A torque wrench set is used to control torque, or circular force, when you’re tightening or removing nuts and bolts. There are actually many styles of torque wrenches available, from very simple types that don’t offer much precision to digital torque wrenches. These types of wrenches are mostly used on bicycles and by mechanics to loosen wheel lugs, although they have many other applications. So, how do you buy the kind of torque wrench set you need for the job? Here’s a look at the types of torque wrenches out there and what you need to look for.
Why Torque Wrenches are Important in Auto Applications?
All car manufacturers include a specific torque value in foot-pounds for just about every nut and bolt on a vehicle. It’s very important for all of these parts to be tightened within this range because they may spontaneously come loose while you’re driving if they aren’t tightened enough. If fasteners are put on too loose, gaskets can also begin to leak. A whole new set of problems occurs if fasteners are over tightened. This could cause parts to compress or become damaged. Threads may also strip so there is no clamping force left.
The right amount of torque is determined by many factors, including the metal alloy of the bolt, whether a gasket is in place, the length of the bolt and what the other parts are made from. The torque value listed in an owner’s manual will also account for friction between bolt threads.
Beam Torque Wrench
Beam style torque wrench have an attached scale that lets you view the amount of torque you’re applying. Beam torque wrenches are the most affordable of these hand tools, although they aren’t necessarily the most accurate. Beam type torque wrench only used as all-purpose torque wrenches and never when a very specific torque measurement is necessary. They’re also impossible to use in low-light or cramped conditions.
Click Torque Wrench
A click torque wrench, also known as a micrometer clicker, allows you to pre-set the right torque level. These hand tools will then make an audible clicking noise when the desired torque is reached. They’ll also automatically slip so you can’t accidentally over-tighten a nut. They’re most commonly used by mechanics, but they may also be used to tighten roof bolts or bicycle bolts. These wrenches are accurate, although you’ll need to take care of them by calibrating them annually. You should also take the time to set it to “0” before you put it away. As the most precise option, it’s not uncommon to find click torque wrench sets in a wide variety of sizes to handle any task.
Digital Torque Wrench
Digital torque wrenches are battery-operated and let you pre-set a level of torque and then regulate the amount of force you’re applying as you work. You can think of them as an advanced type of the regular beam torque wrench. Snap on digital torque wrench is one of the best options to go with if you are looking for a quick fix!
How to Choose a Torque Wrench:
Now that you understand the 3 types of torque wrenches are out there it’s time to choose the torque wrench that’s best for your intended use. Here are the 5 things to look for to narrow down your choices.
Consider your typical torque setting. Think about the scale of the jobs you’re usually performing and select a wrench that covers the usual specifications you’ll be dealing with. If you normally perform tasks that need 35 foot pounds of torque, you won’t be able to use a wrench that goes from 50 to 300 foot pounds.
Choose a wrench that works with your existing socket sets. If, for example, you typically use 1/2 inch drive sockets, you won’t want a torque wrench set that requires a 3/8 inch drive head.
Think about the conditions in which you work. If you’re going to be working in a garage or a cramped, dark environment, a click torque wrench will serve you better because it provides an audible tone when you reach the desired torque level.
Ideally, you want a torque wrench set that offers a dual scale with metric and SAE readings, although you’ll do fine if you at least select a wrench that offers a scale using the system you use most often at work.
Now, consider your budget to narrow down the list of torque wrenches available to you. Remember, these hand tools will last your whole life if you care for them properly so it can pay off to invest in a good set of torque wrenches, particularly if you use them for your job. On the other hand, you won’t need to spend a whole lot of money if you only expect to use these tools once or twice for a specific task.