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What Is A Ratchet Wrench

Ratchets are quite popular wrench devices with fastener components. This is because ratchet wrenches are important tools that can be used to loosen or fasten bolts and nuts.

These devices, ratchets, are mechanical and only allow unidirectional movement. Equipping a ratchet to a wrench will make it possible for you to set a pair of turning directions: one in which the head of your wrench is fixed and the other where it is free to spin.

A ratchet wrench is similar in appearance to standard box-end or open-ended wrenches. Nonetheless, these wrenches have a ratcheting feature towards the end of the wrench, allowing the ratchet wrench to loosen or tighten bolts without withdrawing your wrench from the fastener.

With ordinary wrenches, you must turn the bolt, eject the wrench from the bolt, and reposition it before turning it again. However, a ratchet wrench will allow you to tighten and loosen bolts much quicker. The wrench direction, whether tightening or loosening, is regulated using a tiny lever. But you must not mistake a ratchet wrench for ‘normal’ ratchets with ratcheting handles used to place the sockets.

What Are The Uses Of Ratchet Wrenches?

You can use a ratchet wrench on any fastener or bolt that needs to be removed efficiently and quickly. The majority of auto parts shops and hardware stores have ratchet wrenches available for sale in sets, which may be applied in the automotive industry, household projects, or various other tasks.

Advantages Of Using Ratchet Wrenches

There are several advantages associated with using a ratchet wrench. Some of these advantages are the capability of being used in constricted areas and the ability to loosen bolts that are very tight as well as re-tightening them to similar tightness.

In addition, the adaptability and various possible combinations make this socket and ratchet essential devices. Speaking of wrenches, is it even possible to have more than is necessary? We appreciate the benefits that are offered by ratcheting wrenches, and many experts have some on standby for metric and SAE jobs.

The thinner profile of the ratchet wrench in comparison to socket wrenches while maintaining the ratcheting action plays a significant role in ensuring it is the go-to device for automotive enthusiasts and many experts.

Mechanic repairing car with ratchet wrench.

Why Choose A Ratcheting Wrench?

The Profile Is Thinner Than That Of Socket Wrenches

When you are done fixing a socket on your wrench, you could have upwards of 1 1/2  inches that you are required to clear to have your bolt’s socket. That is allowed when an abundance of space is at your disposal while working around the bottom or top of an engine. However, room around the sides is at a significant premium. Similar to standard wrenches, ratcheting wrenches can be used when the socket becomes too bulky.

You Avoid The Traditional ‘Flip And Turn’

When you are using standard wrenches in tight spots, you usually lack the clearance of just wrenching away. Instead, you are required to position your wrench, make a turn, pull, flip, and position it back on your bolt, over and over.

With this, you get back the necessary angle to carry on moving your fastener, though it might take quite some time. With ratcheting wrenches, you can avoid all the turning and flipping. This is thanks to its ratcheting action, where the device does not need to be removed from the bolt until you finish the task.

Convenience Of Flex Heads

Among the upgrades you might require, as you search for your next ratchet wrench, is the flexible head. A flex head enables you to get to the fastener from various angles. As such, it can be instrumental as you try to reach awkward or tight spaces.

Do Not Do Away With Your Sockets

Several points stand in the way of a ratcheting wrench being the perfect tool you could get. One thing is that the diameter of the socket on the socket wrench is smaller. This is because the socket is positioned on the square drive, whereas its pawls are placed in the wrench, where it becomes necessary for a ratchet wrench to place the pawls outside the open diameter. The increased diameter size makes it a challenge to find your way around bolts that are too close to other parts.

Sockets can be found all around the head from every side as well as the top. While loosening it, it only slides farther up your socket. With a ratchet wrench, the thinner profile will make it a lot easier to slide down upon getting enough clearance for the bolt.

How To Loosen Nuts Using Ratchet Wrenches

Although understanding how a socket wrench can be used to loosen a nut is among the things most DIYers know about, below we will share some additional information to help you realize optimum service from your devices.

  • Step 1: Choose the correct socket
  • Step 2: Fix your socket to your ratchet
  • Step 3: Look for the direction of turning
  • Step 4: Position the socket onto your fastener
  • Step 5: Turn the fastener and continue turning
  • Step 6: Withdraw your socket upon completing


A ratchet wrench covers most of the applications in which combination wrenches are used. But at times, the larger head might get in the way. In such a case, you will only need to flip it and use the alternative side (open-end wrench). DIYers and experts will find that projects become significantly easier when using ratcheting wrenches. In addition, they eliminate the need for combination wrenches.


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