Even though there are plenty of everyday jobs that can be done with a socket or ratchet, sometimes the handyman needs something with a little more finesse. And that something is the basic torque wrench. This tool turns sockets, so the right amount of rotational force is applied to it. This prevents overtightening that can be disastrous for some jobs. For example, tightening down the bolts on most intake manifolds requires the exact amount of torque to prevent the manifold from being damaged during the process. That’s why we’ve decided to find and list ten of the best torque wrenches currently available. All of the following wrenches have been selected for their durability, precision, and performance, and we highly recommend any of them.
Best Torque Wrenches – Reviews & Buying Guide
10Tacklife 3/8-Inch Drive Click Wrench
Some torque wrenches can be pretty expensive, so we were quite happy to find this one. That’s because it’s an extremely accurate model that seems well made but doesn’t cost a whole lot. Although we do have to admit that it takes a bit of effort and time to dial this wrench to the proper torque, once that’s done it works fairly well. This model not only comes with the 3/8-inch wrench but also comes with a 2.95-inch extension bar, a 3/8-inch to 1/4-inch drive reducer, a 3/8-inch to 1/2-inch drive adapter, a handy storage case, and a user’s manual. And at its price, it’s pretty much a steal.
- It’s an affordable torque wrench
- It feels like a well made tool
- Adjusting torque can require a little bit of effort
9Tooluxe 3/8-inch & 1/2-Inch Dual Drive Beam Wrench
The Tooluxe may be written off by some people as just another budget wrench, but the reality is that it’s not only cheap, but it’s also well made, too. This beam-style torque wrench also has a few other positives other than its price going for it as well. It’s made out of a steel alloy that’s been coated with a mirror chrome finish, it has both 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch anvils and a 17-inch shaft. Although the handle isn’t very comfortable to use for extended periods, it certainly does feel durable. This wrench provides torque up to 150-pounds and provides accurate readings every time it’s used.
- Extremely inexpensive
- It’s a very solid tool
- It’s handle can be difficult to hold during use
8AC Delco 1/2-Inch Digital Wrench
It’s about time that the standard torque wrench has come into the 21st century and provides the user with the tools they need to get the job done quickly and accurately. This digital torque wrench has a torque wrench of 4 to 99-pounds and not only comes with an easy-to-read LED display for showing the measurement reached, but it also comes with a buzzer alarm that can go off when a predetermined torque ranch has been reached. Although it would’ve been nice if the minimum torque was a bit lower, this is otherwise a great tool that’s well made and extremely accurate.
- Has an audible alert & LCD screen
- It’s a well-made tool
- It’s minimum torque is 3.7-pounds
7Tekton 1/2-Inch Drive Click Wrench
This torque wrench is 18.5 by 1.9-inches in size and has a torque range of 10 to 150 foot-pounds. It’s an extremely well-made tool that has a +/- accuracy of 4% and doesn’t cost a whole lot. Although the wrench does click when it reaches the proper torque, it can be difficult to hear that click, especially in loud work environments. Fortunately, when it reaches torque, it can also be felt, so there’s little chance of a person over-torquing with this tool. And since this tool is made using an all-steel construction, it should hold up to frequent use for many years to come.
- It’s a well made tool
- It’s inexpensive
- The click for reaching set torque is a bit quiet
6Industrial Brand CDI Torque Wrench
Even though the price tag on this tool is enough to scare quite a few people away, it’s a well-built tool that should last a lifetime. And it’s also a tool that provides an accurate reading. It has a torque range of 30 to 250 foot-pounds, features a laser marked scale that’s easy-to-read, and it has a calibrated dual direction feature. It also has a positive lock and a quick-release button for easy socket removal.
- Has a torque range of 30 to 250-pounds
- It’s extremely well made
- It has a laser-marked scale that’s easy to read
- It’s an expensive tool
5CDI 3/8-Inch Click-Type Wrench
This industrial-strength tool is designed to do heavy jobs and to hold up to use year after year. It’s a 3/8-inch drive with a chrome-plated metal handle that feels good in the hand and is comfortable to hold. It has a torque range of 10 to 100 foot-pounds and makes an audible click when the set range has been achieved. If there’s one thing to complain about this tool, it’s the fact that it’s too easy to flip the switch to the center position and accidentally turn off torque while the person is using it. However, if the tool is used with that design flaw in mind, then it isn’t too big of a problem.
- It’s a well-built wrench
- Has a 10 to 100-pound torque range
- Is very accurate
- It’s easy to accidentally turn off torque on this wrench
4EP Auto 1/2-Inch Drive-Click Wrench
One of the main reasons that people buy this torque wrench is that it’s inexpensive. Few quality tools can be bought in this price range. It’s made using a hardened chrome vanadium steel alloy, holds up to frequent use and does the job pretty well. However, that’s not to say it isn’t without its flaws. For instance, although it’s pre-calibrated to be accurate at +/- 4% of the torque range, it seems to be a little off when the torque range is in the 10 to 15 foot-pound range. Having said that, it still works pretty well from 15 to 150 foot-pounds, so it’s a tool some people may want to investigate.
- This is an inexpensive tool
- It’s extremely durable
- It has an audible click when torque is reached
- Lower torque accuracy is a little off
3eTork 1/2-Inch Click-Style Wrench
This quality torque wrench is in the mid-price range and is designed with a torque range of 50 to 250 foot-pounds. It’s a well-made tool that clicks when the proper torque has been reached and can be used for both clockwise and counterclockwise operation. Although the torque lock doesn’t always fully lock, requiring the user to be vigilant of its operation, it does do a decent job for the most part. All things considered, it’s a good tool that comes with a lifetime personal use guarantee and should provide the handyman with years of operation.
- It has a lifetime personal use guarantee
- Has an accurace of +/- 3%
- It is a well-made tool
- Can be used for clockwise and counterclockwise operation
- Torque lock doesn’t always fully lock
2CDI 752LDINSS 3/8-Inch Drive-Dial Wrench
The CDI 752LDINSS 3/8-inch drive is a torque wrench that’s been used in the automotive industry, and by nuclear and military installations around the world. That’s because it’s not only because it’s durable and is made with a torsion beam design that allows it to hold up to frequent use, but it’s also because it’s extremely accurate. It has a torque range of 0 to 75 inch-pounds and has a memory needle dial that displays the range. Although it’s not very compact, so it won’t fit into tight places, for most other jobs, it’s a worthy tool to use.
- It’s an extremely well made tool
- It’s comfortable to hold and use
- Has a torque range of 0 to 75 inch-pounds
- It’s very accurate
- Doesn’t fit into tight spaces
1Precision Instruments 1/2-Inch Drive Split-Beam Wrench
Anyone looking for a torque wrench that can be used day in and day out and still operate very well is going to want to investigate this model. It’s designed to be extremely durable and extremely accurate. It’s made with a chrome finish, has an ergonomic handle and has a torque range of up to 250 foot-pounds. It also has fully-function torque locks and an adjustment knob that makes adjusting it very easy. This is a professional level torque wrench without the professional level price.
- It’s extremely durable
- It’s very accurate
- It has an ergonomic handle
- Has a torque range of up to 250 foot-pounds
- Costs a bit more than lesser quality wrenches
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A Guide To Buying Torque Wrenches
Unlike conventional wrenches, torque wrenches deliver a precise amount of torque to a screw or bolt. This prevents the user from overtightening the bolt or screw, which can be disastrous for some applications. For example, we once saw DIY mechanic try to replace the intake manifold on their 1999 Grand Marquis. Instead of using a torque wrench for the job, however, they used a regular wrench to tighten the bolts. What happened? Well, since the intake manifold was made out of plastic, he ended up cracking it. That meant that he ended up having to shell out another $350 for another manifold. And all that money could’ve been saved by just buying a torque wrench, to begin with.
Torque wrenches come in a variety of different sizes and for different applications, so the consumer needs to think about them carefully before they decide to buy a new one. There are torque wrenches that are only designed with only a 1/4-inch drive and others that go up to an inch or more. Several different features can be found on them including click or electronic models or beam-torque designs. To help our readers choose between these different torque wrench models, we decided to write this guide to illuminate a little bit of light on the subject.
Consider The Three Most Common Torque Wrench Types
Before we dig down into the features that can be found on various torque wrenches, the consumer needs to choose the right torque wrench for their needs. Although professional mechanics and other workmen may need a representative from all three of the different torque wrench models, most people only need one specific type. Let’s examine each of the three main torque wrench types—Beam, Click and Electronic—and see how they’re used.
Click Torque Wrenches
Click torque wrenches are the most common and probably the ones that most people are familiar with. These models allow the user to dial in the correct amount of torque and when they reach that torque level, they make an audible clicking sound that alerts the user that the threshold has been met. These models are pretty easy to set up and use, and most of the ones available hold up well to frequent use. If there’s one drawback associated with this model, it’s the fact that it’s easy for the user to overtighten the bolt if they don’t heed the clicking sound. In other words, there’s no mechanism in place that prevents the user from exceeding the torque level they set.
Electronic Torque Wrench
Another type of torque wrench that has become more common over the past few years is the electronic torque wrench. Although these wrenches can be expensive, they can be some of the easiest to use. Most of the ones available are equipped with an LCD screen that tells the user just how much torque they’re applying at any given time, but also usually comes with safety features that prevent the user from over-torquing the bolt. Some of these features include a beeping sound or vibration that alerts the user when the torque level has been reached or features that prevent the bolt from being tightened any further.
Beam Torque Wrenches
Unlike click or electronic torque wrenches, these models don’t provide any sort of warning to the user when they’re coming close or exceeding torque. In fact, there’s no way for the operator to dial in torque with this type of wrenches. Instead, they’re equipped with a gauge that has to be watched as they’re being used. This can make them difficult to use, especially if the operator has to use them in a way where the gauge is faced away from them. The reason that most people end up buying these torque wrenches is that they’re extremely inexpensive and a person can pick one up for $30 or less.
Torque Wrench Drive Sizes
Since torque wrenches come with different drive heads, consumers should think about them before they buy one. For general purpose use, torque wrenches with 1/4-inch drives will usually handle smaller bolts and nuts. For general automotive work, most consumers are going to need a 3/8-inch torque wrench. However, if the mechanic is going to work on the bolts that are often used for mounting engines to the chassis, holding suspension parts to the body of the car or secures the car’s transmission, then they’re going to need a 1/2-inch torque wrench. For larger jobs than that, then the consumer is probably going to need a 3/4-inch or 1-inch torque to get the job done.
Other Torque Wrench Features To Think About
Before we conclude this article on torque wrenches, we want to go over some of the other features that our readers might want to consider before putting down good money on one of these tools, so we compiled a list of some of these features worth considering. Keeping the following features in mind will help the consumer buy the best torque wrench available.
Torque Wrench Accuracy
One of the most important things to think about before buying one of these wrenches is just how accurate it is. This is especially important if the wrench is going to be used for tightening down bolts that have to be torqued precisely. Fortunately, most good torque wrenches list their accuracy right on their descriptions, so it’s easy for consumers to find the most accurate model available. As a general rule, for precise applications, the consumer should look for a wrench that has a =/- 2% accuracy rating or better. However, if they don’t need a wrench that precise, then a model with an accuracy of +/- 4% will suit most people.
Torque Wrench Bi-Directional Ratching
Bi-directional ratching is also a good feature for a torque wrench to have. This feature allows the tool to be used both in a clockwise or counterclockwise position. It’s a feature useful for just about anyone but is especially important for mechanics who might have to use the tool left-handed.
A Manufacturer’s Warranty
All of the great torque wrenches available come with some type of warranty, so consumers should avoid the wrenches that don’t offer any warranty at all.