According to many experts, engine oil filters only need to be hand-tight, and I agree with them. Throughout my experience servicing cars, including my 06′ WRX, I have always tightened oil filters by hand, and none has ever come loose. However, when it is time for oil change, I often find it surprisingly challenging to loosen the filter without a tool or some improvisation.
Most of the time I wrap a cloth around the filter to get a better grip. Other times I use my XL cobra pliers when the filter is too tight and is easily accessible. But now I have a better tool to remove stuck oil filters. It is an inexpensive set of oil filter pliers.
What Are Oil Filter Pliers?
Oil filter pliers are a special type of pliers for removing oil filters. They look like water pump pliers but their jaws have a wider curve that enables them to clamp around an oil filter canister more effectively.
Why do you need them?
Oil filter pliers provide a solid grip on round objects, making them the best tool for removing stubborn oil filters. These pliers adjust to different sizes, allowing you to securely grip a wide range of oil filter diameters. You need them in your trusty toolbox if you are a mechanic or do-it-yourself car enthusiast. And if you are a pool technician or plumber, these exceptional automotive pliers might also prove useful to you.
Best Oil Filter Pliers
When I was looking for the best oil filter pliers in the market, I came across a wide range of options. Nevertheless, the following are some of the brands that stood out as my top picks from the search.
Channellock Oil Filter Pliers – Best for Professionals
The Channellock oil filter pliers are the cream of the crop and perhaps the best tool for removing stuck oil filters. These US-made pliers are forged from high-carbon steel, making them extremely strong and durable.
They have the iconic Channellock light-blue handles that make the tool easily visible in the toolbox. The jaws have 3-point contacts with teeth that bite into a slippery filter very tightly. You don’t have to wipe the filter dry to grip it like you do when removing a filter by hand or with a band-style filter wrench.
Channellock oil filter pliers have an aggregate star rating of 4.5/5 in nearly all online retail stores. Pros and DIYers rank them for durability and versatility. Also, the fact that they are made in the USA provides some quality assurance.
My favorite comment is from a customer who bought these pliers on Amazon to take off a stuck oil filter from his “old Ford pickup that had been sitting under a tree for 20 years“. He had tried different tools including an oil filter cap, strap wrench, and the popular screwdriver hack.
Unfortunately, none of the tools worked. Instead, they made the problem worse, with the screwdriver hack ripping the oil filter to shreds. But surprisingly, these Channellock filter pliers took out the shredded oil canister in no time on the first attempt. Very impressive!
Although Channellock oil filter removal pliers are nicely built and work very well in removing stubborn oil filters, there is one thing most of us don’t like about them. The handles are a little too thin, making them quite uncomfortable in the hands. I wish they were a little beefier for a more comfortable hand grip.
That being said, these pliers are the best for the professional mechanic who needs to take off a couple of oil filters from cars and trucks every day. Good thing is that you can get them in various sizes to cater to the needs of different vehicles. There is also a version of these pliers with handles bent away from the jaws. It is suitable for taking out filters in hard-to-access areas.
If you are a quick lube tech, I suggest getting different sizes of Channellock filter pliers. They will boost your efficiency at work.
|Size||Model No.||Jaw capacity|
|9-inch||Channellock 209||1-¾ – 3-½|
|12-inch||Channellock 212||2-½ – 3-¾|
|15-inch||Channellock 215||2-½ – 5-½|
Lisle 50750 Oil Filter Pliers – Best For Tight Areas
For oil filter pliers to work effectively in different situations, they must grip without slipping and provide good leverage even in confined spaces. This is possible only if the teeth on the pliers are sharp and well-positioned and the handles provide good maneuverability.
The Lisle oil filter pliers are a perfect example. They have a distinct teeth layout that enables them to bite an oil filter firmly. Instead of having three sets of grips like most pliers for removing filters, the Lisle filter pliers have four sets of teeth, two on each jaw. This provides plenty of grip on a workpiece with minimal or no slippage.
Another important feature is that these pliers have long handles that are angled slightly from the head. This provides great leverage for removing stubborn and hard-to-access filters on most trucks and tractors.
Furthermore, the cushioned handles add comfort to your hands, allowing you to apply as much force as you need to break free a filter.
Overall, these oil wrench pliers from Lisle Tools are well constructed, sturdy, and work with a variety of oil filter sizes between 3-¾ inch and 6-inch diameter. They are perfect for professionals as well as DIYers who need an inexpensive high-quality tool for oil filter removal. They are made in the USA.
OTC 4562 Oil Filter Pliers Set – Best Budget Pack
The problem with some oil filter removal tools is slipping when trying to break free a seized filter. Luckily, this is not the case with OTC 4562 oil filter pliers set.
These OTC oil filter pliers have 5 sets of teeth that provide 5 points of contact with an oil canister. They also have a ratchet and lock mechanism that keeps the jaws from slipping out of position once you lock them in place. In addition, the handles provide good leverage and are double-dipped to offer a firm hand grip.
Although these OTC oil filter pliers are not the cheapest, they are functional, sturdy, and well-made. The main downside is that they are only available in two sizes; 13-½” and 18″. The smaller pliers have a jaw capacity of 2-¼” – 5″ while the larger set opens between 3-¾” – 7″. They are what you need for removing stubborn filters in cars and large trucks as well as diesel engines. They might not be the best for working on motorcycles and other small engines.
Workpro Oil Filter Pliers – Best for Home Use
When looking for a tool that I will seldom use, my general rule is to look for a cheap but functional option. This is how I ended up with the 12″ Workpro oil filter pliers.
This unit is nicely built, and well-priced, but the quality is not as great as the pro tradesman brands such as Channellock, OTC, or Irwin.
The Workpro filter pliers have soft comfortable handle sleeves that offer a non-slip grip on the tool. In addition, the slip joint mechanism offers three adjustment positions that increase the versatility of the tool.
Generally, these Workpro pliers are equivalent in strength, durability, fit, and finish to most truck tools but at a significantly lower price. And this makes them the perfect option for a weekend warrior who needs to take off an oil filter every once in a few months.
Other than the 12-inch, you can also get a 9-inch version or a set of both sizes. These pliers work best with small and medium-sized oil filters for lawnmowers, motorcycles, and small cars. I have tried to use them on an F350 truck and although they got the filter out, they bent slightly out of shape.
Overall, oil filter pliers are arguably the best tools for removing oil filters. They can remove almost any stuck oil filter, even in tight and odd places where alternative tools such as an oil filter cap and band-style filter wrench would struggle to fit.
The only problem is that these pliers bite so hard to get a firm grip. As a result, they might mangle or puncture the oil filter canister. But is it a problem if you damage an old oil filter when removing it? No, it is totally fine. There is no point in being so gentle on an oil filter that will end up in the trash can.
Just use whatever you have to take out a stubborn oil filter. Provided you don’t damage the threads on the stud where the oil filter screws onto.
From my experience, oil filter pliers are the easiest to use and the most reliable. These pliers have adjustable jaws that can clamp down different oil filter diameters. They are way more effective than loop-style or cup-style oil filter removal wrenches or any other filter removal hack you know.
Oil filter removal pliers will even save your hands from bruises and burns from hot oil filters. I regret not getting them a long time ago.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Apart from oil filter pliers, there are a few other tools you can use to remove an oil filter. They include an oil filter wrench, strap wrench or belt, claw-type filter wrench, or screwdriver. You can also use large water pump pliers that open as wide as the diameter of the filter canister. But ultimately, oil filter pliers do a better job than all these tools.
Oil filter pliers are not just useful for removing engine oil filters; they also come in handy for plumbing tasks. In fact, plumbers call them PVC pliers because they use them to manipulate large PVC adapters that are too big for regular-size water pump pliers. These pliers are a must-have tool for pool plumbing. They are great for tightening or loosening PVC fittings on swimming pool pumps and chlorination systems.
Oil filter pliers are also good for sink plumbing. You can use them to tighten or loosen the P-traps or take off the kitchen sink strainer. For some people, there is the perfect tool for opening tight jar lids. In other words, oil filter pliers are remarkably versatile. You don’t need to be a mechanic to own them.