How to Set Pinion Bearing Preload Without Torque Wrench

Everyone who has a little bit of experience setting up a pinion bearing preload knows how much precision it requires to get it right. A torque wrench is the best tool to use in this situation.

But in this article on how to set pinion bearing preload without torque wrench, we will help you find a few ways. You can make a few adjustments through these techniques before you get any other help.

As torque wrenches are not available in every situation, it’s always necessary to look for separate ways to get this done since it’s still better to know about alternatives.

Things You Need to Know – Pinion Bearing

You can be sure that the pinion bearing may sound like a straightforward component to adjust. Still, it isn’t easy in several aspects. So you need to know how it works first. 

The pinion is a large gear that almost everyone has seen in many commercials and repair videos but never exactly noticed what it’s called. It’s a combination of two gears mashed together.

You may be wondering what does pinion bearing preload means. Well, there’s a collapsible spacer between the premises of the pinion bearing, which is capable of taking a specified amount of pressure.

How does pressure fit in this? By pressure, it means preload. Turning the nuts in a pinion gear, it crushes the spacer to obtain a “specific” preload. As you’ve noticed, to get a specific preload, you need to measure the torque.

The methods to make that adjustment without a torque wrench are the things that we’ll discuss right below:

The Setup

A critical thing to know is that the measurement of torque is in inch-pound in this scenario. Why is it important? Well, we’ll make it much clear as we discuss it.

Tools Needed & Precautions

The tool you require for this is an extendable breaker bar. Every old-school vehicle used to use breaker bars more than torque wrenches in case of adjustments.

It would be perfect if you used the breaker bar in a much delicate way to adjust the torque so that the pressure is sufficient but not too much.

It would be best if you began by oiling the races of the bearings. Do it thoroughly in both front and rear races. That will allow the races to be adequately lubricated and reduce resistance.


After that, it’s crucial to put the pinion bearing races into the housing properly, as they need to be in the right position for the whole set up. So, use a hammer to drive them in and secure them in place. 

Now you install the pinion seal and the pinion bearing after lubricating it properly. It would be best if you used a good silicone on the seal. Drive it in with the use of a hammer and lock it in place.

Extra Help

You might need someone extra who should hold the pinion gear and crush as you set up the pinion yoke in this part. But try not to damage the previously install pinion seal.

Final Steps

Now you put in the pinion nut and tighten it using an impact wrench, or you can also use a breaker bar. This part is tricky since you need to measure the toque in this case.


As you already know, you need to put in the pinion nut washer before installing the nut. Always remember to oil the washer sufficiently so that there is no unnecessary resistance.

Alternates of the Torque Wrench

There are several alternatives that you can use instead of a torque wrench that will give you effective results, but you have to keep some things in mind before utilizing them.

Impact Wrench

If you use the impact wrench, you should tighten until you get resistance; after that, you should stop and check how tight the pinion nuts are, putting pressure on the spacer.

Breaker Bar

After that, you can use a 2-foot breaker bar that will help you measure the torque up to a limit. You can keep the torque bar on the yoke, and if it moves, then it’s too loose; otherwise, it’ll be entirely in its place.


You can also use a mathematical calculation to measure the torque. The torque shouldn’t be more than 20 to 21 pounds; the formula is (torque required/ force = distance in inch).

By this, you exert a specific amount of force based on your torque at a certain distance on your breaker bar to get the perfect torque you require for the breaker nut.

Important Note

But as you try these methods, you should always keep in mind that you don’t end up crushing the washer, or you’d have to start all over again. Try investing in the top quality torque wrench for lug nuts to avoid such situations.

Read More: 7 Best Torque Wrench Under $100 in 2022 (Buying Guide)


As you can imagine setting up a pinion bearing preload can be quite the feat, so you should be mindful of what you’re working on. This article on how to set pinion bearing preload without torque wrench will help along the way.



Shawkat is a passionate home and auto mechanic who enjoys sharing his knowledge with others. He has been working on cars and homes for over 9 years and has a wealth of experience to share. From indoor tools to outdoors, crafting to automotive, you will see his passion for tools. And he is not alone here, either. He collaborates with other users to give you the best possible tool experience. As the founder of Geartoolsbuddy, Shakat is always happy to help people with their queries and doubts about power and hand tools.