How to Fix the Ratchet Mechanism on Your Socket Wrench

What You'll Need
Ratchet wrench repair kit
Small container to hold old parts
Cleaning rags
Can or cup of warm water
Tool cleaner
Philips head screwdriver
Fine-bristled art paintbrush
Safety glasses

Although it is warranted for years of hard use, your socket wrench ratchet mechanism can become damaged due to wear, poor storage or inappropriate use. Follow these tips to repair or replace the ratchet mechanism in your socket wrench.

Step 1: Purchase the Correct Ratchet Wrench Repair Kit

Find the exact ratchet wrench repair kit for your socket wrench at a hardware, building supply or automotive supply center, to ensure precise fitting of all parts.

Step 2: Dismantle the Ratchet Mechanism

Detach the socket head from the wrench. Release the main screw holding the ratchet mechanism into the socket wrench head with the Philips head screwdriver. Discard this screw as you should not reuse it. Remove all the parts of the ratchet mechanism and set them on the workbench. You should have the ratchet head assembly, the spring, the C-washer and the ring spacer.

Step 3: Examine the Parts of the Old Ratchet Mechanism

Check all the parts of the ratchet mechanism for wear, chips, corroding, or stretched springs, to find out which part caused the ratchet to fail.

Step 4: Clean the Ratchet Head Assembly

Dip the clean rag in the warm water and wipe off the ratchet head assembly. Wear safety glasses to prevent flicking tiny metal shards into your eyes. Once it is clean, check the ratchet head assembly for excess wear, corrosion or damage. If the ratchet head assembly has noticeable damage, discard it. If it is in fine condition, apply a thin coat of lubricant and set it aside on your workbench for reinstallation.

Step 5: Clean Inside the Ratchet Housing on the Socket Wrench

Use the fine-bristled art paintbrush to sweep away all the metal filings inside the ratchet housing. Wipe the housing down with a clean rag, warm water and tool cleaner. Dry off the housing with another clean rag.

Step 6: Prepare to Reassemble the Ratchet Mechanism

Open the ratchet wrench repair kit and identify all the parts. If you are going to reuse your ratchet head assembly, set the new one aside and attach the new parts to it, in the reverse order from how you disassembled it. Otherwise replace all the parts of the ratchet assembly.

Step 7: Insert the Ratchet Mechanism

Put the reassembled ratchet mechanism into the socket wrench head. Fasten it into place with the new Philips head screw from the repair kit. Do not reuse the old screw.

Step 8: Test the Socket Wrench for Correct Function

Attach a socket head to the wrench and apply various levels of torque to ensure that your repaired ratchet mechanism is functioning properly.

Step 9: Ongoing Maintenance

Have your socket wrench recalibrated once a year. Store your socket wrench in its container, with the ratchet mechanism at the lowest setting, to avoid stretching the internal spring. Store it in dry conditions, to prevent corrosion from dampness. Never use your socket wrench as a hammer or lever.