How To Use a Crowfoot Wrench? Every Things You Should Know

Understanding how to use a crowfoot wrench may not be an essential skill until you need to work around obstacles within specific areas of your vehicle’s components. The areas where you cannot easily access other tools.

A car repair that involves losing bolts or nuts within locations with narrow and tight spaces can be frustrating if all you have are regular wrenches. Crow foot’s spanner helps overcome this frustration when you have it handy and know how to use it.

What is a Crowfoot Wrench?

A Crowfoot wrench is like a box-end or an open-end wrench or socket without a head or shaft. You can use it to reach around obstacles, especially where the typical 12pt and 6pt wrenches and sockets cannot exactly fit in.

The crowfoot wrench combines perfectly with a ratchet to extend its reach within areas where other sockets or wrenches cannot reach.

crow foot wrench set

Crowfoot Wrench Types

Crowfoot wrench types come in several varieties for different purposes. Some of the most common Crowfoot wrenches include the following:

Flare Crowfoots

The crowfoot flare nut wrench is commonly used on fluid lines, especially the fluid lines that run a car’s brake system’s hoses, as well as the fluid lines connecting a vehicle’s hydraulic system to its drive.

This particular wrench is such that the bolt and the socket fit perfectly because of the extent of twisting torque that the bolt or nut receives from the socket.

Open End Crowfoots

Open-end crowfoots are the types of wrenches that DIYers and auto mechanics commonly use. They are unique because of their compatibility with different connectors, as they fit perfectly in most cases.

However, in as much as the open-end crowfoot wrenches are famous for their compatibility with several connectors, they usually have a coarse grip or weak hold.

Adjustable Crowfoots

The adjustable crowfoot wrench comes in two categories, including; self-adjusting crowfoot and adjustable spanner.

The self-adjusting crowfoots come with a flexible lever-operated spring-loaded inner bar. They create a tighter fit for the outer bolt head because of the torque they apply in pulling the bolt in.

On the other hand, the adjustable spanner is synonymous with the open-end wrench. However, they are designed for a greater bar size range.

Ratcheting Crowfoots

The ratcheting crowfoot wrenches come in several varieties of open and closed patterns. They are unique for their ability to help the users avoid the challenge of setting the machine again to zero position in the process of using them.

However, they make it pretty challenging to return the machine perfectly. Some DIYers like the ratcheting crowfoot wrenches because they are user-friendly.

What is a Crowfoot Wrench Use For?

Auto mechanics and DIYers use Crowfoot wrenches for several purposes. The use of Crowfoot wrenches comes with a lot of benefits that other similar tools may not be able to provide. The following are some common uses of a Crowfoot wrench.

To reach complicated locations: Auto mechanics use the Crowfoot wrench to access very complicated locations where other similar tools cannot reach when performing a repair. 

To substitute a socket: A Crowfoot wrench is used as a substitute for a socket in a case where the fastener cannot allow the use of a socket to complete a task.

Application in small spaces: Crowfoot wrenches serve as a savior when you need to replace car parts or work on small spaces that large sockets or wrenches cannot enter. You can use Crowfoot wrenches on a fuel system, brake system, power steering, ABS, air control, suspension components, etc.

Applied with a torque wrench: A Crowfoot wrench can be used alongside a torque wrench. Together, both tools do excellent jobs, as they provide a more accurate measurement of both types and sizes.

How to Use Crowfoot Wrench

A crowfoot wrench is quite easy to use when you have either a torque wrench or socket handy. Once you have any of that, you can check out the following steps on how to use your crowfoot wrench.

Step 1: Align the wrench properly

Firstly, you need to get a torque wrench that aligns with the kind of Crowfoot wrench that you have. The crowfoot wrench must fit the square head of the torque to enable proper usage.

Step 2: Attach the crowfoot wrench

Attaching the ratchet enables multiple turns without having the challenge of the tool slipping off its position. It also enhances fine-tuning the fastener’s direction. Meanwhile, the torque wrench handles bolts that are very tight.

Attaching the torque wrench requires you to wrap it around the head of the crowfoot wrench, enabling you to have a solid handle for the job. 

Step 3: Use snap on tools

Before commencing the task, ensure to get all necessary small accessories that are all available as snap-on tools. This is to enable versatility.

Ensure to take proper measurements based on the kind of tool you intend to use. Meanwhile, the adjustable Crowfoot comes with different kinds of crow wrenches.

Step 4: Wrap the wrench around the fastener

Wrapping the wrench around the fastener is pretty straightforward. Keep the angled handle around 90 degrees so it doesn’t get in the way. You may also need to calculate the required torque with an online calculator.

Step 5: Use the ratchet

Once you connect the socket, the next thing is to securely fasten it with the ratchet. After that, go ahead and work on the nuts or bolts. Avoid using an electric wrench. The process of locking the nuts requires you to reset the crowfoot wrench entirely.

However, in the case of modern crowfoot wrenches, you only need to turn it back to get the wrench again to the starting point.

Some of these crowfoot wrenches come with extension bodies that become much longer, allowing more twists when you connect them to a ratchet or torque wrench.

Pros of Crowfoot Wrench

  • The Crowfoot in attachment with a torque wrench or ratchet can reach areas that other tools may not be able to access.
  • Tightening of bolts in small spaces is easy with a crowfoot wrench.
  • The lightweight of the crowfoot wrench set helps to reduce the overall weight of your mechanic tools box.

Cons Crowfoot Wrench

  • Calculating the torque is pretty tricky because of the length of the crowfoot wrench.
  • The crowfoot wrench may not be helpful in all tool chests.


How do you use a Crowfoot with a torque wrench?

You need to pay close attention to understanding how to use Crowfoot with a torque wrench. It is crucial to understand the configuration of both tools so that you don’t apply so much or less torque when working with the tools.

When using a Crowfoot wrench with a torque wrench, attach the Crowfoot to the handle of the torque wrench at an angle of about 90 degrees. This position will help to ensure that the amount of torque you apply does not change.

Why is it called a Crowfoot wrench?

The tool is called a Crowfoot wrench because of the kind of shape. The tool was used to access and hold bolt heads and nuts in areas hard to reach when repairing a steam train.

The tool was one of the tools required among other tools when fixing some faults in steam locomotives around the 20th century, around 1900 to 1955.

Do adapters affect torque?

Of course, adapters affect torque because of their impacts on the torque wrench setting. It is essential to know that if the distance between the handle of a torque wrench and the fastener changes, the adapters will certainly affect torque.

However, when you have a straight extension, it may not negatively impact the torque wrench setting. In any case, ensure to follow the proper guidelines when using adapters.

Does using a Crowfoot change torque?

A crowfoot wrench will not change torque when you use it under the correct instructions. It is ideal for you to fix the crowfoot wrench to the handle of the torque wrench around an angle of 90 degrees. When you do this, it will not change the amount of torque you apply.

However, ensure to ascertain the torque specification of the fastener and fix the torque wrench setting appropriately as using the torque wrench.

Final Words

This article has just unveiled what a crowfoot wrench is, various types of crowfoot wrenches, and how to use a crowfoot wrench. It is crucial to note that the crowfoot wrench is as important as other necessary tools that DIYers and mechanics use in repairing car parts.

You may continue to find it challenging to lose or tighten nuts and bolts within areas that other spanners may not easily access until you subscribe to using a crowfoot wrench. If you don’t have any yet, it is time to get yours and learn how to use the tool.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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