Best Breaker Bars: A Great Tool For Getting Things Unstuck
Increase your leverage and stay loose with these top breaker bars
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PUBLISHED ON February 13, 2020
We’ve all been there. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t get that nut or bolt to break loose. It’s frustrating and sometimes leads to injury when that wrench or socket slips off the end. A better option? Breaker bars allow the user to employ much more force to a fastener with the use of leverage. They’re purpose-built tools with one function: breaking things loose. This buying guide will walk you through our top picks for getting things unstuck.
- Best OverallCapri Tools 1/2 Drive 30 inch Extended Leverage Breaker BarSummarySummary
A 30-inch breaker bar with an external head for extra strength. A great choice for heavy-duty work. The body is chrome vanadium, while the head is chrome molybdenum for strength.ProsPros
The 30-inch length is rare for half-inch breaker bars. The external head provides extra strength over internal style. The head rotates 230 degrees.ConsCons
The head may fall apart from vibration if left in a vehicle. Some users have snapped off the drive square.
- Best ValueGreatNeck BB18 1/2 Drive 18 Inch Breaker BarSummarySummary
An 18-inch breaker bar in chrome vanadium for strength. The bar has a knurled grip and is heat-treated with a lifetime warranty. Good choice if you’re on a budget.ProsPros
The knurling on the handle ensures a good grip. Standard length fits in most toolboxes. Lifetime warranty is a plus.ConsCons
May be undersized for some applications. The bar may break or bend under a heavy load.
- Honorable MentionNeiko 1/2 Inch Drive Premium Breaker BarSummarySummaryA meet-in-the-middle length bar. This bar has an external head. It features forged and heat-treated chromoly for increased strength and durability. It’s a great bar for all-around work.ProsProsThe external head provides increased strength. The 24-inch handle provides good leverage with less risk of snapping hardware.ConsCons
The head only rotates 180 degrees, meaning it doesn’t have quite the range as its competitors. Some users also report the head pin comes loose.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
- 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 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 bar slips or suddenly comes loose. You’ll be better off playing it safe if something goes wrong.
- Make sure to use only impact-rated sockets. These are built for use with impact wrenches and are built to handle torque. Standard sockets are not built for the forces breaker bars can produce.
- Use a penetrating oil or lubricant on stuck hardware first. You also need to let it soak in. Spray the offending bolt and wait a few minutes before you try to break it loose.
Q: Is there more than one size of breaker bar?
A: Yes, aside from different lengths, breaker bars come in ¼”,⅜”,½”, and 3⁄4” drive sizes. The most common are ⅜” and ½” drives.
Q: Do I need multiple-sized breaker bars?
A: No, you can purchase socket adapters that reduce from a ½” drive to a smaller drive, 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.
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.
If you’re looking to save money, the GreatNeck BB18 1/2 Drive 18 Inch Breaker Bar won’t break the bank but will break the bolt loose.