(Image/Wayne Scraba)

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.

Instead of a big screwdriver, use a dedicated pry bar (with a flat blade). You won’t end up with a broken screwdriver plus you get the advantage of the rocker configuration. (Image/Wayne Scraba)

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.

These rolling head pry bars have countless uses. You can buy them in a wide range of diameters and lengths. (Image/Wayne Scraba)

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.

Here’s one simple use for a rolling head pry bar: Tape the head to protect the painted surface of a wheel and use it to quickly and cleanly remove dog dish hubcaps. (Image/Wayne Scraba)

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!

This is a Milwaukee pry bar set (part number 48-22-9214). The pry bars feature all-metal cores for improved durability, come with a corrosion-resistant chrome finish, along with comfortable tri-lobe handles. The 8, 12, 18, and 24 inch pry bars included feature an I-beam design for up to 40 percent more prying strength. Each has a built-in hammer-ready strike cap to improve your leverage when working in tight locations. (Image/Summit Racing)
This is a Sunex Tools hook and point pry bar set (part number SXT-9804). These pry bars have rolling-hook heads along with a pointed end configuration. They’re made with chrome vanadium steel, finished in black oxide, and incorporate a machined, hardened tip. The bars are also offered individually in various lengths. (Image/Summit Racing)
This K Tool alignment bar (part number KTI-71631) is perfect for aligning bolt holes on mating surfaces. They’re also very useful for prying, particularly where you can’t engage a bar with a rolling hook end. (Image/Summit Racing)
Here’s an interesting bar: It’s a Steck flange lever pry bar (part number SKG-20037) designed to provide quick access to hard-to-reach damaged flange frames, door and hood edges, and other parts. The idea here is to use the tool to bring back components into proper edge alignment. According to Steck: “The design allows for multiple angles to gain hand clearance for flange and/or angled pulls, while using the body of the tool to provide maximum leverage for manipulating the damaged flange or edge panel.” (Image/Steck)
collection of blue gentle pry tools on the hood of a silver car
Prybars don’t have to be built from steel. There are places in a car where you need something gentle to the surface. These Gentle pry tool kits are designed just for that task. Gentle pry tool kits are glass-filled nylon pry tools. They are extremely strong but kind to all types of surfaces. They’re great for body trim and emblem removal, along with interior work. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
Here’s another specialized trim and interior tool set This is a 27 piece package from Cal-Van Tools. It’s manufactured from impact-resistant nylon, and the tools in the set are perfect for removing trim, fasteners, moldings, screw clips, upholstery, attachments, and other delicate components. (Image/Summit Racing)
This is an interesting tool. It’s an OTC Rolling Head Pry Bar. As you can see, it is configured as a 3/8 inch drive socket style attachment. Basically, you can use a ratchet or breaker bar for leverage. (Image/Summit Racing)

Summit Racing offers this four piece steel pry bar set (part number SUM-900454). Included in the set are four flat blade steel bars. One is a wrecking bar style while the others are more conventional examples. (Image/Summit Racing)

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Author: Wayne Scraba

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.