What Are The Best Slip Joint Pliers? (2020 Edition)
Slip joint pliers often have an undeserved reputation. They’re “too simple.” They’re “boring.” With all the specialized pliers available these days, are slip joint pliers a tool you need in your garage at all?
Absolutely they are! We’re big fans of slip joint pliers. They have a wide range of benefits every mechanic should be aware of.
But we do agree slip joint pliers all look pretty similar to one another. Finding the best pair for your needs can be difficult. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. We’ve found the best slip joint pliers for 2020. Plus, if you’re still on the fence about how useful these pliers can be, our FAQ details all the benefits.
- #1 Pick – Irwin Tool VISE-GRIP GrooveLock Pliers
- #2 Pick – Channellock 440 12-inch Tongue and Groove Plier
- #3 Pick – Stanley 84-097 6-Inch Slip Joint Plier
- #4 Pick – Knipex 10-Inch Cobra Pliers
- #5 Pick – Stalwart Three-Piece Slip Joint Plier Set
- #6 Pick – Tekton 6.5” Slip Joint Pliers
- #7 Pick – WorkPro 7-Piece Plier Set
- #8 Pick – Wilde Tool G262FP 6.5” Slip Joint Pliers
- #9 Pick – Irwin Tools VISE-Grip 8-inch Slip Joint Pliers
- #10 Pick – Channellock 526 6.5-inch Slip Joint Pliers
- Slip Joint Pliers FAQ
- What are Slip Joint Pliers?
- What are Slip Joint Pliers Used For?
- What are the Benefits of Slip Joint Pliers?
- Are Slip Joint Pliers Safe to Use?
- How Do I Find the Best Slip Joint Pliers?
- Jaw Size
- Rust Protection
- What Other Types of Pliers Should I Keep in My Garage?
- Locking Pliers
- Batter Pliers
- Bent Nose Pliers
- Brake Spring Pliers
- Flat Nose Pliers
- Hose Grip Pliers
- Final Thoughts
#1 Pick – Irwin Tool VISE-GRIP GrooveLock Pliers
Strong, comfortable and easy to adjust, VISE-GRIP GrooveLock pliers are a handy choice if you’re working with multiple sizes and types of bolts.
- Comfortable, non-slip handles
- Press-n-Slide button for quick adjustments
- Metal Injection Molding construction
- Set includes both eight and 10-inch pliers
- Handle padding can potentially slip off
- Teeth aren’t as sharp as some other pliers
These V-Jaw Pliers combine comfort with power. The padded, non-slip handle allows for optimal hand placement and a secure grip even at odd angles. They’re great for working on your car because you can hold them sideways, upside-down and in other awkward positions.
A Press-n-Slide button allows for quick adjustments which are about twice as fast as traditional groove joint pliers. The front edge fits flat for grabbing while the rounded center jaw grips bolts and objects. Once adjusted to size they lock into place with no slippage.
The set includes both eight-inch and 10-inch pliers. They’re crafted using a Metal Injection Molding process to ensure precision construction and long life.
#2 Pick – Channellock 440 12-inch Tongue and Groove Plier
A precision-crafted design helps these pliers maintain a tight, trusted grip while also reducing the likelihood of nut and bolt failure.
- Durable construction made from high-carbon steel
- Rust and breakage resistant
- PermaLock fastener for precise fitting
- Pliers can be heavy when held upside-down
Craftsmanship matters – and Channellock is committed to creating a tough, precise pair of pliers designed to last a lifetime.
The pliers are made from high-carbon C1080 steel with a patented reinforcing edge to minimize stress breakage. They’re also coated with rust-prevention material. That’s especially important for automotive work as the pliers are likely to come in contact with a variety of oils and fluids.
These right-angle pliers have teeth crafted with laser and heat treatments to ensure a solid, long-lasting grip. A PermaLock fastener eliminates nut and bolt failure.
#3 Pick – Stanley 84-097 6-Inch Slip Joint Plier
Lightweight but strong, these are a reliable pair of pliers perfect for general automotive repair and maintenance.
- Durable, dependable chrome-nickel steel construction
- Double-dipped handles are comfortable and easy to hold
- Machined jaws allow for secure gripping and prying
- Company no longer based in America
- Best for smaller jobs
Although Stanley tools aren’t the proudly American-made products they used to be, there’s still plenty of value to be found with these six-inch slip joint pliers. They’re made with forged, chrome-nickel steel and machined jaws.
The double-dipped handles keep your hands comfortable while machine jaws provide a tight grip. Not only do they provide a reliable grip but they can also be used to pry.
#4 Pick – Knipex 10-Inch Cobra Pliers
With 25 adjustment positions, this versatile wrench is perfect for general purpose work under the hood.
- Durable steel construction with comfy handle grips
- Versatile design allows for 25 adjustment positions
- Pinch guard protects fingers while you work
- The locking mechanism can stick at times
This is one Cobra which won’t bite! A high-quality pinch guard protects your fingers. It’s no minor feature, either. As every mechanic knows, pinched fingers are an all-too-common occurrence when working on your car.
They’re also incredibly versatile and able to grasp just about any object in your engine. Twenty-five adjustment positions allow the pliers to fit practically everything from 1 13/16-inch hex nuts to round pipe up two inches in diameter.
#5 Pick – Stalwart Three-Piece Slip Joint Plier Set
Stalwart’s set of three slip joint pliers lets you grasp almost any sized object. Plus, the included storage pouch keeps the set portable.
- Set includes three pairs of pliers
- Pliers have no-slip, ergonomic handles
- Includes storage pouch
- The pouch isn’t durable enough for professional use
The set includes three durable slip joint pliers made from heat-treated steel. A Chrome Vanadium coating helps resist abrasion, oxidation, and corrosion. Plus, the non-slip, ergonomic handles ensure the pliers will stay in your hand even when working at odd angles.
The set includes 10-inch pliers with a two-inch jaw capacity, eight-inch pliers with a 1.5-inch jaw capacity and six-inch pliers with a one-inch jaw capacity. Additionally, all pliers fit into the included storage pouch for easy organization and storage.
#6 Pick – Tekton 6.5” Slip Joint Pliers
Small but mighty, these steel alloy pliers are a great all-purpose choice for your garage or toolkit.
- Compact, all-purpose pliers
- Includes shear wire cutter
- Trusted, U.S.-based manufacturer
- Not as durable as larger pliers
For over 50 years, Tekton has made hand tools from their headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This pair of six-and-a-half-inch slip joint pliers is one of their most popular tools. While not packed with features, they’re a reliable, all-purpose pair of pliers made from a steel alloy with natural corrosion resistance.
These compact pliers have interlocking tongues and grooves to provide a secure grip on practically any object including flat stock, thin sheet material, pipe hex, square fastener, and more. The universal three-zone jaws have evenly-spaced teeth. Plus, the pliers also have a shear wire cutter able to cut copper, aluminum and hardened steel wires.
#7 Pick – WorkPro 7-Piece Plier Set
All seven pieces in this plier set are made from drop-forged steel with a double-grip handle.
- The seven-piece set has a wide range of uses
- Slip joint pliers made from drop-forged steel
- Double-dipped handle is comfortable and secure
- Inside of the pliers features a wire cutter/stripper
- Extra pliers might not be needed
This pair of slip joint pliers has brought some friends! WorkPro’s seven-piece plier set includes long nose, slip joint, diagonal, linesman and groove joint pliers.
Each pair is made from drop-forged steel. They’re heat-treated and fully polished with a hardened cutting edge. A double-dipped handle ensures a soft but solid grip. Plus, the pliers have hardened edges for easy cutting.
#8 Pick – Wilde Tool G262FP 6.5” Slip Joint Pliers
With solid construction and comfortable handles, these slip joint pliers are a trusted tool for your garage.
- Well-machined, smooth pliers
- Stay-flat design prevents rolling
- Hex screw allows for precise adjustments
- Bolt prevents pliers from sliding into thin spaces
These slip joint pliers from Wilde Tools have a recessed nut and bolt system to allow for two adjustments. They’re smooth and well-machined with no pits or dents.
Plus, they’re great for automotive work because they’re completely flat when placed on their side. You don’t have to worry about them accidentally tipping into your engine.
The overall quality is high. They have a comfortable grip even when held sideways or at odd angles. Plus, the hex screw allows for a precise fit on objects large and small.
#9 Pick – Irwin Tools VISE-Grip 8-inch Slip Joint Pliers
Another quality offering from Irwin Tools, these eight-inch pliers have a great grip, comfortable handles, and effective anti-pinch design.
- Trusted manufacturer
- The ProTouch grip is comfortable and secure
- Anti-pinch helps prevent painful accidents
- Jaws are a bit too wide for the smallest nails
Are your current slip joint pliers hurting your hands? These VISE-GRIP pliers from Irwin Tools have non-slip ProTouch Grips to provide a comfortable, secure grip which reduces hand fatigue. Plus, they have an anti-pinch design to spare your fingers from injury.
They’re durable, too. These eight-inch pliers are made from nickel-chromium steel with an induction-hardened cutting edge.
The right-angle teeth grip in all directions. It’s a good choice for auto repair because they work well even when held at unusual angles. The variable jaws should grip just about anything in your engine. Plus, the pliers meet or exceed all ANSI specifications.
#10 Pick – Channellock 526 6.5-inch Slip Joint Pliers
With a PermaLock fastener, these pliers help eliminate nut and bolt failure, making them a great choice for working on older or damaged cars.
- All-purpose pliers made in the U.S.A.
- Durable construction made from C1080 steel
- PermaLock fastener allows for precise handling
- Jaw width might be too small for a vehicle’s larger hoses
Channellock’s six-and-a-half inch slip joint pliers are the perfect size for general purpose automotive repair. A serrated jaw creates a firm grip on wires, hoses, fasteners and more. They’re made from C1080 steel with an electronic rust-prevention coating.
The most noteworthy feature is the PermaLock fastener. It allows for a secure but gentle grip on small, delicate objects such as stuck or rusted screws and bolts.
The rubberized grips on the handle are comfortable and non-slip. Plus, it’s bright blue. If you drop these pliers into the depths of your engine, you should be able to find them fairly easily.
Slip Joint Pliers FAQ
Slip Joint Pliers have been around a long time, but they’re not always considered a “classic.” You’ll likely find plenty of people who feel like slip joint pliers are old-fashioned and, frankly, irrelevant. After all, you can find a huge range of specialized pliers which arguably do a more effective job at individual tasks.
But don’t throw away your slip joint pliers just yet! Many mechanics prefer them for general purpose automotive work. Here’s a closer look at why you’ll probably want to keep a pair of slip joint pliers in your garage:
What are Slip Joint Pliers?
Picture a generic pair of pliers. You’re most likely picturing a pair of slip joint pliers. They’re the most common type of pliers. Long before fancier pliers such as locking pliers, combination pliers and others even existed, people were using slip joint pliers for just about everything.
Slip joint pliers are characterized by their two levels of teeth:
The front teeth are fine. They’re ideal for gripping small objects such as nails and plastic fasteners. The rear teeth are larger and coarser. They’re used to grip larger materials such as nuts and bolts.
Slip joint pliers have adjustable jaws. A slot in the neck slides a pivot between two positions, which adjusts the jaw size. The adjustable jaw allows for a secure grip on a wide range of objects.
What are Slip Joint Pliers Used For?
They have a wide range of general uses including:
- Home repair
- Automotive repair
Slip joint pliers are often used along with other tools. For example, they can hold a nut steady while you use a screwdriver to loosen a screw. They can also help you hold a chisel or screwdriver.
Many slip joint pliers also have a sharp edge located behind the teeth. It can be used to strip and cut wires.
What are the Benefits of Slip Joint Pliers?
Slip joint pliers aren’t fancy. Their design has remained basically unchanged for decades. Many other types of pliers have been created with specialized functions, including pliers specifically for auto repair.
However, the all-purpose nature of slip joint pliers is more of a strength than a weakness.
Slip joint pliers can grip a wide range of materials. Their jaws can open up wide or just a small amount. They can grip everything from a large hose to a tiny bolt.
Plus, pliers are compact. They’re easy to fit between and around the various components of your engine.
When you’re trying to diagnose an engine problem, slip joint pliers are a great tool to have in hand when climbing under your car.
Generally, slip joint pliers are better at gripping than turning. Many people use them to loosen an occasional bolt to move components while investigating an engine issue. But their short size means they don’t produce much torque or leverage compared to other types of pliers such as lineman’s pliers or combination pliers.
However, slip joint pliers are great at gripping small components including:
- Flat(ish) materials
- Small diameter tubes and hoses
Are Slip Joint Pliers Safe to Use?
As long as you’re careful, slip joint pliers should pose no serious safety risks. However, they do have limitations you’ll want to know about.
The most common plier-related injury is pinched hand skin. It’s easy to accidentally catch your skin when closing the pliers. The webbing between your thumb and finger is especially vulnerable. Working on your car often means working in dark, cramped spaces where you can’t always see your hands. Choose pliers which have pinch-protectors on the handles.
Speaking of handles, most have rubberized comfort grips. However, handle grips do not necessarily protect against electric current. Be careful to protect yourself when working near your car’s electrical systems. Disconnecting the battery is usually the safest option when working on anything electrical in your car.
Never use slip-joint pliers as a makeshift hammer. The handles and jaw aren’t designed to be used as a blunt instrument. While the pliers are unlikely to crack, they are likely to become permanently out of alignment.
Aside from injuring yourself, you also want to avoid damaging your car. Slip joint pliers have tough, strong teeth. A minor slip can cause a big scratch.
The size of the jaws will determine how secure the pliers can hold an object. If the object is too small, pliers won’t be able to grip it completely. Most likely, the pliers will slip off, and that’s when scratches are likely to occur.
Along those same lines, if the object is too large, the pliers won’t be able to grip it securely. The pliers are likely to slip off and release the held object. This can be especially dangerous when working on your car as objects can potentially fly into your face.
How Do I Find the Best Slip Joint Pliers?
All slip joint pliers have the same basic design, so it’s tempting to think they’re all basically the same. But you’ll actually find significant differences from brand to brand. The best slip joint pliers will last a lifetime even with heavy use, while low-quality pliers can bend, break and even cause injury.
When choosing a pair of slip joints, consider the following features:
Choose pliers made from heat-forged steel or similarly-strong metal. Avoid cheaper metals like nickel or aluminum, as they’re usually not strong enough to be useful in auto repair.
The size and strength of the teeth in the jaws determines how well the pliers will grip objects. Most slip joint pliers will have two types:
Fine teeth in the front of the jaw for gripping small objects like nails, bolts, and screws
Large teeth in the rear of the jaw for gripping larger objects like hoses and tubes
Slip joint pliers use a hinge to alternate between two positions. For the most versatility, choose a jaw with a small to medium width. Typically, the largest hose in a typical car is about two inches. While you’ll occasionally need to secure a large hose, most of the time you’ll probably use the pliers on smaller nuts, bolts, and fasteners.
Look for rubberized, non-slip grips on the handles. The grip is one of the most important elements of a pair of pliers. As you already know, auto repair can be slippery work involving water, coolant, oil and other fluids. A quality grip keeps the pliers secure in your hands even when both are covered in liquid.
You can find pliers without a rubberized grip. They’re usually the best option when working with wood or in other dry environments. But they’re no good for auto work.
Choose pliers which have been sprayed with a rust-resistant coating. Long-term exposure to liquid is the quickest way to ruin a pair of pliers. Rust and corrosion resistant coatings are effective against limited liquid exposure. However, all pliers will rust is left submerged in water for an extended period.
What Other Types of Pliers Should I Keep in My Garage?
Slip joint pliers are great all-purpose pliers. They’re the tool you want in your hand when you’re crawling under your car trying to identify the source of a problem. But the naysayers are right in one regard: Slip joint pliers can’t do everything.
Specialized pliers are available for a huge range of automotive needs. Fortunately, you don’t need every unique type. Here’s a short list of the most useful automotive-related pliers you’ll want to keep in your garage:
As the name implies, these pliers lock in place. They’re great at holding objects. Mechanics frequently use locking pliers to bundle up wires, hoses, and other loose items which can get in the way during repairs.
These pliers have short, angled jaws. Compared the most pliers, the jaws are thicker and more durable. They’re used on the bolts found on car batteries and jumper cables.
Bent Nose Pliers
The jaws on these pliers are set at either a 45 or 90-degree angle. They can grip at odd angles. They’re a great choice for accessing the hardest to reach areas of an engine. Bent nose pliers are also frequently used on wires and electrical components.
Brake Spring Pliers
These specialized pliers are used to handle the springs found inside drum brakes. They have both a round and curved jaw tip. The round tip removes the old springs while the curved one is used to install new springs.
Flat Nose Pliers
With flat, tapered jaws, these pliers are commonly used for a variety of electrical and mechanical work. They make sharp bends and right angles with wires. You’ll probably want a pair handy when working on headlights or other electrical systems found in cramped areas. Flat nose pliers have both long and short noses.
Hose Grip Pliers
These pliers have grabber jaws which allow you to safely grab delicate hoses such as fuel lines, heater hoses and vacuum lines. You can twist the hose on or off. They’re also used to work with spark plugs.
When selecting a pair of slip joint pliers, you want to consider durability, handle comfort, jaw size, and overall design. A quality pair can easily last a lifetime and be an invaluable tool in any mechanic’s garage.
So what if slip joint pliers aren’t very flashy? What they lack in specialization they more than make up for in all-purpose usefulness. They’re the trusted tool you want when you’re not sure what you’ll be facing when you pop the hood.