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The following scenario may sound familiar. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t get that nut or bolt to break free. It’s frustrating and sometimes leads to injury when that wrench or socket slips off the end. A better option? Breaker bars allow you to employ much more force to a fastener using leverage. They’re purpose-built tools with one function: helping things break loose. This buying guide walks you through our top breaker bar picks for getting things unstuck.
Capri Tools Extended Leverage Breaker Bar
A 30-inch breaker bar with an external head for extra strength. Great choice for heavy-duty work. Body is chrome vanadium steel, while the head is chrome molybdenum for strength. It has a spring loaded ball.
The 30-inch bar length is rare for half-inch breaker bars. The external head provides extra strength over internal style. Head rotates 230 degrees.
The head may fall apart from vibration if left in a vehicle. Some users have snapped off the drive square.
GreatNeck BB18 1/2 Drive 18 Inch Breaker Bar
An 18-inch length breaker bar in chrome vanadium steel for strength. The bar has a knurled grip and is heat-treated with a lifetime warranty. Good choice if you’re on a budget.
The knurling on the handle ensures a good grip. Standard length fits in most toolboxes and into tight spaces. Lifetime warranty is a plus.
May be undersized for some applications. The chrome vanadium steel breaker bar may break or bend under a heavy load.
Neiko 1 2 breaker bar Drive Premium
The head only rotates 180 degrees, meaning it doesn’t have quite the range as its competitors to fit into tight spaces. Some users also report the head pin comes loose.
Best Breaker Bar Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- You need to know what size breaker bar you need for your application. If your bar is too long, you may snap the hardware before it has a chance to come loose.
- Go slowly. Apply pressure gradually to the breaker bar to avoid doing more damage than good. If you just grab a hold of the bar and yank, you’re likely to snap the head off the bolt.
- Use safety glasses. Metal under extreme pressures can be unpredictable. Gloves are recommended in case the breaker bar slips or suddenly break loose. You’ll be better off playing it safe if something goes wrong.
- Make sure to use only impact-rated sockets with your breaker bar. These are built for use with impact wrenches and meets or exceeds the torque pressure applied to them. Standard sockets are not built for the forces breaker bars can produce.
- Use a penetrating oil or lubricant on stuck hardware first before you use the breaker bar. You also need to let it soak in. Spray the offending bolt and wait a few minutes before you try to break it free.
Q: Is there more than one size of breaker bar?
A: Yes, aside from length choice, breaker bars have a drive size of ¼”,⅜”,½”,and 3⁄4”. The most common drive sizes are ⅜” and ½”.
Q: Do I need multiple-sized breaker bars?
A: No, you can purchase socket adapters that reduce from a ½” drive size to a smaller drive size, but be careful not to overpower the strength of the socket or hardware.
Q: Can I use a breaker bar in place of a ratchet?
A: You can, but ratchets are far more convenient. Breaker bars are meant to loosen a nut or bolt, not remove it. Most people switch to a ratchet once the nut or bolt is loose. A torque wrench is designed for tightening your bolt to a specific torque setting. While you can use it as a breaker bar, it isn’t as effective. A breaker bar is typically made from chrome vanadium steel which is a stronger steel construction than a ratchet. This makes it a stronger bar to use when forcing a bolt free.
Our top recommended breaker bar is the Capri Tools 1/2 Drive 30 inch Extended Leverage Breaker Bar. It’ll provide all the leverage you need to break your bolt free thanks to the chrome vanadium steel construction, spring loaded ball, and ideal length bar for breaking bolts free in tight spaces.
If you’re looking to save money on your breaker bar, the GreatNeck BB18 1/2 Drive 18 Inch Breaker Bar won’t break the bank but meets or exceeds your breaker bar expectations.
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