A Torx bit (or Torx key, or Torx wrench) is a six-pointed star-shaped driver that is designed to deliver maximum torque without allowing slippage or cam-out. Torx screws and products are common in the automotive space and come in a variety of sizes and shapes. They are less common and more expensive than standard Phillips or flat head products, but Torx is a product any gearhead should know.
Stalling a job because you don’t have the proper tools for your specific engine can be a frustrating experience, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking at. You’ve seen Phillips head screws and likely own a Phillips head screwdriver or two, but what about Torx bits?
Torx wrenches are different from flathead or Phillips head screwdrivers, but what are they used for? Do they have advantages compared to a regular old screwdriver? Those are valid questions, but don’t fear. Car Bibles’ editors have turned a screw or two and are here to help you understand the basics.
What Is a Torx Wrench?
A Torx wrench is a trademarked name for a star-shaped screwdriver, owned by a company named Acument. Though the term Torx wrench is common, the Torx brand encompasses several products, from drivers and bits to the screws themselves. There are many names for this type of screw drive (a system used to turn a screw), including a star screwdriver, but the International Organization for Standardization dubbed it a hexalobular internal (ISO 10664).
Within the Torx product family, there are variations to accommodate more specialized applications. AudiTorx heads shear off when the proper torque has been achieved, which leads behind a tamperproof flat head. Torx Plus builds on the standard Torx with a drive angle that increases bit life by 100 percent.
Screws designed to work with Torx and generic wrenches are engineered to resist cam-out, which is when the driver slips out of the screw head, better than a Phillips or flat-head screwdriver. These screws are commonly used in automotive applications, as well as in computers, electronic devices, motorcycles, and more.
How Do Torx Wrenches Work?
Torx wrenches and generic stand-ins work by allowing the user to transmit more torque to the screw. The angles of the six-sided star in the screw head create more security and reduce the chance of cam-out. This can also prevent stripping or damaging of the screw head.
What’s the Difference Between Torx and Phillips?
A Torx wrench features a six-sided star-shaped driver head, and is designed specifically to prevent cam-out under heavy torque from the user. A Phillips head uses a four-sided driver head. Unlike Torx products, Phillips head drivers are designed to cam-out. Torx and related products are typically more expensive and may not be as widely available as traditional Phillips drivers.
Types of Torx Tools
We’ve been referring to Torx tools as wrenches and screwdrivers, but there are others.
Wrench or Key
A Torx wrench can take different shapes, but it is generally a sized Torx tip on a solid handle. The tip is usually turned at a 90-degree angle from the handle. This is not to be confused with a torque wrench, which is entirely different.
Just like drill bits, Torx bits are available in several sizes, and can be used in electric drills and hand tools with the proper receiver. The base of a Torx bit is hexagonal in shape, making it widely usable.
Torx screwdrivers look just like standard Phillips or flathead screwdrivers, with the exception being the tip. They, too, come in a variety of sizes to all users to find a secure fit.
Torx Products makes keys and fasteners that work within its ecosystem. This includes small allen wrench-like tools, plastic-handled keys, and even mini tools for small jobs.
Where Torx Screws Are Typically Found on an Automobile
The use of Torx screws varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. They are frequently used on exhaust systems and on some suspension components. They are popular with German manufacturers, such as BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. General Motors has even been known to use them to secure various seat and seat belt components. The headlight adjustment system on new vehicles is another spot frequented by Torx screws.
Should I Have a Set of Torx Screwdrivers or Bits?
It’s never a bad idea to be prepared, but it’s unlikely that you’ll need a Torx bit as much as you will need a Phillips head screwdriver or socket wrench in your everyday travels. A good solution to the entire screwdriver problem is to carry a screwdriver with interchangeable bits or to buy a set that includes all types of heads.
Car Bibles’ Glossary for Torx Wrenches
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Cam-out occurs when the twisting force being applied to the driver head overwhelms its ability to grip the screw head. When this happens, the driver head slides or twists its way out of the screw head, which can cause damage to the screw, the tool, or to the user’s knuckles.
Socket wrenches feature a ratcheting mechanism, which allows the user to turn the wrench in two directions. The socket term comes from the attachments to that ratcheting wrench, which are typically a hexagonal shape and come in many different sizes. Socket wrenches are different than Torx products, but there are adapters and kits to allow the use of Torx bits with socket wrenches.
ISO is the International Organization for Standardization. The group works in 165 countries and sets standards for everything from manufacturing to food quality to healthcare. As mentioned, the Torx head is covered under ISO 10664.
SAE is the Society of Automotive Engineers. The organization is based in the United States and works globally to set standards around transportation industries, automotive industries, and aerospace. Where sockets are measured in metric and SAE sizes, the same Torx series drives both.
The Car Bibles Questionnaire
Car Bibles answers all your burning questions!
Q: Can I swap Phillips screws for Torx?
A: Yes, you can, but you’ll spend more on the screws and more on the screwdriver to work with them. It’s also important to remember that, by moving to Torx, you’re limiting the number of tools that you can use.
Q: Can I loosen a Torx screw without a Torx driver?
A: In general, the answer here is yes, but it’s not the best idea. You might be able to slide by with a small flathead screwdriver or similar device, but you run the risk of damaging the screw head and making it even harder to remove.
Q: Are knockoff Torx wrenches any good?
A: They can be, but in many cases they are produced in no-name factories without the stringent quality controls that are placed on the brand-name product.
Q: What are the most popular Torx wrench sizes?
A: According to the company itself, the most popular sizes include Torx T10 Wrench or Key, Torx T15 Wrench or Key, and others.
Video on Torx Wrenches
Car Bibles’ Favorite Torx Related Products
If you’re not super familiar with Torx Wrenches and related products, it can be frustrating to determine which products will help you get through your project. That’s why Car Bibles’ editors have grabbed a few of their favorites to get you started. They include the Torx Bit Set, Mechanix Gloves, and Torege Safety Glasses.
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