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Views: 1,135  ·  Replies: 17 
> Noob Torque Wrench Questions, +Impact Wrench
avraell
Posted: Jun 5 2010, 03:21 PM


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So, I finally decided to invest in a torque wrench since I am trying to go from noob to amateur. I have read online, but I am still failing to see the distinction, so tell me if this is right:

Torque Wrench - just like a normal wrench, except it measures the torque you have applied?

Impact Wrench - compressed air/electrical etc that's used to apply more force than otherwise possible. My question here is whether or not these are effectively a torque wrench where you can set the torque and it will tighten the bolt to that torque for you?

Also, if I have everything right, can you guys recommend a good electrical (I dont want to get a compressor) impact wrench please? I don't need the best one out there, but I want something of decent quality - not sure how else to phrase it. Thanks in advance!
Bubs
Posted: Jun 5 2010, 03:48 PM


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You can get a few different types of torque wrenches.

Beam type
This has a calibrated scale, with essentially a "gauge" to show you how much torque you are applying. The upsides are that it is very simple, and not as likely to break. The downside is that you have to read the scale whilst torquing the bolt. A beam type does not ratchet like a normal socket wrench.

Micrometer type (click)
These come in two main varieties. One has a gauge on the face of the torque wrench, which shows you the torque you have selected. The other has a scale on the side, and you actually twist the bottom of the wrench to set the torque. Both of these click when the desired torque is achieved. The advantage is the audible click, the disadvantage is the complexity, issues with calibration and the higher likelihood of malfunction. You always want to set a micrometer type back to the minimum torque setting when not in use, because not doing so can damage the internal parts.

The main types of torque wrenches include ones that are set in inch pounds and foot pounds. These generally also have a separate scale for newton meters (nm), but most people I know focus on foot pounds and inch pounds. If you are doing a variety of work and don't want to do the math to convert, get one of each. If you're mainly going to be using it to torque lug nuts, one that goes from 0-200 ft/lb should suffice.

Also, it's important to make sure that you know what size you want. Most inch/lb torque wrenches are 1/4'' drive or 3/8'' drive, while the majority of ft/lb torque wrenches are 1/2'' drive, although you can get any type you want. Again, just torquing lug nuts means you probably want a 1/2'' drive, since that's what your impact sockets are generally going to be.

You can also get a torque wrench that can be set electronically but I don't really feel like discussing those.

Impact guns:

Unless you have no air compressor, an air impact wrench is the way to go. This isn't saying that electric ones don't have their advantages, though. You can't set torque with one (unless someone can correct me on that one), although they do make torque limiting adapters for them ("torque sticks"), but I don't recommend them. I prefer to use impact guns for loosening and initial tightening, and then I use the torque wrench to make sure all of the nuts/bolts are tightened equally. Not doing so on wheels could result in warped rotors or worse. Not torquing bolts properly on an engine can result in this.

Torque sticks have a square drive to attach to an impact gun. The other end is either a square drive to attach a socket, or it will be a six-point head to turn the nut. They limit the torque applied by an impact gun to a pre-determined amount, although in my experience they are not very accurate or reliable. I don't care for them myself.

I'll have to let someone else help you with finding an electric impact. I know one guy with a Snap-On 3/8'' drive electric that works pretty well, but that's about all I know.
sideways
Posted: Jun 5 2010, 05:33 PM


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Bubs beat me to it- Its amusing to me how well youve become with a wrench. Have to agree with damn near everything you said. Will say however that I dont mind torque sticks, granted I only used them for lugs and nothing else. Mine were consistant within about 5-10 pounds give or take, plenty accurate for a lug. Ive lost count of how many viper rims ive attached this way, only double checking them with a torque stick on special occasions (ie someone we know is going to be entering the silver state challenge and will be seeing speeds of 200 mph- each and EVERY time was in vain, but in that case id rather be safe than sorry). The trick to torque sticks is adjusting your gun properly, theres more to it than just "I wont allow more than x amount of torque". You need to test/tune with your psi and airgun setting a smidge to get spot-on results.
avraell
Posted: Jun 5 2010, 05:52 PM


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Thanks bubs - that really clarifies it way more than I could find online, tried reading wikipedia and such, but either I am slow or it wasn't explaining it very well. I think I am going to get a beam type just to keep it simple. I actually need these for replacing axles on my passat, and I have to use jackstands (so no room for long lever), which is why I was hoping an impact wrench could do the tightening for me, but the whole tightening them in order kind of kills that idea anyway.

@sideways: Any specific brand of torque sticks you use, or are they all kind of the same?

Bubs
Posted: Jun 5 2010, 06:13 PM


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The real downside to the beam type, however, is that you aren't as likely to get an exact equal torque on each bolt, plus the fact that it's not going to work as well in tight spaces since you need to watch the gauge as you apply torque. With a micrometer type, you just set it and listen for the click on each bolt.
Spaz
Posted: Jun 5 2010, 07:39 PM


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I just hit the axle nuts on my old Talon with an air impact when I did the wheel bearings last fall. Cranked them all the way down with it and called it good. Never had any issues with them coming off or destroying the bearings. If it's a sealed bearing assembly (you'll have to excuse me for not knowing, I don't deal with too many VWs at work) you can probably just get away with the same.

My rule of thumb with the lugs has always been "tight enough". Effectively, as tight as I could get them with one hand on my 1ft breaker bar, then a could hard pushes with my weight behind them (and I'm a scrawny guy). Never had them back off on me with that, including hard autox driving as well as daily flogging.

You'll learn over time that on most cars, for daily use, you don't have to worry about getting things exact on the external-type stuff like lugs and suspension components, just close enough is good (close but over is generally better since that stuff shouldn't deform easily). Engines are a different story, where everything does need to be perfect. You just need to learn what levels of error/guesstimation are acceptable vs inadequate, and that's not something you learn overnight.

Starting out by trying to be exact is good, don't get me wrong, but in the end it's something you're going to start throwing out the window in the future as you learn more about replacing all of those non-standard maintenance wearable components (and start getting tired of doing it). Plus, I probably shouldn't be supporting half-assing this stuff anyway laugh.gif

And you can totally get a long lever on an axle nut, you just have to turn and lock the steering wheel. wink2.gif I'm assuming you know how to get the axles out beyond that nut?
Möbius
Posted: Jun 6 2010, 02:24 AM


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Yeah, nothing to add to Bubs' post, that pretty much says it all.

I would advocate towards getting a 3/8" drive and a 1/2" drive torque wrench if you are halfway serious about starting to wrench on your car. For a shadetree mechanic, it's pretty much a lifetime investment. cool.gif

Although I did crank my axle nuts on with a breaker bar ( sealed bearings for me as well ). But one foot hardly counts as a breaker bar. tongue.gif

Lugs I do put on with a torque wrench, I don't want to wreck my rims.
avraell
Posted: Jun 6 2010, 06:54 AM


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Got it, last question - are autozone, napa, etc decent places to get these wrenches or do I need to go somewhere specific online and look for a specific brand?

QUOTE
I'm assuming you know how to get the axles out beyond that nut?


Yea, I think I should be good - I am always more worried about lifting the damn passat than anything else, jack points are horrible - I thought it was the norm until I started driving an Integra. Speaking of which, I was out of the state for a month and I asked my family to drive it once in a while, but noooo, so either it's just the disks rusted so bad it's clicking or I might have to do the calipers too. This never ends, which is why I am trying to learn stuff. smile.gif

QUOTE
Lugs I do put on with a torque wrench, I don't want to wreck my rims.


I have always done breaker bar with the same angle turn on each bolt, seemed to work out fine, but if I get a torque wrench, might have to start doing that.


This post has been edited by avraell on Jun 6 2010, 06:57 AM
Bubs
Posted: Jun 6 2010, 10:17 AM


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If you are going to pick up a torque wrench, you can buy a cheap one that will probably break pretty quickly, or you can spend a bit more and get one from a real tool company that offers a lifetime warranty. Snap-On is going to be astronomically expensive, but their tools are literally "for life" and they have a lifetime warranty. Whatever you do, don't buy some nameless Chinese-made torque wrench.
Möbius
Posted: Jun 6 2010, 11:43 AM


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QUOTE (Bubs @ 1 hour, 25 minutes ago)
If you are going to pick up a torque wrench, you can buy a cheap one that will probably break pretty quickly, or you can spend a bit more and get one from a real tool company that offers a lifetime warranty. Snap-On is going to be astronomically expensive, but their tools are literally "for life" and they have a lifetime warranty. Whatever you do, don't buy some nameless Chinese-made torque wrench.

Most of the time, you don't get what you pay for with Snap-On.

If you can get a Mac Tools one locally, that's pro grade too, otherwise, go for something like Craftsman or Husky ( I know you guys don't have Mastercraft over there ), those are good enough for the home user, and have lifetime warranties as well.

Disclaimer : I have nothing against Snap On, I just can't recommend purchase of their tools for someone who is going to be using them very rarely.
MetalMan777
Posted: Jun 6 2010, 01:25 PM


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Craftsman used to be a lot better than they are now. I think they have a cheap hand tool line and they might still have the ones guaranteed for life. Those are good, if you can get one of those, it'll cost a decent amount, but oh so worth it in the long run.
Möbius
Posted: Jun 6 2010, 01:32 PM


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QUOTE (Cactus @ 6 minutes, 50 seconds ago)
Craftsman used to be a lot better than they are now. I think they have a cheap hand tool line and they might still have the ones guaranteed for life. Those are good, if you can get one of those, it'll cost a decent amount, but oh so worth it in the long run.

Even their cheap stuff is better than say, Harbor Freight stuff. laugh.gif
Bubs
Posted: Jun 6 2010, 01:40 PM


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QUOTE (Apex Carver @ 1 hour, 57 minutes ago)
Disclaimer : I have nothing against Snap On, I just can't recommend purchase of their tools for someone who is going to be using them very rarely.

Yeah, I agree. Snap-On tools are generally good quality, however they are so expensive that they are cost prohibitive for anyone other than a professional technician. The only reason I have Snap-On tools is because I get them for half price (or less) as an automotive student at my college.

Craftsman and Mac Tools are great choices. I've also heard of Mastercraft. Like Apex Carver said, they have lifetime warranties like Snap-On, but the tools are much more affordable. Like I said, just make sure the torque wrench you buy has a reputable name on it and you should be safe. wink2.gif
Möbius
Posted: Jun 6 2010, 03:43 PM


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QUOTE (Bubs @ 2 hours, 3 minutes ago)
Yeah, I agree. Snap-On tools are generally good quality, however they are so expensive that they are cost prohibitive for anyone other than a professional technician. The only reason I have Snap-On tools is because I get them for half price (or less) as an automotive student at my college.

Craftsman and Mac Tools are great choices. I've also heard of Mastercraft. Like Apex Carver said, they have lifetime warranties like Snap-On, but the tools are much more affordable. Like I said, just make sure the torque wrench you buy has a reputable name on it and you should be safe. wink2.gif

Is that discount on their entire lineup?

I might ask you to buy something... tongue.gif
Bubs
Posted: Jun 6 2010, 04:13 PM


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QUOTE (Apex Carver @ 29 minutes, 8 seconds ago)
Is that discount on their entire lineup?

I might ask you to buy something... tongue.gif

It's on just about everything, far as I'm aware. Generally the discount is 50%. However, it obviously doesn't count on those gigantic $20,000 tool boxes. tongue.gif
sideways
Posted: Jun 6 2010, 04:47 PM


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What I will and wont buy quality wise varies a LOT on what kind of tool it is and what kind of use it is.

I litteraly have a 25 dollar socket set from walmart hat has like 144 some pieces. It contains 1/4 3/8 and 1/2 drive sockets and socket wrenches. The sizes vary from 8 (maybe smaller, dont use smaller than that often) up to 19, and equivilant in american sizes. All of which are 6 point as well. Over the past few years i think ive snapped a 10, but i knew ahead of time i shouldnt have been torquing that hard on the thing (Rusty bolt) in the first place. Is the quality good? Uhhh, no. But its handled 99%+ of what Ive needed it to.

Im also rocking out on a 15 dollar set of harbor freight wrenches (from 4 to 32, good for dental work) and have had 0 problems in the couple years ive had them- and while I dont do as much wrenching as say floh, I like to think theyve seen their fair bit of use. Ive even got some 10 dollar ratcheting box wrenches from target (8 to 19 i believe, or around there).

Now on the other end of this ive a 4 piece flare-nut wrench set from craftsman that was 50 bucks. Ive found through personal experience the "cheap" ones will strip them more than loosen them. Its just not worth the aggravation.

Helpful tip- If youre going to buy tools like husky/blue point/cobalt/craftsman/Mac/Snap on (specially this one) where/if (ALWAYS look at this bit of information first!) they have life time warranties on hand tools- BUY THEM USED OFF EBAY. Worst cast, it breaks, and you get it replaced for free. Either way youre saving money, and in some cases, a LOT of money.
Möbius
Posted: Jun 6 2010, 05:22 PM


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Breaking is one thing, but how they work even if they don't break is quite another.

Take ratchets for example.

A cheaper one might work for years and not break, but it will possibly require a bigger swing, and required more force before it "ratchets".

A more expensive one also won't break, have a smaller swing, and require less force for it to ratchet.

In the above scenario, I would do the research to save myself the headache of using something that is less useful for years on end.
avraell
Posted: Jun 13 2010, 08:35 PM


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I ended up with a Craftsman Microtork, which was $73 micrometer that goes up to 150 ft-lbs. Spent my whole day doing the axles. I think it was right on with the torques, at least on the inner joint bolts which were 60 ftlbs since it clicked at the exact point at which they were naturally fully tightened anyway, not much else to go on. Hmm, and damn it's long - it would be my new breaker bar if it wasn't a torque wrench (pipe broke when doing the 180* turn after 140 ftlbs on the main axle nut). And that concludes my pretty pointless review, thanks again for the help though - I had no idea whatsoever before bubs' post (I also might have missed the tiny-text instructions which tell me to leave it at lowest setting).

This post has been edited by avraell on Jun 13 2010, 08:37 PM