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Hagerty Employee

Wrenchin’ Wednesday: How to check yourself before you wreck yourself

It’s one of those gearhead rights of passage. You’re sure every last bolt is tightened and the hood is closed. You go out into the world with the product of your labor—only to find that something has just rattled off and left the party because somewhere in the slog you forgot to final-torque some piece of hardware.


Even if you don’t prove to be own worst enemy, the vibrations that resonate through a vehicle can eventually work things loose, especially if your vehicle’s engine that shakes a lot or if you frequently travel off-road. Today’s Wrenchin’ Wednesday is about building a habit to check yourself before you literally wreck yourself due to a fallen nut or bolt.


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Intermediate Driver

Good advice for me when working on my Model A.

thanks for the tip.

Pit Crew

Some of this is useful, however if you have something like a transmission pan, say with 24 bolts, it's impractical to think that every individual bolt is going back in the same hole. and they are not going to necessarily line up the same.


That's where the can of brake cleaner and a shop towel comes in. Spray 'em off, wipe 'em dry and re-mark 'em.

New Driver

You mark the bolts after they have been torqued, not before they are removed. by marking them after they are torqued, it is a quick visual inspection to look to see if each bolt has a mark on it and it lines up with the mark on the item that it is holding.

Is it impractical to mark 24 bolts? I was the supervisor for a 16 Acre solar farm. Each bolt for all of the tables and all of the solar panels were torqued and marked. In this way, I could verify that each bolt had been torqued and tightened. In addition, when superiors came by and checked on the work, while they didn't check the whole field, they would do random checks. If everything looked good - great - no problems.


I like the pint idea, it will go well with my "never hang a part" policy of repair and assembly. Either install it or don't but don't just put it there to see if it fits then walk away, that will guarantee that you will forget to properly tighten it down.


"Right" of passage?  Are you discussing freedom of navigation?

Advanced Driver

If you removed the right of passage, what would be left?

Pit Crew

Great Idea and so simple, why did I not think about this a long time ago, Thanks


You know that it is a good idea when your comment to yourself is "why didn't I think of that?"..

Pit Crew

So a great idea and worth doing (I knew this but still sometimes don't follow this advice!). As for 24 pan bolts or whatever. Think of many motorcycle manufacturer's and how they mark there bolts during final assembly and torque. My Moto Guzzi for 1 has all the bolts and nuts marked with yellow paint. A friend who runs a bike shop uses Yellow his assistant uses White. They do this with all critical fasteners as a double check. Also if it comes back for same repair they can easily identify if they did the work or if the fasteners have been tampered with or remarked. IT is a GREAT idea and I'll have to start doing this with all my projects more diligently. Thanks for the reminder and tips!!


IF it has wheels I'm into it!!

A great suggestion.  I am rebuilding an old Corvette.  One of the things I had planned for this season, was to replace the old steel transmission pan, change the filter and fluid.  The tranny leaked fluid.  Well, imagine my surprise when I climb under the car to remove the old pan, and reach up to undo the first bolt, and it just freely turned.  Thinking I imagined things, I grabbed it with my fingers, and spun it out by hand.  Before picking up my wrench again, I tried the next bolt by hand.  Sure enough, it was not even finger tight either.  And the same was true with every last bolt on the pan.  Every last bolt came out easily.  "Well, gee, I wonder why it leaked?"  A previous owner had screwed in all the bolts, then neglected to tighten them with a wrench.  Lord knows how many years it was like that.  I could see someone forgetting a bolt, but all of them?  It happens!


Great idea to mark the bolts/nuts. When I worked in Aerospace, we'd apply a "Torque Stripe" to indicate that final torque had been applied to a fastener.


You do NOT want bolts falling off your airplane or spacecraft because somebody forgot to torque them.....


- Jim