A torque wrench is a tool that should be in every mechanic’s tool set. These wrenches will give you the ability to tighten nuts and bolts to the recommended foot/pounds settings without worrying about overtightening and possibly stripping the bolt—or worse, damaging your engine.
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Why Are Torque Wrenches Important?
When you buy a torque wrench, you’re buying a precision tool that is going to measure the applied force/load/tension on a threaded fastener. The tool is going to help you to achieve the recommended fastening torque efficiently and accurately without requiring a lot of elbow grease. When your fastener is properly torqued, it will be able to stay tight, no matter how much vibration occurs while the vehicle is being used.
Should your fasteners be improperly torqued, why, that could spell disaster for you and your automobile. If a fastener is too loose or too tight, the fastener could fail during operation because of the constant vibration or even strain. To prevent these sort of problems, a good quality torque wrench is going to prove to be quite useful.
How Does A Toque Wrench Work?
Most torque wrenches you find today are going to have a ratchet mechanism that is going to allow you to keep the wrench on the fastener once it’s reached the end of the rotation. This means you won’t have to take the wrench off the bolt in order to do another rotation. All you have to do is simply turn the wrench in the opposite direction and start all over again.
This ratcheting mechanism uses gears inside the head of the wrench. These gears allows the handle to rotate backward while the fastener you’re working with stays still and prevents it from unloosening. Because of this, you’ll be able to work much faster in tight space.
If you work on cars a lot and you want to speed up the process of tightening or loosening bolts, then a torque wrench is an essential tool that you’re going to want to have in your tool box. But, before you rush out to buy any old torque wrench, there are some things that you’re going to want to consider first! When you start shopping for the best torque wrench, keep these four things in mind:
1. Choose An Accurate Torque Wrench.
Perhaps the most important thing when you’re buying a torque wrench is that it is going to give you an accurate reading. Always search for a wrench that is rated less than Â±5% accuracy with its foot/pounds settings. You’ll find that the better rated torque wrenches have a Â±2% inaccuracy, which is really good. The best part is, these newer wrenches aren’t as expensive as you may think!
2. Consider How Frequently The Tool Will Be Used.
There are some pretty expensive torque wrenches out there on the market. Before you buy one of these big ticket tools, you’re going to want to think about how frequently you are going to be using the tool. There’s no sense in spending several hundred dollars (yes, they can be that expensive!) on a tool that you’ll only need to use for infrequent repairs at home.
However, if you’re a professional mechanic and you want top quality tools that are going to be accurate and reliable, then yes, dropping that amount of money on a tool may be worth it to you.
3. Choose Quality Over The Bells And Whistles The Tool May Feature.
In this technological world, it’s not uncommon to find gadgets with a litany of bells and whistles on them. For example, torque wrenches may feature LED readouts or they may feature audible beeping or buzzing when you approach the targeted setting. We aren’t saying that these features don’t help or they are pointless to have.
What we are saying is that sometimes people will choose these features over a quality built tool that is going to give you an accurate read out and be easy to use. That goes without saying, there are techy tools that are very well made and are of a great quality. To find these tools, it doesn’t hurt to read the best torque wrench reviews and judge for yourself which tool is going to suit your needs the best.
4. Choose American Made Products
It doesn’t matter which torque wrench you buy, just make sure that you choose a wrench that is made in the United States. Sure, there are companies in Europe that are known for making quality tools and those are fine.
However, you’re going to want to be cautious of cheap imports or torque wrenches that are imported from countries that aren’t known for producing high quality products, or products with hard to pronounce names. You’ll find that the majority of American-made torque wrenches are made to meet high quality standards and usually will come with good warranties—heck, some of the best torque wrenches will come with a life-time warranty.
Now that you know what to consider when looking for a torque wrench, let’s take a look at five options that are pretty popular. We’re going to take a look at the tool, their features and then what customers have had to say about the tool—both good and bad.
Top Products On The Market
At the end, we’re going to give you a brief summary and give our recommendation of which tool is going to be worth your hard earned money.
TEKTON 24340 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque
This Tekton torque wrench can be calibrated to an accuracy of +/-4%, giving you the confidence that you’ll never over tighten fasteners because it eliminates the guessing. You can correctly tighten vehicle or machinery fasteners to their manufacturer’s torque specifications so that your works as intended each and every time.
The torque wrench features a reversible ratcheting head that will work both directions, but it will measure torque while going clockwise. To measure the torque, just set the desired value on the sale on the handle (either in foot pound or newton meters) and start tightening the fastener. Once that set measurement has been reached, you will hear an audible click that will let to stop tightening.
- Wrench emits a click that can be heard and felt when the preset value is reached
- High-contrast dual-range scale is easy to read, even in low light
- Reversible ratchet head drives in both directions and measures torque in clockwise direction
- Durable all-steel construction has no plastic parts to break or wear out
- Ships pre-calibrated to +/- 4% accuracy and ready to use
- Up to 250 ft./lb. torque
When looking at the reviews for the product, 91% of customers left 4 or 5-star reviews. Of these reviews, customers said that because the torque wrench was able to go up to 250ft/lb, which was able to meet their needs and then some. Customers said the wrench was solid and had some “heft” to it, but it wasn’t uncomfortable to use.
The markings on the wrench are very easy to read and it is simple to set it to the desired ft/lb. Of the remaining 9% of customers who left 3-star reviews or lower, the common complaint was that they didn’t feel like the wrench was calibrated correctly, as the numbers on the dial didn’t match up with the numbers on the wrench.
One customer said they tried using the wrench, but although it is rated for 250 ft/lb, the teeth on the wrench sheared off at 100 ft/lb. Customers also had problems with the locking feature. They stated that when they tried setting the poundage, the locking screw wouldn’t hold to that setting when the wrench was used.
Craftsman 9-31425 20-150
If you’re looking for a good torque wrench, it’s logical that you would turn to Craftsman, a brand that is well-known for quality tools. With this torque wrench, Craftsman combines rugged strength and steel material to give you the perfect amount of torque tension.
It features a lock and unlock option via a twist ring where the measurements are clear and easy to read. The torque wrench has been pre-calibrated to +/- 4%, so you never have to worry about a blown gasket and accidentally damaging components when you try to use it.
- It has a ½-inch drive.
- The scales are stamped into the housing for clear reading.
- It has dual range with ft.-lbs and Nm scales available.
- The twist ring has a lock and unlock option.
- It was calibrated to +/-4% accuracy.
- It has a micro-clicker with a range of 20- 150 ft.-lbs.
- Makes clicking sound when desired torque levels have been reached.
When looking at the reviews for the product, 66% of customers left 4 or 5-star reviews. Of these reviews, customers said the wrench is a solid tool for general use around the home. Customers said it was easy to use and that it works as expected. They like that the torque setting were clearly visible and that when they set the wrench to the measurement, it was firmly in place and they didn’t have to worry about it coming unlocked.
Of the remaining 34% of customers who left 3-star reviews or lower, the common complaint was this wrench is only Craftsman in name and it lacks the quality you would expect from the brand. Customers have said their wrenches broke immediately when they tried using it. It wasn’t just the calibration that broke, but the ratchet mechanism broke, the tool skips and jumps, and sometimes it won’t even turn.
Customers also said the warranty on the product is shoddy, because the company (Craftsman) said you have to return the product to the seller, but for one customer, the seller closed the return window after 30 days, even though the Craftsman warranty is for a full year.
Snap-on Industrial Brand CDI Torque
As far as quality torque wrenches, CDI, a subsidiary of Snap On, features the torque 1/2-Inch drive adjustable micrometer torque wrench that features a dual scale that is calibrated for indicating readings in both directions.
The technology that has been used to make the wrench ensures that every time you take a reading, it is going to be precise and accurate every time. The scales are laser calibrated for easy reading, and it also features a positive lock that uses a spring loaded, pull down locking ring. It is easy to use, thanks to the quick release button.
The ergonomic grip and buttons on this wrench make the tool easy and comfortable to use for a all skill levels—whether you are a DIY’er or if you’re a seasoned professional.
- The scale is laser marked; it is a single scale
- A two directional calibrated dual scale
- Positive lock with a pull-down lock ring, which is spring loaded
- Quick release buttons for fast and easy setup and socket retention
- The torque ranges from 30 to 250-foot pounds
When looking at the reviews for the product, 93% of customers left 4 or 5-star reviews. Of these reviews, customers said they liked that this wrench features a collar that needs to be pulled in order to release the locking mechanism. This feature ensures that the setting remains in place if you are using it for multiple uses with the same setting.
Customers feel that this particular torque wrench has the fit and feel that you would expect from a Snap On tool. Of the remaining 7% of customers who left 3-star reviews or lower, the common complaint was that the head was “stripped out” before they could even use the tool. Customers also said that the tool’s calibration was really off—off by 10 pounds!
When they contacted the seller for a replacement, the replacement broke in just two weeks. Customers also mentioned that with this tool, you cannot store it in the case at the lowest setting, like you are supposed to because the case is too short.
ACDelco ARM601-3 3/8-inch Digital Torque Wrench
For those who don’t want to fiddle with an adjustable dial to get the desired torque setting, then you might be more interested in the best digital torque wrench that you can get. If so, then you may be interested in this wrench by ACDelco.
With this digital torque wrench, the LCD screen features several buttons that allows you to select the desired Newton-Meter or ft/lb setting you need. As you turn crank this torque wrench, the LCD screen will tell you what the current pressure is while you are cranking. It should be noted that unlike other torque wrenches, this tool will require extra care while handling because it does feature an electronic handle.
- Measured Torque Range 2-37 ft-lb (3-50 Nm)
- Resolution 1 kg-cm, 0.1 N-m, 1 in-lb, 0.1 ft-lb
- Auto Shut-Off After 60 seconds of No Use
- Operating Temperature 0-50C
- Storage Temperature -10-60C
- Battery AAA (Alkaline) Battery X 4
- Tool Weight 1.40 lbs (0.64 kg)
When looking at the reviews for the product, 78% of customers left 4 or 5-star reviews. Of these reviews, customers said that this wrench is perfect for small jobs that require precision. Customers have said that it is easy to use and it gives an audible beep that will let you know when you are approaching the desired torque. Customers feel like the tool is built quite solidly and is capable of lasting for a long time.
Customers feel that for the price of the tool, it is quite a steal. Customers found that the hard plastic storage case was very handy and it protected the tool nicely. Of the remaining 22% of customers who left 3-star reviews or lower, the common complaint was that it didn’t come with directions on how to use the tool.
Customers said they had to go online to figure out how use the tool. One customer said that although they found it easy to set the torque, they could not get a steady tone and it would keep beeping, indicating that the wrench was at the peak torque setting. Even after making adjustments, they couldn’t get the beeping to stop. They returned the wrench. Another small complaint a few customers had was that the 4-AAA batteries were not included with their tool.
Precision Instruments C3FR250F Torque Wrench
Precision Instruments is a torque wrench made in the USA. You’ll find that with this wrench, it has the capability of torque from 40 ft-lbs to 250 ft-lbs. Unlike other torque wrenches that will require you to “turn down” the tool, you won’t have to with this, making it a convenient tool to have.
The speed if wrenching has been increased thanks to the spring-loaded mechanism on the wrench. Because the tool is 22-1/8” long, you are able to get more leverage, which is a quality many folks can appreciate. This tool is perfect for home applications, but it is also a great option for professional use as well. If you’re looking for the best budget torque wrench that will give you exact torque, then this wrench is a great option.
- Doesn’t require recalibration after use hence can be used as-is to recalibrate it
- Has an adjustment knob that eliminates spring tension hence making adjustments easy.
- Setting locks that can be used when calibrating to a required torque
- It is rather long for added leverage when wrenching and increased reach
- Speed and efficiency are guaranteed with the incorporation of an innovative torque mechanism which requires little force to get going.
When looking at the reviews for the product, 97% of customers left 4 or 5-star reviews. Of these reviews, customers said that they liked that you didn’t have to wind the wrench back down to 0 to store it, unlike micrometer wrenches. The tool is easy to adjust the torque setting and it works beautifully.
Customers said that they’ve never tried this type of wrench before, but they were surprised by how much they enjoyed using the tool. Customers have said that it is much smoother and easier to use than the old traditional torque wrenches. Of the remaining 3% of customers who left 3-star reviews or lower, there was no one thing the customers didn’t like, as they each had something different to say.
One customer felt like the tool they received was cheaply made and the flex head hardly moved. Another customer said that the angle of the flex head was too limited for their needs, and another customer wasn’t quite sure how to feel about the tool.
When you’re looking for the best torque wrench, it’s understandable that you are going to want to weigh your options and read torque wrench reviews so that you know you’re getting the best torque wrench for the money you’re shelling out for it.
If you are looking for a basic torque wrench that will get the job done, you might consider the Tekton torque wrench or the Craftsman. However, when you do a comparison between Tekton vs Craftsman, you’ll see that the Tekton is far superior.
If you want something a little more high tech that is going to give you precise readings that doesn’t have to be turned down, then there’s no question that the Precision Instruments Torque Wrench is definitely the best way to go.