• Share:
Ratchet Rebuild

Don't throw away a good ratchet wrench that suddenly jams or won't change directions. Take it apart and grease it, and if that doesn't work, rebuild it with an inexpensive kit.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Ratchet Rebuild

Don't throw away a good ratchet wrench that suddenly jams or won't change directions. Take it apart and grease it, and if that doesn't work, rebuild it with an inexpensive kit.

Finding and fixing the problem

Got a ratchet that's jammed, rusted or won't switch directions? Don't toss it, rebuild it. In most cases, you can slap yours back into shape with just a good cleaning and new grease. But if you've broken a spring or a pawl, you'll need to buy a rebuilding kit. A rebuild kit for most major brands costs about $10. To find one for yours, just enter the ratchet brand and model number in a search engine, or try ebay.com.

Before you buy a kit, disassemble the ratchet to assess its condition. Use a combination snap ring pliers (one brand is Tekton No. 3578; available through our affiliation with amazon.com to remove the internal or external snap ring from the ratchet head (Photo 1). Or use a small flat-blade screwdriver to remove a spiral snap ring (Photo 2). If your ratchet doesn't use snap rings, it'll come apart with either a hex wrench or a screwdriver.

Throw a towel over the ratchet (to capture flying springs) and slide the entire ratchet assembly out of the head. Clean the parts with brake cleaner and an old toothbrush. Remove any rust with a rust removal chemical. If the spring ends are intact and the pawl teeth are sharp, you can reuse them. If not, buy a rebuild kit. Then apply a light coating of wheel bearing grease to all the parts. Don't use engine oil; it'll just drip out. And don't pack the head with grease—that'll prevent the pawl from reversing. Then reassemble (Photo 3).

Back to Top

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • 4-in-1 screwdriver
    • Wrench set

You'll also need a small flat-blade screwdriver and snap-ring pliers.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • Ratchet rebuilding kit
    • Brake cleaner
    • Rust removal chemical
    • Wheel bearing grease

Comments from DIY Community Members

No comments on the article have been posted yet. Be the first to add your comment!

You will be required to log in or create an account to post a comment.

closeX

Add Your Comment

Ratchet Rebuild

Please add your comment
closeX

Log in to My Account

Log in to enjoy membership benefits from The Family Handyman.

  • Forgot your password?
Don’t have an account yet?

Sign up today for FREE and become part of The Family Handyman community of DIYers.

Member benefits:

  • Get a FREE Traditional Bookcase Project Plan
  • Sign up for FREE DIY newsletters
  • Save projects to your project binder
  • Ask and answer questions in our DIY Forums
  • Share comments on DIY Projects and more!
Join Us Today
closeX

Report Abuse

Subject
Reasons for reporting post

Free OnSite Newsletter

Get timely DIY projects for your home and yard, plus a dream project for your wish list!

Follow Us

Featured Product

Buy Now