The 10 Best Breaker Bars to Buy 2020

The 10 Best Breaker Bars to Buy 2020

If you’ve ever worked on a car, you know how frustrating a stuck bolt can be. Regardless of the tools you have, sometimes bolts won’t budge. If you’re in this situation, don’t throw in the towel yet. Instead, break out the breaker bar.

Breaker bars are long steel tools with a socket head at the end. While they share many features, breaker bars cannot ratchet and rely on brute force to remove bolts from sockets. This is why they feature long handles that turn leverage into torque. While the idea is simple, you’ll come across a lot of different options. Read on to learn more about the best breaker bars.

Things to Consider When Shopping for Breaker Bars

Breaker bars are similar in the ways that they look and work, but there are a few features that make them different. You’ll come across different drive sizes, lengths, and weights. For this reason, you need to carefully consider these features before you decide on a breaker bar.

Drive Size

The first thing you want to look for in a breaker bar is the size of the drive head. There are a few different types of drive heads on the market, and many manufacturers offer the same breaker bar with different drive head options. Plus, some breaker bars come with drive heads that feature two different drive sizes. The standard drive heads that you’ll find are ½”, ⅜” and ¼”.

Drive Rotation

Another drive head-related feature to look for is whether or not the drive head rotates. Products with rotating drive heads allow you to get better leverage in awkward positions, making the tool more versatile. You’ll typically find drive heads that turn up to 180 degrees, but some products offer even more mobility. Unfortunately, drive heads that rotate are less durable and more likely to break under heavy torque.

Length

Once you know what drive head you need, it’s essential to choose the right handle length. The overall size of the breaker bar determines how much torque can be applied to the tool. Smaller breaker bars give you less torque and leverage, while longer breaker bars give you more torque and leverage. You’ll also come across some products with telescoping handles that allow you to change the length of the handle.

Weight

The weight of a breaker bar can have a big effect on durability and ease-of-use. Lighter breaker bars are slightly more maneuverable, but a heavy breaker bar is less likely to break or bend and helps apply more torque.

Price

Breaker bars are generally affordable tools, but the prices do vary. Simple breaker bars are usually budget-friendly, but breaker bars that feature innovative features, engraved metal, and rotating drive heads can drive the price up. For this reason, we’ve grouped every breaker bar into one of three categories:

$: Around $15
$$: Around $30
$$$: Around $45

Keeping these features in mind will make shopping for breaker bars straightforward. Furthermore, they make it easier to determine whether a product is the right fit, even at first glance. Now you’re ready for the ten best breaker bars.

Top 10 Best Breaker Bars 2020

1. Best Overall Breaker Bar: Neiko ½ Inch Drive Premium Breaker Bar

Neiko ½ Inch Drive Premium Breaker Bar

Why we like it: The Neiko ½ Inch Drive Premium Breaker Bar is a great breaker bar to have in your arsenal. If you do a lot of work on your wheels, it makes removing even the tightest air-torqued lug nuts a breeze.

Editor’s Rating:

 Quick Facts:

  • Drive Size: ½ inch
  • Drive Rotation: 180°
  • Length: 24 inches
  • Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Price: $

The Neiko ½ Inch Drive Premium Breaker Bar is an excellent tool for anyone dealing with stuck bolts. The tool features a ½” drive head that’s suitable for most automotive applications, and the head is made with heat-treated chrome-moly steel for enhanced durability. While the drive head is durable, it’s also hinged. It can rotate up to 180 degrees and includes a spring-loaded ball bearing that keeps it from slipping off bolts. This makes it easy to use the tool from any angle.

The Neiko ½ Inch Drive Premium Breaker Bar also benefits from a Cr-V steel handle. The handle is strong enough to handle high levels of torque, and it uses grooves to keep your hands from slipping. Overall, it’s one of the most comfortable and most effective breaker bars you can find.

What Sets It Apart

The Neiko ½ Inch Drive Premium Breaker Bar is unique because the company backs up its claims. Everything looks good on paper, sure, but this breaker bar also meets and exceeds guidelines produced by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The not-for-profit organization sets product quality guidelines for numerous applications, so it’s great to see Neiko getting the seal of approval.

Things to Consider

While this breaker bar is one of the best, it’s not perfect. It provides a lot of torque, but every tool has its breaking point. In this case, the drive head can be susceptible to cracking under the heaviest loads. It works well for removing lug nuts, but other applications are risky.

Who It’s For

If you need a breaker bar to remove tight lug nuts, the Neiko ½ Inch Drive Premium Breaker Bar is a great choice. It can be used for other applications, but the leverage it offers is perfect for removing lug nuts that have been over-torqued.

Pros

  • Cr-V chrome handle offers leverage and comfort
  • 180-degree drive head
  • Made with heat-treated forged steel
  • ANSI approved
  • Chrome-molybdenum drive head

Cons

  • The drive head can shatter if used on bolts other than lug nuts

2. Best Premium Breaker Bar: Capri Tools Extended Leverage Breaker Bar

Capri Tools Extended Leverage Breaker Bar

Why we like it: There is a lot to like about the Capri Tools Extended Leverage Breaker Bar, but our favorite feature is the 240-degree rotating drive head. This makes the tool easy to use, even in awkward positions.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Drive Size: ½”
  • Drive Rotation: 240°
  • Length: 30 inches
  • Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Price: $$

The Capri Tools Extended Leverage Breaker Bar is a lightweight breaker bar with impressive performance. While most breaker bars are between 12 and 24 inches long, Capri Tools gives you an extra six inches of length. This doesn’t seem like much, but extra leverage can make it effortless to remove difficult bolts.

This breaker bar is also durable and easy to use. The tool is made with a chrome vanadium body and chrome molybdenum drive head. This gives the breaker bar enhanced durability, even when working on frozen bolts. The handle is also comfortable and features grooves to keep your hands from slipping.

What Sets It Apart

This breaker bar is unique because it’s more flexible than other products. The drive head has 240-degree rotation, which makes it easy to fit the head into tight spots. With a head that rotates up to 240-degrees, you can also get a few extra pounds of torque. When you pair this with the 30″ handle, no bolt is too tough for this breaker bar.

Things to Consider

The Capri Tools Extended Leverage Breaker Bar is a great tool, but sometimes it’s too strong. If you’re looking to remove a bolt, without breaking it, you need to be careful with this tool. It can be done, but the torque is too much to handle for inexperienced users.

If you’re just looking to remove a lug nut that’s stuck in place, we recommend the Neiko ½ Inch Drive Premium Breaker Bar instead. It’s not as strong as this tool but offers enough torque to remove bolts without destroying them.

Who It’s For

If you need a premium breaker bar, look no further. The Capri Tools Extended Leverage Breaker Bar is a great tool to have if you need to work on bolts that are frozen or haven’t moved in years. If you are working on older vehicles, this breaker bar will make your life a lot easier.

Pros

  • 240-degree rotating drive head
  • Made with lightweight durable chrome materials
  • Enough torque to remove frozen and rusted bolts
  • The spring-loaded drive head keeps the tool from slipping
  • Comfortable ergonomic handle

Cons

  • The increased torque from the 30" handle can lead to broken or cracked bolts if used incorrectly

3. Best Budget Breaker Bar: Great Neck Breaker Bar

Great Neck Breaker Bar

Why we like it: We love the Great Neck Breaker Bar because it's affordable and easy to use. It's not the best breaker bar for frozen or rusted bolts, but it will help you get a wheel off in a pinch.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Drive Size: ½”
  • Drive Rotation: 180°
  • Length: 18 inches
  • Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Price: $

The Great Neck Breaker Bar is a simple and budget-friendly product. It features a durable chrome vanadium body for durability and a knurled handle for comfort. While the handle is only 18 inches long, it offers enough torque to help you remove stubborn lug nuts, and you don’t need to worry about breaking them, although it’s not long enough for the most stubborn bolts.

This breaker bar also comes with some great features for the price. It features a ball retainer that keeps it secured to the nut you’re working on and a flexible drive that rotates up to 180 degrees. For the price, it’s a versatile breaker bar that gets the job done.

What Sets It Apart

The Great Neck Breaker Bar is unique because of its affordable design. It won’t out-perform larger breaker bars, but it’s a great tool to keep around the house. Compared to other breaker bars, it’s more affordable and straightforward to use. Plus, because the handle is only 18″ long, you don’t need to worry about breaking anything.

Things to Consider

This breaker bar is a great budget-friendly tool, but you get what you pay for. While it works for things like tight lug nuts, if you’re dealing with frozen or rusted bolts, you won’t have enough torque to free them up. Furthermore, there is only one size option. Most breaker bars let you choose between different drive head sizes, but with this tool, you’re limited to the ½” head.

If you’re not looking to spend a fortune, but need a breaker bar you can use with multiple drive sizes, the Neiko ½ Inch Drive Premium Breaker Bar is a great alternative. The handle is more extended, so you get more torque, and it’s affordable.

Who It’s For

The Great Neck Breaker Bar is an excellent choice if you need a simple breaker bar to keep around the house. It’s more affordable than most breaker bars and works well for removing lug nuts that were tightened with air. It’s small size also makes it easy to store in any garage.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Durable chrome vanadium body
  • Knurled handle for comfort

Cons

  • Only available with a ½" drive head
  • Not suitable for frozen or rusted bolts

4. Best Automotive Breaker Bar: EPAuto Breaker Bar

EPAuto Breaker Bar

Why we like it: The EPAuto Breaker Bar is a great automotive tool. We love how it can help you with your wheels and fits under the hood.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Drive Size: ½”
  • Drive Rotation: 180°
  • Length: 24 inches
  • Weight: 2.94 pounds
  • Price: $

The EPAuto Breaker Bar is a great tool that comes from a big player in the automotive industry. This breaker bar is designed with forged chrome vanadium steel for durability and a knurled handle for comfort. The chrome handle also features grooves on the top and bottom, so you know where to place your hands when using the tool.

EPAuto also loaded this tool’s drive head with a lot of features. The drive head can rotate up to 180 degrees, making it easy to get leverage in awkward positions. The drive head also features a spring-loaded ball-bearing that keeps the drive head from slipping off bolts.

What Sets It Apart

The EPAuto Breaker Bar is unique because of its durability. Compared to other breaker bars with 24″ handles, this product can remove frozen or rusted bolts easily. Some breaker bars wear down as you use them, or crack if too much torque is applied. That’s not true for this breaker bar at all, as its tempered chrome vanadium steel is totally bombproof.

Things to Consider

EPAuto did a great job with this breaker bar, but no product is perfect. It boasts impressive durability, but it offers too much torque for smaller bolts. This breaker bar is also limited by a ½” drive and a 24″ handle, which means you’ll have to look elsewhere if you need different specifications.

If you’re looking for a breaker bar that’s a little more gentle and offers more variety, the Neiko ½ Inch Drive Premium Breaker Bar is a great alternative. Neiko has plenty of breaker bar size options available, and it can handle small bolts without breaking them.

Who It’s For

This breaker bar is for shoppers that need a reliable product to keep around the garage. If you’ll be using a breaker bar often, it’s durability will shock you. For this reason, we recommend giving this breaker bar a try if you work on heavy machinery full-time or have a passion for working on your vehicle.

Pros

  • Made with durable chrome vanadium
  • The handle has grooves on the top and bottom, representing proper hand placement
  • Spring-loaded ball-bearing keeps the tool from slipping off bolts

Cons

  • Too much torque for smaller bolts
  • No other drive head or handle sizes listed

5. Best Breaker Bar Set: Craftsman Flex Handle Breaker Bar Set

Craftsman Flex Handle Breaker Bar Set

Why we like it: We like the Craftsman Flex Handle Breaker Bar Set because you get three different breaker bars at a great price.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Drive Size: ½”, ¼”, ⅜”
  • Drive Rotation: 180°
  • Length: 6, 10, and 15 inches
  • Weight: 2.94 pounds
  • Price: $$

The Craftsman Flex Handle Breaker Bar Set is a high-quality set of 3 breaker bars. Each of the three bars offers a different handle length and head size. This makes it easy to tackle multiple jobs with the same set of tools. Instead of needing to shop for additional breaker bars, you get them in the same place.

Craftsman Flex Handle Breaker Bar Set offers quality and quantity. The breaker bars are made with forged and heated treated steel for durability, and they feature knurled handles for comfort and support. All three breaker bars also have heads that rotate up to 180 degrees.

What Sets It Apart

The Craftsman Flex Handle Breaker Bar Set is unique because you get three breaker bars for the price of one. While the breaker bars are smaller than most individual products, it’s a great set to keep around the house for smaller projects. These breaker bars also feature short handles. While you lose out on torque, smaller handles are great for working in tight spaces.

Things to Consider

While this is an excellent breaker bar set, the bars are not as versatile as individual breaker bars. This is because all three breaker bars in the set have smaller handles than the average breaker bar. So, while you get three different drive head options, the tools don’t give much torque.

If you like the idea of getting multiple drive heads for the price of one, but need more torque, the ManPower Breaker Bar is a great alternative. This breaker bar features a ½” and ⅜” drive head on the same tool and comes with a 24″ handle.

Who It’s For

The Craftsman Flex Handle Breaker Bar Set is an excellent choice for anyone that needs a few breaker bars to keep around the house. If you like to work on your car or do your own housework, having a set of three breaker bars will come in handy. Unfortunately, they’re not great for handling frozen or rusted bolts.

Pros

  • Comes with three breaker bars for the price of one
  • Smaller handles are great for working in tight spaces
  • The drive heads rotate up to 180 degrees

Cons

  • The tools don't offer a lot of torque

6. Performance Tool Breaker Bar

Performance Tool Breaker Bar

Why we like it: We love the Performance Tool Breaker Bar for its destructive power. With a 30" handle, you'll have enough torque to crack the toughest bolts.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Drive Size: ½”
  • Drive Rotation: 180°
  • Length: 30 inches
  • Weight: 1.65 pounds
  • Price: $$

The Performance Tool Breaker Bar is a heavy-duty breaker bar that packs a punch. This tool is designed to crack frozen bolts and tear through rusted bolts. The 30″ handle gives you more torque than most breaker bars around, and the flexible drive head rotates up to 180 degrees. To handle the torque this bar produces, it’s made out of forged and heat-treated chrome vanadium steel.

This breaker bar is also comfortable to hold. It weighs less than breaker bars half its size and features a knurled handle to make sure you don’t slip. The drive head also features a spring-loaded ball-bearing that keeps the tool firmly in place.

What Sets It Apart

The Performance Tool Breaker Bar is unique because of its destructive capabilities. If you’re looking to break frozen bolts or remove bolts rusted in place, you won’t find a better breaker bar. It even features a polished nickel plating to resist corrosion.

Things to Consider

The Performance Tool Breaker Bar is an excellent tool if you’re trying to maximize power, but sometimes a little more finesse is warranted. Those looking for something a bit more gentle should look elsewhere.

If you need a breaker bar that’s a little tamer, the Neiko ½ Inch Drive Premium Breaker Bar is a great choice. It’s similar in price, has the same size drive head but comes with a smaller handle.

Who It’s For

The Performance Tool Breaker Bar is for anyone that needs to snap some bolts. If you’re working on older machines, this tool is useful because it chews through rusted bolts with ease.

Pros

  • Great for dealing with rusted or frozen bolts
  • Durable design and spring-loaded drive head
  • 30" handle offers a generous amount of torque
  • Lightweight for its size

Cons

  • Too much power and leverage for smaller bolts

7. Best Large Breaker Bar: TEKTON Breaker Bar

TEKTON Breaker Bar

Why we like it: We love the TEKTON Breaker Bar because of the gigantic handle. It gives you more torque than most breaker bars around.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Drive Size: ¾”
  • Drive Rotation: 230°
  • Length: 40 inches
  • Weight: 8.46 pounds
  • Price: $$$

The TEKTON Breaker Bar is a monster. It has a 40″ handle that gives you more torque and leverage than most breaker bars available. While it produces a lot of torque, the drive head doesn’t have any preset positions. This means you can angle the tool in one fluid motion, instead of clicking through different positions. Fortunately, the drive head also has a spring-loaded pivot that allows the head to rotate up to 230 degrees.

The TEKTON Breaker Bar is also easy to use. Most breaker bars feature handles with grooves to give you grip, but TEKTON went with a smooth handle. There are two points where the handle is elevated to prevent your hand from slipping, making it easier to hold than even most knurled handles. It also features a spring-loaded ball-bearing to keep the tool in place.

What Sets It Apart

The TEKTON Breaker Bar is unique because of the 230-degree pivoting drive head. Some breaker bars have similar flexibility, but most of them come with preset positions. Having flexibility is tremendous, but preset positions give you limitations. This breaker bar lets you choose whichever angle you want, from 0 to 230 degrees.

Things to Consider

The TEKTON Breaker Bar is a great tool, but it’s heavy and bulky. The 40″ handle is excellent but it makes it challenging to work on smaller projects. Furthermore, the product weighs close to ten pounds. That’s more than triple the weight of most breaker bars on the market.

If you like the pivoting angles and long handle, but need a more practical breaker bar, the Capri Tools Extended Leverage Breaker Bar is a great alternative. It has a similar pivoting head that gives you angles up to 240 degrees and features a 30″ handle.

Who It’s For

The TEKTON Breaker Bar is an excellent choice for people that need a professional-grade breaker bar. The long handle and pivoting drive head make it useful for most automotive applications, and it’s made with durable materials. If you work in an automotive garage or like to work on your car, it’s a great tool to have.

Pros

  • 40" handle offers impressive torque
  • Drive head pivots up to 230 degrees without preset positions to slow you down
  • Made with durable materials like chrome vanadium
  • Spring-loaded ball-bearing keeps the drive head firmly in-place

Cons

  • Heavier than most breaker bars
  • Bulkier than most breaker bars
  • Too much torque for smaller applications

8. ABN Extension Bar

ABN Extension Bar

Why we like it: Our favorite feature of the ABN Extension Bar is its length. Instead of being the traditional 16 inches, the handle is an inch smaller, making it better suited for the smaller bolts and tighter spaces.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Drive Size: ⅜”
  • Drive Rotation: 180°
  • Length: 15 inches
  • Weight: 1.69 pounds
  • Price: $

The ABN Extension Bar is lightweight and easy to handle. It weighs less than two pounds and features an ergonomic handle to help keep your hands locked in place. The drive head also features a spring-loaded ball-bearing to keep the tool fastened to the part you’re working on. With these features, you’re always in control of the tool.

The ABN Extension Bar is also made with premium materials. The shaft and handle are made with chrome vanadium steel, and the drive head is made out of chrome molybdenum. This makes the tool resistant to corrosion and cracking under high levels of torque.

What Sets It Apart

This tool is unique because of the chrome-molybdenum drive head. Chrome-molybdenum is more ductile than other steel chrome vanadium, which means it’s less likely to shatter. This is why high-end breaker bars combine a chrome vanadium body with a chrome molybdenum drive head. With the best durability available at a low price, this is a phenomenal product.

Things to Consider

The ABN Extension Bar is a great tool, but the 15″ handle is strange. Let us explain. Most tools feature handles that are 18 or 24 inches. The reason is that those handle lengths provide adequate torque to remove things like frozen bolts, lug nuts, and bolts that have rusted over. While the 15″ handle on this breaker bar makes it easier to hold, you lose out on valuable leverage.

If you need to work on projects that require more torque, you should look for a breaker bar that has a longer handle. For example, the ManPower Breaker Bar comes with the same drive head size and a 24″ handle.

Who It’s For

The ABN Breaker Bar is a great tool to keep around the house. The ⅜” drive is nice for smaller projects and tighter spaces but not useful for large bolts like automotive lug nuts. Still, it’s a great tool to have at your disposal if you’re working under the hood.

Pros

  • Smaller handle is more comfortable to use in tight spaces
  • ⅜" drive head is excellent for smaller bolts
  • Lightweight
  • Durable chrome-molybdenum head

Cons

  • The smaller handle gives you less torque and leverage
  • The ⅜" drive head is more limited than larger drive heads

9. Best Multi-Head Breaker Bar: ManPower Breaker Bar

ManPower Breaker Bar

Why we like it: We love how the ManPower Breaker Bar gives you two different drive heads on the same tool. You can choose between ½-inch and ¾-inch heads.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Drive Size: ½” and ⅜”
  • Drive Rotation: 180°
  • Length: 24 inches
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Price: $$$

The ManPower Breaker Bar is an excellent tool for automotive applications. It’s made with high-quality materials like forged and heat-treated chrome vanadium, and the handle has grooves to keep your hands from slipping. The 24-inch handle gives you enough leverage to tackle simple jobs like lug nuts and complicated jobs like frozen or rusted bolts.

The ManPower Breaker Bar also benefits from having two different drive heads. You can choose between a ⅜” head and a ½” head. This makes it easy to work on multiple jobs without needing to grab another tool. The heads also rotate up to 180 degrees, which makes it easy to use in tight spaces.

What Sets It Apart

The ManPower Breaker Bar is unique because it comes with two different drive head sizes. Most breaker bars feature ½” or ¾” heads, but you get both on the same tool. Simply rotate the head and lock whichever size drive head you need into place.

Things to Consider

When it comes to breaker bars with innovative designs, this bar’s durability is questionable. The head gives you options, sure, but it’s not as durable as breaker bars that feature just a single drive head. Unfortunately, when you add more moving parts to a tool, you add possibilities for malfunction. This can make the tool unreliable for people that need to use a breaker bar frequently.

If you need two separate drive heads, you can always choose two different breaker bars. For example, you can pair the Great Neck Breaker Bar with the ABN Extension Bar. Pairing these two tools will give you access to a ½” head and ⅜” head for the same price.

Who It’s For

If you need a breaker bar to keep around the house, this product is a great choice. It gives you two different options for drive heads so that you can use it for multiple automotive applications. While it’s inexpensive, if you’ll be using a breaker bar frequently, you should consider a product with a more durable and proven design.

Pros

  • Comes with a ½" and ⅜" drive head
  • Made with durable chrome steel
  • The head rotates up to 180 degrees for each drive head

Cons

  • Because it has two different drive heads, the tool is less durable than breaker bars with one head

10. Best Telescopic Breaker Bar: Tools Extendable Breaker Bar

Tools Extendable Breaker Bar

Why we like it: We like the Olsa Tools Extendable Breaker Bar because of the innovative expandable design. This is something you don't often see, so it's impressive to see Olsa Tools pull it off.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Drive Size: ½”
  • Drive Rotation: 180°
  • Length: 16 or 24 inches
  • Weight: 2.53 pounds
  • Price: $$

The Olsa Tools Extendable Breaker Bar is a well-rounded product that’s great for a handful of automotive applications. The tool is made with durable chrome vanadium steel that’s resistant to corrosion. This breaker bar also features a knurled handle that’s comfortable to hold, and the drive head rotates up to 180 degrees. This makes it an easy tool to use, even in awkward positions.

The Olsa Tools Extendable Breaker Bar gives you the right torque for the job. The telescoping handle allows you to decide on the length of the handle so that you can make adjustments on the fly. For this reason, this tool can be used for simple lug nuts or bolts that are rusted in place.

What Sets It Apart

The Olsa Tools Extendable Breaker Bar is unique because of the telescoping handle. While most breaker bars feature handles between 18 and 24 inches, this tool gives you options. Need to loosen a lug nut? Shorten the handle down to 16 inches. Need to break a rusted bolt? Extend the handle up to 24 inches. This is a design that’s hard to find anywhere else.

Things to Consider

While this breaker bar benefits from the telescoping tube, it’s a new design. There aren’t a lot of tools like it, and there is a reason for that. While the design is innovative, the durability of the tool is questionable. It’s made with high-quality materials, but if the handle snaps, your project is going to be on hold.

If you like the idea of having two different breaker bar sizes, we recommend choosing a budget option like the Great Neck Breaker Bar and a durable 24″ breaker bar like the Capri Tools Extended Leverage Breaker Bar.

Who It’s For

The Olsa Tools Extendable Breaker Bar is a great product to keep around the house. The two different handle lengths give you the versatility you need to tackle most automotive applications. While it’s a great tool to have handy, if you need a breaker bar for work, we recommend choosing a product with a more reliable handle.

Pros

  • The telescopic handle lets you change between a 16-inch and 24-inch handle length
  • Made with durable chrome vanadium
  • Drive head rotates up to 180 degrees

Cons

  • While the handle is innovative, its durability is questionable at best

Everything You Need to Know About Breaker Bars

Removing a Rusted lug nut

Breaker bars seem like simple products, but looks are misleading. Depending on the size of the drive head and the length of the handle, some breaker bars are better than others for specific tasks. While having a list of the best breaker bars helps, it’s only half of the battle.

Choosing the Right Drive Size

Breaker bars come with many different drive heads. The size of a breaker bar’s drive head determines the types of projects you can work on. So, based on the project you’re working on, the type of drive head you need will change. Know the bolt sizes you’re working on before buying a breaker bar.

½” Drive Heads

A ½” drive is the most common drive head you’ll come across. This is because ½” drives are great for lug nuts. If you use a smaller drive head on lug nuts, you’ll end up stripping them out or breaking the bolt. ½” breaker bars can also be used on most suspension components and heavy machinery like tractors.

If you need to remove your wheel, you’ll want to get a breaker bar with a ½” drive. While there are exceptions, this size will fit most wheels. A great tool to start with is the Great Neck Breaker Bar. It’s a budget-friendly breaker bar that’s perfect for loosening air-tighten lug nuts without breaking them.

¾” Drive Heads

¾” drive heads are a size up from ½” drives. These breaker bars are designed to work on larger equipment. While your average breaker bar is useful for removing wheels on most standard cars, a breaker bar with a ¾” drive is better suited for multi-axle vehicles like trucks, agricultural equipment, and watercraft.

While ¾” drives are hard to find, TEKTON has a great product. The TEKTON Breaker Bar has a durable drive head and long handle for excellent leverage. This gives you the torque you need to work on larger projects.

⅜” Drive Heads

Breaker bars with ⅜” drives are another breaker bar standard. While these breaker bars are small, they’re able to break smaller nuts and bolts free. These won’t be useful for lug nuts, but they’re great for bolts that get stuck under the good. If you have any belts in your vehicle, having a breaker bar with a ⅜” drive is your best friend.

A great product to start with is the ABN Extension Bar. While the drive head is small, it’s made with durable chrome vanadium that can handle abuse. The handle is also a perfect length for working under the hood. It’s not too long but provides enough leverage for decent torque.

Choosing the Right Handle Length

Knowing what drive size you need is a great place to start, but that’s only half of what a breaker bar has to offer. When you’re shopping for a breaker bar, you also have to choose the appropriate handle length. The length of the handle gives you leverage, which translates to torque. Torque is a measure of rotational force.

Choosing the right handle for the job is crucial because too much torque can strip or ruin bolts. On the other hand, if you lack the torque you need, you won’t be able to break frozen or rusted bolts.

Less Than 18 Inches

Handles that are less than 18 inches don’t offer a lot of torque. These tools are excellent for situations that require precision. You’ll want to use a smaller breaker bar if you’re trying to loosen bolts in tight spaces. While a 15-inch breaker bar is sufficient for removing tight lug nuts, anything less is best suited for engine work and might not work for loosening tighter bolts.

Applications that require small levels of torque are usually diverse. This means you’ll need a few different drive sizes. A great way to make sure you have the breaker bar you need is to invest in a set like the Craftsman Flex Handle Breaker Bar Set. It comes with three different breaker bars that have different drive heads and handle lengths.

18 Inches

Breaker bars with 18-inch handles are some of the most common products you’ll find. This is because they’re strong enough to remove lug nuts but not strong enough to damage components. You can also use these breaker bars for work that needs to be done under the hood.

One of the best 18-inch breaker bars is the Great Neck Breaker Bar. It has a drive head that fits most lug nuts, and the handle isn’t long enough to cause damage. This tool is also budget-friendly and great for first-time users.

24 Inches

Breaker bars in the 24-inch range are some of the most versatile products you can find. They’re strong enough to remove lug nuts and give you enough leverage to unlock frozen bolts. If you’re working on an older vehicle or lug nuts that have been air-tightened, we recommend using a breaker bar with a 24-inch handle.

A great choice is the Neiko ½ Inch Drive Premium Breaker Bar. It gives you enough leverage to loosen the tightest lug nuts, excellent durability, and it shouldn’t break anything.

30 Inches

30-inch breaker bars are a bit harder to find. While they work for things like lug nuts, they’re also strong enough to crack frozen bolts and rip through rust. It doesn’t seem like much, but the extra six inches makes a big difference. We recommend these tools for people that need maximum leverage.

The best 30-inch breaker bar is the Capri Tools Extended Leverage Breaker Bar. This is a premium, professional-quality tool and deserves a spot in every automotive garage.

40 Inches

A 40-inch breaker bar offers a lot of torque and leverage. It also gives you the ability to work on a machine from a distance, which can be helpful for safety and perspective. Still, you need to be careful with these breaker bars. They produce a lot of torque, so you need to be cautious if you want to avoid breaking things. On the other hand, if you need to bust through rusted bolts or bolts secured with a locking compound, this is a breaker bar you want.

The best 40-inch breaker bar is the TEKTON Breaker Bar. It’s made with excellent durability, featuring a chrome vanadium body and chrome molybdenum drive head. Even if you place this breaker bar under a significant amount of pressure, it won’t bend or break.
Picture of a breaker bar with a bluish-white background

Tips for Using a Breaker Bar

Breaker bars are simple tools, but you need to be careful when you use one. If you mishandle a breaker bar, it can lead to injuries, broken bolts, and broken tools. For this reason, we’re going to take you through a few tips to help you get started.

Safety

Breaker bars can be dangerous tools. You have to apply a lot of pressure, which can lead to broken parts and flying metal. For this reason, we always recommend wearing eye protection, preferably safety glasses.

We also recommend wearing gloves when using breaker bars. Most products have metal handles, and while they won’t cut you, there is a chance that your hands slip. If your hands slip, the bar can hit the floor and bounce back up. To make sure you’re always in control of the tool, wear gloves with rubber grip.

Handling a Breaker Bar

It’s no secret that breaker bars produce a lot of force. So, before you get started, make sure you’re using impact-rated sockets. If you don’t, the breaker bar can damage the bolt. When you’re dealing with a tight bolt, your first instinct might be to apply as much pressure as possible. While this can get the job done, using too much force at once can damage the breaker bar and the bolt you’re working on.

So go slowly. Apply gradual pressure to the breaker bar for the best results. If that fails, instead of applying more pressure, use a breaker bar with more leverage. If you’re having trouble with a bolt, even with a large breaker bar, it’s a good idea to grease it up first. You can use a grease gun or a squirt of the old standby, WD-40. More often than not, adding a little bit of grease to a bolt will be enough to help it turn.

Breaker bars seem like simple tools, but they require a mix of patience and skill. Always be sure to take safety precautions and never try to force anything.

FAQ

Still got questions related to when and why you should use a breaker bar? Read some of our most frequently asked questions.

What Makes a Breaker Bar Strong?

Materials determine the strength and durability of a breaker bar. The best breaker bars are made with chrome vanadium and chrome molybdenum. These materials are typically heat-treated to keep the tool from snapping under pressure. While a chrome vanadium handle and shaft is sufficient, drive heads made with chrome molybdenum are the best.

When Do I Need a Breaker Bar?

Breaker bars are a standard tool to find in most garages. If you’ve ever come across a bolt that won’t budge, even if you grease it up, it’s time to bring out the breaker bar. These powerful tools give you enough torque and leverage to pop most bolts out of their socket, hence the name.

How Long Should a Breaker Bar Be?

Breaker bars typically come in a few different sizes that range between eighteen and 30 inches. While you can find breaker bars as long as forty inches, for most automotive applications, it’s unnecessary. The length of the breaker bar determines how much torque you’ll be able to apply to a bolt.

How Much Torque can Breaker Bars Handle?

Breaker bars are designed to give you leverage that converts to torque. This is useful for losing bolts stuck in place, especially if you don’t have a torque wrench handy. Still, the amount of torque a breaker bar can handle depends on the manufacturer and materials used.

Can I Change the Drive Head on a Breaker Bar?

The short answer is yes; you can change the size of your breaker bar’s drive head. You’ll need to purchase a breaker bar adapter to do so. While this can be done, we recommend against it. Breaker bars have specific torque ratings for their drive heads. If you end up using too much power on a drive head adapter, you can break both the tool and the bolt you’re trying to loosen.

Final Thoughts

Breaker bars are a must-have tool if you’re working on machinery. Whether it’s cars, marine equipment, or even a tractor, at some point, a bolt isn’t going to budge. Without the right breaker bar, this can put your project on hold and leave you frustrated.

While breaker bars are straightforward products, you need to shop based on your needs. Take some time to consider the amount of leverage you need and the size of the bolts you’re working on. The good news is that breaker bars are affordable tools, so it’s practical to have a few of them handy. Remember, it’s better to over-prepare than under-prepare!