How to use a Torque Wrench PROPERLY

How to use a Torque Wrench PROPERLY

Hey guys, ChrisFix here and today I’m gonna show you how to properly use a torque wrench. A torque wrench is used to tighten down nuts and bolts to a specific torque. You should use a torque wrench because you can easily over-tighten nuts and bolts and damage the threads. Or, you could even snap the bolt head right off. Also, if you don’t tighten nuts and bolts enough, they could come loose, which would be very bad. All torque is is a rotational force, or a twisting force and while working on cars, you’ll be rotating a nut or a bolt. And that can be while working on different parts of the car, such as the suspension, the wheels, the brakes, and even while working on the engine. So let me show you how to use a torque wrench All these right here are torque wrenches. We have a 1/2″ drive, we have a 3/8″ drive, and we have a 1/4″ drive. and then here’s the one I use all the time, which is a 1/2″ drive. Now let’s say we want to torque down the lug nuts on a wheel. Most wheels, the lug nuts are tightened to 100 lb-ft of torque. And yes, the right way to say it is “pound-feet” of torque not “foot-pounds” of torque. But, everyone says “foot-pounds” of torque — I even say “foot-pounds” of torque and it’s really not that important how you say it. But anyway, get your click-adjustable torque wrench which is the most common type of torque wrench and what we’re talking about in this video. So, to adjust the torque wrench, the first thing you do is you go down to the end here and you loosen this little knob down here and that allows the handle to freely move back and forth You want to make sure you’re using the correct units in this case we’re using foot-pounds but if we go to the other side of this wrench you can see here there [are] different units because not everybody uses foot-pounds and then what we’re going to do is we’re going to look for 100. So our torque is 100 foot-pounds, you can see right there we have 100 foot-pounds so what we’re going to do is we’re going to rotate this until our 0 right here meets that 100 foot-pound line right there so now we’re going to just turn this handle until that 0 mark lines up with the 100 mark. So right now our 0 is lined up to that one which is 90 foot-pounds We want to get to 100 So that would be 91, 92, 93 96, 97, 98 99, 100 The zero lines up with 100 And we are set to 100 foot-pounds If you wanted to do 99 you just move it one click down and that’s 99, 98 right there. If we want 101 We go 100 and 1 102 102. Once we have it all lined up you’re going to take your locknut back here and then turn it clockwise until it locks this in place, so your torque spec doesn’t change when you’re trying to tighten it down. Then all you do is you get your torque wrench, put your socket on your torque wrench put it on the lug nut you put your hand on the handle part that you were adjusting before and you tighten. And the click means that you’ve reached your desired torque. so you’re done. Move on to the next lug nut that you want to torque down. It’s as simple as it looks, just tighten it until it clicks, and then you’re good to go. Now I know the lug nuts are the correct tightness so I don’t have to worry about damaging the studs or having the wheel fall off. And that’s really all there is to it it’s very simple to do nothing complex at all. As easy as these things are to use, there are a lot of top tips that I can give you. Such as, where do I get my torque specs? How do you take care of these? Where do you store them? What about the calibration? Can I use extensions? And another big question is: where do I get a good torque wrench? So the first top tip I want to cover is, where do I get my torque specs? This is where I get my torque specs from. I buy the service manuals for the cars I own because I know I’m going to work on them. And the service manual tells you the basic steps to repair the part and it gives you the torque specs for the nuts and bolts that you’re going to tighten down. The other method to get a torque spec is to just do a search online. For example, if I’m working on a Trailblazer, and I want to get the axle nut torque spec, I’ll search “2004 trailblazer axle nut torque.” And you can see there are a bunch of relevant results and this guy says 103 lb-ft and he says he’s quoting the service manual. So those are the two methods I use. The next top tip is taking care of your torque wrench so it lasts a long time. Make sure you don’t drop this or impact it hard when you’re turning this, because that could throw off the calibration. Sure, if you drop it once, you know, it’s not gonna mess it up. But if you’re constantly dropping it, or you drop it from really high up, you know, this is probably gonna knock out of calibration. The other thing is, you want to keep this dry and out of places it could get rusty. Most torque wrenches come in a case, so use it. This case protects it from moisture and shock. But before you put it in a case, you want to remember something: inside this torque wrench is a spring, which is under pressure. The more you tighten the torque wrench handle, the more pressure there is on the spring. When you store the torque wrench, you want to store it [at] the lowest setting. So loosen it up all the way, and once you get it all the way loose, tighten it, a little bit past the lowest setting. That’ll keep slight tension on the spring so it’s not completely loose but the spring will be unloaded and it’ll make your wrench stay in calibration a lot longer. Remember, torque wrenches are precision pieces of equipment so treat them that way. The other thing is, you don’t want to use your torque wrench as a breaker bar or as a normal ratchet. Use a breaker bar — that’s why you have breaker bars. These are made to take the strain. You’re going to wear the components in this out if you use it that much. The other thing is don’t be using this as your ratchet to tighten this up all the way tighten it up most of the way with a ratchet first and then once it gets snug then you can use your torque wrench. And then that will just keep your calibration longer and you won’t have to send it in for service. Now, speaking about calibration, when should these torque wrenches be calibrated? On average, torque wrenches should be calibrated at least once a year or every 5,000 clicks. So for most DIYers, once a year is going to work. And now getting your torque wrench calibrated could be kind of expensive It ranges from $25 to $75 depending on who does it plus shipping if you have to ship it out So what I’ll do is I’ll test my torque wrench to see if it’s in spec and I’ll show you that in a different video but you can actually do that yourself so you’re not shipping this out and spending a lot of money especially if you don’t use it that often. Now another top tip I have is using extensions. A lot of people are like, “Oh, you can’t use extensions with torque wrenches because then the torque won’t be exact.” And, well, that’s not completely true. You want to try to use thicker extensions. You can see these are 3/8″ extensions so they’re more likely to have a little bit of twist to them. But these 1/2″ extensions take a lot of force to twist. You have to realize, when you’re working on cars, sometimes you have to use extensions just to get to the nut or bolt. Now, the extensions that you shouldn’t be using when you’re torquing stuff are universal joint extensions that have a lot of play in them and also wobble adapters, or wobble sockets which have a lot of play in them. because this will mess up your torque reading and torque spec. The final thing I want to cover is what torque wrench should you get? Well, there’s two different things you have to look at the first thing, you need to figure out what drive torque wrench you want. And the drive is what size the stud is. So here we have 1/4″ drive, here we have 3/8″ drive, and here we have 1/2″ drive. So if your socket says 3/8, you might consider getting a 3/8. But that’s not the only thing to think about. The other thing you have to think about is what torque spec you’re going to typically torque down your nuts and bolts to. So the 1/4″ drive uses inch-pounds which is for tightening smaller nuts and bolts I typically don’t use this. And then we have the 3/8″ drive and the 1/2″ drive The 1/2″ drive goes from 20 to 150 ft-lb which is the range that I like, this is what I use most of the time. And the 3/8″ drive goes from 10 to 80 ft-lb, which is a decent range but a lot of times, especially [like when] we just did the lug nuts we won’t be able to use this. So once you figure out what size drive you want, and what torque range you’re going to be using the most, you want to figure out what price range you’re in. The more expensive wrenches like SnapOn are definitely better but you can get a decent, inexpensive wrench. This is inexpensive, and I’ve had it for a few years now, it’s what I use in all my videos No need to break the bank 1/2″ drive 20 to 150 ft-lb and it’s what I recommend to everybody. I’ll leave a link in the description to a torque wrench that is a good price and is really good quality for the price. It’s not gonna break the bank, you’ll be able to buy it yourself, and use it at home, it’s good for all the DIYers, home mechanics, but those are things that you have to think about. So now you should know everything you need to know about torque wrenches! Hopefully the video was helpful! If it was, remember to give a thumbs-up. If you’re not subscribed, consider subscribing!

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. The extensions you showed do not affect the torque reading. If you don't believe this, draw a moment diagram for the extension.

  2. Touqu depends on vehicle most toyota have 76 or f 150s are 150 Nissan tend to be 135 to 145 and aluminum wheels are torqued different from steel wheels

  3. Hello Chris,

    You're making very good Videos! Very Informativ!

    I have a question. How did u learn, how the parts of the car are named or what they are for? How/Where did u learn this all?
    Is their a method to learn it by myself? No offense, your videos are great, I just want to learn.

    Greetings from Germany

  4. Chris Fix ain’t no playa hater mang, yo know what I be sayin, he be dippin on 3, straight cali all dam day……..

    Sorry I’m Australian, my translation may be a little off.
    Good day

  5. I'd never buy snap on… Over priced sure they give replacements if you break it cause you paid for 4 of them when buying one

  6. I know this is an older video, but one correction. When going from 100 ft. lbs to 98 ft. lbs. as shown in the video, you need to first go down at least 10 ft. lbs. (90 ft. lbs.), then back up to 98. If you are using a digital torque wrench, you can go straight to 98 ft. lbs. Also, it's not a good idea to completely unload a clicker torque wrench because there is a very slight chance that the spring can get dislodged.

  7. If you want to get real technical, use the 20% rule. Stay out of the higher and lower 20% of the tool. Just use the 60% in between. I liked the tutorial.

  8. Great that you check your torque next step in improving yourself as a mechanic is using standard units like newtonmeters.

  9. Step one but a ratchet
    Step two use ratchet
    Step three say click when you feel that the bolt is tight (watch a few AvE videos for a demonstration)

  10. Just curious here. The link to the torque wrench (Tekton 1/2" – up to 150ft-lb, etc) on Amazon cost $38, but you pay around $75 each time you get it calibrated? Why not just buy a new t-wrench each time?

  11. I work on cars myself but I can not do more video because of my full time job. but man I really love your energy keep up the good work to help People save money on cars repair. God bless

  12. Couple of things.
    1. Using extensions on a torque wrench does not affect applied toque, since rotation is slow and constant. (As long as the extension is perpendicular to the torque wrench)
    2. Always adjust up to your desired setting. If you pass your desired setting, go back below it and then come up to it.
    3. Make sure that the device you are torquing is moving when the torque wrench clicks…otherwise the device is already beyond the desired torque.
    4. Never us a torque wrench counter clockwise, unless it's designed to be used in that direction.
    5. The calibration interval on some torque wrenches is up to 3 years…depending on their design…some way less. Contact your manufacturer for the calibration interval for your tool.

    Note: The correct toque is applied when the torque wrench clicks…not clicks plus another inch or two. Stop at the click.

    How do I know? I worked in a calibration lab for many years. One of my jobs was testing and repairing torque wrenches of all sizes, types, and ranges. I also worked in industrial instrumentation and physical measurements where one of my jobs was testing industrial torque measuring devices.

  13. Kids toys, my most used wrench is 3/4” drive 100-600 ft/lbs and often use 1” drive 200-1000 as I torqued wheel nuts on underground haul trucks to 740 ft/lbs

  14. The most important thing is to slack off the nut and then tighten to torque setting. Just putting it on and waiting for click is not correct because the wrench has to overcome friction which can be greater than the torque setting. You didn't mention that because you are not an engineer.

  15. Calibrate torque wrench to 50 lbs/foot. 1. Set torque wrench to 50 foot lbs 2. Put torque wrench on lug nut so that the torque wrench is level to ground. 3. Hang 50 lbs from the torque wrench exactly one foot from the lug nut: 45lbs no click, 55lbs click = all is good. Can also use a vice, wall, engine stand etc.

  16. so much for free shipping, $50.21 for the wrench and $60 for shipping estimated delivery mid oct ): guess I'll be getting the one on sale at CTC (this is about amazon not Chris)

  17. Common mistake with click style torque wrench is to very slowly apply the torque just before the click. ROT is to apply the final torque at a bit faster rate than the second hand moves around an analogue clock. Do not jerk the wrench to get that final torque applied either.

  18. Chris is it safe to use a torque wrench to loosen and then rhetoric I know you said don't use it as a wrench but just as a quick, can you use a torque wrench in reverse not that it would read or tell you anything but just wondering just like a little bit of a back off in case my mechanic airgunned aluminum wheels to 120 and they're only supposed to be 75, etc?

    1997 Toyota Avalon, usually aluminum 15-inch wheels my spare is a steel wheel and that takes 90 or a hundred I forget which.

  19. Chris does anyone make it for Christ where you can pull it reverse to see how tight something was made and then does like a clicker a pop or just starts loosening it to readjust.

    like some kind of a ranch maybe digital where I pulled back on something to see how tight it was before it starts to loosen? I've seen videos of such a wrench but I can't remember who sells them I know they would be a little bit more expensive and I know there are one or called reversible torque wrenches, is that what I'm looking for either mechanical or digital? my budget is about $120 on harbor freight if you know what I'm saying.

  20. Excellent video Chris thank you. I lost a wheel on my travel trailer on the highway from Dealer's over-torque. I do my wheels myself now with a Snap-On TW, yes,, expensive but fun to use. Some guys have a calibration check in their truck but I would like to see your promised video on; How to Check Torque Wrench Calibration : -0),

  21. So if ft lbs isn't the correct way to say it, then why is every torque wrench I've ever seen have "ft lbs" engraved on the scale/meter/setting? And why did I not here the term lb ft until I was 60 years old (ie recently)? And why was it ft lbs when using it in college physics courses? I think it's someone's idea of being fashionable like saying "impordant" or "di-int". To hell with fashion. I'll continue saying ft lbs and wearing white socks.

  22. I like how you start of with, and yes it is called Pound Feet of torque, then you point to the torque wrench that lists Foot Pound.

  23. The torque wrench you said you have is $38 (per link you provided) and you say to get calibrated it's between $25 and $75 do you actually get your $38 torque wrench calibrated…doubtful. For the cost of calibration (including shipping) you might as well buy another

  24. I wouldn’t bother with the calibration
    You can get a good torque wrench for £30
    So once it’s done just buy a new one, probably a lot cheaper than sending it in to be calibrated

  25. I didn't know I had to recalibrate my torque wrench. Been using it for 10+ years without and none of my wheels came off yet, maybe I'm just lucky

  26. My son loves you you are his inspiration he loves watching you and he comes up to me saying "daddy did you know" an then something he learn .you are the best

  27. Hello ,

    I Have a question and hope you can help .
    I have to torque a sway bar links with 40 f.pound but my torque wrench start from 50 f.pound .
    Can I torque it 50fp instead of 40 ?

  28. Well i know this is an older video now but its still helping people, i got a torque wrench and rotated my wheels today.. Thanks >_>

  29. Thank you Chris fix I didn't know how to read my torque wrench and I've had it for about a year now your video was very easy to understand keep up the Great learning videos

  30. You are incorrect. It does matter how you say it. The terms Ft Lbs and Lb Ft do not mean the the same thing. They are not interchangeable. They measure two different things. With reference to torque wrench settings. Ft Lbs is correct. It even says "Foot Pounds" on the wrench's settings.

  31. Wow Chris, u become my favorite YouTube video, Hey can you do a video like on diesel trucks ? Like changing tie rods on a Ford F-250 stuff like that? God bless

  32. Why does the torque wrench itself say foot pounds. 1:21. Isn’t it supposed to be a precision tool. Shouldn’t it say pound feet instead. Saying pound feet uses less letters so one could not argue that it would not fit.

  33. I see many people double clicking with their torque wrenches. Is that good to do? But I've also seen comments from aviation repair techs who are trained to torque it down to the one click and that's it. I've been torquing to one click over the decades. I never thought about re-torquing to get a second click until I saw it on You Tube. Are both ways correct?

  34. Is it acceptable to use an 3/8 to 1/2 inch adapter with a torque wrench, rather than purchasing 2 torque wrenches?

  35. Thanks a lot for uploading this video. For so long I have been asking myself how to use this thing. Now, my problem solved. Thanks Chris!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *