How To Use A Torque Wrench: Your Ultimate Guide

Torque, it’s what gets the job done

A torque wrench.
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Hundreds of nuts and bolts hold your car together, and many of those bolts have precise torque settings. Wrenching these sensitive parts beyond their specifications, could spell doom, and for this reason, torque wrenches exist.

Torque wrenches are designed to take the guesswork out of torquing down nuts and bolts and to prevent having to retap snapped bolts from deep within the engine. They’re staples of every mechanic’s bay and Garage God DIYer. However, despite their supreme importance, some remain clueless as to how to use one.

Never fear, as The Drive’s crack informational team is here to help! Follow along as we show you exactly how to use a torque wrench.

Let’s torque this place up!

A set of torque wrenches.
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A set of torque wrenches. 

What Is a Torque Wrench

A torque wrench is a specialized tool similar to a socket wrench that allows the user to specify a torque rating which the tool then assists in not going over it. This ensures that your bolts and nuts are correctly tightened, while not over-tightening.

Click-type torque wrench.
Depositphotos

A torque wrench.

What Are The Different Types of Torque Wrench?

There are three types of torque wrench, here’s how they differ.

Pressure-Displayed

Pressure-displayed torque wrenches resemble a socket wrench and feature a head with driver, a long shaft, and a handle. At the head, there’s a pressure-based analog display that tells you want pressure you’re at.

Click-Type

Click-type torque wrenches resemble socket wrenches and feature a head with the driver, a long shaft, and a handle that you rotate to obtain the specified torque setting.

Digital

A digital torque wrench, again, resembles a socket wrench but features a digital display along the shaft that you use to input the specified torque setting. They also feature backlit displays, chimes and vibrations for when you get close to your torque setting and are battery-powered.

Torque Wrench Safety

Working with a torque wrench isn’t too dangerous, but it’s best to take precautions like wearing mechanic’s gloves so you don’t bust your knuckles—you should see the author’s. Here’s how you can safely use a torque wrench and not get maimed or lose a finger—hopefully.

A click-type torque wrench.
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A click-type torque wrench.

Here’s How to Use a Torque Wrench

Let’s do this!

  1. Take out your torque wrench and required socket.
  2. Find the bolt’s specific required torque.
  3. If you’re using a click-type torque wrench, set the specified torque setting by rotating the handle. If you’re using a digital torque wrench, input the specified torque setting through the display.
  4. Attach the socket head to the bolt.
  5. Torque the bolt to the specified torque.

You’re done! Wasn’t that easy?

A man holds a torque wrench.
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You've done it! You've used a torque wrench!

Torque Wrench FAQs

You’ve got questions, The Drive’s informational team has answers!

Is It Worth Buying a Torque Wrench?

Yes. There are a multitude of nuts and bolts that require very specific torque settings. If you overtighten any of these, their structural integrity may be compromised. A torque wrench ensures that everything is up to manufacturer-specific specifications.

How Much Does a Torque Wrench Cost?

The cost of a torque wrench will vary on the manufacturer, whether or not you get a digital torque wrench, and size. Standard torque wrenches cost between $40-$80, while larger torque wrenches can cost upwards of $150-$300. Digital torque wrenches can cost between $70-$150.

Where Can I Buy a Torque Wrench?

Because torque wrenches are such useful tools, you can pretty much buy them anywhere tools and hardware are sold, including Amazon, Home Depot, Northern Tool, or Walmart.

Are Digital Torque Wrenches More Accurate?

Realistically, they aren’t. The allure of a digital torque wrench is that it has a few more bells and whistles compared to a click-type torque wrench. It will feature a backlit screen for low-light situations, warning chimes for when you get close to your prescribed torque, and a display with digital adjustment so you can easily change the torque on the fly.

How Should I Store a Torque Wrench?

You can store a standard click-type torque wrench with your normal tools. If you have a digital torque wrench, however, you’ll have to store it in the case that it comes with as it’s a more delicate instrument that can be affected by cold and heat.