A torque wrench provides precision and makes your job a whole lot easier. Did you know that certain types of fasteners that are used on a variety of mechanical devices require tightening to a specific amount so that each component would work harmoniously and adequately? This is where a torque wrench comes in handy. Aside from providing accuracy, a torque wrench promotes safety and prevents damages and malfunction.
However, a torque wrench should not be used for loosening fasteners. This can cause the torque wrench to become uncalibrated, meaning you may not reach (or you might exceed) your desired torque level. Thankfully, you can take your wrench to a local home supply store to have it calibrated, or attempt to calibrate it yourself.
The only problem is the number of torque wrenches that are available on the market! There are so many it can be difficult to know which actually is the best torque wrench on the market – that is where we come in! We have selected some of the best torque wrenches on the market at the moment AND given you the full details on what you need to be looking for – and why!
Why is a torque wrench important?
Every bolt has a threshold of tightness. Tighten a bolt too much, and you run the risk of breaking it, while not tightening it enough may cause the bolt to come loose or fall out. That’s where a torque wrench comes into play, as it allows you to tighten a bolt with precision.
Torque wrench operation is simple. You adjust a setting to determine when the wrench has applied a designated torque. When the torque setting is reached, the wrench alerts you through an audible click, a vibration, or a digital indicator.
Before You Buy
The most important component in a torque wrench is pinpoint accuracy. There are several factors that determine the accuracy, but the most important one is pairing the right tool with the right job.
When purchasing a torque wrench, consider the overall quality, accuracy, and torque capacity. Small torque wrenches have a capacity of 30 to 200 in/lb, while medium-duty wrenches have a capacity of 20 to 250 ft/lb.For bolts that require high torque values, larger wrenches allow up to 1,000 ft/lb. The most precise torque wrenches have a standard deviation of +/- three percent and a torque tolerance of +/- 10 percent.
While not the most prominent feature, consider a torque wrench with an ergonomic grip. Not only will it make the wrench more comfortable to use, but the grip will prevent it from slipping out of your hand.
The torque range of any torque wrench is quite important to check. It tells you the supported torque settings that you can have while using such a wrench. This includes options like 10-foot pounds to 150-foot pounds or 50-foot pounds to 250-foot pounds. When compared with other options, a higher range results in a more flexible or versatile torque wrench. As you would expect, this range can be easily adjusted using the torque controls offered by most torque wrenches.
You should also check the drive size of a given torque wrench before buying one. This is important to ensure that you can fit the desired bits in your torque wrench. You can find drive size options of ½ inch, ¼ inch, or ⅜ inch in different torque wrenches out there. While a larger drive size is made for larger nuts and bolts, smaller drive sizes are more ideal for compact applications with smaller nuts and bolts.
There are a lot of torque wrenches out there that come with a wide range of accessories included with them. This includes things like carrying cases, bits, extension bars, drive size adapters, and much more. While such accessories do not affect the performance directly, you can definitely expect them to offer a great overall experience while using your torque wrench.
Build Quality and Warranty
Since torque wrenches get used for tightening a lot of nuts and bolts, their build quality is highly important to check. Any wrench that is made out of steel is usually highly sturdy and offers a great build quality. You can also check the warranty offered by a torque wrench to get an idea of its reliability. This includes options like 1-year warranty or 2-year warranty with different torque wrenches. Some of them even come with a lifetime warranty that is always great to have.
Our Top Picks
The top-rated products below were chosen for quality, price, and customer satisfaction to help you find the best torque wrench for your automotive repairs.
You don’t have to worry about this wrench breaking because Tekton has made it from durable steel, and it has no plastic parts that can wear out or break. Also, they’ve included a storage case. Tekton calibrated it to ±4% accuracy so that you can tighten fasteners to prevent parts from being poorly secured.
The manufacturer has taken the guesswork out of the equation with the clicks that the wrench emits when you reach the desired value. You can drive fasteners in both directions thanks to the reversible ratcheting head, and it measures torque in a clockwise direction. All you do is set your value on the high-contrast dual-range scale, which is readable in low light.
This wrench has a torque range of 10 to 150 foot-pounds (ft-lb), and its length is 18⅜ inches. The combination of its design, quality, and pricing make this the best product overall from the 10 torque wrenches that we’ve reviewed. You’ll also get a lifetime warranty. The only downside is that it only measures torque clockwise.
As per its name, EPAuto is known for making tools and equipment for automobiles. You can even find a great affordable torque wrench offering from EPAuto.
EPAuto’s click torque wrench is present in the 2nd position in this article as it is a highly reliable option since you get a lifetime warranty with it. But unlike other options out there, this one offers it without having a premium price tag. It also uses steel alloy with a corrosion-resistant coating for extra strength and durability.
You get a ½ inch drive size with this torque wrench that comes with a torque range of 10 to 150-foot pounds that is similar to various other options out there. This drive head has a decent accuracy of ±4%. A great thing about this torque rating is that you get an additional extension bar and adapters for different drive size options.
It’s affordable, versatile, and consistent. This top-rated tool manufacturer has come through again with this simply designed workhorse of a torque wrench. Industrial Brand’s CDI 1/2-Inch drive adjustable micrometer torque wrench is quick and efficient. Made of durable materials to apply a torque range of 30 to a whopping 250 pounds, the CDI is easy to set, fast to firm up loose nuts, and accurate. Plus, the laser marked single scale is easy to read according to numerous reviewers.
The dual scale is calibrated for any direction, and it has a positive lock with a spring loaded pull down lock ring. The quick release buttons provide tight socket retention and removal. It has a soft plastic ergonomic grip that is comfortable when getting aggressive on dogged lug nuts or winding down loose bolts.
The next torque wrench on this list is burlier and more expensive than the EPAuto model listed above, but it’s still very reasonably priced and even more versatile. The Lexivon unit highlighted here features a ½-inch drive end and is a click type torque wrench. Like many other torque wrenches, its adjustment barrel features a knurled handle for a nonslip ergonomic grip and its numbers are clearly marked — a high-contrast yellow over black. This is a pretty stylish click torque wrench!
But looks are irrelevant; functionality is what counts, and this mechanical torque wrench unit offers plenty. It operates from 25 lb-ft up to a whopping 250 lb-ft of torque range. This gives you a huge torque setting range to work with, making it great for heavy-duty applications from engine and front-end service to tightening the lug nuts on a commercial truck. For added versatility, Lexivon offers several other torque-wrench models with ¼-, 3/8- and ½-inch drive ends. This unit is super versatile and affordable to boot, at just $56. But the icing on the cake is this product’s 4.7-star rating after nearly 2,000 customer reviews.
The Tooluxe Dual Drive Beam Style Torque Wrench includes both 3/8- and 1/2-inch anvils and is potentially the cheapest torque wrench on the market today.
If you’re feeling frugal, look no further than the Tooluxe torque wrench. This torque wrench has a built-in scale so the user can tell how tight they are torquing a nut or bolt, but the torque cannot be pre-set and therefore it does not click when the desired torque is reached.
A downside to this design is that the needle for the torque scale is exposed and could therefore become bent or damaged if the unit is mishandled. It’s also a very long tool and is not ideal for those working in tight spaces or those who do not have a lot of toolbox space.
What the Tooluxe wrench lacks in features it makes up for in price. It won’t be as durable over time as other wrenches on this list, but will work fine for smaller projects and home wrenchers operating on a tight budget.
Torque Wrench Pricing
- Under $50: This is the price range of more limited torque wrenches in terms of performance and durability. Options here are good for basic fastening tasks, but many will be limited for automotive parts that require a high degree of torque. Most wrenches here are on par with basic hardware store varieties.
- $50 to $100: Sandwiched between true budget options and professional-grade options, torque wrenches in the midrange tend to offer higher-quality designs and builds. In use, however, these wrenches are still fairly limited and basic. A torque range of up to 250 foot-pounds is common here.
- $100 and up: Above $100, options can quickly rise in price. This range is home to a lot of professional-grade options that include Snap-On attachments, digital readouts, higher torque ranges, and an increase in build quality.
Take a look at these helpful answers to some of the most common questions about torque wrenches.
What is a torque wrench used for?
A torque wrench is a specialized tightening tool commonly used in the automotive industry. Despite ‘wrench’ being in its name, a torque wrench should never be used to loosen nuts, only for tightening them.
How do you use a torque wrench?
You can use a torque wrench to tighten nuts, but never for loosening. If the wrench you are using is a type that needs the torque to be set, then set the torque using the physical dial on the handle or the digital keypad. Place the drive bit on the nut or bolt and tighten until you reach the appropriate torque, which will be indicated differently for each type of torque wrench.
Do I Realy Need a torque wrench?
Torque wrenches are absolutely essential if you plan on working on your engine or other powertrain components. These systems carry nuts and bolts of all shapes and sizes, such as cylinder-head bolts and exhaust manifold bolts that need to be tightened according to specs. Any over tightening could create stress on the system (e.g. distorted brake rotors) and cause parts to leak (e.g. coolant). Also, if a fastener is not tightened enough, it could become loose over time.