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While they’re no replacement for a torque wrench, torque sticks are a pretty cool alternative.  When used with an impact wrench dialed to the appropriate setting, they start flexing when the desired torque is reached, absorbing the impact rather than transferring it to the fastener.  Because of the way they operate, you can’t just use one as an extension to your ratchet — they’ll only work with impact wrenches.

To make what they call “the most accurate torque socket in the world,” AccuTorq combines a deep-well socket and 1/2″-drive torque stick into one solid piece.  The above set includes metric torque sockets ranging from 17mm to 21mm and 55 ft-lbs to 100 ft-lbs and Imperial torque sockets ranging from 3/4″ to 15/16″ and 65 ft-lbs to 140 ft-lbs.  The thickness of the stick determines the torque rating, and each stick is color-coded for easy identification.

AccuTorq’s set of ten torque sockets will run you somewhere between $220 and $290.

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14 Responses to Torque Fasteners By Picking The Right Stick

  1. Damion says:

    Is it just me or do these things seem like they’re extremely specialized? Unless you’re torquing a 17mm bolt to 100 ft-lbs every day, what would you buy these things for?

  2. @Damion:

    Yes these particular torque sockets are pretty specialized, but you can get just the extensions (torque sticks) which allow you to use any size 1/2″ impact socket. such as these ones.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000IX3BSM

  3. Kurt says:

    I used a set of these from the tool truck all the time when I was a mechanic – each stick was sized to a particular brand of vehicle, both in torque and nut size. While a lot of my fellow workers would just use the zip around the wheel twice technique with the impact gun, I liked knowing that the wheels I put on were torqued correctly, and with anti-seize on the threads.

  4. dustin says:

    i use these every day at work – a tire shop. definitely specialized, don’t think i’ve ever used them for anything except lug nuts/lug bolts. as most of you know, every vehicle has a lug torque spec, and these get them pretty damn close. we always use these to zip the wheel son, then verify with a torque wrench. maybe overkill to some, but better than risking a wheel off.

  5. heywood says:

    man, I wish I knew where you guys were when I had my car serviced a while ago…one of the tire monkeys used the impact gun before the threads were set and ruined one of my studs…gotta go replace it now and it was out of state so I’m not gonna go back.

    I appreciate people who do good work, even if others think it’s overkill. They can deal with the mechanical failure due to negligent work performed.

  6. Keith says:

    Funny, but I’ve known more than one vehicle owner who had new tires put
    on with these things, and next thing you know, their vehicle’s brake
    rotors are warped…!

    I don’t think an reputable engine shop would use these torquing an
    engine head, and I don’t allow any shop that uses these to work on my
    car tires/wheels (bonus question – which gets hotter in normal use,
    engine heads with water-based coolant circulating through it, or brake
    rotors that are just cooled with the ambient air?).

    When it comes to wheel lugs, insist on hand torquing only with a slow,
    steady pull, no jerking (or jerks) on the wrench. It’s the best way to
    insure that the lugs are torqued evenly and the rotors don’t warp.

    No torque sticks for me, thanks.

  7. Fabian says:

    These sticks should only be used to bring the torque up to certain safe limit, then final tightening should be done with a quality torque wrench.

    Don’t think you can just plug these onto a impact wrench and torque everything down with a simple torque stick. It’s not the simple.

    Also, torque sticks provide an estimated torque range which varies based on the impact gun and impact socket you plan on using. Always select a torque stick below your actual requirements, then finish with a T-wrench.

    2 cents,
    F.

  8. Kurt says:

    Hey, if you were willing to pay for my time, I would torque your wheels on with a torque wrench, but I never had a problem using these sticks. You do get a feel for working with them after a while which also helps. In the real world, we had to compete with the mass marketers on price, and time was money. I never broke a stud, had a wheel fail, or had a comeback on a brake job for a torque related issue.

    If you are that fussy about your car, you don’t even want to know what some mechanics are doing in the back where you can’t see; best to work on it yourself. For example, most of the guys I worked with had coffee cans full of bolts – ever wonder where they came from LOL? Or the top of their box that was filled with trim screws and clips from those few times they took a dash or door panel apart…

    When I first started (late 70’s) I used to wonder why some mechanics had those little green cans of valve grinding compound, but never ground valves. Lots of shenanigans went on in some shops, and it would take a laundry list of complaints before the state B.A.R. would look into it.

    And don’t even get me started about Smog Checks!

  9. kyle says:

    here is how i see it for 300 bucks you can buy a pretty good torque wrench and not only can it be used for tightening lug nuts to the proper torque you can also use it to tighten heads, valve covers, oil pans,main bearing caps,and anything else that is critical and has to be tightened to a specific torque value so why bother with torque sticks.

  10. KMR says:

    The reason you use torque sticks is to beat the clock, that is the only reason they exist (oh, and for stupid people – which why they’re color coded).

    We use them, but only to torque to 60% of the rated spec for the application. The final torquing is done with torque wrenches (as of Winter 2008, all of the torque wrenches in the shop are electronic strain gauge based ones…).

    If there are 14 head nuts that need to be torqued, and the spec is 65-75 ft lbs. Grab one of these rated at 40ft lbs and blow through all 14 following the correct pattern and then do move to 70ft lbs (mid-spec) with the torque wrench. It’ll save you at least five minutes over 14 nuts on the initial torque, simply because the impact wrench can make a full rotation continuously, while the tech is at most taking 90 degree cranks with the torque wrench. Five minutes doesn’t sound like much, but that’s almost $7 at our shop rate.

    Head stud nuts / bolts should always be done in two steps anyway, in fact, if you think they should be done in more increments (like 4 steps), call ARP and they’ll set you straight.

    I’ve seen these used by very high end race teams. If your car is down between qualifying sessions, you want to get it fixed ASAP. Every second counts. The quicker you can get it done, the better.

    I’m also quite certain that some VW / Audi dealers get these as factory service tools for specific applications. I was one told that the VW 020 transaxle case bolts had a specific factory torque stick that was issued for doing rebuild work.

    Kai

  11. fritzgorbac says:

    i usee these quite often (along with snap on cordless impact) quite often when reassembling largee boilers or barrels on centrifugal chillers. I do also use themperiodically for changing tires. The torque extensions with the correct socket do save quite a bit of time when youare staring at twenty ssomething or thirty something 3/4 or 5/8 bolts. However, given the value and critical nature of this machinery I always finish with a torque wrench. Same goes for when I change else’s tires, because that’s what was recommended to me when I bought the extensions, but I think that may be overkill. believe these are fairly accurate, and lug nuts should have a certain tolerance. Hell, most people I know, mechanics included, don’t bother with either.

  12. Pencilneck says:

    VW/Audi dealers are not getting any kind of torque stick for a trans rebuild. When a trans is rebuilt, 020 or any other for that matter, about the only special tools for trans rebuilds are the ones from Kukko. When it comes time to do the bolts on the trans case itself, break out the torque wrench and click away.

    The torque sticks are a great time saver for tire rotations and such, and when used correctly, do a great job. I’ve been using them for since 1995-ish, no problems.

  13. Squidwelder says:

    We used these at Jiffy Lube all the time. They’re great tools, and they make tire changing a cinch.

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