How Torque Wrenches Work and How to Use Them

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Tightening nuts and bolts is finer an art than some may think. So humanity has invented a number of tools to do it most properly. You probably know about more advanced types of wrenches to provide just the right torque, and – it’s true – using them provides much stabler results if you tighten these elements as you should. How do torque wrenches work, and how should you use them? Let’s take a look.

Torque Wrenches: The History and the Usage

The first wrenches that allowed for measuring the torque as you do the tightening appeared back in the 1920s. The first models of torque wrench had an extra beam that deflected and showed the value on the dial gauge. It was an extremely progressive tool for those days, and many industries quickly embraced it.

As cars and other personal transport and equipment got more popular, torque wrenches eliminated the need to trust professionals with this service. With your own torque wrench, you can tighten the nuts on your wheels easily. All it takes is a little knowledge of how this tool works and what you achieve with it.

Physical Basics of a Torque Wrench

To make a regular wrench a torque one, it should be equipped with a measuring tool that reacts when you apply the torque to a nut or a bolt. Modern hand torque wrenches have a more sophisticated system that is much easier to adjust and can notify you with a click when you reach the desired torque magnitude. The most popular are so-called clicker wrenches, which look like regular wrenches with some housing around. It hosts the mechanism that measures the torque magnitude and reacts with a click when it’s reached.

How to Use a Torque Wrench

With a clicker wrench, the algorithm is the following. First, you adjust the wrench to make it react at the desired torque magnitude:

  • Loosen the nut at the end of the handle to adjust.
  • Find the scale in the units you want to use.
  • Roll the handle until the zero mark reaches the value you need. If the number you want to set is not round, use its final digit as the mark instead of zero.
  • Tighten the tightener at the end of the handle back.
  • The value can be found in the manual for your car or whatever equipment or transport you apply the tool to. When it’s set up, apply it to the nuts or bolts you plan to tighten.
  • Keep tightening the nut until you hear the click.
  • When you hear it, loosen the nut a little bit until you hear the click again.
  • Proceed to the next nut.

Even if the exact magnitude value is not defined, you may guarantee that all the nuts and bolts are tightened equally. It makes your connections more stable and prevents deformations caused by uneven tightening.

The algorithm will differ with electronic torque wrenches, but it can be found in the manual. The most popular type of this tool is still mechanical clicker torque wrenches.

Tips on Using a Torque Wrench

Using the tool correctly is important, but so is its maintenance. Precision tools like this are essential because if you affect its fine calibration, you will have to recalibrate it yourself or bring it to the service, which will take time and money. To minimize this necessity, you need to do the following:

  • After use, loosen the tightener at the end of the handle and set the value to the lowest to avoid keeping the spring compressed. Yet it shouldn’t be the loosest, so after that, raise the value a b bit and tighten the knob again.
  • If you use it with extensions (which some don’t recommend), choose the thickest and the sturdiest ones, so the torque can still be measured more or less correctly.
  • Avoid dropping or throwing the tool. Mechanical impact inevitably leads to miscalibration. Even relatively weak impacts can damage it like one strong fall.
  • Keep the torque wrench in the case it came with (if there wasn’t one, find something compatible). This way, you keep it from getting rusty and prevent mechanical damage as well.
  • Even if you treat the tool perfectly carefully, recalibrate it at the service about once a year. Or do it yourself if you have mastered this skill.

Hope with these instructions, you’ll easily master the art of using a torque wrench. With it, your car will function better. If you have a question to ask or want to add something from your own experience, welcome to the comments section!

Sophie Turner
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