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How to choose circlip pliers?

How to choose circlip pliers

Shop for Circlip Pliers

Retaining rings come in many shapes and sizes, so do circlip pliers A huge number of different machines use circlips, which are therefore availabe in many variations. You will need to choose a pair of circlip pliers which are suited to the circlip you want to use them with. Below are a few things you will need to consider.

For more information see: What are the different types of circlip pliers? and What additional features can circlip pliers have?

 Wonkee Donkee says "If I want to be sure I have the right tools I make sure I always check their specifications"

Type of retaining ring

Different types of retaining ring will require different circlip pliers The first thing you should consider is the type of circlip or retaining ring you are working with, as different tips and types of pliers are available for different types of circlip. For example, standard circlip pliers have tips designed to fit the grip holes of circlips while retaining ring pliers may have textured tips that hold the flat ends of constant section retaining rings.


Circlip pliers come in many different sizes and types - for use with the different circlips you may find Each set of circlip pliers will have a minimum and maximum diameter of circlip they can work with, or a range of distances the tips can open and close to, depending on the size of the tool. These specifications are important, and circlip pliers should only be used with retaining rings of an appropriate size.

Special circlip tools are available for use with extra large circlips, which are over 400mm (15.7 inch) in diameter.

The diameter of the tips of circlip pliers should be as large as possible, but still fit in the hole of the circlip or retaining ring Also check the diameter of the tips of circlip pliers. You should use the largest tips that fit the holes of the circlip; this helps prevent the circlip from slipping off.

If you need to work with circlips of different types and sizes, you may need to buy a set containing a variety of circlip pliers, or you might want to have circlip pliers with replaceable heads or tips.


If a circlip is placed quite far inside a mechanical part you may need to use long nose circlip pliers You will also need to consider the position of the circlip, as differently angled tips will allow you to reach circlips in different places.

Circlips that are positioned inside mechanical parts, such as hydraulic master cylinders on motorcycles, may need circlip pliers which are longer overall or have longer tips.


Heavy duty circlips can be used for heavy duty retaining rings Circlips used in machines which exert great axial forces, such as automobile engines, are usually stronger and will therefore require heavy duty circlip pliers.

These circlips provide the strength required to withstand high stresses, but this can make them more difficult to remove or install as they can’t be expanded or compressed as easily. To avoid straining a pair of circlip pliers with these stronger circlips, you may want to consider heavy duty circlip pliers instead.


If you are workign near live electric you need to use tools with insulated handles, you can get circlip pliers which have insulated handles The environment you use tools in may affect which tools you should choose. Pliers should never normally be used with very hot components or generally be exposed to increased temperatures as this can weaken them.

If you need to use circlip pliers around live electricity you will need to ensure that you have a pair with insulated handles; these protect against electric shocks where normal plastic handles will not.

 Wonkee Donkee says "To avoid shocking experiences I use tools with insulated handles when I'm working near live electricity"

Amount of use

You might need circlip pliers with different heads for different jobs Consider how often you will use the circlip pliers and if you will be using them with many different circlips.

If you work with various sizes of circlip, but you won’t need to use your circlip pliers often, you may want to consider pliers with interchangeable heads or tips. These will not be as strong as fixed head circlip pliers, but will be cheaper than buying individual pliers for use with different circlips.

You can get sets of circlip pliers for use with different circlips For regular or professional use you may want to consider top quality circlip pliers, which have fixed heads, for extra strength.

You may also want to make sure that the handles are soft grip, as this will make them more comfortable to use over long periods of time.

If you will be using the pliers for different circlips, you may need to purchase a few different pairs, or you can buy a set which will contain a variety.

Wonkee Donkee Tools