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Every car owner has to have, at the very least, the basic tools needed to make quick fixes and maintenance checks on his vehicle. One of the more important tools you’ll need is the torque wrench. Unfortunately, not everyone who has ever owned a torque wrench knows everything about this invaluable precision hand tool. Well, that’s what we’re here for. The following are the 10 things you should know about your torque wrench.

Correct storage

Like any other tool, the torque wrench deserves the correct storage to help ensure its optimum functioning over time. If you’re not regularly using your torque wrench or you’re going to store it for a rather long period of time, it is imperative that you wind your torque wrench down to its minimum scale. However, do not ever put it in the zero level. This is to make sure you still have some level of spring compression, keeping the integrity of the spring. Not winding it down can also lead to the ‘setting’ of the spring. If you’re using it regularly, then there really is no need to wind it back.

Marked loading points

Torque wrenches come in various lengths and each one has a loading point that is marked on its handle. The function of this loading point is to allow for the maximum application of torque with minimal effort on your part. In simplest terms, you should hold the torque wrench with your hand centered on the marked loading point. The load point is also an important consideration when calibrating the hand tool.

One-click operation

Most users have this thinking that the more clicks a torque wrench produces, the better it is in its function – tightening bolts. Unfortunately, what you don’t know is that one click is enough to ensure the correct application of torque on the bolt. Any additional click will also increase the amount of torque applied which can have significant implications in your on-going project. The trick therefore is to use your torque wrench in a steady and smooth manner.

Locking the torque wrench

Most torque wrenches come with a safety lock mechanism that allows it to be locked in a specific torque setting. This is important since the settings in this type of hand tool can be easily changed by accident. So instead of applying a predetermined torque force, you are now applying an entirely different force. Again this can have significant implications on your ongoing activity.

Using in a counterclockwise thread

A good number of torque wrench users think that they can easily use their hand tools in threads that have a counterclockwise orientation. Sadly, fitting a clockwise-only torque wrench in a counterclockwise thread can lead to a loss of torque control. It is thus imperative for you to double-check the specifications of your torque wrench. If it is a clockwise-only tool then you should use another tool to manage the counterclockwise thread. However, if your unit comes with controls for both directions, then you should make sure to turn your wrench into the right setting.

Converting between different torque units

Know that torque units of measurement can include pound-force-feet, ounce-force-inches, foot-pounds-force, meter-kilograms-force, and inch-pounds-force as well as the more universal SI measurement of Newton meter or Nm. That being said, depending on the specifications of the project you’re currently working on, it is crucial to get the most accurate conversion across various units of measurements. You can do this manually or you can use torque unit converter apps available on both Android and iOS platforms.

Making torque adjustments

Different OEMs require a specific level of torque. It is important to heed these specifications and adjust your torque settings accordingly. Applying the wrong torque can lead to increased wear in nuts and bolts which can ultimately lead to their failure. And if you’re on the highway at high speeds, a loose bolt or nut can have disastrous, often fatal consequences. As such it is imperative that you adjust your torque wrench settings to the level specified by the equipment manufacturer.

Loosening bolts

A wrench is a wrench; hence it can be used both for fastening and for loosening bolts and nuts and other similar hardware. This is the logic shared by many torque wrench users. Regrettably, it is not as simple as that. While torque wrenches can be used for undoing, care must be taken not to apply more torque than the wrench’s maximum torque. If you do so you’re technically turning a perfectly good torque wrench into something less useful. If the hardware cannot be loosened with the application of the maximum torque of the wrench then another loosening tools should be used. Loosening hardware beyond the maximum capacity of a torque wrench can adversely affect its accuracy, thus rendering it almost useless in future projects.

Extending the handle

Most of our hand tools can be made a lot easier to operate by extending the handle. For instance, removing the bolts on our tires can be made so much easier if a longer tube is connected over the handle of the tire wrench. Unfortunately, you cannot do this on a torque wrench because doing so will inadvertently damage the highly-sensitive precision settings of the tool.

Crows foot type of fittings

If you have to apply one of those crows foot types of fittings onto your torque wrench’s square drive, it is crucial to apply a suitable offset setting. Failure to make the necessary adjustments can significantly alter the torque which can lead to improperly-fitted hardware. There are a variety of mobile apps on iOS and Android that allow you to easily compute for the offsets necessary for each extension applied to a torque wrench.

set of tools

Your torque wrench is a very important tool in ensuring that all related hardware like bolts and nuts are fastened securely, ensuring overall safety in the process. By adhering to these 10 tips, you can now optimize your use of this all-important hand tool.

Sources:

  1. Torque wrench – Wikipedia
  2. What’s the best type of torque wrench to use for headlights? – howstuffworks

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