How to Set a Torque Wrench

By Richard S. Clark | Last Updated: February 18, 2022

A torque wrench is a tool that will help you tighten nuts and bolts connections. Click, or adjustable torque wrench is the most common type. This type requires to be set before use. Upon reaching the needed torque, you will hear a clicking sound. That is why it is called clicking torque wrenches.

The other types have an indicator that is displayed when in use. It does not require a setting, unlike the click torque wrench.

If you are unsure how to set your torque wrench, this article will help you do this accurately. The tips on setting the torque will depend on the type of wrench you are using and the project you are working with.

Why You Need a Torque Wrench?

Some think that a torque wrench is not required when working on your lawn equipment, installing spark plugs, and others. Some may tend to overtighten and could damage not just the thread but the equipment as well.

With the help of a torque wrench, the loose nuts and bolts problem is resolved. An audible clicking sound will be heard once you reached the torque level. While the beam style torque wrench, you observe the scale and stop at the needed number.

Tips on Setting the Torque

The first torque wrench was introduced in 1920. A standard torque wrench looks like a socket wrench designed with several extra features.

It has an adjustable handle that can withstand the force applied.

Another arm is located near the head of the wrench, which is not affected by the torque.

The arm’s primary function is to reflect the torque amount applied and match the gauge positioned at the handle’s base.

This is how you set a standard torque wrench. Below are tips on how you set different types of torque wrenches.


If you don’t want to do the guessing work when using a wrench, choose the digital torque wrench since the digital wrenches do most of the work. It is commonly used in manufacturing and production plants where it requires precision. Some prefer to have it at home than the standard wrench.

Here’s how to set a digital torque wrench:

  • Set the value required on your digital wrench. Some models have a SET button with up and down arrows, which makes changing the torque value much easier.
  • In setting the tolerance parameter, set the GO and NO GO signal responses. For safety and quality, program the upper and lower thresholds.
  • On the fastener, place your torque wrench and make the adjustments. Most digital wrenches have a buzzer or light that turns off when it is time to stop applying torque.
  • Check the reading. A green light indicates that the proper torque level has been achieved. A red light means it hasn’t reached the right torque level.

Dial Torque Wrench

Dial torque wrench provides users a good level of precision to prevent overtightening of the bolts on machinery and vehicles. This type of wrench is frequently used in production and repair facilities. It is also used for adjusting essential bolts and nuts, such as the ones you find on car tires.

  • Set the torque wrench value at the required setting. This will depend on the type of job you are working on.
  • Some dial torque wrenches have double-ended drives that are used for tightening and loosening.
  • Place the wrench on the bolt and nut and work on the adjustments. Some digital torque wrench will light up, or others beep and turn off when it reaches the needed torque level.
  • For a wrench that does not light or sound, check the torque reading to adjust the torque level. Make sure the gauge is visible as you turn the wrench. Once it reaches the correct torque value, you can stop turning it.

Click or Adjustable

In a click style wrench, setting the torque is relatively easy. You will find two types of torque measurements on this type of wrench depending on the size and purpose – the Newton meter settings and the Standard American foot or inch-pound settings.

  • After setting the torque wrench to the specification needed to tighten the bolts or nuts, you will hear a clicking sound to inform you that you have reached the correct tightness.
  • You can use the adjustable or click torque wrench on adjusting the bolts and nuts of heavy-duty vehicles or equipment. Setting and using the tool is a bit different from others, but it is not complicated.
  • Below are the steps on setting this type of torque wrench, so it is easy for you to do it on the next project.
  • Choose the right type of wrench for the work. For usual tasks like brakes, engine repair, tires, and head gaskets, a ½ inch or 3/8 inch torque wrench is the best option. For jobs that require an accurate torque level, the ¼ inch torque is recommended.
  • To ensure that you are setting your tool on the correct setting, you must first check the fastener. For example, your fastener says 150 foot-pounds. It means that you need to adjust your tool handle until it reaches the right setting. Make sure the handle clearly displays the torque values.
  • Once you have achieved the correct setting, tighten the release found at the bottom, as this will lock your torque.
  • Position the torque wrench in place to adjust. Continue turning until you hear the two clicks. It means that you have reached the right level of torque.

How to Maintain the Torque Wrenches

Torque wrenches are tough enough to withstand wear and tear. But, with frequent use, it might affect its performance. You bring it to a repair shop to handle it correctly and for calibration of the tool. This is essential to ensure that the torque wrench will always provide accurate reading whenever you are using it. If your wrench is not calibrated correctly, it can damage your machine since you might be applying too little or too much pressure.

Why Setting or Calibrating a Torque Wrench is a Must?

Some torque wrench users are not aware that even a premium quality wrench requires calibration to ensure accuracy. Here are five factors affected by the setting or calibrating of torque wrenches.

To Maintain the Accuracy of Torque Wrench

Presetting torque is displayed on the dial indicator located on the handle. The needed power runs from the bottom of the handle. In setting, the torque with a large capacity can be set more easily than the one with lower capabilities. It’s because the scale on the lower capacity is more detailed. The higher capacity torque wrenches are recommended if it needs to maintain tight torque specs.

The majority of the torque wrenches have 3% accuracy levels. But it can range from 6% to 1%, and its price range usually depends on it. Some models have an analog display, while others have digital.

If you prefer a wrench with higher accuracy, choose the digital wrench as it can be set even up to one decimal. Premium quality torque wrenches are known to maintain their accuracy for longer periods. But, frequent calibration is still necessary to establish a good history performance.

It requires more frequent calibration for low-quality wrenches to ensure it will provide consistent and accurate torque values. It is a must that your tool calibration is done using practices set by the internationally recognized standard like the ASTM E2624.

Some torque wrenches do not require to be set. These are known as the P-type wrenches that are preset to specific applications. Once it is set, it cannot be altered by unauthorized people.

The Frequency of Using the Tool

According to the International Organization of Standardization, a wrench should be re-calibrated after 5000 uses or an estimated every twelve months. But this is just the standard. It all depends on how frequently you use them. In short, if you use it more often, then it requires frequent re-calibration to maintain its accuracy.

The Manner of Storing the Tool

If you are using an adjustable torque wrench, you must always back it off or set it at its lowest marked setting when storing. The essential part of this type of torque wrench is the tension spring used to control the applied torque. It is set at the highest torque values when in use, thus increasing the load added into the tension spring. So, if you store it set at a value higher than the lower setting, it can weaken easily.

The result is it will produce less torque and may lose accuracy. On the other hand, if the torque is set at zero, the other parts can move slightly, which negatively affects the tool’s accuracy. If stored improperly for a long time, it requires re-calibration to make sure it will work accurately.


Torque wrenches help keep the nuts and bolts in your car and other machinery at the right tightness to perform well. Too much tightness can cause damage not only in the nuts and bolts but also on the vehicle and machinery. It is a must to set the tool at the recommended torque, so you will not have any problems along the way.

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1 thought on “How to Set a Torque Wrench”

  1. Heⅼlo, every time I used to check blog posts here early in the daylight, because
    I enjoy learning more and more.

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