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November 27, 2019
Correctly applied torque is vital to maintaining the safety of a vehicle and its passengers. Torque limited tools are essential to helping tighten wheel nuts to the correct torque.
But what are torque limited impact wrenches, how do they work, and which is the best tool to use? Learn more about them here to ensure you aren’t overtightening wheel nuts and risking lives.
An impact wrench with a torque limited function enables efficient torque level control, with torque limited to the forward direction to prevent overtightening. The tool won’t stop running but the torque will increase more slowly, meaning you can be certain that you haven’t overtightened the nut.
Operators should always complete the final tightening with a calibrated torque wrench to ensure that the torque applied is accurate and complies with the vehicle manufacturers’ specifications.
There are two types of torque limited technology, both designed to reduce power in the forward direction once a given torque is reached:
Let’s take a closer look at both types to understand which one delivers the best performance:
By biasing either the hammer or the anvil, or both, the two components will ‘slide’ over each other and the impact will be less powerful, although still present.
There are two types of air flow modification, which are both designed to slow the rotor and therefore deliver less power. To better illustrate, here is a drawing of a non-torque limited air motor:
In a standard non-torque limited impact wrench that has no air flow modifications, the diameter of the air intake port is the same in forward and in reverse. As a result, it typically delivers the same torque levels in forward and reverse. You can see this in the image below:
The air passes through a smaller inlet port, which reduces the air flow, and in turn provides less air to the rotor, meaning it turns more slowly. As a result, the impact mechanism driven by the rotor is less powerful. See the image below:
In this case, the rotor has less distance to travel from the start of the rotation to the exhaust, and therefore turns the rotor more slowly. See image below:
Since torque limited impact wrenches with mechanical modifications rely on a hammer and anvil making physical contact, they are inherently prone to vibration. They will also experience more friction at the contact point, which results in heat, and acts as a source of potential failure. This is where opting for tools with air flow modifications can be a big advantage. Tools with a reduced inlet air flow consume less air and have a significant benefit of reduced vibration compared to tools with mechanical modifications. Depending on the make and manufacturer, tools with air flow modifications can also reduce vibration in the forward direction compared to tools with a non-torque limiting design. This helps to protect workers from The Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), a common yet debilitating musculoskeletal disorder, which is often permanent, but easily preventable, and caused by intensive and repeated vibration exposure. No matter which technology the tool employs, both mechanical and air flow modifications ensure that once the optimal level of torque is achieved, it is not exceeded. This helps avoid the risks associated with overtightening.
Shut-off tools include a shut-off function which monitors the torque in the forward direction to prevent overtightening. The tool will stop running when the given torque is reached. On the contrary, the torque limited impact wrench will NOT stop running, the torque will just stop increasing.
Increase vehicle safety! Torque limited impact wrenches are specially designed to prevent overtightening of nuts.