by Pat Goss
Here’s a tool that can be wonderful or horrible, depending where and how it’s used. It’s an air impact wrench, and the way that it is most often used improperly is in the installation of wheels. Technicians like to use this because it’s quick and efficient, but they frequently use it with just a conventional socket on the end of it, and that can lead to stripped threads and over-torqued wheels, which can cause warped brake rotors and a number of other problems. So what should they be using?
Well, at the bear minimum they should be using one of these. This is a torque stick, and it limits the amount of torque that the impact gun puts on the lug nuts. It actually replaces the socket on the end of the impact wrench. Now there is a technique to it, so you have to know what you’re doing, but it does a good job.
But the absolute foolproof way to do it is with a torque wrench. The torque wrench will make sure that each lug nut has exactly the right amount torque and everything is even around the wheel. It prevents warped rotors and stripped threads.
Stripped threads are a fact of life, and in the past many times, especially on wheel studs, what you had to do was you had to disassemble the wheel, press the old stud out, and do all kinds of things that were time consuming, and that meant expensive. But now there’s something from Helicoil. It is a split thread chaser. You can open it up. See in the past you had to start up on an end and try to screw it down over the damage. Well, with this split unit you can put it below the damage where the threads are still good, and then using a socket, you can twist it back off, and that straightens out the threads. It can save a lot of expense and time.
Another problem with the air impact gun, well it can over tighten the wheels, and that means if you have a flat tire you can’t get the wheels loose. The regular conventional handle that comes in the car, it just isn’t powerful enough. So this is an Easy Lug. Now it’s a pretty ingenious piece of equipment. It’s designed so that it will fit over two of the lug nuts on the wheel. It fits on one lug to keep the unit from turning, a socket on the other end, and a handle. And by turning the handle, you produce 32 to 1 torque. It makes it easy to loosen the tightest lug nut. It’s very inexpensive at about $60.
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