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A lug wrench is undoubtedly one of the simplest tools in your armoury, but it can also be one of the most effective. At home, it is on hand to help you tackle lug nuts and bolts so you can work on your wheels, brake and suspension systems. When you are out and about, a high quality lug wrench can be a lifesaver if you experience a blowout and need to do a roadside tire repair.
In this guide we’re going to take a look at 10 of the best lug wrenches on the market right now. We’ll evaluate the pros and cons of each one, then take a deep dive into the features you need to look out for when selecting the right wrench for you.
The Best Lug Wrench
As we mentioned in our intro to this article, a lug wrench can be a key part of your at home set up. In our opinion, no one should have a toolbox without one as they are such useful tools. They can also be great tools to have on hand for roadside emergencies like a tire blow out. In those circumstances size matters, as a full size lug wrench kit can take up room in the car.
Some of the best lug wrench designs out there today solve this problem by employing a collapsible design, and that is exactly what we have here in this product from CARTMAN (no, not that one). In it’s closed form, it measures a tiny 13 inches but it can extend out to 21 inches when you need to use it. Along with the handy (and protective) storage bag, this tire wrench is easy to store in a vehicle, but still can give the length to provide the leverage you need to tackle stubborn bolts.
The only small issue is with the sockets that come with this wrench. You do get 4 of them in the most common used sizes, but they are not quite as deep as you will find with some other models of wrench. It probably won’t make a huge difference to the use of the wrench but is something to bear in mind.
Comes with 4x Sockets
Also Comes with a Handy Storage Bag
- Weight2.2 pounds
Small & Easy to Store
Extends for Extra Leverage
Great Value for Money!
Bits are a Strange Shape
Next up we have this design from Powerbuilt. It is of the traditional, cross style of lug wrench, a design we will see more than one of as we move through the list. This particular one has a price tag of a little under 30 bucks, so it’s toward the top end of mid-range as far as these 4 way tire iron designs can be priced up at.
For that money you are getting a nice and solid design here. It is chrome plated and highly polished, so you get a very attractive shiny surface that, more importantly, will be very resistant to rust and water damage. For a tool that could be stored in the trunk for prolonged periods without being used, that’s useful to see. You get your standard four socket sizes here, so you should have everything you need to tackle most automotive jobs.
The arms themselves are a little thin and have no padding or protection. If you are extorting a lot of pressure on a stubborn nut you could find those skinny arms biting into your palms a little. We looked at the 20” option, but it is also available in a 14” (easier storage, less leverage) and a 25” for extra leverage for really stubborn bolts and nuts. All in all then it is a very useful, well-designed and simple tool.
Chrome Plated & Polished
4 Lug Sizes
- Weight3.5 Lbs
Very Simple to Use
Extremely Tough & Long Lasting Design
Solid And Dependable
Thin & Unpadded Arms
Only 20 Inches of Leverage
If we were going to trust any mammal to build top quality vehicular tools, it’s probably going to be Gorillas. So we were pleased to come across this next item, a telescoping lug wrench from Gorilla Automotive.
As we mentioned when we were taking about the telescoping lug wrench above, this design is ideal for in-car storage. So to that end, it is great to see this product shrinks down to 14 inches and weighs less than 3lbs – it really is nice and small. It has a double-sided socket design too, so you only have to find space to store two sockets.
At the same time it boasts a tough construction of hardened steel and also extends to 21 inches in length. That is a level of toughness and length that should provide the strength and durability to tackle a range of nuts of various tightening levels. It is certainly not the cheapest lug wrench on the market – it is in fact one of the more expensive. But you are getting a very well designed very tough tool for your money here.
Hardened Steel Construction
Double Sided Sockets
- BrandGorilla Automotive
- Weight2.75 Lbs
Extends to 21”
Free Storage Bag!
Our next product is this 4-way lug wrench from GTE Tools. A couple of notes right up front though. First off, this is certainly a premium product with the premium price tag to match and this is in fact the most expensive product on our list. It is also a very well designed little tool with a number of useful features.
The most useful has to be the fact that the tool collapses. It doesn’t go into itself like one of the extending versions, rather the central section unscrews and can then be stored inside the other handle. You can then keep it stored in its handy storage bag. It is still a pretty large tool, 26” long. But it’s easier to store then when in its assembled size.
It comes with the usual socket sizes plus a universal adaptor that you can attach bits from a multi-tool to. That is a very handy feature you don’t see on to many lug wrenches. As you would expect from this price point, the tool itself is well made of hardened steel so it has the toughness and durability to tackle a range of jobs.
It is going to put a dent in the bank balance for sure, but this premium tool certainly has the design features to justify the expenditure.
4 Way Lug Wrench
- Weight2.5 lbs
Extra Long for Extra Leverage
Very Tough Steel Construction
Breaks Down for Easy Storage
Premium Price Tag
Large Sized Tool
The next tool to make the list comes from a company called Performance Tool, so lets hope they live up to their name. What we have here is another lug wrench with mobility and ease of storage at the heart of the design. As you can see though they have gone a slightly different route here.
This product has two folding arms that extend to provide leverage when tackling lug nuts. They then fold back into the side of the tool for ease of storage. It’s also worth pointing out that the tool is one of the smallest and lightest on the list, weighing in at only 1.7lbs.
On the one hand that makes it very easy to store in a vehicle – you could find room in even the smallest compact car for this tiny tool. On the other hand it may not have the heft to regularly tackle well-tightened nuts. In particular, the hinged arm attachments have to bear a lot weight, and they may not be up to daily use. As a lug wrench to store in the vehicle for emergencies though it is lightweight, easy to use, easy to store and relatively cheap.
Don’t buy this for your garage then, but certainly consider it as an investment to upgrade your roadside repair kit stored in the car.
4x Socket Sizes
Only 1.7 Lbs Weight
- BrandPerformance Tools
- Weight1.7 Pounds
Very Small & Light
Easy to Store
Decent Value for Money
May Lack Strength for High Pressure Bolts
Thin Arms May Bite into Hands
Cartman (again, not that one) are back with their second entry to make the list. A far more traditional and straightforward design than what we saw before, what we have here is a nice and simple 4 way lug wrench.
That being said, Cartman have gone the extra mile to add a few extra useful features. The big stand out of course is the anti-slip protection. In reality these are merely plastic sleeves inserted over the 4 arms of the wrench. Whilst being a very simple addition they are also very effective, adding more grip and surface area for a tool that is easier to hold and use. It is also good to see that chrome plating has been employed in the finish to protect against rust and corrosion.
A 16” arm span is definitely toward the smaller end when it comes to these types of tools. That does make it easy to store and easy to work with in confined spaces. It also means though that it takes more effort on your part to generate the leverage required to tackle really stubborn lug nuts.
Chrome Plated Finish
16” Arm Span
Anti-Slip Arm Coating
- Weight3.33 Lbs
Effective Anti-Slip Coating
Simple But Effective Design
Only 16” Span
Regular Car Bibles readers – which we assume is all of you, right – will be well used to seeing products from EPAuto show up on these lists. They make simple but effective automotive tools, so knowing that you can pretty much expect what’s coming next.
This lug wrench, from EPAuto, is both simple and effective. We’ll give you a moment to come to terms with that revelation. No, joking aside this is a very solid little tool, which is well made and extremely tough. It comes with the four standard socket sizes you expect and it is also chrome plated for rust and corrosion protection. It also has a price tag of just under 10 bucks, so is also very good value for money.
Notice how we said it as a little tool? Well we weren’t being cute there. With an arm length of just 14” this is easily the smallest wrench – whether collapsible or a 4-way lug wrench – to make the list. It is easy to store then, whether in the garage or the trunk. On the other, it will be harder to generate the top levels of torque required to undo really tough lug nuts with this tool.
4 Socket Heads
- Weight2.65 Lbs
Simple But Sturdy Design
Smaller than Many Other Cross Wrench Designs
Excellent Value for Money
Tough to Generate Lots of Power
Cartman (no not that… you know what, we’re not making that joke again) are back with their third entry to the list. It is by far the most simple of their designs that we looked at, but it is still packing the Cartman name as a badge of quality construction.
You can actually re-read the entry for the product above from EPAuto and simply replace their company name with Cartman. This is a short 4-way lug wrench with a 14” span. So the same pros and cons apply here as with the product above. It is even a similar price, with a sub 10-dollar tag on this product too.
The one big difference comes in construction materials. This lug wrench is made of heat treated carbon steel. We don’t need to tell you that this is a very tough material. Add in the chrome plating and you have a very simple but very strong and long lasting tool that should give years of hassle free service.
Heat Treated Carbon Steel Construction
- Weight2.7 Lbs
Very, Very Tough
Small and Compact
Excellent Price Tag
The penultimate tire wrench to make the list is this useful little tool from Dorman. We are back to the extending style of lug wrench here, and this is certainly an effective, if somewhat simple, example of that design.
It collapses to 15” for easy storage and extends out to around 21” to provide extra leverage when tackling tougher lug nuts. It comes bundled with a pair of double-sided sockets of standard size. The double-sided sockets do keep down the space the tool occupies, though it’s a shame there is no free storage bag with this tool. The handle is nice and comfortable though and deeply etched to provide a good grip. That is certainly useful when changing a tire at the roadside on a January night!
All in all though it is a pretty simple design. There is, for example, no locking mechanism for the extending arm. That’s not exactly a deal breaker but it does mean this tool is not quite as easy to use as some other folding designs we’ve looked at on this list.
Double Ended Socket Attachment
- Weight1.4 Lbs
Folds for Easy Storage
No Storage Bag
No Locking Mechanism
The final tool we’ll be looking at today is this 4 way tire iron from OEMTOOLS. If there is one thing we are sure about this tool, it is the fact it is very, very green. That paint does help to make the tool nice and visible, and you shouldn’t misplace it in even the messiest garage. On the other hand, the color scheme is probably not going to be for everyone!
Aside from the color scheme there is a lot to like here. This cross wrench has 20” arms, far longer than the standard 14” we’ve seen so far. That’s going to make it easy to generate lots of torque to tackle rusted or stubborn bolts. The construction again uses heat-treated carbon steel for a tough and resilient tool. The sockets are universal size and also quite deep.
This is a premium level lug wrench, certainly one of the best cross wrench designs we’ve looked at today. It has a price tag of around 15 bucks so a little higher than the standard cross wrench but also not earth shatteringly high. Whether you like the color or not will be a personal preference, but underneath it is a very well made lug wrench.
20” Arm Length
Universal Socket Sizes
High Visibility Paint
- Weight3.75 Lbs
Eye Catching Color
Length Helps Generate Torque
Very Durable Construction
Color Scheme Won’t be For Everyone
Best Lug Wrench Buying Guide
In our buying guide, we’ll take you through the features that you should keep an eye out for when picking out the best lug wrench for you. After that, we’ll take a look at how best to use your new toy and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this extremely useful tool.
What is a Lug Wrench?
A lug wrench is a hand-operated tool used to remove lug bolts. It’s most usual function will be in helping to remove and reattach the wheels on your car. That’s… about it really. This is one of the most widely recognized automotive tools around, but its uses are fairly specific.
What to Consider When Buying a Lug Wrench
- Sockets – This is less important if you buy a cross wrench, but for any other designs make sure they come with sockets! Nothing is more annoying than buying a lug wrench, it gets delivered, you rip open the packaging all excited to start undoing nuts and… there are no sockets. Everything we looked at comes as a set, and frankly we wouldn’t put down hard earned cash for a wrench that wasn’t a kit. It just seems mean.
- Socket Sizes – Whilst we are speaking of sockets remember that size matters. You can invest in a socket set which will have a huge range of sizes and cover you for just about any job. But you can also just make sure the lug wrench you buy has sockets sized at 17mm, 19mm (3/4”), 21mm (13/16”) and 23mm (7/8”). If you have those four sizes as a minimum you will be covered for about 95% of any of the tasks you need a lug wrench for on your car.
- Arm Length (Short) – You will find lug wrenches sized at anywhere from 16” to 22” and over. The arm length will have two important effects on the performance of the wrench, so it is worthwhile putting a little consideration into this area, so we’ve split this entry into two. A small wrench will typically be a little cheaper, and it will also be much easier to store. If you are looking for a lug wrench to keep in your vehicle for emergencies, this is a big consideration as the smaller it is, the easier it will be to find a home in the vehicle.
- Arm Length (Long) – On the other hand, a lug wrench with a long length will be easier to use. This is because a lug wrench is a lever. In practical terms that means that the longer the arm length on the wrench, the easier it is for you to generate pressure. A lug wrench with a length of 22” or more will therefore be able to tackle over tightened lug nuts that little bit easier. If you are looking for a wrench for home use then – where storage may be less of an issue – then the best lug wrench for you could be one with a little extra length.
- Folding or Solid Wrench – The final feature to consider is one that very much connects with the points we looked at above. It’s a simple one – do you want a solid tool, or a folding one? A solid tool will generally be cheaper (as it is a simpler design) and it also tough and hardwearing. It is though harder to store, especially in the car. A folding model, whether it folds in half or extends from itself, will of course be easier to find a home for. But it may struggle to provide the same power and leverage for everyday use as a solid design.
Why Buy a Lug Wrench?
A lug wrench is to a powered impact wrench what a manual screwdriver is to a power tool. By that we mean that the lug wrench and the impact wrench both perform the same function, but one uses a built in motor and the other uses you as the source of power.
Because of this, a lug wrench will generally not be able to generate the same power and torque as its powered cousins – especially air powered impact wrenches. There is a reason that when F1 or NASCAR racing cars pull into the pits, you don’t see some poor guy down on his knees desperately trying to get the wheels off with a lug wrench.
The best lug wrench can still be a solid purchase however because, lets face it, most of us don’t work in pit stops. We have all Saturday afternoon to change our tires, not 0.8 seconds. A lug wrench can then have a number of advantages:
- It is mush cheaper than its power tool cousins.
- It is easy to store, as there are no batteries to worry about
- They are easy to use too. You don’t have to read a 120-page manual to learn all the functions.
- They can also be kept indefinitely onboard the car itself, as an emergency tool to tackle roadside repairs like a tire blow out.
How to Use a Lug Wrench?
One of the beauties of these tools is that it is very simple to use. Slot the socket over the lug nut you want to loosen (or tighten) and twist in the right direction (remember – Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty!)
That is pretty much it.
Remember to get your vehicle up on a jack stand before you remove the wheel. It can also be useful to have some old rags or towels on hand. When you are tackling a very stubborn bolt, you can wrap them around the lug wrench to provide a little cushioning and stop the wrench arms biting into the palms of your hands.
Our Top Pick
Here at Car Bibles, we do like a product that gives good value for money. That doesn’t mean being cheap though. What we mean is that we like a tool that gives a lot back for the money you invest in it. That’s why when it came time to pick the best lug wrench on our list, we went for the Cartman Telescoping Lug Wrench.
It has a very attractive price point of around 10 bucks, which by itself is great. It is also small enough to be easily stored away in the car for emergencies. At the same time, it extends (and has the toughness) to provide the leverage for tackling stubborn bolts. That means it can also be used in day-to-day vehicle maintenance. It is therefore well-priced and useful in a range of applications. Good stuff, Cartman.