If you've never changed your own oil, you probably aren't familiar with using an oil filter wrench. It's an integralpart of standard oil change equipment, a tool that helps you removethe oil filter quickly and easily. And as simple as it sounds, removingan oil filter is not so simple to do without an oil filterwrench. A used oil filter is coated with greasy road grime, making it difficultto get a decent, strong grip on the filter and effectively twist it off. Usinga wrench is the best course of action.
Oil filter pliers or wrenches are designedspecifically to fit a particular oil filter, gripping the filter snuglyand giving you the ability to twist it loose. Because some filters are largeror wider than others, depending upon the kind of engine you have in your car,there are varying sizes of tools available. It's easy to find a wrench thatfits the filter for your car by visiting a local automotive parts store, wherethey can look up the type of filter for your vehicle and match it with theright size and style of oil filter wrench.
The style of wrench you have determines howit's used to remove a used filter. In simple terms, you fit the wrench on topor around the filter and use it to twist the filter loose so you can remove it.
Socket-Style or Cap-Style Wrench
This design of wrench fits right overthe top of a filter like a socket, from which you can turn to release thethreads and loosen the filter. Oil filters sometimes have fluted or serratededges along the top of the filter, and these types of oil filter wrenches lockonto these grooves or fluted edges, making a tight grip and allowing you toturn the whole filter and twist it off easily. In cases where the space aroundthe filter is too tight to fit a strap-style wrench through the strap, thesocket or cup style is used.
Another typical design of oil filter wrenchlooks like a handle with a strap or band on one end of it in a loop,giving the shape of the tool similar to a letter 'p'. The filter goes throughthe loop and after the strap is tightened, you use the handle as a lever totwist the oil filter loose. This is the most common type of oil filter wrench,and comes in varying sizes, small-medium-large, depending upon the diameter ofthe filter. Sometimes the strap is made of metal, plastic or rubber, like arubber band that when tightened gives extra traction from the tight grip aroundthe grimy used filter.
Variations of Strap-Type Wrenches
For some makes and models of cars,strap-style wrenches are recommended, however they don't have a handle. Itlooks like a metal or rubber strap with a metal socket at the end ofit. Like the conventional strap-style wrench, the strap fits around thefilter and is tightened, then a socket handle or screwdriver can be used as alever to turn the filter around to loosen it. This gives you or your mechanicsome flexibility in choosing a style of handle or lever to use if thespace around the filter is too tight or has an area that limits the range ofmotion.