Oil Filter Wrench Sizes: How to Choose The Correct One?

by Chris Lewis.

Do you know that every car needs an oil filter to keep the engine functional and durable? This item is small, but it keeps your car engine alive and reliable.

If you're new to car engines, you can find this component besides the car engine block. Even though it appears idle, an oil filter protects your engine from impurities in engine oils.

Maybe you didn't know, but engine oils are usually filled with dirt and debris that can damage your car engine bearings. When that happens, there'll be low oil pressure on your engine, which is very bad.

It destroys the car engine and makes your life miserable. You may spend a lot trying to fix the engine or even have to replace it entirely. That's how important an oil filter is to your car.

Now, the question is, how do you make sure that your oil filter works all the time? By changing it from time using an oil filter wrench. Right now, there are different types and sizes of oil filter wrenches in the market.

It gets confusing when you want to pick one for your oil filter. Let's see how we can change all that by showing you to choose the best fit.

What Is an Oil Filter Wrench and What Does It Do?

An oil filter wrench is a special type of adjustable wrench used to loosen and tighten the top of an automobile's oil filter cartridge. This allows for removal and replacement of an old or clogged filter with a new one, allowing the engine to once again filter its own oil supply properly. Oil filter wrenches can almost always be found free at auto part stores such as Kmart, Advance Auto Parts, Autozone, Pep Boys and other similar businesses that sell car parts. Most modern automobiles require that this device come in several different sizes to fit on various types of filters that they may use. However, most will have at least three separate sizes on hand, usually designated "small", "medium" and "large". Although there are only three main sizes, other measurements are also used to designate the circumference of the filter.

Oil filters need to be replaced every few thousand miles depending on how often you drive your car and how hard it is driven. If oil runs dirty or if there is any sign that something may be wrong with the oil supply inside of your engine, then it's time to replace your current oil filter with a new one. Some newer cars will have both an "inline" oil filter as well as a cartridge style filter for specific areas of different vehicle engines such as timing belts, transmissions and auxiliary motor components. These cases require both a special wrench and a special socket to remove them from their housing location. However, most automobiles only use cartridge style filters which may be removed and replaced as needed.

The Different Sizes of Oil Filter Wrenches

The 3/4"

These wrenches work with standard 4-sided spin on oil filters only, not the bypass filters that are used with our Ford engines. For Ford trucks, the 5/8" wrench is often too big to fit around the small filter canister. The best size for this vehicle is usually the 3/4". If you have a Ford truck or SUV older than 1998, there is a very good chance your oil filter falls into this category.

The 13/16"

The next size up is the 13/16". They are used more often on some of our GM vehicles. The oil filter canister is usually more squared off than with a Ford or Dodge, so they use this larger size more. This wrench will fit around most filters, even some of the larger capacity ones, also known as High Flow.

The 7/8"

Next up is the 7/8" wrench which fits around even the larger capacity filters like our Dodge trucks, and some of the V8 engines that used them such as our classic Corvette's and Viper engine. Fords also use this size but it isn't as common. Many small cars will require either a 5/8" or 7/8" wrench.

The 1-Inch

The 1-inch size is used mostly on engines with larger oil filter canisters, such as some of our V6's and V8's that have the filters mounted on top of the engine away from the front. The Buick 3800 series engines are a common example along with some 4.6L, 5.4L and 6.8L Ford engines also. You can see in the photo that this wrench is super large compared to the rest of them, so it has a lot of leverage when you are using it on these filters.

The 15/16"

The last size is the 15/16" which is used on most of our Chrysler products including some Dodges with V8's, 4.7L V8's up to 2011 models with VVT (variable valve timing) in engines like our new Hemi trucks. It isn't very common but I've included it for reference here in case you happen across an application where you need one of these wrenches for this type filter.

Of course there are many other oil filter types out there like the spin on (behind engine), cartridge type (front of engine) which uses a different style of wrench, and some other unconventional models. I haven't included any pictures here but they are pretty easy to find on Google or Bing if needed.

How to Choose the Right Size Oil Filter Wrench

We've all been there...struggling to remove an oil filter for what seems like hours, only to find out that your wrench isn't the right size. I always found it to be much easier when I had a second person helping me, especially if they are taller than you. You can have them hold the wrench in place while you work the oil filter off with your hands.

It can be very frustrating to get the right wrench for the job. Some people spend countless hours at their local auto parts store, trying to find just the right tool, only to settle on something that may or may not work. I ended up having to make my own...and it works perfectly every time.

The first thing to do is go online and find a picture of your exact oil filter. You can typically find them by searching "<YOUR VEHICLE> oil filter".For example, AC Delco PF2127 oil filter, which happens to be used on the Chevrolet Corvette C6.

You may think you have a wrench that fits, but it is best to compare your current filter wrench to the online picture. This will ensure that you get an oil filter wrench that properly fits your filter and make removal much easier in the future. As you can see in the image below, I was able to find a wrench (top) that fits perfectly.

Since you are doing this for future reference, I would suggest printing the image of your specific filter out so you can easily refer to it when trying to purchase an oil filter wrench in the future. If all else fails, you should be able to find the correct size by contacting your local auto parts store or mechanic.

Type of Oil Filter Wrenches

Type of oil filter wrenches
Type of oil filter wrenches

Car engines don't come with a one-size-fits-all oil filter. Each car has its own unique filter, depending on the manufacturer as well. That's why you will never use one type of oil filter wrench for every kind of car.

When it comes to wrenches, here're the available types in the industry.

1. Metal band oil filter wrench

This type of wrench has a strong metal band attached to both of its ends to the handle. This band is what you place around the oil filter and turn the handle in an anticlockwise direction. The tension from the turning will cause the wrench to grip the oil filter for an effortless extraction.

The design of this wrench makes it a good choice for oil filters in tough or complicated spots. With its handle and pivoting adjustment hinge, it makes oil filter replacements easy.

2. End Cap/ Socket filter wrench

End Cap/ Socket filter wrench
End Cap/ Socket filter wrench

The shape of this oil filter wrench is like that of a socket. It uses a plastic or metal cup to get the job done. All you need to do is to place the cap on the end to your oil filter to engage the knurling.

Then use the wrench to loosen the oil filter. The types of filters compatible with this type of wrench are those found in the engines of BMW cars and Volkswagen Group.

3. Chain Loop oil filter wrench

Just like the name implies, this wrench works with the loop of the chain, which you'll place around an oil filter. Once you've done that, you turn the bar in an anticlockwise direction.

This will make the chain wrap around the oil filter. Afterward, you can use an adjustable spanner or socket wrench to turn the bar the same way you did before to finally remove the filter.

4. Claw Wrench

This is another type of wrench in the market. It has 3 geared metal prongs, twin jaw plates, and 2 clamping legs. It also has a 3/8 inches ratchet driver, which is turned anticlockwise to achieve a hard clench on the filter body. If you have tight filters, this is the wrench to use.

Moreover, if the position of the filter is more complicated than what the chain and strap wrench can remove, use this claw wrench. It works better where others fail.

5. Strap Oil filter wrench

This type of wrench fits large vehicles such as pickup trucks, SUVs, and others. These cars use broad oil filters, and strap wrenches make it easy to remove the filters anytime.

6. Pliers

These pliers are designed with a double handle that allows users to remove oil filters without stress. The pliers are made with strong steel to ensure extra durability.

These tools come in different sizes ranging from 3 inches to 5/8 inches. These pliers are suitable for different oil filter sizes from 2 inches-15/16 or 3-5/8 inches. If the oil filters are large up to 4-1/2 or 5-3/4 inches, you can get larger pliers for them.

How to Choose the Correct Oil Filter Wrench

How to choose the correct oil filter wrench
How to choose the correct oil filter wrench

There are 3 things to consider when you want to choose the right size of an oil filter wrench.

  • The model of your car
  • The size of the filter
  • The space around it in the car engine
  • How tight the oil filter is in its position

Some cars have a specific model of wrench that works for its oil filter. It is simpler to look for that model, especially if you need a wrench for one particular car. But if you have many cars and you want a wrench for all, you might need to get a universal wrench.

Some of the wrenches in that category include the strap wrench, swivel-grip wrench, or pliers. Also, don't forget to get an adjustable wrench because you can set it to fit every size of the oil filter.

When it comes to size, it's easy to determine the right size if you're using a socket or cup wrench. The simplest method is to get the oil filter specification and look for the right size for it. Once you get the information, you can buy the size to match it. But if you can't find the specifications, do the following:

  • Count the number of flutes on the cap of your oil filter
  • Measure your oil filter from one edge to the other edge
  • Get the oil filter cap wrench that has the same number of flutes but let the inner diameter of the cap be bigger than the oil filter cap.

That's for determining the size of the wrench if you're using a socket wrench type. As for oil filters in cramped spaces, use a socket wrench too or a spider-type of a wrench. But if space is not a problem, get any wrench you have and get the job done.

Simple tips to getting the right sizes

  • Try different types of oil filter wrenches to determine the best fit.
  • Choose a universal oil filter wrench if you have more than one vehicle.
  • Adjustable wrenches are suitable for most types of oil filters.

Conclusion

Conclusion
Conclusion

If you want your vehicle to function all the time, the engine must be in perfect condition. One of the ways to be sure of that is by keeping the engine oil free from impurities.

Since your oil filter does that for you, make sure that you change it from time to time to avoid issues. With the right oil filter wrench, you can do it without a mechanic.

We've shown you the types available and how to get the right size for your oil filter. Make sure you always change your oil filter to keep your vehicle fully operational.

About Chris Lewis.

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