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A lug wrench is one of the simplest tools in your armory, 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 take a look at the best lug wrenches on the market right now. We evaluate the pros and cons of each one and take a deep dive into the features you need to look out for when selecting the right wrench for you.
The Best Lug Wrench
Some of the best lug wrench designs employ a collapsible design, and that is exactly what we have in this product from CARTMAN. In its 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 four of them in the most common used sizes, but they are not quite as deep as you will find with some other models. It probably won’t make a huge difference to the use of the wrench but is something to keep 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 we have this design from Powerbuilt. It is of the traditional, cross style of lug wrenches, a design we will see more than once as we move through the list. As for price, this particular one is toward the top end of the mid-range when it comes to four-way tire iron designs.
For that money you get a nice and solid design. It is chrome plated and highly polished, so you get a very attractive shiny surface that is 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, so you should have everything you need to tackle most automotive jobs.
The arms 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, 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 would probably be a gorilla. So we were pleased to come across this item, a telescoping lug wrench from Gorilla Automotive.
Again, this design is ideal for in-car storage. It is great to see this product shrink down to 14 inches, and it weighs less than three pounds. 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. 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 get a very well-designed, very tough tool for your money.
Hardened Steel Construction
Double Sided Sockets
- BrandGorilla Automotive
- Weight2.75 Lbs
Extends to 21”
Free Storage Bag!
Our next product is this four-way lug wrench from GTE Tools. A couple of notes right up front, though. First, this is certainly a premium product with the premium price tag to match. 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 be stored inside the other handle. You can keep it stored in its handy storage bag. It is still a pretty large tool at 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 to bits from a multi-tool. 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 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 it lives up to its name. Here’s another lug wrench with mobility and ease of storage at the heart of the design. As you will see it has gone a slightly different route.
This product has two folding arms that extend to provide leverage when tackling lug nuts. They 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 1.7 pounds.
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 live 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 is back with its 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 four-way lug wrench.
That being said, Cartman has gone the extra mile to add a few extra useful features. The big standout is the anti-slip protection. In reality these are merely plastic sleeves inserted over the four arms of the wrench. While 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 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? – are used to seeing products from EPAuto show up on our lists. It makes simple but effective automotive tools, so 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. All jokes 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 low price tag, so it’s very good value for the money.
Notice how we said it is a little tool? Well, we weren’t being cute. With an arm length of just 14” this is easily the smallest wrench – whether collapsible or a four-way lug wrench – to make the list. It is easy to store, whether in the garage or the trunk. On the other hand, 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 is back with its third entry to the list. It is by far the most simple of its designs that we looked at, but it still packs 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 its company name with Cartman. This is a short four-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.
The one big difference comes in its 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, 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, although it’s a shame there is no free storage bag with this tool. The handle is nice and comfortable and deeply etched to provide a good grip. That is certainly useful when changing a tire at the roadside on a winter’s 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 is this four-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 probably won’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. 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 features 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 and certainly one of the top cross wrench designs we’ve looked at. It costs a little more than the standard cross wrench but is 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.