Reviews

LAST UPDATED: February 13, 2020

Best Breaker Bars: A Great Tool For Getting Things Unstuck

Increase your leverage and stay free with these top breaker bars

Entering our 7th season of /DRIVE on NBC Sports, and with millions of YouTube and Facebook followers, The Drive is a leading authority of all things automotive.

The Drive on NBCThe Drive on YouTubeThe Drive on Facebook

The Review Team

  • Product Network

    21 Products

  • Clock

    13 Hours

  • Reviews

    11 Reviews

How We Decided

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.Read more.

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 free. 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: helping things break loose. This buying guide will walk you through our top breaker bar picks for getting things unstuck.

  • Best Overall
    Capri Tools breaker bar 1 2 Drive 30 inch Extended Leverage
    Summary
    Summary

    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.

    Pros
    Pros

    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.

    Cons
    Cons

    The head may fall apart from vibration if left in a vehicle. Some users have snapped off the drive square.

  • Best Overall
    Capri Tools breaker bar 1 2 Drive 30 inch Extended Leverage
  • Best Value
    GreatNeck BB18 1/2 Drive 18 Inch Breaker Bar
    Summary
    Summary

    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.

    Pros
    Pros

    The knurling on the handle ensures a good grip. Standard length fits in most toolboxes and into tight spaces. Lifetime warranty is a plus.

    Cons
    Cons

    May be undersized for some applications. The chrome vanadium steel breaker bar may break or bend under a heavy load.

  • Best Value
    GreatNeck BB18 1/2 Drive 18 Inch Breaker Bar
  • Honorable Mention
    Neiko 1 2 breaker bar Drive Premium
    Summary
    Summary
    A meet-in-the-middle length bar made of chrome vanadium steel. 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.
    Pros
    Pros
    The external swivel head provides increased strength. It has a spring loaded ball for a secure socket hold. The 24-inch handle length provides good leverage with less risk of snapping hardware.
    Cons
    Cons

    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. 

  • Honorable Mention
    Neiko 1 2 breaker bar Drive Premium

    We’ve all been there. 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 the user to employ much more force to a fastener with the use of leverage. They’re purpose-built tools with one function: helping things break loose. This buying guide will walk you through our top breaker bar picks for getting things unstuck.

    Why Trust Us


    All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

    Learn more

    Tips

    • 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.

    FAQs

    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.

    Final Thoughts

    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.