The right lug wrench can help you change your tire in minutes and have you back on the road in no time. The wrong lug wrench can leave you stranded, far from home, unable to get the lug nuts loose.
Getting the right lug wrench is critical in a way few tool purchases are. Getting it wrong can have major consequences. Shopping online can make the problem harder, as comparing models gets more difficult and price hunting can seem dangerous when you can’t try them out.
Our reviews of the best lug wrenches of 2020 are designed with you in mind. We cover the best and worst parts of each model, so you know what you’re getting when you buy. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide, so you can learn to evaluate these tools like an expert, even if you’ve never used one before.
|GTE Tools LugStrong |
|TEKTON 5975 ||Steel||4.7/5|
|EPAuto Universal |
|Forged heat treated carbon steel||4.5/5|
|CARTMAN Heavy Duty Universal ||Forged heat treated carbon steel||4.3/5|
|Performance Tool W1 ||Heat treated drop-forged steel||4.2/5|
The GTE Tools LugStrong 26″ Lug Wrench Set is the best overall lug nut wrench set on the market today. It has 17-, 19-, and 21-millimeter sockets built in so you can tackle a variety of problems without any additional equipment. It also has a universal ½-inch adapter, so you’ll be able to connect most sockets to this model and expand what you can do with it. This model also comes apart, and one half can be stored inside the other, making this a very compact lug nut wrench when not in use.
This model comes with what the manufacturer calls powermode configuration, which allows you to use the two halves in an unorthodox configuration that allows for more power when you really need it. Our only complaint is that it doesn’t come with a socket or adapter for 7/8-inch sockets, which are used on some larger trucks and SUVs. If that’s what you need this tool for, you’d be better off with a different model. Still, if you’re looking for a very compact but powerful lug wrench to take on the road, you’d be well-off with this one.
The TEKTON 5975 20-Inch 4-Way Lug Wrench is another great model that most people will enjoy using. It has four-socket sizes, 3/4-inch, 13/16-inch, 7/8-inch, and 19 millimeters, so you’ll be able to take the lug nuts off just about any car on the road today. The sockets are well-designed. They grip the sides instead of the corners. This reduces the chance of stripping the lug nut, and makes this tool more effective with slightly rounded or rusty lug nuts. It’s also designed to reduce slipping, so you spend more time working and less time trying to get this tool back on the lug nut.
This tool also comes with the sizes stamped on the shaft, so you’ll never lose track of which end is which due to paint rubbing off or other issues that develop over time. What ultimately keeps this otherwise great model out of first place is that the center weld sometimes arrives sharp. You can fix the problem with sandpaper. However, we believe this problem should be fixed at the factory. If the company resolved it, we’d be happy to bump this model up a space.
The EPAuto 14″ Universal Lug Wrench is a model to consider if you need one small enough to keep in a compact car at all times. It comes with four socket sizes, ranging from 11/16-inch to 7/8-inch, so you will likely have the size you need at all times. While the company claims that it’s also compatible with metric sizes between 17 and 22 millimeters, there’s a chance that you’ll strip them with SAE-sized tools. This model is just 11 inches across, so it doesn’t take up much space when not in use. Plus, it’s chrome-plated, so it has exceptional resistance to corrosion and rust and should last a long time.
It also costs between one-third and one-half of what you’ll pay for the top two models on our list. With a price like that, this wrench is easily the best overall value for the money on our list. This model may be too small for some people’s needs, and you may not be happy with the leverage it offers. Still, if you’re looking to save money and get a great lug wrench, you’ll be satisfied with this model.
The CARTMAN 14″ Heavy Duty Universal Lug Wrench is very similar to the previous model on our list. It’s a 14-inch, chrome-plated wrench with four sockets. The chrome plating means it will last a long time without developing any corrosion problems, regardless of the underlying material’s quality. It also comes with adapters ranging from 11/16-inch to 7/8-inch in size. The manufacturer claims that it will fit varying metric-sized lug nuts, though you should be cautious, as it will run a greater chance of rounding the lug nut. This tool is small enough that you could keep it in a compact car without it taking up too much space.
However, this wrench costs more than the previous model, despite not having any extra features. That makes it a poor deal overall and is enough to drop it a space on our list, despite it not being any worse of a tool. Its smaller frame also means that you won’t get great leverage. This isn’t a terrible lug wrench, but most people will be able to do better for the money.
The Performance Tool W1 Black 20″ has its flaws. However, there are some things to like about it. This model comes with four sockets, which theoretically fit on 3/4-, 13/16-, 7/8-inch sockets, and 19-, 21-, and 23-millimeter sockets. It also has one of the longer handles on this list, which makes it good for busting off really tight lug nuts and making sure they’re on tight enough when you’re putting them back on.
However, this model is prone to bending, which isn’t something you want happening with your lug wrench, and a sign that the overall quality isn’t great. The sockets also tend to have a very loose fit on both SAE and metric lug nuts, which greatly increases the chances of rounding one. This isn’t the lowest-priced lug wrench on the market, so you’d expect better overall quality from this model. Since the quality isn’t great, it ends up being really expensive relative to its value. Ultimately, you could spend less and end up with a model you like more, which is what drops this tool to the bottom of our list.
Most people need a lug wrench while they’re on the road. Since the primary use of this tool is to loosen lug nuts to change flats, it’s important that you feel comfortable keeping it in your vehicle so you’ll have it when you need it.
Lug wrenches can be large, especially the models that provide a lot of leverage. Most of us don’t want to carry something of that size around, so you have three options.
You can opt for a smaller model with less leverage. Or, you can bite the bullet and carry a larger model around.
The best option may be a wrench that folds down. When folded down, these models are far more compact than shorter ones, but when expanded, they provide just as much leverage as a normal lug wrench. This is one of the rare situations where you can have the best of both worlds.
It’s also important to get a wrench that works with the lug nuts you’ll be dealing with. Look up what size your lug nuts are in your car’s user manual, and then check that against the sizes offered by the manufacturer.
In recent years companies have started selling models that claim to be both metric- and SAE-compatible. This isn’t impossible, but without tight engineering standards, they run a high risk of stripping the lug nuts. If you need to work with both kinds of lug nuts, it may be worth buying a combination model like this, but if you really want to make sure you don’t round your lug nuts, invest in two separate lug wrenches.
Many people try to maximize the value they get from their purchase by buying the most or least expensive models they can find. That’s a good way to end up with a product you don’t like, and those have no value at all.
Instead, start with your needs. Figure out what you need when it comes to portability and lug nut size, and then limit your search to tools that meet those criteria.
Then, choose the most affordable model from that list. It has all the features you need to have a good experience, at the lowest price, making it the best overall value for you.
Here are some other types of wrenches we’ve reviewed:
The GTE Tools LugStrong 26″ Lug Wrench Set is our favorite model due to its easy storage, inclusion of a universal adapter, and powermode configuration. The TEKTON 5975 20-Inch 4-Way Lug Wrench has four-socket sizes and is designed to grip sides to reduce rounding, and its anti-slip design makes using it far easier, though its weld quality leaves something to be desired. In third is the EPAuto 14″ Universal Lug Wrench, which comes with four socket sizes, and chrome plating that will keep it in good shape. Since you can get it for a fraction of what the top two models cost, it’s the best overall value for the money on our list. The CARTMAN 14″ Heavy Duty Universal Lug Wrench is also chrome-plated and compact, but its relatively high price and poor leverage drop it to fourth place. The Performance Tool W1 Black 20″ model comes with a very long handle, but it is prone to bending and has a poor fit on the lug nuts, which mean it can rise no higher than the last place.
We hope that our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you find the lug wrench that’s right for you.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!