How Do Torque Wrenches Work? Types And Sizes

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A torque wrench is a useful piece of equipment calibrated and used for a stated amount of load, or pressure, to a bolt or nut. The torque amount applied relies on the amount of force you put on the handle and the torque wrench’s whole length. This is because torque is the force multiplied by the length of the tool.

If, for instance, you have 1/2 -inch long torque tool, and you apply 20 pounds of force on its handle, then it means you are using 20 foot-pounds of torque to the clasp you are tightening. What if the torque wrench is one-foot long, and you start putting on the same 20 pounds of force. What will happen? The enormous tool will elevate the leveraging effect to multiply the torque, which leads to you putting on 40 foot-pounds of torque.

As you have noticed from what we have stated above, the torque tool shows you how much load is being put on to a clasp using a deflection beam or a calibrated spring mechanism. A scale or display on the wrench will let you know how much load you are applying. The scale can usually be calibrated to show inch-pounds, foot-pounds, or newton-meters.

Torque Wrenches Types And Sizes

Types Of Torque Wrenches

There are five types of wrenches: click type, beam type, split beam type, digital type, and slip type. The beam type is cheaper and is easy to use.

Many professional technicians prefer to use click torque wrenches, you know why? Because they are more accurate and faster to use.  The digital twists are the easiest to read, but they are also the most expensive type. Check the table below for a summary of them:

TypeMain Feature
Click typeIt comes with a spring-loaded lever, which can be adjusted to attain the desired torque reading
Beam typeThis type of wrench uses a long beam attached to the head as a plumb line and scale on the handle below it
Split beam typeIt has fewer components than the ordinary clicker type wrench, and any critical parts are fused
Digital typePermit you to preset multiple torque settings or are capable of retaining a set over various uses.
Slip typeA slip-style wrench is designed to lose grasp once the required torque is achieved

Click Type

This is the most popular type of torque wrench in the market.  It comes with a spring-loaded lever, which can be adjusted to attain the desired torque reading.  All you have to do with this type of wrench to reach your desired torque reading is to twist the handle.

And once you attained the amount of twist you required, the spring-loaded lever cuts loose, creating a clicking sound.  So, it is straightforward to use.  Modern click wrenches are inexpensive and accurate as a beam-type wrench, making them an excellent choice for all skill levels. The mechatronic torque wrench is a contemporary variant that offers a digital display reading as well.

 The disadvantages of this type of torque are worth to be noted. The click does not prevent over-tightening. Its ableness to stop once the click is heard minimizes over-torquing but takes excellent motor control.

Beam Type

This wrench type uses a long beam attached to the head as a plumb line and scales on the handle below it.  The handle is designed in such a way that it flexes slightly as the number of torque increases. This causes the scale to move under the pointer. Reading this type of wrench is similar to using a standard weight scale, with the pointer’s position on the scale showing the amount of force applied.  

Beam- style torque wrenches use physics to give precise readings and are most straightforward in design. What is more amazing with this type of twist is that it needs the least maintenance and has the most extended lifespan.  This is the crucial reason they are usually used to help calibrate other tools.

Like any other type of wrenches, it has its disadvantage. It is more challenging to read and less convenient than modern click-style wrenches, making them a poor choice for novices.

Split Beam Type

Even though it is a type of beam torque wrench, it deserves its mention, but why? Because it has fewer components than the ordinary clicker type wrench, and any critical parts are fused. This type of wrench is an excellent option for commercial environments.

It’s nearly accurate as of the ordinary beam-type but a bit more durable. The main beam has a handle while helps you to put on the torque.  The secondary beam acts as an indicator beam and is partial to the head.

Digital Type

If you need a torque wrench that is best in efficiency and convenience, then digital torque is the one. Several models permit you to preset multiple torque settings or are capable of retaining a setting over various uses.

Once you attain your target measurement, the wrench will signal you with either beep, vibration, buzz, or light. So, there is no doubt this type of wrench has goof notification, and with it, you don’t go past your target torque setting.

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Unfortunately, they are the most highly-priced variation of a torque wrench, hence less attractive among average DIYer. Plus, they need batteries, and some models require you to zero-out the setting. Failure to zero-out the ground, this type of wench might lose calibration over time.

Slip Type

A slip-style wrench is designed to lose grasp once the required torque is achieved. This has the advantage of removing over-Torqueing risks while permitting for an inexpensive and durable tool—the teeth on the slip wrench head decree what torque the slip point will occur.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to monitor the current torque with this type of wrench, and they hardly handle a torque of over 100Nm.  Thus, they are a poor choice for high-torque applications. They, therefore, need to be overlooked when purchasing automotive tools.

Other Types

There are other types of torque out there designed for a particular task, such as a hydraulic wrench (used explicitly in aviation) and a no-hub wrench (used in plumbing).

Common Torque Wrench Sizes

The size of the torque has a significant impact on what it can be used for. Occasionally, there is some overlap in functionality between two sizes. However, every drive size is usually reserved for a particular duty.

Here Are The Sizes:

1/4 -Inch

It is the smallest standard drive size. You will frequently require these for handling small aluminum gas motors. Hence, it is an excellent choice for mopeds, motorcycles, among others.

A 1/4- inch drive will also be used for handling electronic devices encountered in some HVAC applications. Furthermore, you will use them for valve covers and other very minute automotive clasps.

3/8-Inch

A 3/8-Inch is the smallest drive size you will possibly use for critical automotive repair. It is frequently required for engine work, such as tightening spark plugs. While it’s the most usual type of drive size for socket sets, stills, it’s the second most common in terms of extending to which torque wrenches go.

1/2-Inch

When talking about torque wrenches, 1-2-inch is the default drive size. It is perfect for handling vehicle suspension and installing lug nuts. So, you need to have this wrench size on your toolbox.  However, if you don’t have one, then you can use a tire iron or lug wrench when you want to remove the lug nuts on your vehicle.

¾ To 1-Inch

There is no doubt you won’t require whatever large as this unless you are working with a semi- or building vehicle. 1-inch drives are frequently balanced with breaker bars for tough truck lug nuts.

How Much Torque Does It Take To Loosen Lug Nuts?

According to lug nut torque nuts, it is evident that most lug nuts ought to be torqued between 80 and 100 ft-lbs. Some need less torque and vice versa.

Do You Need A Torque Wrench?

Yes, especially if you plan to do any significant work on your engine or some major powertrain components.

Should You Double Click A Torque Wrench?

Yes, but not all the time. One of the reasons for doing this is when you are torquing, and the fastener itself becomes a bit bound up, not giving a correct reading. By double-clicking, you let the fastener rest for a second; then, you are back again to get the required amount of torque there.

What Should You Not Do With A Torque Wrench?

Users should at no time place a pipe or another kind of extension onto a torque wrench handle. This is because doing so will seriously damage the tool and make it inaccurate.

Final Word

A torque wrench is a useful tool for tightening nuts and bolts.  If you, therefore, need any major work on your engine, you will need a torque wrench. In the article, we have mentioned a few types of wrenches that allow you to work with ease. Choose the right type and size and loosen any nut stress-free.

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