Keeping your tools in good working order is one of the least expensive but most overlooked ways to ensure that your car jobs and projects go smoothly.
An automotive torque wrench performs two duties every time it’s used: it acts both as an assembly tool, and as a precision measurement tool. This makes it twice as important to ensure that it is working properly.
However, many technicians neglect their torque wrench’s calibration. Don’t fall into that trap. Here are two major problems that can occur because of an uncalibrated torque wrench. Ignoring them can have expensive and dangerous consequences.
1. Over Tightening
It happens in every garage: you’re turning a fastener into place when, suddenly, the head shears off or the threads strip. Often, this is attributed to subpar fasteners or a problem with the materials being connected. Whatever the problem, you’re left with a time-consuming extraction or, worse yet, a fill-drill-and-tap job.
There’s a fine line between tight and too tight. If your wrench is even slightly out of calibration, it could result in over tightening. Worse yet, you may have been over tightening fasteners for months, until your wrench got far enough out of spec to start causing failures. Proper testing and calibration is the only way to keep your wrench entirely within specifications.
2. Under Tightening
This scenario is actually worse than over tightening. With over tightening, the failure happens immediately, while everything is in the shop and disassembled. With under tightening, you may not know there’s a problem for weeks or months. That’s when you’ve got a real problem with your car (or your customer’s car).
Under torqued fasteners don’t grip properly, don’t hold components in their proper places, and are likely doomed for failure. When that happens, it will often be while the car is in use, leading to further damage and risk of injury. The expense of another disassembly and repair may be the least of your problems.
An Ounce of Prevention
The best way to avoid issues with your automotive torque wrench is through scheduled testing and calibration servicing. In some critical assembly scenarios, torque wrenches are tested before each use. However, this is unnecessary for most settings. Knowing when to calibrate your torque wrench depends on a number of factors:
- Number of duty cycles: How often is your wrench used, and at what point does it fall out of spec? To know this, you’ll need to track its usage and have it calibrated before its typical duty limit.
- Handling: Is your wrench kept clean and safe in a drawer, or is it thrown on a cart with the rest of your tools? Hard bumps, vibrations, and moisture can all affect the calibration.
- Pushed to the limit: Is your wrench frequently maxed out? Pushing your wrench near its rated torque limit will throw it out of calibration faster. You may want to consider a higher rated torque wrench if this happens frequently.
- The test of time: Regardless of any other factors, you should test and calibrate your wrench every six months at a minimum! Testing and calibration isn’t expensive or difficult, and it’s far cheaper than fixing even a single assembly failure.
The Bottom Line
You spend money on your tools and your car. The right tools make your jobs easier. It makes sense to spend the time and money to keep those tools working at their optimum level. If you don’t, you may end up spending unnecessary time and money fixing problems that your tool has caused. The bottom line is this: take care of your tools, and they’ll take care of you.
To save yourself from the added expenditure and headache of using an incorrectly calibrated torque wrench let the professionals service your wrench regularly. Mountz has two state-of-the-art calibration lab and repair facilities that can calibrate up to 20,000 lbf.ft. Learn more about Mountz’s professional torque tool calibration and repair services or fill out a service request form today.
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