Homesteaders who like to get to squeeze as many miles out of a vehicle sometimes need special equipment to deal with older parts. Cars or trucks that sit for awhile often have a flat tire or two. If the compressor can’t handle the job, it’s time to change that tire. But, if it’s been sitting – especially in wet conditions – the bolts could be stuck or rusted to the wheel. If so, you’ll be glad to have a breaker bar in your toolkit.
Archimedes said, “Give me a long enough lever and I shall move the world”. When dealing with a stuck bolt, having the power to move the world is probably overkill, but why take the chance. A breaker bar (also commonly known as a cheater bar) looks like an extremely long socket wrench – two or more feet long. Unlike a ratchet, it doesn’t have a ratcheting mechanism – it’s a solid piece of steel. It’s meant to give a strong mechanical advantage against a tricky bolt (so the delicate gears of a socket wrench could be destroyed).
The downside of using a breaker bar is it can sometimes be too much force. Heavily rusted nuts and bolts or older fasteners (typically found on trailer wheels) can snap off under its force. For rusted gear, use a penetrating oil first to avoid having to extract a busted bolt.
Some folks keep a length of 2-inch steel pipe in the back of their pickup to slide onto a four-way lug wrench, but having a clean, relatively light breaker bar is a joy to find in your car trunk. A breaker bar shines if the folks at the tire shop have used a pneumatic impact wrench to over-torque the lug nuts – its mechanical advantage can make the difference between being able to change your own tire or having to call for help. At about 13 dollars, it’s cheap insurance.