At first glance, one might look at a torque wrench and simply assume it’s just like any other ordinary wrench. Though definitely much bigger in size, you’d think this is for those REALLY hard to get loose bolts. But it’s far from that. You use a torque wrench, if you want the bolt to be snug to a specific level of tightness. This is especially true with a wide range of automotive vehicles, from cars, trucks, suv’s, vans, coupes, and motorcycles. Prior to even buying one, you must know how to use a torque wrench properly to avoid damaging it, or even worse, stripping/snapping off a bolt.
The way it works is quite simple, you first get the specific number of ft-lbs you need the bolt to be tight. You then make sure the bolt is lined up properly and not at an angle, the last thing you want to do is tighten up any given bolt only to find out you stripped the threads.
Last step is to tighten up the bolt to hand tight strength (if applicable), from there you adjust the ft-lbs on the wrench and start ratcheting. After you reached the desired ft-lbs, the wrench will make a click to let you know that you’re done.
Before you do any of that, you need to find the best torque wrench that is durable and cost effective. There’s super cheap ones, and there’s super expensive ones. To compliment your nicetool set, let’s find a torque wrench that is a smart purchase. Below is a complete list of the top 10 torque wrenches you should consider looking into.
***Be mindful that not all wrenches are rated to the same torque. Some go to 50 MAX, while some go to over 200 ft-lbs. Double check.
10. Pittsburgh Pro 239 Professional 1/2-inch Drive Torque Wrench
This is by far the cheapest torque wrench we reviewed to date. Costing just around 25 dollars for the whole package, this guy is definitely a beginner (non-professional grade) wrench. When you unbox it, you’ll see it comes in a polycarbonate case which stores the entire wrench with no wiggle room. The stainless-steel wrench has a rating of 20 ft-lbs to 150 ft-lbs of torque. Each time you reach the desired torque, a “clicking” noise will be the indicator.
With its length coming in at around 18″ inches, it right in the middle for comfort and compactness. Priced to definitely sell like gangbusters and it’s easy to use, what more could you ask for?
It must be noted that this is the cheapest one you can buy that we’ve reviewed. For definite durability for the long-term, consider looking into wrenches from #5 and below. Those cost considerably more, but are worth every penny.
Looking for a really cheap torque wrench that can still get the job done pretty well? Neiko’s 3/8-inch wrench may just be for you. This is an all steel construction torque wrench with a narrow neck done for getting into tighter spots. It has a switch by the 3/8 inch socket where you can go either in the left direction, or right direction. Really simple to use.
Moving into the area where you’re able to select the torque setting, go from as little as 10 ft-lbs to 80 ft-lbs. An audible click happens every time you reach your desired torque. It’s 14″ inches long overall, making it’s size right in the middle between too long and too short.
This isn’t a professional grade wrench by any stretch. You can grab this one for just 30 dollars and save a TON. Check it out!
This torque wrench is actually not 1/2, but 3/8 instead. Meant for smaller duty jobs, this model in particular is rated from 10 ft-lbs to 100 ft-lbs. From first glance, you’ll see it’s made entirely of stainless steel with just the bottom grip made of a rugged rubber material. The dual direction scale allows you to precisely select which torque setting you’d like. The positive spring loaded lock pulls down the locking pin, keeping your selection in place.
This guy is a clone of the Snap-on CDI mentioned below but instead meant for non-industrial applications. Weighing in at just over 2 lbs, it’s not as hefty as the other wrenches either.
If you’re looking for light to medium duty application jobs, this CDI torque wrench is perfect. The only drawback may be the price tag of around 120 dollars.
More than 20 individual reviewers have given this wrench a near perfect 5 (4.8 to be exact), take a look yourself.
If adjusting the dial for the appropriate torque setting isn’t your thing, ACDelco’s ARM601 is exactly what you need. Coming in as our #7 best-rated torque wrenches for this year, is the ACDelco digital torque wrench. What sets this one apart from all the other ones we’ve reviewed, is the LCD screen and a variety of buttons allowing you to properly select your desired newton-meter or foot-pound setting. As you crank up this torque wrench, the LCD screen will tell you LIVE what the current pressure you’ve got on the wrench.
It’s important to understand this is a more fragile wrench than standard dial styled torque wrenches. Most of it is still made of steel, but the electronic part just needs a bit of caution when operating.
Rated as the least powerful torque wrench in our top 10 list, ranging from 4 ft-lbs to 99 ft-lbs of torque. Overall, the length is 17″ inches and weight is right at 4 lbs. **Batteries are not included, so you must find 4 AAA batteries.
If you know Craftsman, then you know they make every single tool under the sun. Heck, they even make riding lawn mowers. Today, we’re going to cover their torque wrench (model 9-31425). This is a 1/2-inch drive torque wrench which can be operated in all directions. It’s made entirely of stainless steel and the bottom part with the torque selector which is calibrated to be accurate to +/- 4%, is covered in a rugged rubber finish (made specifically for your grip).
A micro clicker tells you when you reached your desired torque setting, torque can range from 20 ft-lbs all the way up to 150 ft-lbs. Whether you operate by foot-pound or newton-meters, it’s all on the dial selector for you.
Relatively lightweight at just under 4 lbs, this torque wrench is approximately 23.50 inches long.
Overall, you can’t compare this to premium brand such as Snap-On or even Tekton for that matter. But, you can consider this an economical wrench that still does what it’s intended to do.
A lesser known brand for sure, we placed the Gorilla Automotive TW605 1/2 drive wrench in our number 5 spot. Made of all steel, this torque wrench can be adjusted forward and reverse. Use the dial styled torque setting selector located on the base of the handle to adjust torque setting from 20 ft-lbs to 150 ft-lbs. One of the best aspects about this wrench is the 72 dollar price tag, a nice saving when you compare it to wrenches made by Precision Instruments and Snap-On.
This wrench inches a 5″ inch extension bar and a high impact case which fits the whole wrench snuggly (leaving no wiggle room). With the 1/2 inch fitment on the wrench, you can use the extension for use on small sockets. Lastly, it weighs in at about 4 lbs dry. If you’d like to snatch this one up, definitely go the official Amazon page.
Moving towards a very nice torque wrench, we have Precision Instruments 1/2-inch drive (C3FR250F) Torque Wrench. Made primarily of stainless steel, it’s capable of torque from 40 ft-lbs to 250 ft-lbs. Unlike with some others which require you to turn down the torque setting after each use, with this one you don’t have to (mostly for convenience).
The torque settings lock on each selected setting, along with not having to turn it down after each use, makes it convenient for the next use. Whenever you reach the preset torque setting, an audible “click” is made telling you that you shouldn’t go past that point. Weighing in at just over 4 lbs, it definitely has some weight to it when you consider the length of 27″ inches.
**As a bonus, there’s a conversion chart on the handle converting ft-lbs to Nm.
Overall, this is an exceptionally good and solid wrench. It costs a pretty penny at around 135 dollars, but much like Snap-On’s reliability you won’t be disappointed.
Coming in as our number 3 wrench for the best torque wrench to get, is Tekton’s (24335) 1/2-inch drive wrench. A bit of a step down from the No.1 spot Tekton, this is a more economical but shorter, and with less torque. Nonetheless, this is rated at 10 ft-lbs to 150 ft-lbs. An audible “click” is emitted when you reach your desired torque setting, which is selectable by using the pre-calibrated (+/- 4%) high contrast scale (located on the base of the handle).
This torque wrench is capable of driving and measuring torque in both directions, if you want to go forward you can and if you want to to go in reverse you can also. It’s all steel construction and absolutely no plastic parts to get worn or broken. Being as sensitive as it is, this tool comes in a red case which tightly stores it and keeps it from wobbling around.
This is the best selling torque wrench that you will find on Amazon!
Unarguably one of the highest quality (and cost) brands in the automotive industry. Snap-on CDI is a serious business when it comes down to creating tools that mechanics and do-it-yourselfers love. Their torque wrench is one of the highest quality wrenches we’ve reviewed, and over 80 others users have stated the same thing. This wrench is made mostly of steel, it’s capable of torque from as little as 30 ft lbs, to as much as 250 ft lbs.
You can adjust the torque strength using the dual calibrated scale. With laser engraved markings, it’s simply to read the marked scale. Moving up to the socket area, you can use the quick release button to swap out your desired socket size. Coming in at just over 21 inches in length, 2.8 inches in width and 2.4 inches in high this is an all USA made wrench.
Coming in as our number 1 pick for the best torque wrench to get, is Tekton’s (model 24340) 1/2 inch drive torque wrench. Talk about a sturdy piece of steel, this wrench measures out to be 25″ inches long, 2″ inches wide, and just 1/2″inches thick. No electronic problems here, you can use the micrometer on the bottom handle to adjust your desired torque settings. You can go from as little as 25 ft-lbs to as high as 250 ft-lbs. It’s surprisingly easy to read as you’re adjusting the torque settings.
This is a reversible ratchet which drives and measures in both directions. To let you know when you’ve reached the desired torque settings, a mechanical CLICK is made. Prior to reaching your hands, the wrench is precalibrated + /- 4%. Again, there’s absolutely NO plastic parts on this wrench to break or wear out.
It’s a very popular torque wrench because of the price range and durability. Highly recommend grabbing one of these wrenches!!
To wrap it all up,there’s a few extra guides you should consider taking a look at. As you know, safety is the #1 concern when operating any kind of tool. If you don’t already have a pair, look into getting a pair of safety glasses. And if your drill isn’t that great, consider upgrading to a portable 12 volt power drill.