Many mechanics keep breaker bars in their toolbox.
But there is one question that many of these tradespeople have: can a torque wrench be used as a breaker bar?
This post will attempt to address those queries and provide you with a few valuable tips.
So let’s get right into it.
Torque Wrench vs Breaker Bar: The Differences
There are four apparent differences between torque wrenches and breaker bars that set them apart.
Let’s discuss them.
First and foremost, there is the intended purpose of each tool.
Breaker bars are only used to loosen securely tight nuts and bolts that require a lot of torque to be removed.
On the other hand, Torque wrenches are used to tighten bolts to a specific preset torque.
To summarize, breaker bars are used to remove bolts, while torque wrenches are used to tighten bolts.
How each tool deals with maximum torque is entirely different.
Because of their designs and components, breaker bars can bear higher torque levels to remove rusty nuts and bolts. In fact, breaker bars that can handle up to 2,000 pounds of maximum torque are fairly common.
On the other hand, Torque wrenches have a significantly lower maximum torque limit that you must preset as the target torque to which you want a fastener tightened. When the nut or bolt reaches the target torque, the tool lets you know that the fastener is fully tightened.
Torque wrenches can typically take up to 150 ft/lbs of maximum torque, which is far less than the torque breaker bars can handle.
One big difference between breaker bars and torque wrenches is how easy they are to break.
Because of their mechanics and design, breaker bars can manage much higher torque limits than torque wrenches. This enables the user to apply up to 2,500 ft/lbs of maximum torque on a breaker bar without the risk of breaking it.
On the other hand, a torque wrench can generally accept up to 150 ft/lbs of maximum torque to tighten a bolt. It can easily shatter if you apply greater torque, costing you up to $100 in damages. So, never use more torque to a torque wrench than you intended.
Last but not least, there is the question of cost.
Torque wrenches are advanced tools that allow users to tighten a nut or bolt to a certain degree of torque, which is ideal when working on high-tech engines.
This does, however, come at a cost. Because of its numerous internal components, torque wrenches are more expensive than breaker bars, requiring only a few internal components to function correctly.
That’s why you’ll find breaker bars for around $50 and torque wrenches for about $100.
Can You Use A Torque Wrench As A Breaker Bar?
After learning about their distinctions, we must answer the question: can a torque wrench be used as a breaker bar?
I feel it is obvious that the answer to this question is a resounding NO!
Breaker bars are designed to remove tight nuts and bolts by applying more torque. On the other hand, Torque wrenches are used to tighten fasteners using a previously established maximum level of torque, which is lower than the max torque you can apply to a breaker bar.
So, if you use a torque wrench to loosen rather than tighten a bolt, and you apply more torque than the torque wrench can handle, you will very certainly shatter your torque wrench.
How Does a Torque Wrench Work?
A torque wrench is used straightforwardly.
First, you must set the maximum torque level that the torque wrench will produce. Most torque wrenches contain a dial solely for this purpose.
Then, you hook the torque wrench to the lug nut or bolt you want to tighten, and you start to tighten the fastener.
When the maximum torque is reached, the tool will generally make a “clicking” sound to indicate that the fastener has been tightened to the maximum level of torque you previously selected.
That’s all there is to it; that’s how you utilize it.
If you’d like to watch a video explaining this, you can watch this guy:
How Does a Breaker Bar Work?
Breaker bars, a.k.a power bars, operate entirely differently from torque wrenches.
Because they are used to remove tight nuts and bolts, they have long handles and are made of extremely solid metals.
Their design enables the user to leverage the power of physics to generate more torque (2,000+ ft/lbs) to loosen rusted nuts and bolts.
After inserting the socket into the nut or bolt, you turn the breaker bar (using your force and bodyweight) to generate the necessary torque to remove the fastener.
The Best Torque Wrench
Park Tool Ratcheting Click Type Torque Wrench
When looking for a torque wrench, you want a dependable and powerful tool, which is precisely what this Park Tool torque wrench provides.
It has 0.4 Nm increments of torque, which is quite convenient when selecting the maximum torque to tight a fastener.
Furthermore, the max torque can be regulated by a dial, which is another highly convenient feature for mechanics.
It is also 9 inches long, making it ideal for various tasks. And, even though the clicky noise isn’t all that great, it’s recommended.
- Length is 22.9cm or 9 inches, making it the perfect size for a variety of tasks
- Adjustable by 0.4 Nm increments which gives the most amount of convenience
- 3/8″ drive
- Reads and registers for both left hand and right hand threading
- Torque preset is controlled by dial adjust system
- Conversion scale on the body of the tool for more convenience
- Audible click is not very loud
The Best Breaker Bar
Capri Tools 1 in. Drive 40 in. Extended Leverage Breaker Bar
Breaker bars are essential yet effective tools, and this Capri Tools 40-inch breaker bar is no exception.
It has a 40-inch design, which allows it to gather more leverage and be handier to remove frozen nuts and bolts.
Even though its head is a little too loose for my liking, it has a chrome vanadium body and a chrome molybdenum head, making it an extremely powerful and sturdy breaker bar that can handle up to 1835 ft/lbs of maximum torque.
It also rotates up to 230 degrees, making it an ideal breaker bar for various applications. Last but not least, it includes a spring-loaded ball bearing to keep sockets securely in place.
- Extended 40 inches in lenght, making it more convenient and powerful
- 1 inch drive
- Chrome Vanadium body and Chrome Molybdenum head provides solidity and higher max torque limit
- It can take up to 1835 ft/lbs of max torque
- It rotates 230 degrees making it perfect for a variety of tasks
- Spring loaded ball bearing ensures sockets are securely held for more productivity
- The head is a bit too loose for my liking