If you’ve ever been left on the side of the road with a flat, you’ll know just how important it is to have the correct tools in your car. A jack, a spare tire and a lug wrench will get you out of a sticky situation and are the essential equipment every driver should have around.
These are the best lug wrench options for your vehicle today:
Quick Product Roundup
What Is a Lug Wrench Used For?
A lug wrench or tire iron is a tool that helps you tighten or loosen the lug nuts on the wheels of your vehicle. Together with a jack to lift your car, it’s the essential tool for tires that you’ll need if you ever get a flat on the road.
Many cars already come with this basic tool, but if yours doesn’t, it’s essential to have one in your car. Some of the lug wrenches that come with a new vehicle are also small, or of poor quality, so they may snap when you use a lot of force.
The good news is that a new tire iron is usually not an expensive investment. They’re also easy to store in your trunk, and likely more durable than the one you got with your car.
Remember that if you have to change your tire on the road with a lug nut wrench, you should later finish up the job with a torque wrench. This tool will help you set and limit the amount of torque, helping keep your tires in balance.
Types of Lug Wrench
We have included some of the basic types of lug wrenches available to help you find the right one for your vehicle.
Cross Lug Wrench
The classic 4-way tire iron has a cross design. It takes up more room in your vehicle’s emergency kit or trunk, but given that it’s welded, it’s the least likely to snap under pressure. Of course, there’s always the possibility of a cross lug wrench bending, but with no moving parts it’s less likely that it will simply break.
This makes it an ideal option if you know your bolts are screwed on tight, especially if they’ve been tightened with a machine.
A folding wrench lug usually comes with one long handle and two arms you can unfold to turn it into a cross shape. The good thing about this type of lug nuts wrench is that it’s easy to store, and all the parts are typically attached, so you won’t lose them.
One negative of this design is that foldable handles can eventually break, or the screws attaching them to the handle may become loose.
An l-shaped lug wrench is a simple second-class lever that gives you a mechanical advantage and eases the load. The longer the handle, the easier it will be to loosen the bolts. This is why it can be a good option for people with less upper body strength.
Telescoping wrenches can either consist of one adjustable, l-shaped handle with interchangeable sockets, or an x-shaped design. They’re usually easy to store and don’t take up a lot of space.
The negative is that the lug wrench itself often carries separate, interchangeable socket heads, and you’ll need to keep the right one at hand without losing it. A long telescoping arm is also less stable and more prone to breaking than a solid, welded wrench.
Are Lug Wrenches Universal?
Yes and no. Lug wrenches are not necessarily universal because they come for specific bolt sizes. However, a standard 4-way model will have four different sizes, so it’s virtually a universal lug wrench. Do still check your vehicle user’s manual to make sure the lug nut sizes are correct before buying.
What Size Lug Wrench Do I Need?
The most basic lug wrenches come with three or four-socket heads to cover for the most common lug nut sizes. The most common sizes that should cover most vehicles are 1/2, 3/4, 7/8, 11/16 and 13/16 inches. Some of them also have a flat spade tip to remove tight wheel covers and hubcaps.
Make sure the wrench is the right size for your vehicle before buying. Also note that European sizing is in millimeters, which is usually compatible with US sizing. Still, you might find a European lug wrench slightly too loose or tight for your American car.
Is a Lug Wrench the Same as a Tire Iron?
Yes, a tire iron and a lug wrench are the same thing. However, note that a torque wrench and a lug wrench are two different tools. A lug wrench or tire iron is the basic tool you’ll need for changing a tire in a pinch, but you should use a torque wrench to secure the lug nuts.
The Top Lug Wrench for Your Vehicle
You don’t always have to go for the highest innovation or the most complicated tool. This best-selling universal lug wrench from Cartman is a solid, high-quality option you can rely on if you’re ever left on the side of the road.
It has an anti-slip handle for a better grip, and the rest of the wrench is chrome-plated, heat-treated steel. The wrench has extra protection at the center, so you can trust it to handle even the toughest bolts.
This virtually universal lug wrench includes four lug sizes, with 11/16, 3/4, 13/16 and 7/8-inch socket heads.
The traditional 4-way design has the benefit of providing great torque to help you turn the bolts with comfort. You also won’t have to go through your car’s trunk on a dark country road hunting for separate socket heads, given that they’re attached to the wrench.
- Anti-slip grips are easier on your hands.
- Sturdy, quality build.
- The 4-way design gives you great torque.
- Fits most lug bolts.
- Great value for the price.
- May be too small if you need to use a lot of force.
This 20-inch wrench from Performance Tool is a great, basic tool that’s made to endure tough use. The large size and four-way design help you use enough force even for the tightest lug nuts. It also has a nice weight, and a good overall feel when you use it.
This wrench comes with 3/4, 13/16 and 7/8-inch spoke heads. It also includes a spade tip, which helps you easily remove your hubcaps.
The material is heat-treated steel that’s durable and feels solid and sturdy to the touch. However, it’s not reinforced in the middle, which would guarantee even more strength.
- Sturdy and tough.
- Spade tip included for hubcaps.
- The 20-inch size gives you a lot of torque.
- Fits well on most vehicle lug nuts.
- The 20-inch size can make it harder to store.
- Not reinforced in the middle.
This lug wrench from Workpro fits any vehicle emergency roadside kit with ease. The full handle size is 14 inches, which makes it one of the smallest options on our list. It may be too small for those with little upper body strength, or if your lug nuts are too tight.
As a foldable wrench, this model has moving arms that can either bother you or make you love it. On the one hand, it’s easy to store in a small space. On the other hand, if the arms don’t stay still, this type of wrench can be annoying. This model does feel quite solid in general, but the hinge part is not as trustworthy.
It’s chrome-plated and drop-forged steel, and has sockets for 11/16, 13/16, 3/4, and 7/8-inch sockets, on top of the 1/2-inch standard head. The heads fit most common vehicle tire lugs tight, and it’s easy to get a nice grip on the handle.
Note that this kind of design isn’t welded but instead includes a couple of screws that might come loose over time. This may make it less durable, but overall this is a reliable, top-notch product in its category.
- Folds up to a small size for storage.
- Tough quality in general.
- Smart design with a good grip.
- The heads fit most lug nuts.
- The screws may become loose over time.
- May bend at the hinge when used with force.
This telescoping wrench from Workpro has an adjustable length from 14 to 20 inches, making it easier to get leverage for tighter bolts. It’s also great for storing in a small space, as well as to figure out for use.
The wrench includes a 1/2-inch head with interchangeable 11/16, 3/4, 13/16 and 7/8-inch heads, so you’ll be able to use this wrench on most vehicle types. Note that it seems to have been made for European measurements, so it might fit a bit loose on American bolts.
As for comfort, this wrench has a handle that’s reinforced for better grip. This plastic layer is textured, which can feel a bit harsh on your hands if you’re using it for a long time. For changing one tire, you’ll likely be fine, but you can also reduce wear on your skin with a pair of work gloves.
One negative of this design is that it’s not as sturdy as a classic cross wrench. The telescoping part has a soft click when you lock it into place, but it doesn’t feel extremely secure. This might not be a problem in a normal situation, but if the lug nut is very tight, it’s possible you’ll bend or break it.
You’ll also have to figure out a way to not lose the additional socket heads, since they’re not permanently attached to the wrench.
- Adjustable from 14 to 20 inches.
- Good selection of socket heads.
- Easy to take into pieces and store.
- Telescoping end is not the toughest.
- Can fit a bit sloppy on American lug nuts.
This model from Xergur is a combination between a cross and a telescoping wrench. It has an ‘X’ shape and a 23-inch handle, which will allow you to get leverage to get out even the toughest slug nuts. The end has a plastic, textured cover for an easier grip that’s not too hard on your hands.
Lug wrenches are generally a cheap tool, but this one is at the higher end of the price range, which likely owes to the smart and versatile design. You can use it as a ‘T’ wrench when you need more power, or a simple cross, depending on your vehicle type and needs.
It comes with the standard 11/16, 3/4, 13/16 and 1/2-inch heads. An important bonus of this model is the storage bag that comes with it, making it easier to keep the two handles and sockets in the right place.
The sockets tend to have a loose fit, and the handle slides around, which is not for everybody’s taste.
- Extra-long handle to use for leverage.
- ‘X’ shape for easy handling.
- Good grip with a textured plastic handle.
- Two-year warranty.
- Comes with a storage bag.
- The socket sizes are a bit loose.
- The handle slides around.
When you’re stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, what you’ll need is a solid and trustworthy tool that’s right for you. This means not only that it needs to be tough, but also that you’ll be able to exert enough force on it to loosen an especially tight lug nut.
We found the classic Cartman 16-Inch Universal Anti-Slip Cross Wrench to be the best lug wrench on the market. It’s sturdy, big enough for leverage and has four different sizes of socket heads, enough for most vehicle tires. The reinforced middle guarantees you can use a lot of force without bending or breaking the wrench.