Can You Use An Extension With A Torque Wrench?

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When you run a workshop or a place to do maintenance work, a range of tools becomes unavoidable. A Torque wrench is one of those tools that you need for precise tightening work. Speaking of torque wrenches, one question many novices have in common is: can you use an extension with a torque wrench?

Can You Use An Extension With A Torque Wrench

In this article, we will be discussing torque wrench extension and how it will affect the torque reading. We will also give answers to some common questions regarding the torque extension at the end. So, without further ado, let’s get started! 

Can You Use An Extension With A Torque Wrench?

Well, this is a very real scenario that could affect the torque value of the wrench. And interpreting the situation incorrectly will force you to deal with severe consequences.

In short, as long as you are using a straight extension for your torque wrench, the torque value stays roughly the same. On the other hand, if your torque wrench has an angle, curve, or any kind of swivel to it, the actual torque will be different. So, when you tighten a nut or bolt, it won’t be as accurate as it would be without the extension.

How Much Does The Torque Value Change If You Use An Extension?

The efficiency of a torque wrench with an extension is a common matter of concern among DIY enthusiasts. This is also very important because you need extensions to reach intricate places for tightening work. And each of these extensions has a distinct purpose.

In some cases, people have found inconsistencies with extensions. But there is a catch. All the inconsistencies around the extension are not straightforward. For example, we can talk about a universal torque wrench extension that has swivel motion at the base.

In other cases, the extension arm that has some sort of angle and curve also shows a slightly low score on torque reading.  Depending on the situation you could see 1.0 – 2.0 points of deviation from the actual torque settings.

What about a straight extension bar? In our experiment we found that the straight bar doesn’t really show that much deviation. It stays mostly accurate unless there is a significant amount of slag on the extension bar.

We attached a 10-inch extension bar with our trusty torque wrench. We also attached the extension bar’s end to the digital torque adapter. After that, when we were reaching for the click sound of the wrench, both the digital output and the click were fairly accurate. 

But that wasn’t the case with the 30-inch to 40-inch extension bar. The results were pretty inconsistent, but not more than 2.0 points on the digital torque adapter. We also tried to hold the extension bar as straight as possible to reduce slag. That slightly improved the reading, but far from the ideal threshold.

In another experiment with crow’s foot extension, the torque value stays the same as long as it is at 90 degrees with the torque wrench. If you keep it straight with the wrench bar, the increased length will give slightly greater torque value. This happens due to increased leverage.

In another instance, the torque value changes if you place an extension bar at the end of the handle instead of the drive. Torque wrenches have calibration to read the exact force you would exert from the specific length of the handlebar. Anything longer than the handlebar itself will require less force to reach the set torque value.

The main takeaway from this is that when you are using a long extension, be sure to attach a digital torque adapter at the end for optimal tightening work. But if you are using one or two extension bars and you have a well-calibrated torque wrench, you have nothing to worry about.

How Do Torque Extension Bars Work?

A torque extension bar is a round bar that works just like an extended arm. In intricate repair work, when you need to reach deep places, you can’t complete the work with just the stock length. That’s where the extension bar comes in, allowing you to reach those places without removing a bunch of components. 

Also, a torque wrench handle extension will multiply the torque applied to the fastener. The rule here is as similar as leveraging with an extension pipe to lose a lug nut. Due to increased length, the torque wrench will reach the targeted torque value before you hear the click.

Do Torque Wrenches Use Regular Sockets?

When you look at any torque wrench, you will mainly see a drive head with a square shape. Although that drive size depends on the model of the torque wrench, they come in the following sizes: 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, and 3/4-inch drives. And most sockets fit into these drive sizes perfectly.

Does Extension Increase Torque?

This is a common misconception in DIY communities. The short answer is, extension doesn’t increase any torque output. But if you are too careless when using an extension bar with a torque wrench, it could reduce the overall torque output.

Alternatively, if you want to reach a certain torque but your wrench doesn’t support those settings, here is how you can do that. Let’s say you have a 10-inch extension and your desired fastener torque is beyond your actual torque wrench capacity. Do this equation and find the torque settings that you need to increase torque with the extension.

Desired torque vale X wrench length / (wrench length + extension length)= torque you need on the wrench.

Can You Use A Universal Joint With A Torque Wrench?

You can use any universal joint with a torque wrench as you see fit. But if you are looking to tighten any nuts or bolts to a specific torque setting, you might want to add a digital adapter at the end of the universal joint. Without the digital adapter, your fastening won’t be as accurate as the torque wrench itself. The swivel on the join will mess up the reading as it reduces the force by a couple of points. As long as you don’t need the accurate torque setting, you are good to go.

Can You Use A Crow’s Foot On A Torque Wrench?

Crow’s foot is a special type of torque wrench extension bar that allows you to reach tricky places. The shape is not round; rather it’s a square bar. And its heads are angled to reach complicated places.

Final Thoughts

We talked about torque wrenches and various extension bars that have negative effects on the torque reading. Now you know the answer to the question, “Can you use an extension with a torque wrench?” Remember to use a straight extension bar and keep the bar as steady as possible to get the maximum force from the torque wrench.

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