Wrench Tip: The Ultimate Oil Filter Wrench that You Need to Buy Right Now!

by David Zipf


Aside from checking tire pressures, an oil change is the most basic automotive service one can do. There are dozens of guides out there for how to do an oil change. So we aren’t going to rehash how to do the job, instead we’re going to let you in on one little tip that will turn you into an oil changing pro.

It’s really simple.  Throw out whatever type of oil filter wrench you’re using and buy this one:


It’s a simple Craftsman wrench and it is a miracle tool.  In college, I spent two summers working at a local tire shop.  Occasionally, I would also be tasked with an oil change (to keep the actual mechanic free for real work). Credit to that mechanic, Dimitry, because he showed me this tool and it is one of the most useful I’ve ever bought. If you’re looking for one of these I’ll let you in on a hint: you rarely find these in the tool section of Sears. Weird right?  They’re actually in the automotive section. Or, save yourself the trouble and find them here.  I'm sure other tool companies have their own version, but I was pointed to this particular one. It's performed hundreds of oil changes in its time.
Unlike any other oil filter wrench, this one simply plugs into a socket wrench. This allows you to use extensions, u-joints, and all sorts of other tools that can give you the best leverage. While some car makers are really nice and put the oil filter in an easy to reach place (GM used to be the best at this), some OEMs hide them in the most inconvenient locations (like Audi, or Honda).  A filter wrench like this fits into those tight places with ease.  
Considering how hard some jobs are on our Project VehiCross, the oil filter is in a really nice location, and many times you can unscrew it by hand. However it is also an ideal shooting location for this Wrench Tip. Simply grip the filter with the three prongs and turn. Any oil filter will come right off in a couple quick twists.
Let’s play spot the oil filter!  If you have an SR20 powered 240SX, this will be a familiar sight. Sandwiched between the intake manifold, starter, alternator, and an engine mount, there is simply no room for a traditional oil filter wrench to pop the filter loose. But, the claw type Craftsman wrench makes this job quick and simple.  
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Friday, February 24, 2017 3:41 AM
Ehh, my rubber wrench has always worked great for this job. You just have to make sure the filter is clean of any oil residue.

That said, I can see how the ability to put a standard socket extension on this Craftsman filter-grabber could help out in certain tight situations. Neat tool, but only a "must have" if you deal with a seriously PITA oil filter situation on the regular.
Friday, February 24, 2017 6:37 AM
Agreed. I've been using one of these at my shop for years now and it's the best at removing disposable filters. Just don't be tempted to use it on anything else, like the service caps on cartridge filters, or to install a filter (hand tight only!). The quick lube place down the street got one of these and we've had a few towed in with cracked filter housing caps so far from them.
Friday, February 24, 2017 12:44 PM
Thankfully BMW's have a top mounted oil cartridge oil filter. A simple 36m socket gets it off/on and there's no mess.
I wish more companies had top mounted filters. With my vacuum pump I don't have to get under the car at all.
Friday, February 24, 2017 2:43 PM
I've used that wrench to tear the can of the filter right off its base.
And the customer is the way to pick up the car. It's just a simple oil change-right?
Saturday, February 25, 2017 5:57 AM
I've had that type of wrench tear into really over-tight filters, and once they deform, crush or break the can you're done. Those three fingers don't spread the load over a wide enough area. I have a old cam type 1.5" wide strap filter removal tool that goes on a 3/8" ratchet, I have yet to have it crush or destroy a can. It's not one size fits all, there's 3 different sizes, but it is the most reliable I've used in 50 years of changing oil.
Monday, February 27, 2017 7:17 AM
I love driving an e36 bmw and racing a w116 mercedes. 13mm socket for the filter and 17mm socket for the drain plug.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017 5:45 AM
I prefer the version with 2 large "claws" and a spring. Can be done with one hand. I always found this specific one a pita in tight spots.
Monday, March 13, 2017 8:25 AM
Don't waste your time with those evil 3-jaw "tools." I use the word "tool" lightly there.

I'm a believer in the 2-jaw spring-assisted version that makes one had use possible. great when you can only get one hand on the filter.
I think it's the same one classicaddict mentioned.
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