How to Lubricate Ratchet Wrench: Comprehensive Guide

A mechanic’s tool kit should include a ratchet wrench. This precision tool is a wizard when tightening or loosening nut-bolts. Unfortunately, this tool is frequently ignored and does not receive the required attention.

A ratchet stiffens if it is not properly cared for and maintained, particularly without lubricant. It may get rusted too. As a result, you’ll be unable to complete DIY projects due to a stiff ratchet.

Today, our primary concern is the preservation of this priceless resource. It has to be lubricated. So, welcome to our talk about how to lubricate ratchet wrench. Our comprehensive guide covers the steps to lubrication and all other pertinent information.

Why Should You Oil Your Ratchet Wrench? 

Before advancing to this article, you may not know why a ratchet should be lubricated. And, as manufacturers lubricate these tools in the factory, isn’t it enough? 

We answer, no. Because factory grease is not for life, plus, if you open a ratchet, you may find only a little lube there, or it may dry over time. 

First thing first, lubrication enhances the ratcheting performance. To explain it, suppose you’re tightening a bolt; you’re applying a torque against the ratcheting mechanism.

After that, if you pull back to reset, you’ll feel a resistance from the ratchet mechanism, called a back drag. 

The complexity begins here. If ratchet stiffens, there may be too much back drag. As a result, the fastener is loosened instead of the ratchet action working. 

Secondly, lubrication is to fight against corrosion and rust. If not lubricated, instruments like ratchets get rusty, especially in wet environments. 

Things You Need to Lube the Ratchet

  • Your Ratchet wrench 
  • Screwdriver 
  • Lubricant 
  • Cloth towel or tissue 

Tips for Maintenance and Lubrication of a Ratchet 

Take it apart whenever you sense a problem in your ratchet wrench or the tool lacks a clean, smooth ratchet sound.

Take to pieces, clean it, and re-lube it. However, a good practice is to lubricate every year or two to ensure longevity routinely. 

There are several ways to lubricate a stiff ratchet. Simply soaking the ratchet in lubricant can free the tool from hardening and restore its function.

However, the best way is to disassemble the ratchet, clean the internal part with a carb cleaner and toothbrush. Then, oil it with any good lubricant. 

So, let’s see how to do the job? 

Steps to Lubricate a Ratchet Wrench

● If Backplate is Removable:

Some ratchet brands, especially Snap-on, include a disengagement option in their ratchets. Hence, lubrication is convenient here. The procedure is- 

1. Clean The Out Part And Remove Backplates

First of all, clean the foreign material on your ratchet

Now, you have to disassemble it and clean the inside part. If it’s a pear-shaped ratchet, notice that the screws hold the backplate. So, you need an appropriate screwdriver that fits these screws. 

ratchet wrench backplate
Ratchet Wrench Removable Backplate

However, holes for screws are more likely to build up dirt. If so, you can’t imply your screwdriver there until you clean the hole. Therefore, use a fine needle piece or something similar to clean these slots and reach the screws with a screwdriver.

Once you’ve unscrewed, preserve the little screws carefully. Because you’ll need them to reinstall the backplate. 

Then, lift the backplate

2. Check Pawl And Gear And Clean Them

After removing the plate, here lies the gear. Clean the pieces out of this. 

Check that the teeth are not broken or damaged and are in good condition. Also, ensure the movable parts, pawl, and grease are fine. 

clean ratchet wrench gear to lubricate
Ratchet Wrench Gear

Then, take the head off, remove the gear, and clean it. Use degreasing compound for cleaning gear because grease commonly accumulates here. Now, using a toothbrush, clean all of the elements. Don’t forget to brush the head and screws also. 

3. To Combat Rust, Clean With Hot Water And Air 

Like any other metal tool, a ratchet wrench is also susceptible to rust. So necessary care should be given to resist corrosion. 

One solution can be cleaning with hot water and air. Then, dry the wet surface by blowing off the air with an air hose.

However, air can’t eliminate water hundred percent. So, heating is necessary to make it dry to the full extent. 

4. Finally, Lubricate 

You may get angry with us as we talked about cleaning stuff a lot. But, believe it or not, without cleaning perfectly, you’ll more likely get negative results from lubricating

Now, lube with your fingertips and coat the plate from both sides. As a result, it will lubricate the spring and the rear of the bowl. Also, grease the bearing surface with a drop. Lastly, put little drops for screws to prevent rust there

ratchet wrench lubricating
Lubricate Ratchet Wrench with Finger

Bring a tissue or cloth towel to wipe off any excess. Never tolerate excess oil; it may develop rust later. 

5. Reinstall The Ratchet 

Now it’s time to reassemble the ratchet. Replace the backplate and install the screws. On both sides, give them a good tightening.

Congratulations! You’ve fed your old ratchet with his food: lubricants.

● If The Backplate Is Sealed: 

Some ratchets don’t make the backplate removable. Hence, you can’t reach the inner part. Lubrication becomes difficult.

lubricating spray for lubricate ratchet wrench
Lubricating Spray

Anyway, the trick to lubricate them is to use lubricating spray. Spray some fluid lube that goes inside. A few brands, including Craftsman, manufactures sealed ratchets. 

Best Lubricant to Use

We can point to a specific lubricant that works best for most ratchets but may not suit your tool. So, adhere to the manufacturer’s suggestion first. 

For instance, there are some ratchets tagged “oil only.” If this is the case, you can’t go beyond oil as a lubricant. 

Yet, in general, there’s a rule to follow. And, the rule states that a smaller ratchet with a higher tooth count should be lubricated with a thin lube. On the flip side, larger ratchets with low teeth count use thick lubricants

If you still ask us to suggest some lube names– we can recommend the following. These are in a thickest to thinnest order- 

Lube with the appropriate one. Or you may lose your warranty claim! 

Never Lube With…

  • WD-40: This certain material is very thin, a great no-no to use as a lubricant for ratchet wrenches. In fact, these only replace water, not lubricant. Using WD-40 as the lubricant may be subject to rust, corrosion and may get moldy inside. 
  • Wax: They bind gum up and can’t provide any better results. 
  • Grease: This particular substance attracts dirt. Consequently, it will build up and transform into a grinding compound, wearing the ratchet out early. 

Final Words 

A ratchet wrench is a useful tool that helps with most automobile projects. This, however, is a metal component. You can’t expect smooth functioning from a ratchet without proper care (lubrication), whether it’s from a high brand or not.

As a result, we talked about how to lubricate a ratchet wrench properly. If you follow these simple measures, you won’t have to replace your ratchet set anytime soon.

Keep in mind that if you take care of your tools, they will care for you.

Good luck with your ratcheting!

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