How to Use a Torque Wrench

If you are looking towards saving time and money to some extent, make sure one of the tools in your toolbox is a torque wrench. This is a versatile tool that has proved beyond doubt that it can come in handy at the most unexpected of times. It is an investment that appreciates because you will not have to make those many random visits to the mechanic’s. That nut you feel is loose does not necessarily need a professional to fix it. It only needs a torque wrench and a little energy from you and you will be good to go.

A torque wrench is a hand-held gadget used to tighten fasteners like nuts and bolts. It is specially designed to tighten the fasteners up to a certain level without overtightening them. Overtightened fasteners gets them damaged but this gadget has the ability to detect when a nut or bolt is tightened to the right level. It can be used in cars and bikes as well. Before you use a torque wrench, consider the following:

Modify the settings

The reason why you need to use a torque wrench to fasten your nuts and bolts is because it can never overtighten your fasteners, unless it is faulty. It has settings that make it possible to fasten to the right level. But before you use it, you are obligated to modify the settings to your preference. At the end of the torque wrench, usually at the handle, you will find a metal cap that is of a different color. That is what you use to adjust the settings of your tool. Twist it anti-clockwise in order to change the settings. As you twist it, it loosens up but it helps you identify the torque measurements. A torque is simply the force you apply on a fastener to tighten it.

After loosening the handle, you will be faced with the measurements in digits. A torque is measured either is foot-pounds or meter-kilograms. The digits appear in large and small units; the larger units represent meter-kilogram while the smaller units represent foot-pounds. This gives you the opportunity to adjust your wrench using units that you understand better. To adjust the setting, use your other hand to turn the torque wrench in a clockwise motion to raise the numbers or anti-clockwise to reduce it and stop only when you reach the preferred mark.

You can then twist the dial on the handle to make finer adjustments. This dial has smaller numbers and you will add it to the number you got when you twisted the torque wrench as explained above. The number you get will be your total torque.

NOTE: Some torque wrenches do not twist to adjust, they actually move up and down, so instead of twisting you will have to move it up and down.

Tighten your fasteners

Once you adjust your wrench and have determined your total torque, it is now time to tighten your fasteners. Fasteners have sockets that match them, that have to be connected to the torque wrench before tightening happens. Find the sockets that match the nut or bolt you want to fasten and fix it to the head of the torque wrench. Before you apply any pressure to the nut or bolt you want to fasten, first turn the fastener by hand until it can turn no more, then use your torque wrench to exert further pressure until it is tightened. Torque wrenches exert too much pressure that is why you have to use your hand initially to ensure the threading of the nut catches the screw well; only then can you use a torque wrench.

Now with the socket you fixed on the torque wrench, put it over the nut or bolt you just fastened by hand and ensure it fits perfectly before you start twisting your gadget to tighten the fasteners. The hand that exerts the pressure on the fasteners should be on the handle of the torque wrench for it to work efficiently.  Keep tightening the bolt until you hear a click sound then stop. That means you have reached the maximum level of torque you had set earlier. Repeat the same process on all the other bolts and nuts on your car or bicycle.

Maintenance of your torque wrench

Above all else, practice regular maintenance on your torque wrench for it to serve you for longer. Always set the torque wrench measurements back to zero once you are done using it. Failure to do so will mess up the calibration of your gadget.

Make sure you clean dust, rust or lubricant off your bolts before you tighten them. Using your wrench on a dirty bolt causes damage to it and leads to loss of grip very fast. Also, calibrate your torque wrench once a year. Calibration quantifies your equipment and controls any errors or uncertainties on the measurements. You can ask a professional mechanic or calibrator to perform this exercise for you.

Is a torque wrench really necessary?

This is a frequently asked question and the answer is yes. Some people consider it a luxury, but just like the items in a first-aid box are all necessary, a torque wrench is also a necessary item in your toolbox. Usually, it comes in handy when you least expect it. Assume you have a loose nut or bolt, but you cannot see any garage in sight or your mechanic is not picking up their phone. This is where you appreciate the investment you made on this gadget.

The beauty of it is also that, it is not only used by professionals but anyone can use it. All you have to do is set it up to the required torque measurements and fasten away your nuts and bolts. Owning a torque wrench is therefore not a waste of resources.

There are different types of torque wrenches but when you want to buy one, ensure you go for quality over everything. A quality torque wrench will serve you for a very long time, as long as you maintain it well. It is a tool that comes in handy and should never miss inside the tool box that you keep in the trunk of your car. You do not have to rush to the mechanic’s or call one to come over to where you are because a torque wrench can fix certain car problems.

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