Torque wrenches may seem like a luxury, but if you spend any time working with spark plugs, tires, or even your own lawn equipment, you might look into purchasing one. Many of us have the tendency to over-tighten everything we put a wrench to, and we can easily strip threads, break bolts, warp rotors, and just generally damage our equipment without really trying too hard. But, it doesn’t have to be this way, and a torque wrench will be your best friend when you don’t know your own strength. So, if you’re looking for some information on how to use a torque wrench, we’ve got all the hot tips here.
Choose A Type
First, you’ll need to settle on a style. Four main styles exist: clicker types, bending beams, dual beam wrenches, and digital. For those of you working mostly on DIY projects, you’ll probably stick with either of the first two styles. The truth is that either one of these types will probably cover all of your bases without the added expense of the more Pro-level dual beam and digital wrenches. If you plan on using a torque wrench for more Pro type applications, you might spring for the higher quality.
How To Use A Torque Wrench
Once you’ve got your preferred style in hand, you’ll want to get a hold of manufacturer settings for what you need to tighten down. Since tightening down lugnuts will likely be an application that a torque wrench will see a lot of use in, we’ll take a look at that.
With your car jacked up just enough to still allow the tire to touch the ground, you’ll want to hand-spin all your lugnuts onto their posts. Then, you’ll set the torque on your torque wrench to half the recommended torque. With the click style torque wrench, this will be as simple as twisting the handle to the desired marking.
You’ll definitely want to avoid coating your lugnut studs with grease, or lube, or anything else, as this could compromise the integrity of your torque settings.
Working in sequence, you’ll tighten your lugnuts down to that aforementioned half-torque. When that’s finished, you’ll lower your car completely down. Then, you’ll adjust the torque settings on your torque wrench to the full measure of the manufacturer’s torque settings. Hit all of your lugnuts in sequence again.
Taking Care of Your Torque Wrench
By taking care of your torque wrench, you can extend the time that it stays perfectly calibrated.
Before using your torque wrench, you should clean off any dirt or rust from the threads you plan to tighten onto. Again, you should avoid applying any lubrication.
At the risk of belaboring a previous point, you’ll want to always tighten fasteners in two steps: first to half the amount of torque you need, then to full torque.
After use, you should always dial the wrench back to zero. This should help keep your torque wrench calibrated.
You should avoid dropping your torque wrench, as the impact from hitting the floor will knock the torque wrench out of calibration. After all, this is a sensitive piece of equipment.
That said, it should logically follow that you don’t use your torque wrench as a breaker bar. This will damage the torque mechanism, ensuring that you turn your equipment into an expensive paperweight. While most torque wrenches can be recalibrated, you’ll probably prefer to avoid that chore if you can help it.