Automotive Hand Ratchets
Ratchets are metal hand tools that consist of sockets of varying sizes and are used to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts. Although ratchets are a must-have for automotive repairs, they can be used to manipulate several different kinds of fasteners. Ratchets allow for the attachment of a wide variety of sockets; they can also be used with attachments that extend its reach.What kinds of ratchets are there?
Most ratchets are available in four different sizes: 1/4-inch drive, 3/8-inch drive, 1/2-inch drive, and 3/4-inch drive. The drive is the piece that protrudes from the head of the ratchet and upon which the sockets fasten. Some ratchets are available with heads that swivel and may also accommodate swivel extensions. Shorter-handled ratchets provide less leverage, but they can be used in small spaces. Longer-handled ratchets provide more leverage, allowing you to easily loosen or tighten fasteners. Offset-handled ratchets allow for work to be done at an angle, improving reach into tight work areas.How often should ratchets be cleaned?
Ratchets should be cleaned once per year at the least. They can be cleaned more frequently as needed. You will know that your ratchet needs attention when it is no longer making a clean clicking noise during use or doesnt turn smoothly. Round and teardrop ratchets require a slightly different cleaning process.
On teardrop ratchets, you can remove the backplate by removing either a snap ring or a few small screws. Inspect the gear and pawl to make sure they are intact. Use a degreaser to clean the assembly, making sure to switch the reverse lever several times during the process. Once clean, lubricate it with oil and reassemble.
Round head ratchets have a ring that must be removed, which is located on the moving part of the ratchet. Inspect the gear attached to the head and the gear attached to the movable pawl. You will need to use a toothbrush with cleaning solvent to thoroughly clean the assembly. Lubricate before reassembling.What should you consider when buying a ratchet wrench set?
- Type and purpose: Think about the job you want to perform with the ratchets and whether you need them for general use or for specific jobs. Smaller spaces require shorter handles, hard to reach spaces may require a swivel or offset handle. You may need a long handle to loosen especially tough fasteners. Each kind of ratchet has different applications.
- Number of teeth: Ratchets come with varying numbers of teeth in the gear assembly. The more you have, the less space is needed to turn the ratchet, making more of them ideal for confined spaces. However, there is a trade-off in torque. If you need more, a lower tooth count will suit your needs better.
- Material: Ratchets are made using different kinds of materials, with some being stronger, heavier, lighter, or more resistant to electrical shock than others.
- Ergonomics: Some ratchets have comfort or non-slip grip handles or are outfitted with additional features to make them more comfortable to use.