How To Torque A Bolt Without A Torque Wrench? [Easy Process]

A torque wrench is a helpful tool in automotive industries. We usually take our automobile parts to mechanics even with the smallest issues, like torquing the bolts. Such minor tasks can be done independently with proper tools and knowledge about torquing. But you must know how to torque a bolt without a torque wrench.

A breaker bar and a force measuring scale (fish or luggage scale) is unique to torque a bolt. Attach the breaker bar with the head of the bolt. And then attach the scale with the free end of the bar. Start applying force carefully enough to move the bolt. Notice the torque value on the scale and stop when the recommended value is achieved.

You can also use a spring scale or ratcheting wrench to torque the bolts. But, of course, it’s okay to go old school with the regular long wrench, too.

5 Alternative Ways To Torque A Bolt Without A Torque Wrench

If you don’t like the torque wrench or don’t want to buy one, don’t worry because there are some fantastic alternative ways to measure the torque of a bolt. Use any of them for your job. Here are the details:

  1. Spring Scale: 

Spring scales are customarily used to measure the applied force based on gravity. However, you can also use it to torque a bolt. But you would also need a regular wrench. And then, attach the spring scale with the wrench while applying the force.

You must apply pressure through the scale. Only then, will it measure the torque. Basically, it will result in the applied force, and you need to find the torque with the formula of T=F*R.

Make sure you measure the length of the regular wrench. Most mechanics prefer this spring scale.

How To Torque A Bolt With A Spring Scale

Finding a spring scale isn’t tricky. And if you love automobile parts, you would definitely have a wrench in stock. So, get to the work: 

Step 01: Get a regular wrench and attach it to the bolt head.

Step 02: Take the spring scale and hook it with the wrench at 90 degrees. 

Step 03: Pull the spring scale until the desired torque is reached. 

Step 04: Make sure the wrench can handle the required torque. Otherwise, the spring scale might break. 

  1. Breaker Bar: 

The breaker bar and fish tape can also measure the correct torque value. This convenient tool can easily calculate the amount of applied force, just like the luggage scale.

Every car, jeep, or truck owner gets to keep a breaker bar because it has other uses. Even if you don’t have one, buy one from the store because it’s inexpensive.

Ensure that the breaker bar is a foot long. Otherwise, measuring or applying reasonable force on the bolts would be tough.

How To Torque A Bolt With A Breaker Bar

Well, you have learned several alternative ways to torque a bolt. But the breaker bar is one of the standard and reliable techniques to measure the torque on your car’s bolts and screws.

However, first things first. Gather all the tools and accessories. So let’s get right to it!


To measure the torque of the bolts, you need a breaker bar and fish tape. The breaker bar should be one foot long or 12 inches. Make sure it’s properly built. The fish scale is also convenient. You can also choose luggage scales or others in the market.

If the bolts are too tight, wear gloves and safety goggles. Get a measuring tape to get an idea of the bolt’s distance.

Step 01: Hook Up 

First, hook up the breaker bar on the bolt. Make sure you attack the bar with the bolt head properly. Otherwise, it will slip while trying to apply force on it. If the bolts are in long distance and you can’t see them, you must guess while attaching the bolt heads. Try a small force to ensure the grip.

Step 02: Attach The Fish Scale

Now, it’s time to connect the fish scale with the breaker bar. If you use other measuring tools, the rule is the same for each one. The end you hold is the free part. Now attach the measuring instrument at the free end. Make sure it doesn’t get slipped away. Hold the scale all the time if needed.

Step 03: Clockwise Turn

After that, turn the bar clockwise to tighten the bolts. Don’t be too hasty. At first, try gently to turn the bolt. But make sure the breaker bar gets enough pressure. Don’t use your force in the wrong direction. Otherwise, you will loosen the bolts instead of tightening them.

Step 04: Check The Force On The Scale

Finally, check on your scale. It will start to show the applied amount of force. Match the readings with the recommended one. If it matches with manufacturers, you can stop providing pressure. Remove the breaker bar from the bolt head after achieving the torque value.

  1. Electric Turn Of Nut Tool: 

Many electric, pneumatic, or impact wrenches are available in the market. And you can buy one to torque your wheel’s bolt.

These angle-tightening tools are super flexible. They are also sophisticated enough to snug the correct torque and move the bolts. So, they can also rotate the bolts at any angle to tighten or loosen them.

An electric turn-of-nut tool can provide a repeatable and effective clamp load. However, the trend of using these tools is more convenient in automotive manufacturing.

How To Torque A Bolt With An Electric Turn Of Nut Tool

Using an electric turn-of-nut tool is pretty straightforward. As it’s a digital device, most work will happen automatically. You need to hold it in place. 

Step 01: Attach the electric nut tool with the bolt. 

Step 02: Set the rotation angle. 

Step 03: Start the wrench. It will stop when the pre-set rotation is achieved. 

Step 04: Rotate the wrench clockwise to hook the bolt head again. 

Step 05: Repeat the steps until the torque is achieved. 

You won’t see the torque amount directly from the wrench. Hence, calculate the torque from total rotation and the force the electric wrench gives.

4.Shear Wrench: 

You can also use the shear wrench to torque the bolts. But with the shear wrench, you can’t measure the exact amount of torque on the bolts. So instead, it’s a single-type installation tool that can tighten two-size bolts. 

As it’s an electric device, you need to charge it for a period and use it. When the battery is fully discharged, it’s of no use.

Using the shear wrench to torque a bolt is identical. But you can’t pre-set the rotation on a shear wrench.

5.16-Inch Long Wrench: 

The oldest way to measure the torque is to use a long wrench with a luggage scale. It’s helpful in both short and lengthy areas in your car. Even now, repair shops or mechanics use the long wrench for various purposes.

To measure the torque with the long wrench, you need to attach the wrench with the bolt and attach the luggage scale where your hands are. And then, use your force to tighten the bolts through the scale. It will show the applied pressure on the torque so that you can easily control it.

How To Torque A Bolt With A 16-Inch Long Wrench

The 16-inch long wrench is required when you can’t reach the small ones. Here’s how to do it.

Step 01: Get a 16-inch long wrench with a 90-angle at one end (or not, depending on the automobile part).

Step 02: Hook it with the bolt you want to torque. 

Step 03: Attach a luggage scale with the wrench at the part you hold the wrench. 

Step 04: Use your force to torque the bolt. Keep its force until the recommended torque is achieved. 

Mistakes You Shouldn’t Ignore To Torque A Bolt Without A Torque Wrench

If you go with a procedure, making some mistakes is pretty normal. However, it would be better to know common and unavoidable mistakes before applying so that you can ignore them. Here are the common mistakes that must not be ignorant about:

  • Don’t Push Too Tight: 

When you use a tool different from a torque wrench, you might not know precisely the applied force in the bolts. So, it would be best not to push too tight at the beginning of the torquing. Otherwise, you might exceed the recommended torque limit of the bolts, and they get too tight. You must know that too-tight bolts are not good news for the wheels or car parts.

  • Proper Measuring Scale: 

While using another torquing method rather than the torque wrench, ensure you get a true and accurate measuring scale. Bolts are not sensitive with minor deviation.

But with the wrong tool, the divergence in torque might sometimes differ in a broader range and exceed the limit. The fish or luggage scale is the most available to measure torque. Use one during torquing.

  • Don’t Push Without Knowing The Limit: 

Each bolt might have a different torque limit. Therefore, you must know the bolt’s limit before working with them. You can quickly learn the details from the manufacturer or the manual.

You might think to torque the bolts manually and tighten them with aggressive force. But in reality, it can create cracks in the body, leading to much damage.

  • Measure The Distance Of The Bolts: 

You will see the pressure on the scale. To measure the torque, you will need to distance the bolts. Therefore, use a tape measure to count the distance. 

With the distance, you won’t get any accurate value. So it’s best to measure the distance before torquing the bolts.

  • Wrong Direction Turn: 

Remember to turn clockwise after hooking up the bar with the bolt head. You might loosen up the bolts if you take a wrong with higher force. And it will add extra work to your part.

  • Torque Wrench In Tightening Bolts: 

Torque measures the force on a rotating object with the axis. And the torque wrench is a particular type of wrench that will show you how much power you apply to the bolts and screws to tighten them.

The torque wrench is suitable for various tasks like construction, automotive, maintenance, home repairs, etc. You just need to measure the applied pressure and control it based on the requirements.

Using the right amount of torque for fasteners in a vehicle is crucial. Otherwise, too less or too much pressure can detach or break the bolts’ molds and cause severe accidents.

Nowadays, you will find a digital torque wrench showing you numeric pressure values. But even the engraved number ones are enough to measure the torque on the screws.

Related Questions:

Why Do You Use Alternatives For Torque Wrench?

The extraordinary feature of torque wrenches comes with higher prices. That’s why most mechanics don’t like to buy one. Moreover, it serves only to maintain the proper pressure on the bolts and serves no other purpose. 

Use it twice or thrice a year. So, why spend hundreds of dollars on it? As a result, mechanics like you don’t want to buy a costly torque wrench because of that. Another reason is that torque wrenches are short. Therefore, it becomes tough to reach narrow areas with it. So, pressure a long wrench with the scale to measure the right amount of torque.

Can You Tighten Bolts Without A Torque Wrench?

You can tighten the bolts without a torque wrench. However, it won’t be easy because you will find difficulty in measuring the correct amount of torque. 

The alternative processes would need a lot of effort and tempo. After that torquing the bolts without the torque wrench would be possible. But the procedure will require additional tools like force measuring devices (spring scale, fish scale, or luggage scale), long or short head wrench, etc. On top of that, you would need to know the correct technique to torque the bolts. 

What Is The Torque Value Of Hand Tight?

The average peak value of torque achieved by two-finger tightness is about 0.247 N-m. It has a standard deviation of 0.057. 

However, the torque has a range of 0.11 to 0.32 N-m. It depends on what type of subjects you use force on. If you want to torque a bolt in the engine, the torque value can be more than 0.25. But it’s not necessary for a robot’s parts or your garage appliances.

How Much Torque Can You Apply By Hand?

You can apply 100 to 120 N force easily with just your hand. So, according to the formula, your total torque will be T=F*R. Here T refers to torque, F refers to force, and R refers to the radius. 

The angle of the applied force with the horizontal also matters. No matter how much effort you give with your hand, you can’t apply torque more than the range. That’s why you need to use tools like a torque wrench.

What Happens If You Don’t Torque Bolts?

It’s crucial to torque the bolts. Otherwise, it can cause several significant accidents and damages. Unfortunately, under-torqued bolts are not suitable for cars because they will deform in no time and can’t provide enough force per the requirement.

Therefore, you must torque the bolts properly before hitting the roads. And for other automobiles, the parts can quickly fall apart without the proper torque or crack with excess torque. 

Final Words: 

The torque wrench is a pretty standard and valuable tool, especially for car mechanics. But sometimes, they demand extra payment for a minor task like torquing the bolts of your car. Hence, you might think of getting one. However, the price isn’t reasonable as you would only use it once or twice in six months or a year.

Luckily, there are some alternatives to a torque wrench. Hopefully, the discussion on how to torque a bolt without a torque wrench has covered all the answers you need. Use a breaker bar to torque the bolts with small efforts. Don’t hesitate to take advice from experts if you are a newbie. 


Activities, Courses, Seminars & Webinars – ALC_Content – FAA – FAASTeam. (n.d.). Activities, Courses, Seminars & Webinars – ALC_Content – FAA – FAASTeam – Retrieved December 22, 2022, from

Torque (Moment). (n.d.). Glenn Research Center. Retrieved December 22, 2022, from

Masud Rana

This is Masud Rana. I run this blog. My Tools Guide is a blog where I share product reviews of different tools. Stay tuned to get more helpful articles!

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