If you’ve ever worked on a car, you’ve likely run into a situation where a stubborn bolt or nut just won’t come loose. Sometimes, even an impact wrench won’t do the job. This is where a breaker bar is necessary. If you ever plan on maintaining your car in the comforts of your own garage, you’ll want to invest into a quality breaker bar to make quick work of rusted bolts and nuts.
A breaker bar is a fairly simple tool. They’re long, non-ratcheting bars that allow you to apply more torque compared to a standard ratcheting wrench, without having to use more force. Although most breaker bars are similar in design, there are a few factors to look out for.
In this article, we’ll pick out the top 10 best breaker bars you can buy, and what to look for when choosing the right one for you. For more information on the best breaker bars, refer to our table of contents.
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: Neiko 1/2" Drive Premium Breaker Bar
- 2. Capri Tools Breaker Bars
- 3. EPAuto 1/2" Drive Breaker Bar
- 4. Performance Tool Breaker Bars
- 5. GreatNeck 1/2" Drive Breaker Bar
- 6. TEKTON Breaker Bars
- 7. ABN Breaker Bars
- 8. Craftsman 3-Piece Breaker Bar Set
- 9. MAXPOWER 1/2" Drive Breaker Bar
- 10. Titan 1" Drive Breaker Bar
- What is a Breaker Bar?
- When Should I Use a Breaker Bar?
- How to Choose the Right Breaker Bar
1. Editor's Pick: Neiko 1/2" Drive Premium Breaker Bar
After a lot of research, we chose Neiko’s 1/2″ drive breaker bar to use in the AutoGuide garage. We picked the 1/2″ drive because you use a breaker bar more often on larger nuts, and we prefer using an adaptor to go down to 3/8″ when we need to for smaller sockets, rather than going up from a 3/8″ drive.
Aside from numerous excellent reviews, what attracted us to the Neiko 1/2″ drive breaker bar was the long 24″ long chrome vanadium steel handle to provide maximum torque, and flexible drive head constructed from forged and heat treated chromoly, with a spring-loaded ball bearing detent to keep your sockets securely in place.
The 180-degree head works at any angle, allowing you to reach tricky areas with maximum leverage. This breaker bar meets or exceeds ANSI standards ASME B107.110-2012 and its mirror chrome finish helps prevent corrosion. Look for it to make appearances in future how-to articles.
- 1/2″ drive
- 24″ length
- Chrome vanadium steel handle
- 180-degree flexible head constructed from forged and heat treated chromoly
- Spring-loaded bearing
- Meets or exceeds ANSI standards ASME B107.110-2012
- Mirror chrome finish
2. Capri Tools Breaker Bars
Capri Tools has a wide lineup of breaker bar offerings, allowing you to choose from 3/8″, 3/4″, 1/2″, and 1″ drives. The extended breaker bars are 30″ in length, while the standard bars measure 24″. The most affordable breaker bar from Capri Tools has a 3/8″ drive and a soft grip handle, measuring 12″ long.
Most of Capro Tool’s breaker bars feature a chrome vanadium body and a chrome molybdenum head for extra strength. A spring-loaded ball on the head ensures sockets stay in place, with some units having the capability of rotating 230 degrees, while others can rotate 180 degrees.
These breaker bars meet DIN standards and come with a lifetime warranty.
- Available with 3/8″, 3/4″, 1/2″, and 1″ drives in 12″, 24″, and 30″ lengths
- Chrome vanadium body
- Chrome molybdenum head
- Spring-loaded ball on head that can rotate 180 or 230 degrees
- Meets DIN standards
- Lifetime warranty
3. EPAuto 1/2" Drive Breaker Bar
Another affordable option comes from EPAuto, with its 1/2″ drive breaker bar measuring 24″ in length. Made from chrome vanadium steel alloy, this breaker bar has a chrome plated finish that has been mirror polished so it’s resistant to corrosion. The heat-treated chromoly flex head can swivel 180 degrees, helping you get to hard-to-reach areas while working on your car. Like many breaker bars, the head has a spring-loaded ball bearing so sockets stay put.
- 1/2″ drive
- 24″ length
- Constructed from chrome vanadium steel alloy
- Chrome plated, mirror polished finish
- Heat-treated chromoly flex head (180 degrees)
- Spring-loaded ball bearing
4. Performance Tool Breaker Bars
Another company that offers a variety of different breaker bars is Performance Tool. This company’s lineup includes 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″, and 1″ drives, measuring 18″, 30″, or 40″ in length. These breaker bars are constructed from chrome vanadium alloy steel with a polished nickel chrome plated finish to resist corrosion. Some of the breaker bars from Performance Tool can also double as a pry bar.
Not every option has a ratchet head that can swivel 180 degrees, so pay close attention if you need a ratcheting swivel head. If you need a heavy duty option, the 3/4″ Jumbo Breaker Bar that measures 40″ can handle up to 1000 ft-lbs of torque. Check out all the different options Performance Tool has to offer if you need a variety of breaker bars.
- Available in 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″, and 1″ drives
- Length measures in 18″, 30″ or 40″
- Chrome vanadium alloy steel construction
- Polished nickel, chrome plated finish
- Some applications have a ratchet head that can swivel 180 degrees
- Heavy duty options
5. GreatNeck 1/2" Drive Breaker Bar
This option from GreatNeck is popular on Amazon, mainly because it’s one of the most affordable breaker bars on our list. Compared to many of the options on our list, GreatNeck’s 1/2″ drive breaker bar costs less than half! It’s constructed from chrome vanadium steel, like many other breaker bars, with a flex drive and ball retainer on the head to keep sockets in place. A knurled grip makes this breaker bar easy to use without having to strain your hands.
This breaker bar is a solid choice if its 18″ length is enough for the job.
- 1/2″ drive
- 18″ length
- Extremely affordable
- Chrome vanadium steel construction
- Flex drive with ball retainer head
- Knurled grip
6. TEKTON Breaker Bars
TEKTON has a fairly comprehensive lineup of breaker bars as well: 1/2″ drive by 18″ length, 1/2″ drive by 24″ length, 3/4″ drive by 40″ length, and 3/8″ drive by 18″ length. These breaker bars feature a 230-degree pivoting head with no preset positions, so you can easily adjust it to approach your work from any angle. An internal spring helps control the tension of the head, while the comfortable handle has a straight, non-tapering neck. The head on these bars is made of AISI 4140 steel and heat treated in a material-matched process.
TEKTON’s breaker bars meet or exceed minimum industry standards for important baselines such as Proof Torque, which is a measure of strength verified by a single-cycle test that applies torque until the specified value is reached without failure or any permanent deformation. The Proof Torque is 240 lb-ft for the 3/8″ drive breaker bars, 560 lb-ft for the 1/2″ drive bars, and 1,300 lb-ft for the 3/4″ drive bars.
- Available with 1/2″ drive (18″ or 24″ length), 3/4″ drive (40″ length), and 3/8″ drive (18″ length)
- 230-degree pivoting head made of AISI 4140 steel
- Internal spring controls tension of the head
- Comfortable handle with straight, non-tapering neck
- Meet or exceed minimum industry standards
7. ABN Breaker Bars
ABN offers two breaker bars on Amazon, one with a 1/2″ drive measuring 18″ long and another with a 3/8″ drive measuring 15″ in length. These breaker bars feature a 180-degree rotating head with a spring-loaded ball bearing to keep sockets secure. They’re constructed from chrome vanadium steel with a mirror chrome finish on the shaft, while the head is constructed from chrome molybdenum for maximum strength.
- Available with 1/2″ drive (18″ long) or 3/8″ drive (15″ long)
- 180-degree rotating head
- Spring-loaded ball bearing
- Handle is constructed from chrome vanadium steel with a mirror chrome finish
- Head is constructed from chrome molybdenum
8. Craftsman 3-Piece Breaker Bar Set
No list of tools is complete without an option from Craftsman. Arguably one of the most well-known tool manufacturers in the world, Craftsman offers a 3-piece set of breaker bars in a convenient, affordable package. With this set, you’ll get breaker bars with a 1/4″ drive (6″ length), 3/8″ drive (10″ length), and 1/2″ (15″ length) drive. They feature 180-degree range of motion with 45-degree positive stops to prevent overtightening. These breaker bars are constructed of tough alloy steel.
This 3-piece set is ideal if you need a variety of breaker bars for different jobs on your car, especially when you’re not 100% sure when you’ll need a breaker bar.
- 3-piece set that includes 1/4″ drive (6″ length), 3/8″ drive (10″ length), and 1/2″ drive (15″ length)
- 180-degree range of motion with 45-degree positive stops
- Constructed of tough alloy steel
9. MAXPOWER 1/2" Drive Breaker Bar
If you need a 1/2″ drive breaker bar measuring 15″ and don’t want to spend that much, MAXPOWER’s option is made for you. Featuring a 180-degree flex head that allows you to work at any angle, this affordable breaker bar is constructed from forged and hardened chrome vanadium steel. The spring-loaded ball bearing in the head keeps your socket in place, while a smoothly contoured, round profile handle offers a comfortable grip.
- 1/2″ drive
- 15″ length
- 180-degree flex head with spring-loaded ball bearing
- Constructed from forged and hardened chrome vanadium steel
- Smoothly contoured, round profile handle
10. Titan 1" Drive Breaker Bar
If you need a heavy duty breaker bar with a 1″ drive head measuring 40″ long, Titan’s offering comes highly recommended. Constructed from heavy duty chrome vanadium steel, this breaker bar’s maximum torque is rated at 1,855 lb-ft. The bar is chrome plated to resist corrosion while the head, which swivels 180 degrees, features a black oxide finish.
This is the ideal breaker bar for big jobs that need a 1″ drive.
- 1″ drive head
- 40″ length
- Constructed from heavy duty chrome vanadium steel
- Rated at 1,855 lb-ft of torque
- Chrome plated bar
- Black oxide finish on 180-degree swivel head
What is a Breaker Bar?
Ever had to deal with rusty, stubborn old bolts or nuts that just won’t come off? Sometimes, an impact wrench isn’t the best tool for the job—instead, you’ll want to use a breaker bar. A breaker bar is a non-ratcheting bar that you use with sockets to remove bolts that appear to be stuck. Generally, breaker bars are pretty long, allowing you to apply more torque with the same amount of force as you’d use with a standard socket wrench.
Think of it as the opposite of a torque wrench. Since a breaker bar is non-ratcheting, its main goal is to break loose nuts and bolts. And since it’s non-ratcheting, a breaker bar is considered much stronger than a ratchet.
When Should I Use a Breaker Bar?
You’ll want to use a breaker bar anytime you have a bolt or nut that you can’t get off with a standard ratcheting wrench. If you know for sure something will require quite a bit of torque to remove something, a lug nut on your wheel for example, save yourself the hassle of trying with a ratcheting wrench and go straight to using a breaker bar.
If you’re tightening a bolt or a nut, you likely want to avoid using a breaker bar. Instead, use a torque wrench so you know exactly how much you’re tightening the bolt or nut. In other words, use a breaker bar for loosening and a torque wrench for tightening.
How to Choose the Right Breaker Bar
If you’ve browsed our list of products, you’ve likely noticed that many of the breaker bars are very similar. Deciding factors include the drive size you need and the length of the breaker bar itself. The longer the breaker bar, the more torque you can apply, but sometimes you don’t need an extremely long breaker bar. Consider what it is you’re trying to loosen when deciding the length of the bar you need.
Almost all good quality breaker bars are constructed from chrome vanadium steel and have a chrome/mirror finish to resist corrosion. A spring-loaded ball bearing head comes in handy to keep your sockets in place, while a head that swivels makes certain jobs easier. Most of our recommendations check all those boxes, so really it’ll come down to price, length, and drive when choosing a product from our list. Certain companies do offer warranties on their tools, which could be the defining factor for you when choosing the right breaker bar.
We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.
Photo credit: David Traver Adolphus / AutoGuide.com