Saturday, March 2, 2013

Lisle 63600 Oil Filter Wrench Review

I picked up the Lisle 63600 oil filter wrench for less than $9 at a local farm supply store and couldn't wait to put it to the test. It performed as well as all the other reviews suggested, but there are a few quirks that might influence your buying decision.

Essentially it is a cam-action clamp with a square cut out of the base for a 3/8" drive ratchet or extension. As you rotate the wrench to the left, the edge of the jaws grip the cylindrical shape of the oil filter. It is advertised as fitting oil filters from 2-1/2" to 3-1/8" in diameter. It worked great on the compact car I was using it on. (There is a larger version for larger truck filters.) All pieces are solid metal, but the spring is kind of flimsy. I guess it has to be in order to allow the jaws to open freely. But the fact that Lisle lists the replacement spring part number right on the package doesn't give me much faith. Besides the spring the clamp feels solid enough, it would survive being rattled around in a toolbox or dropped off a workbench just fine.

The reason the Lisle 63600 is so handy is because of the 3/8" drive hole in the end. You can put a ratchet right on the wrench, or you can hook up all kinds of extensions and universal connectors to create a wrench that will reach almost anywhere in the engine bay while keeping your hands clear.

One thing I noticed is that the cutout for the male end of my 3/8" extension is a little skimpy - it's not quite deep enough. There's also no detent or lip inside the square to hold the ball on the extension or ratchet, really it's just hanging there by the friction between the ball and the square. If you're using a wobble extension (like most extensions are these days) the wrench will wobble around considerably since you can't stick the extension far enough into the drive square to lock it into position. I think even if you had an extension with a locking ball it wouldn't have anything inside the drive square to lock to.

From the back you can see that it's made in the USA. Nice.

The jaws rotate on their rivets to open and accept an oil filter. The spring keeps their edges in contact with the oil filter. From this angle you can see the ball of my extension peeking out. If you were holding it sideways the wrench would probably fall off. For that reason this tool is best used to loosen the filter when it's stuck, but not for completely removing the filter. (I think most people already understand that your hands are best for removing the filter once its loose.)

Another angle showing the construction. The base is just two round plates of steel. You can also see how far it moves on my wobble extension. This is actually a good thing so you don't have to have the extension perfectly lined up with the filter before you loosen it.

One last shot of the Lisle 63600 jaws clamped around a filter. (It's a new filter.) As you can see only the  edges of the jaws make contact with the filter. It's easy to apply plenty of force to remove the most stubborn oil filters with this tool. But because of the jaw design, it only works to loosen filters. You can not screw on a new filter with this tool. Which is a good thing, since filters should only be screwed on by hand anyway. Although I can see if the filter was in some remote location on the block under a bunch of stuff where you couldn't fit your arm the ability to screw a filter on would be nice.

In a nutshell:
This is an oil filter wrench that will likely outlast you.
It is easy to get on oil filters at odd angles. If you can get your extension to it, you can remove it.
You can apply lots of force to a stubborn filter, even if there isn't room to swing the handle of a band-type oil filter wrench.
One size fits a variety of filters for domestic and import vehicles, unlike the molded plastic filter wrenches where you need a specific size for each filter.
It's a little loose on the extension, if you're going to be working over a full oil pan you'll want to keep one hand on the wrench so it doesn't fall off.
It only works to remove filters, it will not put filters back on.

If you're into changing your own oil, this is probably the only oil filter wrench you're ever going to need.

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