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Best Torque Wrench? We’ve Tried Them All, Here’s the Verdict & Reviews
When you first look at a torque wrench you might not think it is anything special. It looks kind of like it is a big wrench. Perhaps it is useful for that extra leverage to get really stuck bolts to come loose. However, this special type of wrench has a unique trick. It can be set to help you secure a bolt to a very precise snugness. The best torque wrench can ensure that you don’t worry if tight enough is truly too tight.
There are plenty of times when you just break out the socket wrench and get that thing just as tight as you possibly can, but there are other times when you don’t need it that tight.
A good torque wrench will help you know exactly how tight you want your bolts, and you don’t need superior hand-eye coordination to do it.
This article is all about which torque wrench is best.
Garagechief.com will give you a number of reviews to help you select the top choices. Below you will find torque wrench reviews to help you select the right one for your needs. You will also find we have included a buying guide to help if this is your first trip into searching through to find just the right torque wrench for sale.
Best Torque Wrench For Sale – Top Picks
Before we dive in into reviews, let’s take a quick look at what our best picks are:
Torque Wrench Reviews
When it comes time to look for a torque wrench, there are quite a few different options to consider.
Below we have rounded up a collection of the eight best torque wrenches that we can find. While each of them can be a standout for some area of work, you will need to keep in mind your particular needs. This means taking into account how you like to work, and also what kind of work you typically do. There are many options, and this article will give you some good ones, but it ultimately depends on what kind of work you want to do.
Remember to pick one with an accuracy that works for you and a square drive size that you will be able to accomplish your task with. Once you get those taken care of, you’ll need to ensure that the range covers the task you are taking on.
TEKTON 24335 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench (10-150 ft.-lb./13.6-203.5 Nm)
Type of Torque Wrench: Click Drive
Product Weight: 2.2 Pounds
Square Drive Size: ½-Inch Drive
Range: 10 to 150 Foot Pounds
If you are looking for the best torque wrench then take a look at the Tekton 24335 1/2-inch Drive Click Torque Wrench.
This is a click torque wrench to ensure that you don’t over tighten the bolt that you are working on. It is very easy to adjust the bolt to the exact tightness that you want it without having to worry about overdoing it.
Also, to make sure you get the right value set before you start working, this wrench sports a high contrast dual range scale. It was designed to be easy to read even if you are working in low light conditions.
The Tekton torque wrench is constructed from all steel parts to ensure that there are no pieces to wear out or break. This wrench was designed to be used and be used for a long time to come. The wrench comes from the factory with a plus or minus 4% accuracy, which is mighty impressive. This set up comes with the wrench, a storage case, and instructions for use.
From the solid construction to the reliable click mechanism to the impressive range and accuracy, there is no doubt that this wrench tops as list as the best torque wrench on the market.
Performance Tool M195 0-80 in/lb & 0-7 Newton-meter Beam Style Torque Wrench
Type of Torque Wrench: Beam Style
Product Weight: 0.55 Pounds
Square Drive Size: 1/4 -inch Drive
Range: 0-5 Foot Pounds
If you are looking for the best torque wrench for the money you have found it with the Performance Tool M195 0-80 in/lb Beam Style Torque Wrench. While we have highlighted this particular model they offer a field of 9 different torque wrenches in the 3 most common drive sizes (1/4, 3/8, 1/2) and a range of torques.
This gives you a good field to purchase a quality low-cost tool. This range of sizes helps to ensure that you can find a wrench that suits your needs.
As a beam style wrench, the tool will show you how much force you are applying, but it will do nothing to alert you that you have hit your desired level or stop you from over tighten the bolt. So just be sure that you know what you are going for and keep careful track of your work. The owner’s manual that comes with this wrench claims that it has a plus or minus 2% accuracy.
This model comes with its own storage case to keep it safe and secure when not in use. When you realize that this beam torque wrench comes in at under $30 and still can make a claim at the level of accuracy like it does, there is no doubt that it is a shoe in for our best value pick.
ACDelco ARM601-3 3/8-inch Digital Torque Wrench (2-37 ft-lbs)
Type of Torque Wrench: Digital
Product Weight: 2.8 Pounds
Square Drive Size: 3/8-inch
Range: 2 to 37 foot-pounds
When you are doing automotive work you will find that a 3/8-inch drive wrench can handle the vast bulk of the bolts and screws that you find yourself in need of torquing down. Being that we live in a high tech world many people enjoy having digital tools where possible. If you combine those two things you’ll find the ACDelco ARM601-3 3/8-inch Digital Torque Wrench. But this digital torque wrench has more tricks up its sleeve.
First, you will find the normal torque wrench setting. This one not only works in both the clockwise and counter clockwise directions, but it also alerts you with an audible buzzer when you have reached your desired torque setting. But this wrench also comes equipped with a measurement set that allows to you double check that other bolts have been tightened to the correct level and verify that they aren’t beginning to come loose.
If you are very concerned about tightening your bolts to the exact right level, then this intuitive, digital interface is probably exactly what you are looking for. Once you know how to read and use it, you will findthat digital torque wrenches are quite foolproof. Even if you need to get in those very tight spaces and get some work done.
One thing to note is that since this is a digital tool it will require batteries for operation. This one needs a set of 3 AAA batteries. This wrench also comes with a case for secure storage between uses.
Craftsman 9-31425 20-150 ft lbs 1/2″ Drive MicroTork Torque Wrench
Type of Torque Wrench: Click Style
Product Weight: 1 pound
Square Drive Size: ½-inch
Range: 20 – 150 Foot-pounds
Craftsman has become a rather trusted name in tools over the many years that they have been producing tools. When they put their name on a tool, it is one that should be at least considered. As an option for a Craftsman torque wrench, we have the Craftsman 9-31425 1/2-inch drive MircoTork. This micro clicker torque wrench has the settings stamped in the handle and utilizes a twist ring to lock on the desired amount of force.
This wrench sports a stunning accuracy of +\- 4% when correctly calibrated and maintained. The length of the entire wrench is about 21 inches, so it is not the smallest thing to work into tight spaces, but if you need a larger drive size and the ability to torque down at 150 foot-pounds, this is a great choice.
One thing to note is that the case that comes with this wrench is not the most secure, so you may want to look into a different storage solution. However, you will mostly find that this is a durable tool that can help you work to an impressive level of accuracy.
CDI 1502LDIN 3/8-Inch Drive Memory Needle Dual Scale Wrench, Torque Range 0 to 150-In.lbs
Type of Torque Wrench: Dial Style
Product Weight: 1.9 pounds
Square Drive Size: 3/8-inch
Range: 0 to 12.5 foot-pounds
If you are in the market for a dial torque wrench you should consider the CDI 1502LDIN 3/8-Inch Drive Memory Needle Wrench.
This CDI torque wrench gives you an easy to read dial that comes with a memory needle. When you start tightening down a bolt both needles will move to the amount of force that you use. When you relieve the force you’ll see one needle stays and the other drops back to zero. While there is no ratcheting action or alarm to stop you over torquing a bolt, you can easily see how much force you placed on each in between working on it.
So while it may not be as foolproof as some of the other options on this list, you will find that it can easily solve your problems once you get over the small learning curve.
You will no doubt note that this wrench only goes up to 12.5 foot-pounds, and it is worth remembering to double check if the numbers that you need are in inch-pounds or foot-pounds. The company does offer a number of different options giving you a wide selection of both drive sizes and of usable ranges. This will allow you to select the tool that fits everything that you need to do, as well as perhaps a little bit extra to cover other tasks as well.
Snap-on Industrial Brand CDI Torque 2503MFRPH 1/2-Inch Drive Adjustable Micrometer Torque Wrench, Torque Range 30 to 250-Foot Pounds
Type of Torque Wrench: Micrometer
Product Weight: 4.3 pounds
Square Drive Size: ½-inch drive
Range: 30 to 250 foot-pounds
If you are looking for a Snap On type torque wrench, take a look at the CDI Torque 2503MFRPH ½-inch Drive Torque Wrench. CDI is owned by Snap On, so with this wrench, you get the quality that people love from Snap On, but don’t have to pay the price of the tool being labeled as a Snap On. This ½-inch drive wrench has quite the healthy range, though if you need really low values you may have to consider a different option.
This adjustable torque wrench also sports a comfort grip handle to keep your hands both comfortable but also firmly on the tool while working. When you open the box you will not only find the wrench but also a certificate of calibration to prove that your wrench has come to you in a calibrated and ready to rock state. Additionally, you will find that a case has been provided to ensure that your wrench has a safe storage location. The company stands behind this product, guaranteeing that it will remain free of defect for a full year.
Precision Instruments PREC3FR250F Silver 1/2″ Drive Split Beam Torque Wrench with Flex Head
Type of Torque Wrench: Split Beam
Product Weight: 4.5 pounds
Square Drive Size: ½-inch drive
Range: 45 to 250 foot-pounds
If you prefer the split beam torque wrench you will want to consider the Precision Instruments PREC3FR250F ½-inch Drive Torque Wrench. Among its other features, this offers a flex head to help get the socket seated and be able to work in tight areas. The ratcheting head will only work in the clockwise direction. So, while most torque wrenches are not designed to loosen bolts, this could become an issue if you frequently deal with left handed threaded bolts.
A calibrated torque wrench is an accurate torque wrench and this one states that it should be sent back to the company for recalibration when needed. Due to the style of this wrench, there is no need to reset the wrench to zero when you are done working with it. Simply take it off the bolt and place it securely back in its case. It will wait for the next time that it is called into action. The down side is that this is not the most accurate style of torque wrench on the market today.
Stanley Proto J6014C 1/2-Inch Drive Ratcheting Head Micrometer Torque Wrench, 50-250-Feet Pound
Type of Torque Wrench: Micrometer
Product Weight: 5.5 pounds
Square Drive Size: ½-inch drive
Range: 50 to 250 foot-pounds
If you want the most accurate torque wrench that you can find you’ll be interested in the Stanley Proto J6014C ½-Inch Drive Micrometer Torque Wrench. It can claim an accuracy of +\- 3% which is quite an impressive feat. This is no lightweight cheap tool. At nearly 6 pounds it is on the heavy side of those wrenches featured in our torque wrench review. This wrench comes from the factory with a certificate of calibration to prove that you can take it out of the box and get to work. While the calibration is only guaranteed for 90 days, the wrench itself is guaranteed for life.
This wrench is made in the USA for a quality piece of gear that you will be trusting for a long time to come. The wrench comes with a red plastic case to ensure that you have a place to keep it safe and secure between uses. The locking ring for this Proto torque wrench pulls back instead of swiveling like most wrenches on the market do.
So if accuracy is your main priority above all else, this is probably the option you are looking for. Just keep in mind that this is a heavy duty tool, and has the weight to match, so it might not be the best choice for extended periods of work.
Best Torque Wrench – Practical ‘How To Choose’ Guide
Now that we have gone over some of the top options available to you, let’s take a look at a few pointers to help you with your selection and the eventual use of your torque wrench.
What is a Torque Wrench?
A torque wrench is a specialized tool that allows you to tighten a given bolt to a very precise tightness. A bolt is normally used to provide a clamping force between two items to keep them together. In some situations, you can just tighten as hard as you can and call it a day, however, there are some special cases that you might want to be a little more precise.
In some cases, you will have a gasket between the two pieces or another set up where you need the pieces to move but still held together. Here, you need it tight enough to hold together but loose enough to move. Other pieces are critical and need to be held together by a certain amount of clamping force and here guessing isn’t the best idea.
For these scenarios, you want to make sure that you use your torque wrench to apply the appropriate amount of tightening.
How Does a Torque Wrench Work (Principle of Operation)?
While a torque wrench might sound like a cutting edge piece of technology, it actually dates back nearly a hundred years. The most basic type of torque wrench is this early type. It has two bars, one that extended down to use as a handle and another that was left free.
There would be a gauge on one bar. As you use the wrench to do work the handle bar would deflect a certain amount. With the type of material known you can measure this deflection and determine how much work and therefore how tight you are getting something.
All torque wrenches are based on this though, but other features have been added. Some have a clutch system like a ratcheting socket wrench so that when you reach the desired setting you can’t work it further. Others have gone digital to allow for very precise measurements of the force being applied.
No matter which level of precision, accuracy, or ease of use you are striving for, there is likely a torque wrench out there to meet your needs today. So if you don’t feel like doing any guess work, you can invest a little extra into a wrench that does this for you.
How to Use a Torque Wrench?
Luckily, a torque wrench is not overly complicated to use. The old fashion ones are perhaps the most difficult, but that is only because you have to watch your gauge and stop when you come to the desired force.
More modern options let you set the force you wish to apply and then use the wrench as you would a normal wrench, until it alerts you on its own.
One thing to know though is that the force is generally measured in ft-lbs. This is called foot pounds. It is a measure of the force being applied to an object, in this case, most likely a bolt. You will have to look at the manual for your particular wrench to know how to set and lock the force setting.
There are a few other pointers to help keep your wrench working its best. First off, you should not lubricate the bolts you are tightening unless your wrench’s instructions specifically say to.
Next, when you are tightening the bolts down it is a good idea to take them to half the torque required then reset the wrench for the full torque needed. Lastly, you should never use a breaker bar in conjunction with your torque wrench. This can damage the torque wrench.
Maintenance and Calibration
This is where the major differences come from when comparing your torque wrench to a standard socket wrench. This tool is a precision tool, so you want to handle it very carefully. A drop can cause your tool to go out of calibration. If you use it correctly and return the setting to zero when you are done, then store it properly, you shouldn’t have any issue. This maintenance is key to ensure that your torque wrench keeps its accuracy over time.
Another point to be aware of with this kind of tool is that it needs to be calibrated. Most places recommend either after 5000 uses or after a year, whichever comes first. Without standard recalibrations, your tool will not be as precise as it should be.
Calibration will be determined by the type of tool that you have. There should be instructions included with your wrench when you purchase it. Some companies will advise you should send the wrench into their service center to be certified as recalibrated. Depending on the level of work you do and if you charge others for your work you might want to consider this.
If you are just using your torque wrench for personal use you can also do a home calibration. An online search can lead you to detailed instructions, but you will need to determine if your wrench is off from where it should be. This will involve using some math, but there are some online calculators to help with that.
Basically, the best thing you can do when maintaining your wrench is to read the owner’s manual and take it from there. There are so many different torque wrenches out there today that it would be hard to give specific advice for them all.
Main Considerations When Buying
There are any number of things that you should keep in your mind when looking at a torque wrench for sale. You’ll notice that price is not something that we have on the list. A price that seems too good to be true can be a signal that it is a tool that won’t last you, however, a high price does not guarantee that you will get a quality piece.
The two most important things to have in a torque wrench are the right size square drive and the right level of accuracy. Of course, the “right” level of these things will depend on how precise you need your work to be. But we do think that no matter how precise you need to be, you can find an option in our buying guide above.
If you just search the web for torque wrenches, you can find any range and combination of square drive sizes. This is great if that is what you are looking for. If you reign in your search to be more focused on working on your car, you’ll whittle that list down to 4 common sizes for the home garage. This is why it is very important that, before you buy a new wrench, you identify what you want to use it for first.
Here is an outline of 4 common sizes for working on your car:
¼-inch Drive – There are always those little bolts and screws that need to be tightened down when working with vehicles. Generally, this size drive will give you between 4 and 20 foot-pounds as its range.
⅜-inch Drive – You’ll find this to be your work horse torque wrench, most of the tightening that needs to be accomplished can be done with this size drive. It will usually have a range between 15 and 75 foot-pounds.
½-inch Drive – This is useful for those bigger bolts that you find on an engine mount or when doing suspension work. While it might not be required if you aren’t looking at doing that style work, but if you need one a range of 30 to 250 foot-pounds, then this should cover your needs.
¾-inch Drive – This is somewhat of a monster for automotive work and really only needed for special cases. If you find yourself needing to go this big you’ll want to make sure that the range of the wrench you are looking at covers the application you are getting it for.
If your torque wrench isn’t accurate why not just use a socket wrench? The best torque wrench will be accurate to 5% or better.
Often times you will get some paperwork when you purchase the wrench that notes out what the company can show you as far as how accurate their wrenches are. Of course, that accuracy assumes that the wrench has been properly calibrated. If you want to keep that level of accuracy, you’ll need to follow the maintenance and calibration guidelines that should come with your wrench.
While accuracy is important, you have to determine what level of accuracy is required for the work you do. This will generally become a balancing act with your budget. Another consideration in the realm of accuracy is how well you can read the wrench. As a general rule of thumb, the more accurate you want your wrench to be, the more you are probably looking to invest.
Types of Torque Wrench
There are any number of different styles of the torque wrench, as we have mentioned above. They range from the simple beam to the high tech digital options available today.
Beam Torque Wrenches
This is a simple style that has two beams, one with the handle. There will be a basic gauge that shows you the amount of force being applied to the bolt. This tends to be inexpensive, but they don’t stop you from over tightening, they merely let you know how much force is being used. So if you really know what you are doing with a torque wrench, then you might be able to get away with making the smaller investment into this style of wrench.
Click Torque Wrenches
This style of wrench sports a clutch similar to that of a socket wrench. This allows you to set the wrench to the desired setting and then only be able to apply a given amount of force while working. This mechanism is sometimes combined with other styles of the wrench.
Digital Torque Wrenches
With this set up you have a round dial on the handle of the wrench that shows you the amount of force being applied. Some make the argument that these are easier to read than other gauges.
Digital Torque Wrench
Even torque wrenches can go high tech. The digital style of a torque wrench can not only be set to tighten to a given spec, but it will display that in an easy to read LED readout. Some models will have memory included to save the level you tightened each item to and allow you to dump it to a computer for your records. Some will find this the most foolproof way of using a torque wrench.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list it does cover some of the most popular types of the torque wrench that are on the market today.
Generally speaking, once you have hit the big two of the square drive size and the accuracy that you need, the next thing on the list is the range that your torque wrench covers. Above, we gave you some ball park figures for each of the common sizes of the square drive, but that doesn’t mean that every wrench of that size will go for that whole range.
The first thing you will want to do when shopping for a torque wrench is to get an idea of what range you actually need for the tasks that you know you are going to use your torque wrench for. This is the minimum that you can accept. It wouldn’t hurt to do a little searching and find some setting ideas for other things you might be interested in.
If you have already verified the accuracy of a particular wrench and it meets the level you need, the wider the range the more useful it will be.
While the overall size of a wrench is not unimportant, this will generally be determined by the other selections that you make along the way. It is important to remember that where you will be using a given wrench though. If you need to get it into tight spaces, you don’t want to pick a huge wrench that you won’t be able to use or that will get stuck.
If you have made selections that work with you for all the other points listed and still find yourself with a number of sizes that will fit in the areas that you need them to, go for the longest handle you can. This will end up giving you an easier time to tighten and loosen bolts and screws. The longer the handle, the more torque you can achieve, making your job easier overall.
Torque Wrench for Sale: But Where to Buy One
By this point, you should have all the knowledge that you need in picking the right torque wrench for your needs. You might even have a particular one in your mind that you feel will do the job for you. Now the problem comes in just where does one go to make this purchase? There are several options for you.
If you are looking to do some work on your car a natural choice is to check out the local automotive parts store. This will let you get an idea of the weight and feel of the wrench you are purchasing. However, often times these shops stock such a range of products that there may only be one or two to choose from. It is normally better to get pick a tool that does just what you need, not make a selection because it was the one on the shelf.
Another option is a tool or home improvement store. Often times you will run into the same problem as the automotive store if you can even find them. Here though you may come across a torque wrench that isn’t aimed at working in your garage.
Perhaps a better option is turning to the world wide web. If you are reading this article you no doubt do so for your research, why not make the purchase there too? You won’t be able to hold the wrench in your hand, but you’ll have a much broader selection and with quick shipping becoming the norm you won’t have to wait long until you are working with your new tool. Be sure to pick a website that you feel comfortable with, one that has a well-earned reputation like Amazon.
While any tool in your garage needs to be maintained and stored correctly, with a torque wrench this is doubly important. Just a fall off of a work bench can throw this tool out of alignment and require it to be recalibrated. Frankly put, if you don’t have an accurately calibrated torque wrench you might as well just use a standard socket wrench.
While you don’t have to baby this kind of tool, you do want to take special care of it. Don’t leave it out to fall, when you are done using it put it back in its case. This isn’t the tool to use to tap things to get them loose. While it may seem like a very sturdy tool, remember that the calibration might be fragile.
And remember, most torque wrenches are designed to tighten, but not loosen bolts.
Best Torque Wrench Reviews – Wrapping Up
At this point, we have covered the information that you need to make a great choice when you are purchasing the best torque wrench for your garage. You’ve got a buyer’s guide to giving you the required background on this tool. Then you also had a primer on the main features that you will need to take into consideration when it is time to select your wrench. Last but not least you have gotten to go through our torque wrench reviews to highlight some great choices.
If you are just looking for the quick answer at the end of the article, go to the Tekton Click Drive Torque Wrench. It is a standout and when you look at it, you will have no doubts as to why we tapped it as our best product.
However, you should determine what the range of force you require is and then pick out a wrench that you are sure will cover your needs. Your needs are of primary importance here, so much sure to evaluate what you need and compare it to each option on our buying guide.
Check all torque wrenches available at Amazon
Lastly, it is your turn. Do you have any experience with torque wrenches or is there a star we missed? Let us know in the comments section below.
How to use the TEKTON 24335 1/2 inch Drive Click Torque Wrench
Last update on 2023-06-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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