrench you possess and get the job done.