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Old 01-04-10, 12:31 PM   #1
phantomcow2
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Axle nut torque

I'm completing the brake rotor swap on my '93 accord. I'm reading that the axle nut needs to be torqued to 134 ft/lbs. I have a torque wrench that goes to 150, but I bought it on eBay a few years ago and don't think it's accuracy is spot on. If the accuracy was off, say, +/- 10%, would there be any issue with the wheel bearing?
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Old 01-04-10, 12:52 PM   #2
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Depends on how the wheel bearing is loaded, but within 10% should be fine. Just get it close.

On my old 4WD Subarus, I just stood on the end of a breaker bar. Nothing like 200ft-lbs of torque to keep those axle nuts from backing out.
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Old 01-04-10, 01:14 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by phantomcow2 View Post
I'm completing the brake rotor swap on my '93 accord. I'm reading that the axle nut needs to be torqued to 134 ft/lbs. I have a torque wrench that goes to 150, but I bought it on eBay a few years ago and don't think it's accuracy is spot on. If the accuracy was off, say, +/- 10%, would there be any issue with the wheel bearing?
As long as it is consistently off by about the same amount, then no. Is this a beam type wrench, or a clicker type?
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Old 01-04-10, 01:29 PM   #4
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^^Are you sure you aren't thinking of lug nuts?

OP-The nuts that set wheel bearing preload (if you even have those) tend to be around the "not quite hand tight" level. The retaining nuts, which do not preload the bearings, are held on at "more than 1 road cyclist on a 1 foot lever" torque, which is what your situation sounds like. 10% shouldn't be an issue in my non professional opinion. Also, all the axle nuts I've seen have a depression you set to keep them from turning out. Does it have one of those?
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Old 01-04-10, 01:55 PM   #5
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Our instrumentation tech told me a normal clicker type torque wrench should only be counted on for +/- 10% anyways.

I'm pretty sure you'll be fine.

If you want to test it, find something secure in a horizontal orientation to bolt onto, and set the wrench for a torque that you can apply in a controlled manner. For example, if you've got a 2 foot long handle and you have a 45 pound weight plate handy, set it for 90 ft-pounds and hang the weight on it. See if it clicks as you feather the load a little bit with your hand.
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Old 01-04-10, 02:26 PM   #6
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OP-The nuts that set wheel bearing preload (if you even have those) tend to be around the "not quite hand tight" level. The retaining nuts, which do not preload the bearings, are held on at "more than 1 road cyclist on a 1 foot lever" torque, which is what your situation sounds like. 10% shouldn't be an issue in my non professional opinion. Also, all the axle nuts I've seen have a depression you set to keep them from turning out. Does it have one of those?
Not entirely sure of the reason why, however on some cars too much torque from the axle nut can damage the bearing.

Seen it before on an 80s 2WD Subaru. Those, you tried to get it close to the torque spec, but even 10% wasn't enough to cause a problem.

And yes, the axle nut should either be a castle nut with a cotter pin or have a little depression that keeps the nut from backing out.

I know nothing of Hondas though. Owned 10 cars, 8 of them Subarus.
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Old 01-04-10, 04:30 PM   #7
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Well the axle nut could damage the bearing because, at least on this car, it preloads the inner races of the angular contact bearing. Preloading gives the bearing axial stability, but too much preload puts too much pressure on the individual bearings and accelerates wear.
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Old 01-04-10, 05:40 PM   #8
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This is why I love outboard rotors and hub assemblies.
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Well the axle nut could damage the bearing because, at least on this car, it preloads the inner races of the angular contact bearing. Preloading gives the bearing axial stability, but too much preload puts too much pressure on the individual bearings and accelerates wear.
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Old 01-04-10, 06:01 PM   #9
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Yea, this rotor setup is dumb, so much so that they can make rotor-over-hub conversion kits. The brake rotors on my car are mounted behind the hub. As it is now, I had to remove the entire steering knuckle and use a slide hammer to remove the press fit between the hub and bearing race.
On the other hand, doing all this work forces me to inspect suspension parts. While I had the steering knuckles removed, I replaced both lower ball joints and could have replaced wheel bearings if they needed it.
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Old 01-04-10, 07:24 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by phantomcow2 View Post
I'm completing the brake rotor swap on my '93 accord. I'm reading that the axle nut needs to be torqued to 134 ft/lbs. I have a torque wrench that goes to 150, but I bought it on eBay a few years ago and don't think it's accuracy is spot on. If the accuracy was off, say, +/- 10%, would there be any issue with the wheel bearing?
Your torque wrench may have a tolerance of +/-10%, however unless you have a brand new nut being torqued against a smooth metal surface (ie - no scale, rust, pitting, etc), you will never know if you have torqued the bolt to 134 ft*lbs. That's why the structural steel industry has moved away from torque values and have gone with the turn-of-the-nut method, or they use bolt tensioners to pre-load the bolt. They found that the Coefficient of Friction varied too widely in older equipment to accurately torque / pre-tension the bolts.

I realize the car industry probably still specs bolts with torque values, however keep in mind that they're referring to new equipment with a lower Coefficient of Friction. Having said that, in your case I wouldn't worry about the tolerance on the torque wrench. Instead I'd make sure the surfaces are cleaned up before installing the nut ... that includes the threads on the bolt btw. That way you can limit your tolerance of error to that of the torque wrench.
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