Perhaps the most common error that do-it-yourselfers make, when repairing cars, is improper bolt torque. This is easily done, when the focus of the project is the oil change, or replacing a filter somewhere. The bolts are just accessories, right?

It seems a simple enough concept; undo the bolt, do the job, replace and tighten the bolt. But, it is really not that simple. Different bolts with different functions in a car’s engine require varying degrees of torque.

For example, a water pump bolted to a timing cover has both long and short bolts. The long bolts have a different torque value (or required degree of tightness) than the short bolts. If you did not know this, you could damage your vehicle.

If you over-tighten the bolts, in this case, you can damage the timing cover or even the gaskets and seals. The importance of a proper even torque, in this case, is similar to having a proper seal. Using the right torque can increase the longevity of the work you have done.

In order to achieve the correct torque for the job, you will need a torque chart. The torque chart can tell you what degree of torque you need for which bolts. A torque wrench is a necessity if you want to get it right. Finally, you will need a tightening pattern to ensure accuracy. If you use these tools, you will be able to apply proper torque on all your do-it-yourself jobs!