When it comes time to repair or adjust your car, you want to use the right tool for the job. Sometimes that means using a torque wrench to ensure you're applying the right amount of force. But what do you do when you don't have a torque wrench available? In a pinch, can you use a breaker bar as a substitute? Keep reading to find out.
Related: It's worth checking out these digital torque wrenches for motorcycles
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How does a torque wrench work?
A torque wrench is used to apply a specified torque to a fastener, such as a nut or a bolt. It is usually used to tighten or loosen bolts subject to high levels of stress. A torque wrench uses a calibrated spring-loaded mechanism to measure the force applied to the wrench. The wrench will automatically stop applying force when the desired torque is reached.
How does a breaker bar work?
A breaker bar is a long, heavy wrench to loosen stubborn bolts. It's called a breaker bar because it can easily break loose bolts frozen or corroded in place.
The breaker bar gets its power from its length and weight. The longer the bar, the more leverage you have and the more force you can apply to the bolt. The bar's weight also helps apply more force to the bolt.
Breaker bars come in different sizes, but they are all designed to provide extra leverage and force for loosening bolts. They are handy for removing stuck or rusted bolts and can also be used for tightening bolts.
Breaker Bar vs Torque Wrench: Know the differences
Many tools are essential for anyone who likes to work in their car. Two necessary tools are the breaker bar and the torque wrench. Both of these tools have their strengths and weaknesses. Here are eight differences between a breaker bar and a torque wrench:
- A breaker bar is much longer than a torque wrench. This makes it ideal for breaking loose stubborn bolts and nuts.
- A torque wrench is much more accurate than a breaker bar. This is because it has a calibrated dial that allows you to set the desired torque amount.
- Torque wrenches are available in both digital and analog versions. Breaker bars are only available in analog versions.
- Torque wrenches are typically more expensive than breaker bars.
- Breaker bars can be used with impact sockets, while torque wrenches cannot.
- Torque wrenches can tighten bolts and nuts to a specific torque setting. Breaker bars can only be used to loosen bolts and nuts.
- Torque wrenches are available in a variety of sizes. Breaker bars are only available in one size.
- Torque wrenches typically have a much extended warranty than breaker bars.
Can you use a torque wrench as a breaker bar?
A torque wrench is a tool used to apply a specific amount of torque to a fastener, while a breaker bar is a long, heavy-duty wrench used to provide leverage when loosening or tightening bolts and nuts.
Some people have tried using torque wrenches as breaker bars, but it's not recommended because you can easily strip the teeth from the drive gear on the torque wrench.
Related: Check out this article about how to use a digital torque wrench
Why should you never use a torque wrench as a breaker bar?
You should never use a torque wrench as a breaker bar for many reasons. Here are ten of the most important ones:
- A torque wrench is designed to apply a specific amount of torque to a fastener, while a breaker bar is designed to apply maximum force to break something loose.
- Torque wrenches are calibrated in either foot pounds or Newton meters. If you use a torque wrench as a breaker bar, you could easily exceed the maximum torque rating of the wrench, which could damage the tool and the fastener.
- Even if the torque wrench is strong enough to withstand the force you're applying, the fastener could still be damaged. This is because the force required to break a fastener loose can vary widely, and a torque wrench is not designed to apply variable force.
- If you're using a torque wrench as a breaker bar, there's a good chance you're not using the proper size tool for the job. This could lead to stripping the fastener or damaging the tool.
- Torque wrenches are designed to be used with sockets, while breaker bars are intended to be used with open-end or box-end wrenches. Using a torque wrench with the wrong socket type can damage the tool and the fastener.
- The handle on a torque wrench is usually much shorter than the handle on a breaker bar. This can make it difficult to apply enough force to break a fastener loose.
- Torque wrenches typically have a ratcheting mechanism that allows you to apply and remove torque quickly. This can be handy when applying torque to a fastener, but it's not so great when trying to break something loose. The ratcheting mechanism can make it difficult to apply enough force to break the fastener loose.
- Torque wrenches are designed to be used with one hand, while breaker bars are typically used with two hands. This means that if you're using a torque wrench as a breaker bar, you won't have as much leverage as you would if you were using a breaker bar.
- Torque wrenches are usually more expensive than breaker bars. So, if you use a torque wrench as a breaker bar and damage it, you'll have to replace the entire tool.
- Finally, and most importantly, using a torque wrench as a breaker bar is just plain dangerous. The force required to break a fastener loose can be significant, and if something goes wrong, you could easily injure yourself or others.
At the end of the day, torque wrenches and breaker bars are two different tools designed for two different purposes - using one as the other is just asking for trouble. So save yourself the headache and use the right tool for the job!
Related: Here are the top rated gunsmithing torque wrenches you may find useful
While a torque wrench can technically be used as a breaker bar, it's not the best option for the job. A breaker bar is designed to provide more leverage when loosening or tightening bolts and nuts. If you don't have a breaker bar, try using a pipe or crowbar instead. Remember, safety comes first when using tools! Have you tried using a torque wrench as a breaker bar? What tips do you have for others?