What can I use instead of a torque wrench: Efficient and accurate

Are you a DIY enthusiast looking to tackle a new project but don’t have access to a torque wrench? Don’t let that stop you from getting the job done. A torque wrench is helpful for tightening bolts to a specific torque, but it’s not the only option.

In this post, we’ll explore alternatives to a torque wrench that you can use to achieve the same results. From using a screwdriver and pliers to a torque multiplier, we’ll cover the pros and cons of each option and provide tips for using them effectively.

What can I use instead of a torque wrench

Alternatives to a torque wrench

1. Torque limiting extensions

A torque limiting extension is a device that is used to attach to a standard ratchet or breaker bar to help prevent the over-tightening of bolts. It works by slipping or breaking at a specific torque, indicating that the desired torque has been reached. This helps to ensure that the bolt is not tightened beyond the recommended specifications, preventing damage or failure.

These extensions are beneficial in situations where a torque wrench is not available or not practical to use, such as in tight spaces or when working on heavy equipment. They’re a great alternative to torque wrenches. They’re easy to use and an affordable solution for preventing the over-tightening of bolts.

How to use torque limiting extensions instead of a torque wrench?

Using a torque-limiting extension instead of a torque wrench is relatively simple. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use it:

  1. First, attach the torque-limiting extension to the end of your ratchet or breaker bar. Please ensure it is securely fastened and the extension is facing the right direction.
  2. Next, place the socket on the bolt head that you want to tighten.
  3. Use the ratchet or breaker bar to tighten the bolt until you feel resistance.
  4. When the torque limiting extension reaches the predetermined torque value, it will click and stop you from applying more torque. This will indicate that the bolt is tightened to the desired torque.
  5. Repeat this process for all the bolts that need to be tightened.

It’s important to note that torque limiting extensions are not as precise as a traditional torque wrench.

Always prioritize safety when working with tools and equipment.

Before each use, check the torque limiting extension for any visible damage or wear. If you find any issues, replace them before use.

2. screwdriver and pliers

A screwdriver and pliers can be used as an alternative to a torque wrench. Simply hold the fasteners in place by using the pliers while tightening them with the screwdriver. This method allows you to use your strength to apply the desired torque.


  • Affordability and versatility, as most households already have these tools on hand.
  • Additionally, using your strength allows for greater precision in tightening bolts.
  • They are relatively inexpensive.


  • Risk of applying too much or too little torque, leading to over-tightening or under-tightening of the bolt.

Tips for using a screwdriver and pliers

  • Use a screwdriver with a comfortable grip and a tip that securely fits the bolt head.
  • Holding the bolt with the pliers as close to the head as possible to reduce the risk of slipping.
  • Tighten the bolt slowly and evenly to avoid over-tightening, and stop when you feel resistance.
  • Using a torque chart to determine the appropriate torque for the specific bolt you are working with.
  • Periodically check the bolt’s tightness to ensure it’s not over-tightened or loose.
  • It is best to use this method for bolts with no specific torque requirement; otherwise, this method is not recommended.

Keep in mind this method is not as precise as using a torque wrench, and it’s essential to use caution.

3. Torque multiplier

A torque multiplier is a tool that multiplies the torque applied to it by using a series of gears and levers. It typically consists of a drive unit, which is attached to a tool such as a socket wrench, and its reaction unit attached to the bolt or nut is tightened.

The drive unit is operated by turning a handle, which causes the gears inside the unit to rotate and transfer the torque to the reaction unit. This increases the amount of torque applied to the bolt or nut, allowing for tighter and more secure fastening.


  • A torque multiplier can increase the torque applied to a bolt or nut by up to 10, allowing for tighter and more secure fastening.
  • It can apply a specific amount of torque to a bolt or nut, allowing for greater precision in fastening.
  • Torque multiplier also reduces the physical effort required to tighten a bolt or nut, making it easier to use for extended periods.


  • It is expensive to purchase and maintain.
  • Torque multipliers are complex tools that require proper calibration and maintenance to ensure proper and safe use.
  • They can be pretty large and heavy, making them difficult to transport and use in tight spaces.

Tips for using a torque multiplier

  • When using a torque multiplier, it is essential to properly calibrate the tool before use to ensure accurate torque readings.
  • The user should also be familiar with the recommended torque specifications for the specific bolts they are working with.
  • It is also essential to use a properly rated extension bar to ensure the torque multiplier is used safely and correctly.
  • Additionally, the user should always wear safety goggles and gloves for protection.

4. Breaker bar

A breaker bar is a long, sturdy tool that is used to break loose stubborn bolts and nuts. It is typically made of steel and has a square drive on one end for attaching sockets and a handle on the other end for leverage. The handle is usually longer than a standard socket wrench handle, providing increased torque and making it easier to loosen tight fasteners. Breaker bars are commonly used in automotive and industrial settings.


  • A breaker bar can increase the torque applied to a bolt or nut by using leverage.
  • It can apply a specific amount of torque to a bolt or nut by using a torque-limiting extension.
  • Less maintenance is required.
  • Budget-friendly


  • A breaker bar does not have the precision or accuracy of a torque wrench and can be affected by the user’s strength.
  • They are also limited in the range of torque that they can produce and are not suitable for all fastening applications.
  • Slower than a torque wrench.
  • Not perfect for use in tight spaces.

Tips for using a breaker bar as a torque wrench

  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper use and maintenance of the tool.
  • Use caution when working with high-torque tools, as they can cause injury if misused.
  • Always wear proper safety gear, including eye and ear protection, when using a breaker bar.
  • Always clean and maintain the breaker bar after each use to ensure safe and efficient operation.
  • Use a torque-limiting extension to ensure that the correct torque is applied to the fastener.
  • Never exceed the maximum torque rating of the fastener or the tool.
  • Be aware that due to the lack of precision in a breaker bar, it is not recommended to use it as a torque wrench replacement.


How much torque can you apply by hand?

The applied torque by hand varies depending on the individual’s strength and the size of the object being turned. On average, a person can apply around 50-70 lb-ft of torque by hand.

Is it possible to properly tighten lug nuts without a torque wrench?

Yes, it is possible to tighten without a torque wrench, but it is not recommended. A torque wrench is specifically designed to get the tightened fastener to the correct and safe level. Without a torque wrench, it can be difficult to accurately apply the right amount of torque, which can lead to under or over-tightening and potentially cause damage or failure.

What happens if you over torque a bolt?

If you over-torque a bolt, it can cause several issues. The first and most obvious is that it can cause the bolt to stretch or even break. This can lead to the failure of whatever it is that bolt is holding together, which can be dangerous or even catastrophic.

Additionally, over-tightening a bolt can cause it to become difficult or impossible to remove in the future. This can make repairs or maintenance more difficult and time-consuming. Finally, over-tightening a bolt can cause damage to the threads on the bolt or the nut, making it difficult to get a proper fit in the future.


So, how to properly torque a bolt without a torque wrench? Now you know the answer. A torque wrench is a valuable tool for ensuring that bolts are tightened to the proper specification. However, some alternatives can be used in certain situations. These include torque-limiting extensions, multipliers, breaker bars, and pliers.

While these alternatives may not be as precise as a traditional torque wrench, they can still provide an acceptable level of accuracy in certain circumstances.

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