How Do Torque Limiting Extensions Work (Complete Guide)

Think of torque-limiting extension bars, more commonly referred to as torque sticks as the perfect assistant for your next auto project.

It is a simple device that helps limit the amount of torque applied to lug nuts; when you are fastening them. This prevents damage to the lug nut through over-tightening, increasing its overall life.

In this blog post, we will discuss what torque sticks are, how they work, and who can benefit from using them.

We will also provide links to some of the best torque sticks on the market so you can start making it a permanent part of your toolbox!

What Are Torque Sticks?

When you ask people about Torque sticks, you are likely to receive one of two reactions. Either they absolutely can’t do without one, or they have no idea what they are!

As the name suggests torque limiting extensions sticks is an extension used in conjunction with an Impact Wrench

One end of the stick is inserted into the chuck of an impact wrench – thereby making it an extension. On the other end of the stick, you attach the relevant socket which connects to the lug nuts of your vehicle, or any other. 

How do they work?

Torque sticks work by absorbing and dissipating the torque from an impact wrench. When torque is applied by the wrench, it travels down the stick to the lug nut.

When a specific torque is reached the steel bends to absorb the excess torque within itself. 

This stops the lug nuts from overtightening.

Its function is similar to a torque wrench since it provides the proper torque required for the job, but it achieves that in a much less complicated manner. 

Torque wrenches have complicated sets of internal gears to get to the right level of torque, however, a torque stick just uses the tensile strength of steel to achieve the same result.

This makes them not the most precise tool in the box, but high-grade ounces can achieve good results.

Moreover using them just makes the overall process of tightening lug nugs more safe. 

Note: Different torque sticks will require different settings, so always check the manual to get the proper settings on your pneumatic or eclectic impact wrench for the best results.

Who Needs a Torque Stick?

Torque sticks can be used by anyone. For a regular car owner, it is a great tool while installing wheels, or for any other job where lug nuts and bolts are concerned. 

For professionals, owning one is a no-brainer.

Because of the nature of their work, not using them can lead to various safety issues with loose lug nuts, which can have serious consequences.

Also, when less torque is required for a job, using an impact gun, or any other heavy tool directly on the lug nuts can cause lasting damage. 

For professionals, more often than not, due to inaccurate torque values in many manuals, it is safer to use torque sticks to reduce these risks.

So, according to us, every professional mechanic should have a decent set of torque sticks in their tool kit. 

How to use a Torque Stick properly?

Torque sticks are very easy to use, once you know the specified torque required for the job at hand.

For example: If you are working on your car’s wheel lug nuts, check the car manual for the proper torque requirements, then select the proper torque stick for the job.

Once you have done that just follow simple steps:

Step 1: Attach the torque stick correctly to the impact wrench chuck, and attach the relevant socket to the other end.

Step 2: When tightening the wheel nuts with the impact wrench, release the trigger when the socket stops spinning—don’t continue to keep applying torque this not only damages the lug nut but also the torque stick.

Step 3: Once you are done with the torque stick, always recheck with a torque wrench to make sure the wheel nuts are tightened properly.

Note: If you are unsure about the torque settings, it is better to go with a lower torque stick. That way you can avoid damaging the wheel nuts. 

How to Find the Best Torque Sticks?

You can easily find a good set of torque sticks at your local hardware depot. They usually come in sets of 5 or 10. 

But if not, Amazon is a great source for ordering these as well.

All of these sets will comprise sticks that operate within a large torque limit range, so you can be safe buying any set, and be assured that your requirements will be fulfilled.

To help you out with this, we have listed five torque stick sets below that are highly rated on Amazon-, and can take care of most applications.

Our Recommended Torque Limiting Extensions:

1. Steelman 1/2-Inch Drive 5-Piece Torque Extension Set

Steelman 1/2-Inch Drive 5-Piece Torque Extension Set

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Steelman is a highly recommended brand, it has a strong reputation for producing high-quality tools.

This 5 piece torque limiting extension set is a great example of it. It provides torque settings ranging from 65 ft-lb to 140 ft-lb, which is more than enough for most general usage.

The 8-inch extensions are made out of durable Chrome-Molybdenum steel (CR-MO), preventing twists under heavy torque.

This makes them more forgiving of wrong settings and mistakes. They are also powder coated and corrosion resistant which makes them perfect for home and professional use.

Finally, Steelman has gone an extra step by color-coding its torque stick sets, which make it easily identifiable inside a crowded toolbox.

2. 5pc 1/2″ Drive Torque Limiting Extension Bar Set

5pc 1/2" Drive Torque Limiting Extension Bar Set

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Orion Motor Tech’s torque stick sets are a cost-effective alternative to the more expensive Steelaman’s.

At under $50, it provides the same features as the earlier set. All 5 sticks have a 1/2- inch drive, with an 8-inch extension delivering safe effective tightening to your vehicle’s lug nuts.

The set includes the most commonly used torque limits as well.

These torque sticks are made out of Chromoly steel (instead of CR-MO steel), which is slightly less strong but does the job just fine when used properly.

They also feature an outer coating of manganese phosphate which makes them corrosion resistant and ok for rough usage.

Finally, Orion Motor places a lot of stock on their spring-loaded detent ball design, which disengages the torque stick during an overload.

Thus, preventing damage to your lug nuts. This is an important safety feature of the tool that is worth mentioning.

3. Capri Tools 30083 Torque Limiting Extension Bar Set

Capri Tools 30083 Torque Limiting Extension Bar Set

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The Capri Tools, 5-set torque limiting extension bars are another good example of a very cost-effective option.

At just under $55, this set comes with a Lifetime Warranty.

Plus, they use CR-MO steel in their construction which makes these torque sticks extremely tough, perfect for the messy conditions of most toolboxes.

The Capri Tools torque sticks are color-coded so they are easily identifiable.

They come in a hard case that is sturdy enough to handle the rigors of a shop floor.

Furthermore, they are highly rated on Amazon and we haven’t read too many reviews of people who are disappointed by their performance.

So if you are looking for a cheap set of torque sticks, that are sturdier than most torque stick sets at this price point. Then the Capri Tools 30083 Torque Set is just for you!

4. CASOMAN 10 Piece 1/2″ Drive 8 Inch Length Torque Extension Bar Set

CASOMAN 10 Piece 1/2" Drive 8 Inch Length Color-Coded Torque Extension Bar Set

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With the Casoman we are moving into the territory of 10-piece torque stick sets.

These offer a lot more variety in torque settings, perfect for more professional applications. They are also made out of high-impact CR-MO steel with a black electroplated finish for enhanced durability.

This set ships inside a heavy-duty plastic blow-molded carrying case, which is perfect for organization, storage, and transport. 

The only drawback is that it only comes with a Year Warranty.

Not that you’ll need to claim it as the tools are sturdy enough, but something to keep in mind when buying this set over more expensive options.

5. Astro 78810 10-Piece Torque Limiting Extension Set

Astro 78810 10-Piece Torque Limiting Extension Set

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Another cost-effective option for a 10-piece torque stick set, but it is slightly more expensive than the Casoman set.

We didn’t find any reason why that was so, save the fact that Astro tools are a more reputed brand. And probably because this particular product has more ratings on Amazon with a lot more positive reviews.

Anyways, even these torque sticks are made out of high-impact CR-MO steel, they are corrosion resistant and color-coded.

They ship inside a heavy-duty plastic box-, and come with a one-year warranty.

You perhaps might get better customer support with this purchase in case of any problems because of it being a larger brand.

But other than that, they are exactly the same in features as the Casoman set. 

Can Torque Sticks be used with hand tools?

Torque sticks are generally used with impact wrenches. Due to the way they work, hand tools are not capable of delivering the necessary torque required to use them optimally. 

However, you will see some tire techs use torque sticks as an extension to their torque wrench.

It is not unusual to see this, but remember they are just using it as an extension, the wrench can do the job just fine by itself.


Dean Alvarez, TireForge Head Author

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