Fastening nuts and bolts might seem like a simple task.
But when we’re talking about trucks and coaches – vehicles weighing multiple tonnes that are out on the road under huge forces – there’s really no room for error with fittings that are too loose or too tight.
So if you’re running a fleet or a vehicle workshop, the safety of your drivers and your vehicles should be top priority – and that means taking your torque wrenches and fasteners seriously.
Here’s everything you need to know about calibrating your torque tools:
What are torque tools?
In simple terms, torque is a measure of rotational force – the kind of force you apply when you’re fastening components such as nuts and bolts.
And that’s exactly what a torque tool does. With a professional torque wrench, you can apply a precise and controlled rotational force to the components that need it – securely fastening nuts and bolts to the exact limits they need, without leaving them loose or overtightened.
There are all kinds of torque tools for different kinds of jobs – from manual, handheld wrenches to high-powered battery tools. But in most cases, you’ll be looking at just a few different types:
- A ‘P’ Type Torque Wrench that’s set and dedicated to one particular application, without an adjustable scale
- A ‘Mushroom Head’ Torque Wrench with a wide head fitted with a finger grip to help you find the resistance of the nut
- A ‘Dual Scale’ Torque Wrench for precision adjustments with minimal human error, featuring a scale in both pounds and newton metres
- And Electronic Torque Tools for use in tight spaces (and to reduce your physical effort)
Why is it important to calibrate torque tools?
Torque tools are just like any other type of tool. They work safely and efficiently within the right parameters – with the right maintenance and the right settings.
But over longer periods of time (or with repeated use), their calibrations can start to be affected. And if your workers are tightening components to torque forces that aren’t right, you could be putting your vehicles (and your drivers!) in serious danger.
If the settings on your torque tools are out of balance, your technicians might be leaving wheels loose, brake pads in the wrong position – or even engine parts under excessive stress that’s pushing them to breaking point.
So just like any other piece of equipment in your workshop, you need to be sure your torque wrenches are producing and displaying the right results – and that means making sure they’re regularly checked and calibrated to the right settings.
How often should you calibrate torque tools?
The short answer?
There are all kinds of factors that come into play with a sensitive instrument – and the conditions and usage of your torque tools can affect how quickly they fall out of calibration.
In general, it usually comes down to things like:
- How often you use your torque wrench – the more you use it, the sooner you’ll need to calibrate it
- How much abuse your torque tools take – if you’re working in situations where the tools get dropped or knocked against other objects, they’re likely to lose their calibration faster
- The conditions you work in – if you’re working in extreme humidity or extreme temperatures, your torque tools are more likely to become uncalibrated
- And how far you push them – if your tools get overloaded beyond their recommended limits, they can start to lose their accuracy.
As a rule of thumb, it’s good practice to calibrate torque tools once every 5,000 cycles, or once every 12 months – whichever comes first.
If you’re not calibrating often enough, you could be putting people and equipment at risk. And if you’re calibrating torque tools far too often, you’re probably wasting time and resources.
So it’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines – as well as your own sensible judgement!
Looking for the right tools to keep your vehicles safe?
Getting the right torque on the right components is a serious job – and that means you need a serious set of equipment to do it safely.