Sockets are a vital tool in any automotive garage. Tightening and loosening fasteners, a day doesn't go by without picking one of these up.
But how do you use them correctly?
1. The right drive
Use the correct drive of ratchet or accessory to suit the size of fastening you need to turn and how much torque you need to apply. The larger the drive the more torque can be applied, particularly for stubborn or over tightened fastenings.
2. The right size socket
Use the correct size socket, the wrong size socket will damage the fastening making it more difficult to tighten or loosen. It might also damage the socket.
3. The weakest point
Remember that when trying to turn a stubborn nut or bolt it is the weakest point that will give first - choose the correct tool so that the weakest point is the rust, friction or adhesive that is holding the fastening in place.
4. Thread direction
Check that you are turning the correct way - on some engines and wheel assemblies the thread may be the opposite to normal.
5. Keep it clean and dry
After use always check the tools are clean and dry before putting them away, this will help to avoid problems such as corrosion and moving parts seizing or becoming tight.
Regularly use a light oil to keep ratchet mechanisms in good working order and free from corrosion. Do not use heavy oils or greases as these tend to attract dirt which may cause the ratchet mechanism to slip.
7. Do not use chrome sockets with impact tools
Chrome sockets and accessories are designed to be used where pressure or torque is applied evenly, impact tools can damage regular sockets. Use impact sockets with impact tools.
8. Do not use TPX on TX type fastenings
Use the correct type as the shape is designed to fit tightly, of not the material is stressed and may fail.
9. Do not use scaffolding poles or similar
If the fastening will not turn with the tools you are using you need to use a more powerful tool such as a larger drive ratchet, a flex handle or even an impact power tool. Do not use bars to increase the leverage - it is dangerous and can break the tools.
10. Do not use a vehicle to turn the socket
Do not fix the socket with a ratchet and then drive the vehicle to force the socket to turn - needless to say it is dangerous and can break the tools.