Can You Use a Torque Wrench As a Breaker Bar: Unlocking the Secrets

The topic of using a torque wrench as a breaker bar is one that often comes up in automotive and mechanical circles. Unlock the secrets of your toolbox with this exploration of the age-old question: Can you use a torque wrench as a breaker bar? These two tools often share the spotlight in DIY and professional mechanics.

While it is possible to use a torque wrench as a breaker bar in some cases, it’s not ideal – and may damage the tool or the fastener. In this post, we will explore the dissimilarities between these two tools and consider whether using torque wrenches as breaker bars is appropriate in certain situations.

can you use a torque wrench as a breaker bar

Understanding Torque Wrenches and Breaker Bars

Torque wrenches and breaker bars, indispensable tools in any mechanic’s arsenal, serve distinct yet complementary roles. A torque wrench specializes in precision, facilitating the accurate application of torque during fastening. Conversely, breaker bars excel in sheer force, applying muscular strength to release stubborn bolts effortlessly.

The torque wrench ensures proper tightening, crucial for precision jobs, while the breaker bar harnesses raw power to conquer resistance. Understanding their primary functions is key to optimizing their roles in the intricate dance of mechanical work.

Key Differences Between Torque Wrenches and Breaker Bars (Torque Wrench vs Breaker Bar)

Design Distinctions and Mechanisms

Though sharing a workspace, torque wrenches, and breaker bars boast unique designs and operational mechanisms. Torque wrenches are precision tools incorporating adjustable settings to apply a specified torque for accurate fastening. In contrast, breaker bars, designed for sheer force, lack torque settings, relying instead on sturdy construction to deliver robust power.

Torque Settings vs. Sheer Force

The crux of their disparity lies in functionality. Torque wrenches prioritize torque settings, ensuring calibrated tightness, while breaker bars emphasize sheer force, excelling in tasks demanding raw strength to overcome resistance. Understanding these differences allows users to harness each tool’s distinct advantages to the workbench.


Torque wrenches are designed to be highly accurate and are calibrated to apply a specific amount of torque to a fastener. They are commonly used when precise torque specifications are required, such as when working on a car or other mechanical device. On the other hand, Breaker bars are not designed for precise torque application and are generally not as accurate as torque wrenches.

Size and shape

As mentioned earlier, torque wrenches are typically smaller and more compact than breaker bars. It has a dial or digital display that indicates the amount of torque that has been applied. On the other hand, Breaker Bars have a long handle that provides extra leverage.


Torque wrenches are commonly used in automotive and mechanical work, construction, manufacturing, and other industries where precise torque values are required.

The primary use of a breaker bar is to provide extra leverage when loosening stubborn bolts or nuts. This can be especially useful when working with large, heavy machinery or when a standard wrench or socket may not provide enough torque.

Max Torque

These wrenches have a maximum torque of 200 foot-pounds, while breaker bars have a maximum torque of 2500.

Torque Wrench vs Breaker Bar – Comparison Table

Torque WrenchBreaker Bar
PurposeUsed to tighten bolts and NutsUsed to remove or loosen stubborn nuts and bolts
Max Torque200 ft/lbs2,500 ft/lbs
Tool typeAdvanced toolsBackdated tool
ExpensiveMore expensiveLess expensive
SafetyMore safetyLess safety
PriceAround $50Around $100
CalibrationClockwiseClockwise and counter-clockwise
materialsMetal & plasticMetal
Weight2 to 5 pounds5 to 25 pounds

Which one is better for your needs?

Determining which tool is better, whether a torque wrench or a breaker bar, depends on the task. If precision in torque application is paramount, a torque wrench is the superior choice. However, when faced with stubborn bolts requiring sheer force for loosening, a breaker bar is a more effective option. Ultimately, the “better” tool depends on the job’s nature and the user’s requirements. Consider the task’s demands to select the best tool for your needs.

Can You Use a Torque Wrench As a Breaker Bar?

While it is possible to use a torque wrench as a breaker bar in some situations, there are several limitations and factors to consider before attempting to do so.

One of the main limitations of using a torque wrench as a breaker bar is the size and strength of the wrench itself. Torque wrenches are not designed to handle the high torque values that are often required to loosen stubborn bolts. So, using a torque wrench as a breaker bar can damage or cause the tool to break.

See Also: Torque Wrench vs Socket Wrench – Key Differences

Pros and Cons of Using a Torque Wrench as a Breaker Bar

Benefits of Dual-Tool Functionality

Embracing the dual-tool functionality of using a torque wrench as a breaker bar offers advantages. Firstly, it streamlines your toolkit, providing versatility in a single device. Secondly, it allows for precise torque application when needed, eliminating the need for separate tools. This dual-purpose approach is particularly beneficial when space or tool availability is limited.

Drawbacks and Limitations

However, this hybrid usage comes with caveats. Torque wrenches may not match breaker bars in terms of sheer force, limiting their effectiveness in tasks demanding substantial strength. Additionally, overexerting a torque wrench in breaker bar scenarios could risk damage to its calibrated components, affecting its precision over time. Understanding these trade-offs ensures informed decision-making in selecting the right tool for the job.

Tips for Safely Using a Torque Wrench as a Breaker Bar

  1. Evaluate Structural Compatibility: Considering the structural design and intended usage, ensure your torque wrench is robust enough for breaker bar functions.
  2. Secure Proper Gripping: Optimal handling is crucial. Grip the torque wrench firmly, using the handle or the square drive, depending on the tool’s design.
  3. Apply Steady Pressure: Gradually exert force in a controlled manner. Avoid sudden or jerky movements to prevent damage to the torque wrench or the fastener.
  4. Monitor Torque Indicators: If your torque wrench has torque indicators, keep an eye on them to prevent exceeding recommended limits and maintain precision in torque application.
  5. Use Correct Accessories: Employ the appropriate sockets and extensions for breaker bar functions, ensuring a secure fit and minimizing the risk of slippage.

Caution and Proper Technique: Emphasizing Safety

  1. Avoid Excessive Force: While breaker bar usage is permissible, avoid applying excessive force beyond the tool’s capabilities. This preserves the torque wrench’s accuracy and longevity.
  2. Regular Maintenance: Inspect and maintain your torque wrench, promptly addressing any wear or damage. This proactive approach ensures continued safe and effective usage.
  3. Protect Yourself: Wear appropriate safety gear, including gloves and eye protection, to shield yourself from hazards during tool operation.


What can I use instead of a breaker bar?

No breaker bar? No problem! Grab a lug wrench for extra leverage, or reach for a ratchet and socket combo. The torque from the ratchet and the directional pressure of the socket make a dynamic duo for loosening stubborn bolts. When ingenuity meets necessity, there’s always a workaround for those moments when a breaker bar is out of reach.

Is it OK to use a torque wrench to loosen fasteners?

Using a torque wrench to loosen fasteners is generally OK, but it’s not ideal. Torque wrenches are designed for tightening, and repeated use in loosening may affect their calibration. For optimal results, it’s recommended to use a breaker bar or ratchet for loosening tasks.

The Versatility of a Torque Wrench: Can You Use it Like a Ratchet?

While torque wrenches are primarily designed for precise tightening, their versatility extends beyond. Using a torque wrench like a ratchet is feasible for light tasks, though not recommended for heavy-duty applications. Keep in mind the tool’s limitations and consider employing a dedicated ratchet for optimal performance in diverse tasks.

Using a Torque Wrench in Reverse: Is it Possible?

Using a torque wrench in reverse is technically possible, but it’s not recommended. Reversing the torque wrench might affect its calibration and accuracy. For optimal results in loosening tasks, it’s advised to use a dedicated tool like a breaker bar or ratchet.


In summary, While the crossover is feasible in specific scenarios, it’s crucial to tread carefully, considering structural compatibility and potential trade-offs. Balancing precision with force, these dual-purpose insights empower users to navigate their toolkit with finesse. As you explore the synergy of torque and strength, remember that informed choices lead to loosened bolts and a tightened grasp on versatile tool mastery.

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