No one ponders a pry bar (crow bar, pinch bar, etc.), at least blissfully. It’s a tool that gets zero recognition and little respect, yet it is actually incredibly useful. So useful that some folks (this writer included) have multiple versions in their tool collections.
The reality is, the number of uses for a prybar are almost endless. For example, you can use them for lining up sheet metal, moving, levering and aligning suspension components, removing fuel injectors, popping off dog dish hubcaps, popping out seals, removing pulleys and bearing races, tightening belts (fan and otherwise), removing radiator hoses, and splitting ball joints—that’s just the tip of the iceberg, too.
Technically speaking, a pry bar is a lever that allows you to apply a considerable amount of force between two objects. There are all sorts of different pry bars available. At the time of this article, SummitRacing.com has over 100 different examples listed. They come in a number of different shapes and sizes. Each type of bar has a different intended purpose, so it’s important to know which version fits your needs.
Here are a couple of different examples:
Flat pry bars are ideal for prying, scraping, and pulling. Many are designed to remove nails and other general woodworking duties, but they also have a purpose in an automotive shop. The heads are broad and have relatively thin, beveled edges. The head is typically a curved rocker configuration that allows for maximum prying power. For car peeps like us, that’s the big advantage.
Another form of flat pry bar resembles a large screwdriver, but they’re longer with a curved end. This type of pry bar is available in all sorts of different sizes and lengths. You’ll find it does what a screwdriver shouldn’t—it functions perfectly for prying (thanks to the rocker configuration on the end) and the chances of breaking the tip are often minimal.
Rolling head pry bars are used for countless tasks (aligning pieces with drilled holes come to mind immediately). But with a rolling head hook end, these bars deliver the leverage needed to pry objects apart effectively. These bars are extremely useful for levering parts in and out of place, and as expected, they’re available in many lengths and diameters.
There’s not that much to say about pry bars, but if you need brute force in your shop, they’re the go-to tool. But brute force and strength aren’t the only attributes. They’re also very capable when dealing with delicate tasks like lining up sheet metal, prying seals out of precision machined cavities, and so on.
As mentioned previously, SummitRacing.com is jammed with all sorts of examples. Check out the accompanying photos and captions for a closer look. They’re not expensive tools and everyone should have a few different examples in their tool collection. In the end, they get zero respect, but when you need a pry bar, you’ll be glad you had it!
Wayne Scraba is a diehard car guy and regular contributor to OnAllCylinders. He’s owned his own speed shop, built race cars, street rods, and custom motorcycles, and restored muscle cars. He’s authored five how-to books and written over 4,500 tech articles that have appeared in sixty different high performance automotive, motorcycle and aviation magazines worldwide.