Can You Use a Torque Wrench as a Breaker Bar?

Torque wrenches and breaker bars have several differences in limits, goals, maximum torque, and more. In this guide, you will learn about their uses, comparison, advantages, and disadvantages. So, can you use a torque wrench as a breaker bar?

Breaker bars are used for removing tight bolts and nuts by increased torque application. Meanwhile, torque wrenches are used for tightening nuts and bolts utilizing the established maximum torque level.

More so, using torque wrenches for loosening instead of tightening fasteners will lead to more torque application than what a torque wrench can handle and can break your tool.

What is a Torque Wrench?

Torque wrenches are like a ratchet with a small handle compared to breaker bars.

You should not drop them and overload them with a pipe extension. Also, storing them improperly in areas with high humidity can easily lead to corrosion.

How Do Torque Wrenches Work?

The man in the video explains how torque wrenches work by enumerating the different styles, such as a beam torque wrench with a scale that will move the indicator to it on the handle after reaching a certain torque.

His next example is the dial gauge torque wrench which works similarly to the beam torque wrench. The only difference is it moves the dial after the handle reaches the desired torque.

Also, it will move the indicator to show you how much torque you applied to the nuts and bolts.

The split beam torque wrench is simpler to use because it has a dial on the side that you can move to set your desired torque and makes a clicking sound. He continues with the digital torque wrench that is more advanced than others because it can measure ft-lbs and also angles, which is great for automobiles.

Lastly, click style torque wrenches come in different styles and are more expensive. They work by screwing the lock to tell you when to stop by turning the handle.

Turning the handle lets you increase spring force and measure the force with spring compression. When the desired torque is achieved, you will hear an audible click.

What is a Breaker Bar?

Breaker bars are used with socket wrenches for loosening nuts, bolts, and other fasteners. Also, they are used when fasteners are too tight to remove and cannot be undone by smaller tools like spanners and ratchets.

Torque Wrench vs. Breaker Bar: Comparison

Breaker bars and torque wrenches are quite similar. However, they have differences in terms of the following.

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Function

Breaker bars are used for removing tightened nuts and bolts that smaller tools cannot do. They are sturdy enough and can resist high torque levels without breaking easily.

Although they can also be used to tighten fasteners, you should avoid overtightening with this tool.

On the other hand, torque wrenches are instruments used for precisely tightening nuts and bolts to a specific point. Having automated ones can take this step faster and make it more precise.

So, if you need precise control for application, the better choice is a torque wrench.

Design

Breaker bars possess the same drive sizes as torque wrenches but have longer handles. Also, their handles are made of solid metal that is convenient for withstanding high torque mounts.

Meanwhile, torque wrenches come in various sizes and shapes with drive sizes of ¼, ⅜, ¾, and ½ inches. They are smaller drives with short handles, making them great for working on small spaces such as wheel wells. In addition, they are lightweight and easy to wield.

Effectiveness

Torque wrenches are generally more efficient than breaker bars because breaker bars, unlike torque wrenches, cannot gauge the desired torque, resulting in higher chances of overtightening.

Weight

Breaker bars are heavily designed and bigger. Meanwhile, torque wrenches are light but are durable enough for use even in the most demanding industrial environments.

Efficiency

Torque wrenches work like measuring devices to measure the exact torque required. They’re used for tightening bolts and nuts, and they can be used with a torque angle gauge.

Meanwhile, breaker bars are more efficient than torque wrenches because they can be used for loosening fasteners as well as tightening them. However, it must be done with caution to avoid overtightening.

Safety

Breaker bars must be used carefully as their applications are intense and can result in injury when the long handle gets damaged.

Also, breaker bars are used for fasteners that other tools cannot undo, so bolts might shear off and cause metal splinters flying all over the place. Wearing glasses is a safety measure when using breaker bars.

On the other hand, torque wrenches are safe to use, and the likelihood of experiencing failures and accidents is small when used as intended.

Price Point

Torque wrenches are highly advanced equipment that lets users tighten bolts and nuts to a specific torque degree, making them ideal for high-technology engines such as automobiles.

They are more expensive than breaker bars because of their internal components, unlike breaker bars that only have a few to function.

Generally, breaker bars are half the price of torque wrenches.

Torque Wrench vs. Breaker Bar: Pros and Cons

 Torque wrenchBreaker bar
Maximum torqueCan work up to accept up to 150 ft/lbs of maximum torque for tightening fastenersIt can handle up to a maximum torque of 2,000 lb
GoalsUsed for tightening bolts to a certain preset torqueAre powerful to remove tightened bolts
LimitsThey only have a limit of 150 ft/lbs and working beyond that can cause damage to the equipmentHas higher torque limits up to 2500 ft/lbs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What Are the Best Torque Wrench and Breaker Bar in the Market?

Here are our top picks for torque wrenches and breaker bars. We also included the features and description of each.

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1. Park Tool Ratcheting Click Type Torque Wrench

Park Tool TW- 5.2 - Ratcheting Click Type Torque Wrench, 7 1/2-Inch

Key Features

  • Its conversion scale on the tool body can be calibrated to be accurate to +/- 4%
  • Comes with a case for protection and easy storage
  • Registers and reads left and right-hand threading
  • Has a dial-adjust system for presetting the desired torque settings

 

The Park Tool Ratcheting Click Type Torque Wrench has been a necessity for mechanics because it can precisely measure and apply the right torque amount to threaded fasteners.

It has a range of 2 to 14 Nm and can be used for lower torque settings that users would need for applications in handlebars, brakes, stems, and many other components.

2. Capri Tools 1 in. Drive 40 in. Extended Leverage Breaker Bar

Capri Tools 1 in. Drive 40 in. Extended Leverage Breaker Bar

Key Features

  • Its chrome-molybdenum head is paired with the chrome vanadium body for extreme durability
  • Have secured sockets brought by the spring-loaded ball bearing
  • Head rotates up to 230 degrees for use in various applications

The Capri Tools 1 in. Drive 40 in. Extended Leverage Breaker Bar can let you achieve the additional leverage you need to break loose stuck and frozen fasteners. To make the job easier, they can be extended up to 40 inches in length, which is 50% longer than standard models.

In addition, this durable breaker bar functions as an extension bar for holding socket wrench-style sockets.

Can a Torque Wrench be an Alternative for a Ratchet?

Torque wrenches are used on bolts that need tightening to a certain level. They do not feature a ratcheting mechanism because ratchets are used for simple tightening bolts without further specifications. Torque wrenches then come in to finalize the torque setting.

What Are the Uses of a Breaker Bar and a Torque Wrench?

Breaker bars and torque wrenches have a lot of uses. Here are some of them.

1. For loosening frozen, rusted, and tight nuts and bolts

Loosening a car tire’s frozen lug nut is one of the best uses of breaker bars. They can allow more leverage and lighten operation tasks by easily loosening tight bolts without straining your hands and back.

2. As a ratchet

You can also use breaker bars as a ratchet. However, breaker bars have only one function: to loosen seized bolts and nuts. So, its long bar won’t be convenient to use, and the removal process will not be as effective as using a real ratchet.

3. For changing tires

Changing tires is a common service of mechanical workshops, and torque wrenches can do this operation faster to increase profitability. Under-tightening or over-tightening lug nuts can cause wheel failure.

Over-tightened lug nuts can get broken and stretched when hitting road bumps, and under-tightened lug nuts can cause it to come loose and lead to wear and wheel separation from the hub. Also, uneven tightening can cause vibrations, broken nuts, and coming off of wheels.

4. Electrical connections

Another use of torque wrenches is to properly torque electrical wirings to make them more energy-efficient. This is because loose connections can cause energy loss. So, checking connections for proper torque can contribute to saving energy.

What Are the Types of Breaker Bar and Torque Wrench?

There are several kinds of torque wrenches and breaker bars that slightly differ in principles and uses.

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Types of Torque Wrenches

There are numerous types of torque wrenches, and you will learn more about them in this section.

Click Type Torque Wrenches

The click type is the most common and is entirely mechanical. This works by setting the torque value on its handle using the adjuster nut, tightening the nut, and hearing the clicking sound. It cannot prevent overtightening.

Split Beam Type Torque Wrenches

This torque wrench has fewer parts and can last longer than the click type wrench. It has two beams, one on the handle and the other on the head. Some have an indicator window, which is a feature to look for.

Digital Torque Wrenches

Digital torque wrenches are more expensive than mechanical ones and are the most effective in storing preset torque values for convenience. They also have audible signals, making the extra cost worth it.

Slip Type Torque Wrenches

Slip-type torque wrenches are effective because they can lose grip after reaching the desired torque level, which is beneficial for preventing overtightening. It won’t allow you to see the torque when applied, so ensure that you set the right torque you need.

Intelligent Torque Wrenches

This type works slightly the same as digital torque wrenches, but they can be programmed and updated. They can recognize the fastener type to provide the torque value needed, making them expensive and unnecessary for personal use.

Beam Type Torque Wrenches

This type of torque wrench’s benefit is there’s no need to preset the torque as it is visible as you turn it. It can be hard to see while using, especially on greater torques that need more effort. However, they are inexpensive, easy to use, and great for classic motorcycles and cars.

Types of Breaker Bars

Here are a few types of breaker bars, and you will learn more about them in this section.

Hinge Handle Breaker Bars

These breaker bars have a hinge near the head that allows the head to swivel and access nuts and bolts from different angles. Also, they are used with socket bits and sockets to loosen overtightened fasteners.

Ratchet Breaker Bar

Ratchet breaker bars are ratchet drivers with very long handles. It eliminates the requirement for a second piece of material to decrease the chances of tool slipping which can damage the bolt and tool and cause injury to the operator.

What Does a Torque Adapter Do?

A torque converter is similar to a vehicle’s clutch with manual transmission. It differs from manual transmission by using fluid to transmit power to allow transmission change and prevent your engine from stopping due to overload.

Final Verdict: Can You Use a Torque Wrench as a Breaker Bar?

Torque wrenches can be used as breaker bars, but they are not advisable, and they are not worth the risk. Besides, the price tag of breaker bars is very low compared to torque wrenches.

There are certain instances that it could work, especially when you are on the maximum torque. Remember that torque wrenches and breaker bars have significantly different uses. Hopefully, this guide informs you of everything you need to know about their differences.