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3/8" torque wrench for auto repair

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by steamthief, Jan 30, 2013.


  1. steamthief

    steamthief

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Location:
    Mentone Beach
    I started doing my own auto maintenance to save some dough (and stop patronizing a shady Honda dealer's servive dept.) and I've discovered I really like wrenching on my car.

    I need to get a torque wrench to do some brake work, and I'd like it to be 3/8" to match my already existing socket sets. The minimum torque I need is 17 ft./lbs., going up to a max of 80.

    Any suggestions on a quality tool? I can get a Pittsburgh Pro 1/2" model at Harbor Freight for $9.99 with a coupon and a 3/8" adapter for a few bucks more. Surprisingly, I've read a lot of good reviews on this tool, considering its price and the reputation of HF.

    What would talkbass suggest I get?
     
  2. iamlowsound

    iamlowsound

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Listowel/KW Ontario
    Grab a Craftsman.

    lowsound
     
  3. tplyons

    tplyons

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2003
    Location:
    Madison, NJ
  4. jamestown94west

    jamestown94west

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2011
    Location:
    the ozarks
    I can't think of any part of your brakes that would be imperative to have proper torque on any of the fastners using a torque wrench. You should be able to snug everything by hand and be just fine. Especially if the spec is 17ft lbs. Unless you took off the axle nut I wouldn't even worry about a torque wrench.

    Also, using an adapter on a torque wrench is fine but it does affect how much torque youre actually putting on the fastener. Its also easy to break adapters doing that.
     
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  6. Jesusrocks

    Jesusrocks

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2013
    Location:
    Manchester, CT
    Dude u really don't need a torque wrench for brake work. I am professional technician and let me just tell you, yes every bolt, screw or what ever has a torque spec. You really don't torque, specially brakes. Unless you doing engine work or rebuilding a trans. Save you money and buy yourself a new bass guitar or something.
     
  7. 68Goldfish

    68Goldfish Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2006
    Location:
    Port Orchard WA
    Did you just say ten dollers for a torque wrench? The last 3/8 torque wrench I bought was right at 500 bucks. But it's mostly for engine work.
     
  8. steamthief

    steamthief

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Location:
    Mentone Beach
    Thanks for all the quick feedback! I did just fine without the torque wrench for the oil and tranny fluid drain plugs, so perhaps I'll just borrow one from my neighbor if I'm feeling paranoid about my work.

    I didn't realize an adapter would throw off the calibration, thanks for sharing that! Although spending $10 (yes, $10 with the coupon) for the 1/2" torque wrench might be a good purchase just for getting the lug nuts equally secured at 80. I don't want to get the new rotors out of true. :) 8th gen Accords are notorious for brake problems.
     
  9. 1958Bassman

    1958Bassman

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    If the borrowed torque wrench is the old "beam" type, don't bother- they're not accurate. Also, a $10 torque wrench won't be accurate, either because accuracy costs money. A good one is expensive and needs to be calibrated, occasionally, in order to KNOW that it's accurate.

    A couple of other things about these- NEVER drop it and ALWAYS store it set to the bottom of the scale. If it's stored when set for a higher reading, it messes up the internal spring(s) that are needed to ensure accuracy and it won't go back to the original specs if it's returned to the bottom.
     
  10. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2008
    Location:
    London, UK
    I do all my own servicing on my Ducatis (except shimming the valves and any major engine work).

    The trouble is that 'snugged up by hand' means different things to different people. Oil filters are supposed to be 'hand tightened', but when I've occasionally done this on other guy's bikes you get variations from being caressed into place by delicate sylph like fingers so that it's hardly tightened at all to being tightened with a hand strength that King Kong would be proud of.

    I know that 17 ft lbs is not much but it takes a level of feel and practise to know how tight 'hand tight' should be.
     
  11. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2001
    Location:
    New York
    Imagine if our tools were really that cheap. I wouldn't trust a $10 torque wrench for tightening a drain plug.
     
  12. Jesusrocks

    Jesusrocks

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2013
    Location:
    Manchester, CT
    You talking about a Ducati, he is talking about an accord. Totally deferent world
     
  13. jamestown94west

    jamestown94west

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2011
    Location:
    the ozarks
    If you're working on an expensive piece of high performance machinery, then you absolutely need to be more careful. I've worked on bikes for years, even built a couple.

    But a brake job on a Honda can be hand tightened. I've never used a torque wrench on a brake job other than to check torque on lug nuts. I've never had a brake part fail, or had any other related issues from not torquing caliber guide pins and bracket bolts.

    Plus, if you're getting into mechanic work, learning how to properly and appropriately hand tighten a fastener is a valuable skill everyone should know.
     
  14. 1958Bassman

    1958Bassman

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    I think the OP was referring to lug nut tightness warping rotors/deforming wheels, more than damaging the calipers, etc.
     
  15. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2001
    Location:
    New York
    As an auto tech with 30 years experience I applaud the OP for wanting to use a torque wrench on his car.
     
  16. nortonrider

    nortonrider

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Location:
    COLORADO
    Untrue.
    I use both, I have been checking a my beam against my clicker for years....... they are accurate.
    Beam type torque wrenches were once the industry standard.

    A clicker is easier to use in most instances though.
     
  17. rtslinger

    rtslinger

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Location:
    Belleville,New Jersey USA
    Craftsman as mention my is Snap-on
     
  18. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2001
    Location:
    New York
    They're inaccurate when someone doesn't know how to use one properly. The handle needs to float on the pin and not be rammed against the beam.

    I've assembled high buck race engines with beam wrenches and have no problems with them.
     
  19. elgecko

    elgecko

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    Anasleim, CA
    Cheap tools have their place but I don't buy anything at Harbor Freight that I expect to use more than a couple of times.
     
  20. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2001
    Location:
    New York
    HF's tools have come a long way. I've got a bunch of 1/2" drive impact sockets that I've been beating on for years with no problems. I could pay $60 for a 36mm Snap On socket, or $9 for the HF version, and I'm not likely to ever break either. Even the $15 sawzall I had lasted me three years before it took a dump.

    With all that being said I'm not going to trust one of their torque wrenches. Not that everyone needs a mega-buck Snap On one, at least a Craftsman one is decent for long term use.
     
  21. steamthief

    steamthief

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Location:
    Mentone Beach
    Thanks again for all of your voices to help me make an informed decision!

    I'm now leaning toward getting a torque wrench again, as I am not an experienced mechanic. To me, brakes are all about safety, so I'll sleep better knowing that every task involved with reinstalling parts is done to spec.

    I looked at the Craftsman yesterday in Sears, and three things stuck out. It looks beautiful, comes without a case (only a tray,) and is made in China. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-Chinese products (owned a Nemesis NA-650 that never gave me a problem,) but the wrench seemed pricey for what it was. Unlike other Craftsman tools, it only has a one-year warranty.

    I also looked at the Pittsburgh wrench at Harbor Freight. It looks much less refined aesthetically, comes with a case, and is made in China. Poring over online reviews, most are surprisingly positive, especially regarding accuracy vs. much more expensive torque wrenches. Dirt cheap wrench also has a lifetime warranty.

    I do want a quality tool, though. Other than Snap-On (out of range budget-wise,) any other brands to consider?
     

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