Why Do I Need A Torque Wrench?

A good quality torque wrench will cost $50 – $100 dollars, so you could say it a fairly expensive tool.

The question is: I’m not an automobile mechanic so why do I need to buy this tool that I may never use?

The simple reason is that the aluminium alloy wheels found on all late model travel trailers, tow vehicles and even you daily driver car are prone to allowing lug nuts to loosen. Usually, if you’re like me, you have the wheels rotated on you tow vehicle/car every time you have it serviced (I do this every 5000K or Spring and Fall). Thus your friendly service provider “torques the lugs” for you. Thus preventing them from completely coming loose. BUT – what about your travel trailer? Did you know you should check the lug nuts with a torque wrench before each trip? Do you know what the correct torque tension that is recommended for your specific trailer wheels?

It is important that each lug nut be tightened to a specific torqued tension. For the aluminium Airstream wheels on Blue Streak, this is 110 foot-pounds (ft-lbs) of torque. (If you use metric specifications that’s 150 Newton-meters).  Steel wheels, which are usually the spare tires only, need 150 foot-pounds. The best place to verify the correct torque spec for your wheels is to check your Trailers Owner’s Manual or ask your dealer about the wheels you have.

The wheel studs (which is what the lug nuts are screwed onto) are designed with elasticity (so to speak) which helps to secure the wheel on the hub. If you don’t use a torque wrench and the lug nuts are put on too tightly, the threads on the wheels studs can fail. This can cause the studs to break and the wheel will come off. Needless-to-say this is bad. Not only can the damage to your trailer be expensive, but the flying wheel could cause an accident.

Here’s how a torque wrench works:*

A few tips:

  1. Make sure you purchase no less than a 1/2″ torque wrench that goes up to 150ft-lb of tension.
  2. Torque every lug nut – use the star pattern.
  3. Never use your torque wrench as a breaker bar—that’ll damage the torque mechanism.
  4. Carry it with kid gloves—a single drop on cement can knock the accuracy off by as much as 30 percent. Always store it in the case it came in.
  5. Before putting lug nuts on, check that the threads are clean (no dirt or grease). Use a clean rage to wipe off any contaminants.
  6. Don’t use any kind of lubricant (oil, grease, WD40, anti-seize compound) on the studs. Those things will make the torque reading inaccurate and you’ll end up over-tightening the nuts.
  7. Don’t use any type of “Loctite” product. Let the torque wrench do its job.😎

* part of a Chris Fix video

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