One of the first vehicles I ever owned was a Mitsubishi Mighty Max, and one of the few problems with it was a faulty starter. Normally, a starter is one of the easiest auto repairs there is. You simply detach the electrical connections, dismount two bolts, and pull the whole starter out. However, the starter on the Mighty Max slipped over two long bolts that stuck out of the firewall and was tightened down with two nuts. I couldn’t use a socket wrench to loosen the nuts because the bolts were too long. Making matters worse, the only metric combination wrenches I had were only 3 inches long, and whoever installed the starter had seriously over-tightened the nuts. I resorted to placing the open wrench head into the box head of the wrench that seated on the nut in order to get enough leverage. It took 6 hours to swap the starter.
A torque wrench for tight spaces would have saved me a lot of time and three months of unkind words about missing a day of work over a starter. If the person who’d installed the starter had a torque wrench that was capable of fitting into such a tight space and had properly tightened the nuts to spec, I wouldn’t have had an issue working with even the short wrenches.
The Importance of Torque Wrenches for Tight Spaces
Torque is the measure of rotational force applied to a fastener. It is the force applied multiplied by the distance away from the point of application. It determines the tension that the fastener is under and the force that holds a component to the substrate. If too little is applied, then the fastener will not hold. Apply too much, and you can damage the components, the substrate, or even shear through the fastener. And whoever has to loosen an overly tight fastener may cast sincere ill will and supernatural curses your way.
The application of proper torque is especially important in tight spaces and awkward to reach areas. If you have ever struggled with any screw, bolt, or fastener that was over-torqued you can appreciate the difficulty of dealing with one that is around a blind corner or in a tight or narrow area. Ergonomic torque wrenches that are adapted for tight spaces can make sure that fasteners in these areas are tightened to specification and save a lot of hassle down the road. Even better, there are several options to choose from.
Choosing Ergonomic Torque Wrenches for Tight Spaces
A socketed torque wrench with a ratchet head should be a standard in any toolkit. Either an adjustable click wrench which clicks at the set torque value or an adjustable cam-over wrench are excellent go-to options. Simple automotive repairs like removing and replacing tires require lug nut torque wrenches to ensure that they are tightened to spec.
There are many other vehicle systems where correct torque specifications are even more critical to the safe and reliable operation of the vehicle. Both click wrenches that warn the operator that they’ve met the torque limit but do not stop them from exceeding it and cam-over wrenches that disengage from the fastener and prevent over-tightening are vitally important on the assembly line. With their ratcheting heads, they are ergonomic and reduce wrist, elbow, and shoulder fatigue. However, there are situations in auto repair shops and in assembly where they do not work.
In tight spaces between two assemblies, there may not be enough room for both the socket and the ratchet head to fit over the bolt. These situations are common in automotive and other mechanical repairs. Stage-by-stage assembly line design cannot completely prevent this sort of situation entirely, so it may occur on production lines as well. If a component is attached via sliding over a set of threaded studs with nuts that are tightened into place, then socket wrenches may not work either. There may not be a socket that is deep enough to fit over these studs and still turn the nut. Break-over wrenches are the proper torque wrenches for tight spaces like this.
Break-over torque wrenches have a form factor that is similar to a standard manual wrench. Instead of a ratcheting head, they have an open-ended, box, or spigot head. These heads are relatively flat, so they do not need the same space clearance in order to tighten a fastener. These heads are also interchangeable, so a break-over wrench has a great deal of versatility. At the specified torque limit, the head will disengage from the handle of the wrench to prevent over-torquing, ensuring that fasteners in inaccessible places are tightened to spec the first time.
Fasteners must be tightened to specifications every time, even if they are in the most inconvenient places. Torque wrenches for tight spaces ensure the job gets done and that the work can be relied upon. They also make sure that subsequent repairs go more quickly and smoothly. They are just as important as more general purpose socket torque wrenches in ensuring proper torque control.
Mountz, Inc. understands that even the smallest, hardest to reach fasteners must be tightened to spec. It’s why we make quality torque tools for every situation. To see our full range of products, shop our store. Contact us anytime to ask a question. To inquire about price, request a quote. If you’d like to see our equipment in person, schedule an appointment.