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You and I know that you don’t need to crank down oil filters like you’re torquing the lug nut on an F1 car. Just snug it up and you’re good to go. But how many times have you had to twist like hell — generally with a not-quite-perfect-fit oil filter wrench — to undo the machinations of an over-zealous kid at the dealer or oil change palace? I’ve even resorted to the classic jam-a-screwdriver-through-it solution, though there’s always a risk of skewering the intake tube running down the center of the filter. This set of jawed pliers sounds like a better solution.

These pliers from IPA, called Gator Jaws, look sorta like a set of blacksmith’s pliers in that they’re long and narrow. That makes sense, though, because hot exhaust manifolds and headers are just as likely to burn the living crap out of you as a coal fire. So like the ‘smith’s pliers, these let you reach in around the danger. Unlike ‘smith’s pliers, though, the Gators’ teeth dig into the sides of stuck filters, giving you the friction you need to loosen and remove them.

One piece of bad news: They’re not exactly cheap. We found them on the ‘net starting around $60 and ranging up to $75 or more. On the other hand — and speaking of hands — I could’ve used these more than once, and I’d happily shell out a couple of bucks to keep from burning myself.

Gator Jaws Oil Filter Pliers [IPA]
Street Pricing [Google]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


20 Responses to Rip Loose Stubborn Oil Filters

  1. Mark Geoffriau says:

    Not sure I see how these are worth $60 when you can pick up filter pliers from Wal-Mart for about $12. Is the design and construction the same quality? Probably not, but we’re talking about a tool used to grab the sides of a too-tight disposable automotive filter.

  2. IronHerder says:

    I must be in the wrong business. Sixty bucks?

    In the past I’ve used a large pair of channel pliers, and this summer I almost bought an oil filter pliers from HF for well under $10. But I found an oil filter pliers at a thrift shop for $2. They’re not titanium (for $60, the others better be), but I doubt that I will ever break them.

  3. Fong says:

    @Mark Agreed, too spendy. Dedicated filter sockets or adjustable filter wrenches are much cheaper and do the same thing if not better. There may not always be room to use a set of pliers but there’s always the option of extensions and universal joints with sockets.

  4. Ben says:

    It can be messy but you can stab an old screwdriver through the side of the filter and that works for the stuborn ones for me. My problem is that you usually can’t get good enough access to use the big pliers.

    In other news we just got a new Subaru and it comes factory standard with a remote filter set up. The is located at the front of engine compartment in a cup. It’s pretty sweet.

    • SuperJdynamite says:

      I like the fact that I can change the oil on my Scooby without jacking it up, but removing the filter is always a mess. The new design sounds much better.

  5. Brad says:

    I use a piece of rope wrapped once or twice around the filter. Use one hand to keep the rope from slipping on the filter and the other to pull on the free end of the rope. Gives that little bit extra of grip and leverage to loosen them. Added bonus: extremely cheap, no $80 pliers for me.

  6. george says:

    to limited in its use. to much $$$$$$$.

  7. Steve says:

    Plier type filter wrenches work for general filter removal. They are one of the worst choices for one that is really stuck. I’ve never had a spider type filter wrench fail. Mine is a Blue-point brand.

  8. fred says:

    So assuming you have the room to pierce the filter with a big old screwdriver – what do you do if it starts to rip apart rather than turn? Will AAA tow you for free in thsi situation?

  9. Steve says:

    I added a picture of some KD filter pliers and a Blue- point spider wrench to the Toolmonger Flicker pool.

  10. Toolfreak says:

    Channellocks work great on smaller filters, especially if you can crunch them in a little bit first. I’d agree on the other less expensive options too, Craftsman even sells one that’s better than the walmart/harbor fright version for ~$20.

    Personally I went to the Craftsman triple-arm spider wrench and never looked back. That thing busts any size filter loose, and is beyond perfect for today’s upward-oriented filters.

    Word of warning, too. Don’t ever over-tighten a filter. I didn’t think it was really possible, but I did it on a Motorcraft FL-1A. The result was the threaded stud coming out of the adapter, attached to the filter instead. There is NO tool made for re-inserting the stud as tight as it was previously. Threading in with cushioned grips on pliers and eventually letting it get tighter and tighter with each filter change has worked great.

  11. SuperJdynamite says:

    I wonder if epoxying a nut to the top (a la K&N oil filters) would let you wrench off a really stuck filter?

    Why can’t filter manufacturers standardize on a 3″ or 4″ hexagonal top so a standard cup-type wrench can be made?

  12. Mike says:

    I’ve had the best luck loosening an over-tight filter by lining an end cup wrench with a square of soft foam. The foam grabs the filter and keeps the cup from slipping.

  13. Carson says:

    The best oil filter wrench I’ve used. $12.99 Craftsman Universal Oil Filter Wrench, Auto-Adjustable

  14. Matt says:

    Maybe I’ll be the first to chime in as I actually own these (got a great deal and didn’t pay MSRP). If you were doing filters all day these are excellent. They distort, but don’t break the filter; thus no oil explosion all over the place. Big or small filters that were installed by a gorilla or a girl are easy to remove. MSRP for a DIY may be a turn-off, but if you are doing this work day in and day out it’s a good tool.

  15. PutnamEco says:

    Mark Geoffriausays:
    Not sure I see how these are worth $60 when you can pick up filter pliers from Wal-Mart for about $12.

    Depends on whether you want to support our American way of life or the Chinese lifestyle.

  16. PutnamEco says:

    Actually, Americans only spend about 1.2% on finished products imported from China

    1.2% of WHAT?

    It is very easy to misinterpret a report like you linked.

    Why don’t you mention things like

    “In the clothing and shoes category, 35.6% of U.S. consumer purchases in 2010 was of items with the “Made in China” label.”

    It is fairly easy to manipulate statistics when you get to pick and choose the parameters

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