You may be asking yourself can you use torque sticks with your cordless impact wrench? I was curious myself so I did some research and came up with this pretty solid guide to using torque sticks with your cordless impact wrench.
The short answer is no, you should not use torque sticks with a cordless impact wrench and expect the torque values to be within an acceptable range. However, a cordless impact wrench won’t cause the torque stick to break, but you should run a series of test with your cordless impact wrench and a torque wrench to see how far off your torque sticks are with your cordless impact wrench. As a general rule of thumb, you can use a torque stick that gives you a torque lower than your intended value and then torque up with a torque wrench. They should never be used with cordless impact wrenches if you expect accurate torque values. Torque sticks are notoriously not very accurate even when using air impact wrenches (as they were designed,) and they get even more inaccurate when using cordless tools. This is because torque sticks are made to work with air tools at certain air and torque settings.
How to Use Torque Sticks for Lug Nuts:
- Test your torque stick with your cordless impact gun and an impact wrench (how close is it?)
- Select a torque stick that stops the torque before the intended torque setting (60 ft-lbs for 85ft-lbs lug nuts)
- Torque the lug nuts down with the torque stick using the star method alternating lug nuts.
- Grab your calibrated torque wrench and finish torquing all the lug nuts to 85 ft-lbs.
- This ensures you get an accurate torque value, and also save time running the lug nuts down all the way with the torque wrench.
- You should never rely on torque sticks for accurate torque values. Always check with a torque wrench.
Best Torque Stick Sets in 2019:
Honestly, I do like using torque sticks. I follow the guidelines above, and always use torque sticks below the final torque I want and then tighten up to the torque value with my torque wrench. If you follow those steps using torque sticks can help you swap tires fasters, and make you way more efficient.
So who makes the best torque stick sets in 2019?
Grey Pneumatic 2805TK (a very well known brand with a great reputation)
Sunex 2880 1/2-Inch Drive Torque Limiting Extension Set (Extensive Set by a Great Impact Brand!)
Neiko 02453A Torque Limiting Extension Bar and Deep Impact Metric Socket Set (Most value/Cheapest Set) comes with thin-walled impact sockets for lug nuts as well. Cheap and an awesome deal for the DIYer or beginner mechanic.
Are torque sticks accurate? Yes and no. If they are calibrated exactly with your air impact wrench and the settings you are running on your compressor they can be decently accurate. Think +/- 10% on a really calibrated torque stick. However, it is not advised to ever rely on torque sticks to give you accurate torque. The second your air impact stops working at 100% or the settings change on your pressure or output from your compressor and your torque sticks will tighten more or less. Torque sticks are honestly used incorrectly very often, and if you see your tire shop not torquing your lug nuts with a torque wrench after using them– switch shops!
Who makes the best torque sticks? Buying more expensive torque sticks does not mean they will be more accurate. You will need to check their calibration with your torque wrench and settings. You may have to use a torque wrench rated to 125ft-lbs to get 85ft-lbs with your gun. Or maybe you find you need to use the 60ft-lbs torque stick to get 40ft-lbs. This is why they should never be used as an accurate form of torquing anything down. They are a means to save a little bit of time when doing tire changes, however, you should always be checking torque values with torque wrenches.
Do torque sticks go bad? Yes, they can. You should also never be considering a torque stick an accurate measurement device. You need to be checking your torque values against the torque stick with an accurate torque wrench. Go read online all the horror stories of people losing wheels or causing big damage due to problems with torque values on torque sticks. Many manufacturers will stress torque sticks are not torque devices but rather torque limiting devices. You should always be doing a final torque with a torque wrench that you know is accurate.
How many ugga dugga is tight for a lug nut? Approximately 100 ugga dugga with your impact wrench will mean your lug nuts are good and tight. Just kidding! Don’t be a hack, torque lug nuts with a torque wrench always! Even if you have the most accurate torque sticks and the best impact trigger finger in the world– you would never be allowed to work on airplanes with that mentality. As a mechanic, you are working on people’s cars and you should do everything in your power to make sure you do not do something unsafe that can cause them problems. Peoples tires fall off all the time because of mechanics not taking the time to properly torque down wheel lug nuts. Don’t end up paying out of pocket or losing your job because you cut corners!