How to Use Retaining Ring Pliers

Jeremiah Blanchard

A retaining ring, otherwise referred to as a circlip, (combination of circle and clip) is used to fasten or retain pinned connections. These retaining rings are typically set into place using a corresponding set of retaining ring pliers.

Retaining ring pliers operate much like ordinary pliers except for the fact that the plier tips are made to fit into specific dimensions. Different size retaining rings require different size retaining ring pliers for installation.

  1. Gauge the size of the holes in the retaining ring. Match up the holes with the largest plier tip that will fit.

  2. Insert the plier tips into the retaining ring holes without squeezing the plier handles.

  3. Squeeze the plier handles until the retaining ring is loosened from its position, or flexed enough to install. Always use the minimum amount of pressure necessary to install or remove the retaining rings.

  4. Tip

    Loosen retaining rings with a small punch or remove any dirt or corrosion using a solvent to aid in ease of retaining ring removal.


    Never use the retaining ring pliers for anything other than the intended purpose. Do not use more pressure than necessary to remove or install retaining rings. This can cause injury if the ring breaks or pops forward.