What Exactly Is a Torque Wrench, and Why Is It Necessary To Have One?

Are you a car enthusiast looking to take your technical know-how to the next level? Or are you just getting into wrenching on cars and need to make sure you have all the right tools? If so, it is essential to understand what a torque wrench is and why it is indispensable for any vehicle repair job. Below, we will cover these topics in more detail, so keep reading.


What Is a Torque Wrench?

A torque wrench is an adjustable wrench used with various fasteners, such as nuts and bolts. Its purpose is to tighten bolts and screws to a specified degree of torque, essential for preventing damage to the bolt or screw and ensuring that the object is secured correctly. Without a torque wrench, screws and bolts could easily be over-tightened or under-tightened, leading to potential disaster.

How To Use a Torque Wrench 

Proper torque wrench use is essential to ensure that fasteners meet specified torque values. Follow these steps to use it correctly:

  1. Set the tension using an adjustable pointer. This setting must be exact and within the specifications of the project. Adjust the knob on the handle of the wrench to achieve this.
  2. Begin tightening bolts or screws. It’s better to use too little torque than too much. Please start at the low end and gradually increase it until you reach your desired level. Position the wrench correctly and observe the pressure applied during the process.
  3. After tightening, check that bolts or screws are secure by using a torque wrench to verify that the desired torque level is applied.
  4. Store your torque wrench properly to maintain its optimal working condition. Store it in a dry location, away from corrosive materials.

The Benefits of Using a Torque Wrench 

A torque wrench is a critical tool for working on machines and other tight assemblies. It is often undervalued, but it provides significant benefits to technicians. We’ve listed below just a few of the benefits it offers:

  1. Properly tightens fasteners: A calibrated torque wrench securely fastens components, ensuring that the force output of the tool is measured properly to prevent damage to structures and potential harm to technicians.
  2. Reduces time spent on bolting: You no longer need to guess the ideal level of tension for all those bolts. With a calibrated torque wrench, you can quickly tighten each bolt to the precise force needed, saving time and effort.
  3. Prevents over- or under-tightening: A torque wrench helps ensure that pieces are tightly secured without over- or under-tightening them, so the job is done correctly every time. Effective use of a torque wrench guarantees that all necessary nuts and bolts are up to the task at hand and won’t fail due to being improperly tightened. It eliminates guesswork from assembling machinery, guaranteeing accurate measurements for each fastener.
  4. Saves time for completing other tasks: Using a torque wrench takes the guesswork out of fastener tightening tasks due to its accuracy, increasing the likelihood of getting it right the first time. This saves time that can be used towards completing other tasks rather than double-checking fastener specs or returning for repairs.

When You Should Use a Torque Wrench 

You can use a torque wrench on any application requiring precise fastening, from automotive work to industrial assembly. Whether you’re a professional mechanic or a DIY enthusiast, you need a torque wrench for any job requiring precision and accuracy. Some examples of when you might need a torque wrench include:

  • Automotive: When working with your vehicle’s engine, brakes, or suspension, you must ensure that each nut and bolt is properly tightened, even when you change tires.
  • Industrial assembly: In production plants, workers often use a torque wrench to ensure that parts are properly secured and working correctly.
  • Household and DIY projects: If you’re tackling any home improvement project or assembling furniture, it’s important to make sure that each fastener is secure.

Different Types of Torque Wrenches 

Torque wrenches are essential tools used to tighten nuts and bolts with precise force. There are different types of torque wrenches, each designed to suit different needs. The most common types are:

  1. Beam-style torque wrench: This is the most basic type of torque wrench, with a pointer indicating the torque applied to a fastener. It has a beam and pointer showing a reading on a scale expressed in ft-lbs or Nm. It is accurate for maintaining an exact torque setting while rebuilding an engine or installing nuts and bolts on trucks or cars.
  2. Click-style torque wrench: This type of wrench is more precise than the beam style and features an audible click when the desired torque level has been reached. Click styles are great for experienced users or those with higher torques.
  3. Digital torque wrench: The most accurate option, this wrench allows you to program your desired force setting and provides feedback on the amount of torque applied, which can be displayed on its LCD screen. Digital torque wrenches are great for tight and precise fastening applications.
  4. Slip torque wrench: This wrench is commonly used in industrial applications because it quickly identifies if the target bolt is over or under-torqued. The slip feature is initiated when the predetermined torque value is exceeded; the handle will no longer turn, making it easy to tell if the desired torque has been applied. This style of torque wrench also features indicators for low and high-torque settings, which are quickly accessible with the flick of a switch.
  5. Hydraulic torque wrench: This is a unique tool designed to accurately measure and deliver the right amount of pressure needed when fastening or loosening nuts and bolts. It is operated by oil, which allows it to generate extreme amounts of torque while maintaining a relatively low weight and small size. This makes it ideal for use in tight spaces where conventional manual and electric models might not fit.

How To Maintain Your Torque Wrench

Maintaining your torque wrench is essential to ensure its accuracy and longevity. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Store the torque wrench in a clean, dry location.
  • Regularly check for signs of wear and tear, such as scratches or damaged surfaces.
  • Clean the tool regularly with an oil-free cloth to remove dust and debris.
  • Make sure the handle is free from rust or corrosion.
  • Check the calibration often using a certified test stand or gauge.
  • Apply thin lubrication to the internal parts of the wrench periodically to keep it functioning smoothly.
  • Avoid dropping or slamming your torque wrench, as this can cause internal damage.

Final Thoughts

A torque wrench is an essential tool for any mechanic or DIY enthusiast. It ensures that fasteners are neither over-tightened nor under-tightened. With the right knowledge of your torque wrench, you will be able to complete your project confidently, knowing that all fasteners are properly secure. Although torque wrenches may seem daunting at first, with practice, they are easy to use and provide a valuable service.

About the author, Laurence Perkins

Laurence Perkins is the passionate car enthusiast behind the blog My Auto Machine. With over a decade of experience in the automotive industry, Perkins has knowledge and experience with a wide range of car makes and models. His particular interests lie in performance and modification, and his blog covers these topics in-depth. In addition to his own blog, Perkins is a respected voice in the automotive community and writes for various automotive publications. His insights and opinions on cars are highly sought-after.