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Old 02-22-2013, 06:12 PM   #1
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Torque Wrench..Which one to use.

I ned to buy a torque wrench to take with me on a long trip. Whats the better one to get, a 3/8 in drive or 1/2 inch? I have a 2012 25' Safari. I want to torque the wheels every 600-800 miles....Any help is appreciated.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:28 PM   #2
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I would recommend a 1/2 inch drive, as that is preferable, in my opinion, for the socket (long) you'll need for tightening and loosening the nuts.

JohnS.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:30 PM   #3
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1/2 inch for the wheels. But, why do you want to re torque them every 600-800 miles? They don't come loose any more than the wheels on a tow vehicle do. Maybe check them once after they are removed for some reason, sure, but no more than that is necessary.
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Old 02-22-2013, 07:45 PM   #4
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Buy the 1/2 inch torque wrench.
But please do not use it to tighten or loosen the lug nuts.
Torque wrenches should be used to "torque" the nuts to specified foot-pounds of torque after they have been tightened in the appropriate sequence.
Use a lug wrench for tightening and loosening.
Hope this helps.
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:08 PM   #5
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The factory manual suggests checking the torque on the wheel lugs every 50 miles or so for the first few hundred miles after the wheels have been (re)installed. My Airstream was trailered to the Los Angeles dealer. Coming home with the new trailer, I stopped at about fifty miles out. I checked and most of the lug nuts needed a little more. At the next stop, in about fifty miles, half of those nuts needed just a little more. At the third stop only one or two needed a touchup. At the fourth stop, all were seated.

I use a deep well socket with three inch extension so my hands are not touching the tire sidewalls doing the checking. A 1/2" drive torque wrench has the torque range necessary for the trailer wheels.
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:59 PM   #6
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I agree with what people have said - you need a 1/2" wrench for use with lug nuts.

Also personally I would not bother with the considerably more expensive "click" type wrench that involves a compression spring, but rather, an inexpensive and simpler beam type wrench with a scale and pointer.

If you have a digital type luggage scale and a bench vice, it is easy to check the calibration of the wrench so you will know it to be accurate for the torque range that is important to you.

Clamp the 1/2" drive square into the bench vice and then attach the digital luggage scale to the wrench handle so you can pull on it at ninety degrees to the length of the wrench and read the force you are applying on the luggage scale

The moment arm (length in feet as measured from the socket centre to the pin in the handle of the wrench) times the reading on your digital luggage scale when affixed to the handle and pulled by you will indicate accurately the applied torque in foot pounds.

Just compare this value to the torque wrench pointer reading to verify the wrench accuracy.

If the two numbers are not very close to agreeing, then you can just apply different force levels to the handle in increments and then plot your own calibration curve and you will be able to apply a very accurate torque even with a cheapie Harbor Freight wrench!


Of course, you can do the same check with any type design of torque wrench - I have several, and I do. I am just suggesting that IMHO, for such limited use you don't need to lay out a lot of money for an expensive wrench!

And in any case, even an expensive one should really have its calibration checked periodically!

Brian.
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:16 PM   #7
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I am a long term mechanic and have 5 torque wrenches. 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, 3/4, and 1 inch. Regardless of the debate regarding the frequency of checking the lug nuts, the appropriate wrench in this case would be a 1/2 inch wrench. Here is a tip that most are not aware. Always set your torque wrench to its lowest setting after you're done. The tension spring can weaken and affect the accuracy if it sets at 80 lbs in your tool box for an extended time.
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hhendrix View Post
I am a long term mechanic and have 5 torque wrenches. 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, 3/4, and 1 inch. Regardless of the debate regarding the frequency of checking the lug nuts, the appropriate wrench in this case would be a 1/2 inch wrench. Here is a tip that most are not aware. Always set your torque wrench to its lowest setting after you're done. The tension spring can weaken and affect the accuracy if it sets at 80 lbs in your tool box for an extended time.
Agree totally, but then, I suppose if you use the simpler beam type torque wrench this is no longer an issue?

Brian.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:40 PM   #9
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Thanks for the helpful hints ... Ace Hardware here it come ...
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:19 AM   #10
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I use a split beam torque wrench http://www.torqwrench.com/tools/C.php

I have a 3/4" one from my motorhoming days and a 1/2" one for the pickup truck and trailer.

What I like about the split beam wrench is that it does not have to be zero'ed after using. It is fast and accurate, and is made in the U.S.A.
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:36 AM   #11
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Hi, since the range of torque on lug nuts on most vehicles would be from about 80 lbs to about 150 lbs, a 1/2" torque wrench is the one needed. I had, and used, a 1/2" torque wrench that went from 20 lbs to 150 lbs, I recently replaced it with a torque wrench that has a range of 20 lbs to 250 lbs. The 250 lb torque wrench is longer and gives you better leverage. My trailer wheels are torqued at 120 lbs [max per Airstream] and my Lincoln lug nuts are torqued at 150 lbs. [max by Ford] I only use click type torque wrenches. Beam torque wrenches work just as well, but you need to be able to hold it in place and see the scale directly, not at an angle or you will not get a proper reading. I personally check torque on all of my lug nuts [trailer and tow vehicle] just before each trip. And only if the wheels have been completely removed before this trip, I check them one more time at the first rest stop, camp ground, lunch break, or where ever. The next time that I check my lug nuts torque is just before my next trip. Another tip on proper use of a torque wrench that I see so commonly done wrong, the correct way is to pull on the handle with a slow and steady force until it clicks. I see people all of the time, in tire shops, [wrong way] who jerk the handle of the torque wrench on each lug nut. This practice can give you a false reading.
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by switz View Post
The factory manual suggests checking the torque on the wheel lugs every 50 miles or so for the first few hundred miles after the wheels have been (re)installed. My Airstream was trailered to the Los Angeles dealer. Coming home with the new trailer, I stopped at about fifty miles out. I checked and most of the lug nuts needed a little more. At the next stop, in about fifty miles, half of those nuts needed just a little more. At the third stop only one or two needed a touchup. At the fourth stop, all were seated.

I use a deep well socket with three inch extension so my hands are not touching the tire sidewalls doing the checking. A 1/2" drive torque wrench has the torque range necessary for the trailer wheels.
A question, Switz - does the use of an extension affect the reading? I've hesitated to use an extension because of my concern on that.

Thanks,

John S.
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:05 AM   #13
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The clicker type wrenches require calibration and are not reliable over the long term unless calibrated. The beam type is simple and reliable. You need a 1/2" wrench. It is probably overkill. A simple cross type lug wrench will work fine for checking lug bolts. Once you get the hang of it, you learn when a bolt is tight. There are a lot of variables even with a torque wrench. Things like lube or no lube etc. I always put some grease on the threads or you will NEVER GET THEM OFF if you have a flat. Extensions won't change readings if they are kept straight.

Perry
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:14 AM   #14
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A beam type is simpler and perhaps more durable, but some folks have trouble bending all the way down to get a direct perpendicular look at the pointer. You have to be pretty much directly above or at the end of the pointer for an accurate reading. If that is a concern, get the clicker type.
Using an extension takes a bit of understanding and practice to get accuracy. I hold the end of the wrench (the end where the extension/socket is attached) cradled in the palm of my left hand and use my hand as the pivot, or fulcrum, point making sure that as I rotate the handle end, with my right hand, that the extension stays absolutely perpendicular to the hub surface.
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