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Published Feb. 13, 2021

Working on your vehicle is rewarding in many ways, especially when your innovation and critical thinking skills pull through. But even if having a MacGyver mindset is excellent in a pinch, there really is no replacement for having the right tools for the job in the first place. Trying to deal with hose clamps is a perfect example of when it pays to invest in a good set of tools.

Going at it with anything other than a set of hose clamp pliers is begging for broken parts, busted knuckles, and a bad attitude. The good news is that there are a ton of options to choose from. The “bad” news is that you need to decide which are the best for your project.  Luckily, you have us to help you through it. We’re going to take a look at some of the best hose clamp pliers on the market and give you some pointers when making your selection.

The Best Hose Clamp Pliers

These pliers are our top pick because the flexible line feature is something both professionals and hobbyists can appreciate.  Also, they can do everything traditional hose clamp pliers can do and more, and they’re an excellent choice if your budget only allows for a single pair of pliers. Beyond that, Astro Pneumatic Tool was the first brand to patent this plier type. That tells us it had more time to perfect the design than anyone else. The typical week points, such as the jaws, are robust and rely on hardened steel to prevent cracking. Those jaws also lock in place, freeing up your hands to slide the clamp in or out of position.

If there’s anything to dislike about this option, it’s that replacement cables aren’t available. The cable in the system will stretch, eventually rendering the tool useless. That said, the tool’s quality is nothing short of impressive. Paired with the low price, it’s hard to complain about having to replace it after years of use.

Key Features
  • Precision clamp
  • Engineered for maximum strength
  • Thick, flexible cable
Specification
  • Brand Astro
  • Model 9409A
  • Weight 0.16 ounces

Setting yourself up with a complete kit is a good idea for beginners, and a set like this only costs a few dollars more than many single tool options. The real beauty of this option is that it offers you everything you need to deal with any clamp or hose. For starters, it has a total of seven pliers. Four work for spring clamps, one is for collar style clamps, one is for hose removal, and there’s also a set of flexible cable pliers. As a bonus, the collection features a double-headed screwdriver for worm-gear clamps and a mechanic’s pick for freeing the hose. Of course, the blow-molded case helps keep everything organized, which is always a bonus.

As for the downside, this isn’t a professional-grade set of tools. Many users report the tips break relatively quickly, which you might expect. So, if you need something that can withstand the demanding environment of professional settings, you may consider looking elsewhere. Otherwise, it’s a perfectly viable option for hobbyists or DIYers.

Key Features
  • Designed with comfort in mind
  • Steel material with plastic cover
  • Full kit in an easily portable tool box
Specification
  • Brand BETOOLL
  • Model BET-2016-HW8033
  • Weight 6.45 pounds

It’s hard not to feature a few flexible cable clamp pliers on this list, considering they’re so convenient. And if you could stand to save a few bucks, that only sweetens the pot. That’s precisely what we have here. A flexible cable plier set, with a slightly lower price point than some others, makes it an excellent option for weekend warriors and hobbyists. This model features a 24-inch cable, allowing you to sneak it into those particularly hard-to-reach places. The grip also features a locking mechanism to simplify the process even more.

Of course, every tool has its downsides. With this option, a flaw lies within the locking system’s ratcheting mechanism. The teeth are pretty soft and will wear down rather quickly. However, the system is stout enough to get more than a few uses out of it.

Key Features
  • 24” flexible cable
  • One-year limited warranty included
  • Highly rated
Specification
  • Brand Drake Off Road
  • Model 4525
  • Weight 1.2 pounds

You guessed it, another flexible clamp plier. But before you skip this one, let’s highlight what’s to like. For one, it’s a more affordable option than many others. Two, it’s a little more robust than many other options. Other than that, it’s a pretty standard setup. It offers 24 inches of reach, and the cable is flexible enough to work in almost any position. It also features a locking mechanism that frees your hands up for work. The use of a ratcheting system works to allow you to lock the jaw in any position necessary.

The first thing you’ll note about this option is that the grips are bare. While some might prefer this, it might not bode well with others. But the real issue is the locking system. The ratcheting system tends to slip, releasing the tool’s grip on the clamps.

Key Features
  • Locking mechanism
  • 24” flexible, heavy-duty cable
  • Great price
Specification
  • Brand Performance Tool
  • Model W80656
  • Weight 8 ounces

While it’s nice to save money where you can, you shouldn’t sacrifice quality, so we recommend this entry from Astro Pneumatic Tool. It includes the flexible cable pliers along with six others. Among the six other pliers, you’ll walk away with four for spring clamps, one for Clic-r clamps and one hose removal plier. Each is constructed with longevity in mind and are paired with plastic-dipped handles that improve grip and comfort as you work.

We can’t shy away from the high price. While good tools are worth investing in, it’d be nice to see this kit come complete with the pick and double-headed screwdriver more affordable kits do. Still, that shouldn’t be enough to turn someone after quality away.

Key Features
  • 7-piece set
  • Locking mechanism
  • Plastic coated for added grip
Specification
  • Brand Astro
  • Model 9406
  • Weight 7.3 pounds

Flexible long reach pliers aren’t the only tool for the job. They’ll fall flat on their face when you’re dealing with smaller hose clamps. That’s why it’s time we take a look at a set of traditional hose clamp pliers. They come from drake off-road tells us they have the quality hobbyists and weekend warriors demand.  The set includes two pairs of hose clamp pliers. One cross slotted jaw plier and one flat band clamp plier should get most jobs done. A nice touch either pair features is the ratcheting locking mechanism that simplifies the process.

Again, this is an excellent setup for light use. But what hurts this tool is the amount of flex you’re likely to deal with. If the clamps are incredibly stiff, the handles may bend too much to remove them.

Key Features
  • Swivel jaws
  • Locking mechanism
  • 2-piece set
Specification
  • Brand Drake Off Road
  • Model 1745D
  • Weight 1.1 lbs

Here’s another excellent option for folks tackling projects with a range of different clamp sizes. This option features two hose clamp pliers. One offers the advantage of cross slotted tips and the other features a wider head specifically for dealing with flat band clamps. The jaws on either open up to 2-3/4 inches and close all the way. That means you can use them for virtually any spring clamp you could expect to find under the hood of your car. As per standard, each plier also features a locking mechanism. Being able to lock the pliers in place makes it extremely easy to slide a clamp in or out of place with little risk of it slipping free.

For the money, it’s hard to knock on these pliers. As you might expect, the quality is a little questionable. The real issue is that the jaws don’t offer a great grip on smaller clamps, which is a real problem for many car owners. 

Key Features
  • Swivel jaws
  • Locking mechanism
  • 2-piece set
Specification
  • Brand 8MILELAKE
  • Model SZ67445
  • Weight 1.25 pounds

The good news is that your options are not limited when picking out an inclusive set. You just need to figure out what one best fits into your lifestyle. This set lands right between the top-shelf and low-dollar options. As for what’s included, the set features a total of seven pliers. Among them is a healthy mix of spring clamp pliers, Clic-r pliers, and even a hose removal tool. Of course, we can’t leave out the fact that this kit includes the flexible cable clamp pliers many folks are after.

As you might expect, this is another set that is an excellent option for home mechanics but not professionals. The quality is ok, but in the face of a demanding environment, they’re sure to run into some performance issues.

Key Features
  • 7-piece set
  • Locking mechanism
  • Great for occasional use
Specification
  • Brand XtremepowerUS
  • Model 75068
  • Weight 1 pounds

While researching professional-grade flexible reach pliers, Mayhew is likely the brand that caught your attention. If not, this option has all the same quality you could expect from a super-popular tool truck brand. Some even say a few of the sets from either are identical. We don’t need to get into the politics of the matter. All you need to know is that this is a heavy-hitter and a solid option for professionals. Quality aside, it offers 24 inches of reach, locks into place to free up your hands, and the plastic-dipped grips offer decent comfort and resist staining.

While this is a reliable option, it’s probably not the twin of the tool truck model you set out for. It’s a more affordable and simple design. While quality is decent, the lack of features is sure to leave many pros hunting—especially considering the price.

Key Features
  • Precision clamp
  • Suitable for use on plastic and metal clamps
  • Heavy-duty
Specification
  • Brand Mayhew
  • Model 28650
  • Weight 1 pounds

The Irwin Vise-Grip brand is known for supplying tools that serve professionals and hobbyists well, and this particular entry is a multi-purpose tool. It’s meant to help with removing clamps as well as pulling hoses and lines free. That’s a superb option for folks who are dealing with spring clamps but don’t want to load up their tool box with an excess of pliers. A nice feature of this design is the slip joint. Extending the jaws allows you to use this single set of pliers for any clamp size you find on your car.

It’s hard to find anything wrong with this option. Sure, they’re more expensive than many other single hose clamp pliers. But the use you’ll get out of them in combination with the quality construction makes them worth the extra money.

Key Features
  • Dual-purpose plier
  • Slip-joint operation
  • Quality construction
Specification
  • Brand Irwin Vise-Grip
  • Model 1773627
  • Weight 10.4 Ounces

Best Hose Clamp Pliers Buying Guide & FAQ

Things to Consider When Buying a Pair of Hose Clamp Pliers

Comfort and Design

Quality tools have the user in mind at all times. The manufacturers figure in factors like the position an application forces you to work in and how it feels in your hand. Hose clamp pliers with an angled design, swiveling jaws, and locking mechanisms can have a profound effect on your working experience. Those features, in combination with comfortable grips, can make for a far better workday than you’ll have when working with pliers that don’t offer those features.

Material

Hose clamp pliers may be simple, but it’s still worth spending a little extra money on quality. After all, too much flexibility or brittle construction is going to send you right back to square one with a little less cash in your pocket. That said, it’s worth doing the homework to ensure you’re investing in a set that relies on decent materials such as chrome vanadium steel if you intend to get more than a few uses out of them.

But just using suitable materials won’t make for a quality tool. If any joints are poorly machined and sloppy, you’re bound to run into some trouble. If you’re a hobbyist, you can be a little more lenient when it comes to construction. On the other hand, professionals should look for the best set available, as performing, in the long run, is of utmost importance.

Maximum Opening

Hose clamps come in a variety of sizes, so you’ll need to make sure you pick a set of pliers that matches. Luckily, most pliers can work with a range of sizes. So all you need to do is make sure the hose clamps you’re dealing with fit within that given spec.

We should also note that there are different types of hose clamps. In general, hose clamp pliers can work with spring style, ear clamps, or Clic-r clamps. The research you’ll do here is minimal as there are defining differences between the three.

If you know you’ll be tackling a variety of clamps, you should consider investing in a complete set that features a variety of clamp pliers to save yourself some time and money. Some of those sets also include hose removal pliers, screwdrivers, and mechanic’s picks, making them an invaluable addition to your toolbox.

Features

  • Flexible Cable

You won’t always have the room to get a set of pliers on hose clamps without forcing yourself into an awkward and frustrating position. This feature essentially works as an extension that allows you to reach into tight spaces. It’s important to note that the cables used will stretch over time and you should seek out models that have replacement cables available.

  • Locking Mechanism
Many times sliding the clamp over the barbs under the hose can be a trick in itself. As you move, there’s the potential for your grip to relax, forcing you to reposition and try again. A locking mechanism will hold the grip for you, allowing you to maneuver freely. 
  • Design

The overall shape is something to take into consideration. Again, angled tips help to work in tight spaces that don’t allow you to work straight on. Some models work to get around the issue with swiveling jaws as well. It’s also important not to overlook the ergonomics to ensure the tool is both comfortable and easy to use in areas where space is limited. 

Related Posts: Lineman Pliers and Locking Pliers hose clamp pliers

Benefits of Owning Hose Clamp Pliers

Ease of Operation

We’ve all removed hose clamps with channel locks, linemen’s pliers, or whatever else we could get our hands on. It’s possible to do without, but dedicated hose clamp pliers offer a far better user experience. Elimination of frustrating yourself by having to carefully manipulate the plier’s angle as you work simultaneously cuts frustration down and saves some time.

Save Money

Using the wrong tool for the job is a great way to chew up hose clamps or even put holes in hoses and lines. As you know, those nickel and dime parts add up to significant expenses in the long run. You also have to figure in the time it takes to run to the parts store or wait for those things to come in. So, it’s a good idea to get the tools now to save some cash down the road.

 Prevent Injury

Putting your blood, sweat, and tears into something is a far better metaphor than a literal statement. The dedicated design of hose clamp pliers offers a far more fluent operation. Not having to awkwardly position yourself as you work keeps your hands clear of any sharp objects that are dying to ruin your day.

Types of Hose Clamp Pliers

Spring Clamp Pliers

Flat, bland clamps and wire clamps rely on spring tension and can be found on radiator and heater hoses on modern vehicles. Under the hood of an older application, you may also find them on your fuel, power steering, and transmission cooling lines. These types of pliers can generally work on any kind of clamp that relies on spring tension and is a must-have for any tool box. 

Flexible Hose clamp pliers

This type of pliers is designed for use with spring clamps but relies on a flexible line to actuate the jaws. The flexible line works as an extension that allows the user to reach into tight spaces that traditional clamp pliers cannot. Many hobbyists and professional mechanics hold these on high as they have a significant advantage over fixed reach hose clamp pliers when space is limited.

Ear Clamp Pliers

Air intake tubes, CV axles, and other areas where a permanent seal is desired will rely on ear clamps. The pliers necessary for this crush the collar to size until they can create the seal. It’s important to note that these clamps are a one-and-cone deal and will require a separate tool for cutting them loose. 

 Clic-R Pliers

On some applications, like BMW and Mercedes vehicles, you’ll find Clic-R clamps under the hood. These clamps rely on gradual locking tabs to create tension. The pliers used are designed to set and release this tension for removal and adjustment. 

Best Hose Clamp Pliers FAQ:

Q: What are hose clamp pliers used for?

These pliers are used for the installation and removal of hose clamps. There are plenty of jobs that call for this. Radiator hoses, heater lines, vacuum lines, and low-pressure fuel hoses are all places you can expect to find them. Keep in mind, ear clamps require a particular set of pliers for installation but must be cut for removal. Therefore, you may need to use hose clamp pliers combined with specialized cutting tools.

Q: How do I use hose clamp pliers?

First things first — if you’re removing hoses, you must make sure to drain the system to ensure no liquids are present in the lines you’re taking off. Once the system is dry, you’re ready to remove the line. Spring clamp pliers simply depress the tabs on the clamps to widen the internal diameter, allowing you to slide it away from the barb or hardline beneath the hose. Installation is the exact opposite. Click-r clamps work by depressing the collar to snaps into place over the tab or release it, allowing you to move or set the clamp where you need to.

Q: What is the best material used for hose clamp pliers?

High-grade steel is usually your best option. If you’re using hose clamp pliers professionally, it’s worth tracking down a set that uses chrome vanadium steel in its construction. This tool-grade material may even be overkill for dealing with hose clamps, but it’s sure to last the test of time. If you’re a hobbyist, it’s not a significant issue to use pliers with lesser steels. You just need to be aware that they are far more likely to break than those with premium materials.

Our Top Pick

We’d be lying to say our top pick — the Astro Pneumatic Tool Hose Clamp — isn’t under the influence of sheer popularity. It might only be useful for larger clamps, but because most cars only feature larger clamps, that’s not a deal-breaker. Furthermore, being useful in more places makes it a great choice if you can only afford a single set of hose clamp pliers at the moment.

That doesn’t mean they’re the only tool for the job. Plenty of vehicles, particularly the classics, have a wide range of clamp sizes under the hood. Long story short, you’ll eventually need to invest in more than one set. So you tell us. Which hose clamp plier or plier set do you think is a must-have for every wrench turner?

Sources:

  1. Clamp – Wikipedia
  2. Hose Clamp – Wikipedia
  3. The Best Tool to Reach Hose Clamps – YourMechanic
  4. Three Types of Hose Clamps for Cooling Systems – Axle Addict

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