The first step in attaching a wheel to a vehicle is to start the hardware by hand, making sure the bolts go on smoothly and evenly. After that, an impact wrench fitted with an impact torque stick can speed the wheel-mounting process.
Torque sticks, also known as torque-limiting extension bars, come in sets, each in a different thickness and color. The thicker the stick, the higher the torque to the fastener.
The amount of force on the bolt is managed by its design. The torque stick will twist, flex or bend at a certain torque foot/pound threshold. This prevents the nut to be tightened past the intended torque.
It’s important to note that while torque sticks can be a time-saver, they are not exact by nature. Most experts recommend using a torque stick to get to about 70% of the way there, then switching to a manual method to finish. The final torque specified value is best reached by using a calibrated torque wrench.
Speed is the biggest benefit to using a torque stick, allowing technicians to complete the mounting process more quickly. Of course, this is assuming the tools are used properly and are accurate.
For those who choose to use the torque sticks through the lug-tightening process, be sure to double-check the settings with a torque wrench once the vehicle is on the ground, assuming you’re able to.
Tightening the hardware fully with impact guns fitted with torque sticks often prevents using a click-type torque wrench to confirm the specified amount of torque is present. While a click-type torque wrench can identify when the correct torque has been reached, it cannot diagnose excessive torque.
There are those who reject the use of impact guns or torque sticks when installing wheels, citing that impact guns can damage hardware and wheel finishes. Also, impact gun torque can vary widely, from low torque to extremely high torque, resulting in everything from loose wheels to hardware damage.