Best Torque Wrench 2017 – Reviews & Our Selection

Torque wrenches are essential for any car owner. Our reviews showcase the best torque wrenches today.

A torque wrench is used to fasten nuts and bolts as well as apply torque. With the best torque wrench you no longer have to guess how tight you have to set the fastener on your car. Manufacturers have specific provisions about torque use, and if you have one of these wrenches you can be certain the components are secured without being too tight.

For this to work however, you need to have the right wrench. What you should look for is a tool that’s easy to use and built for the long term. It will also help to learn as much as you can about these wrenches and what features to look for.

Best Torque Wrench - Our Top Picks

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Reviews of the Best Torque Wrench

Tekton 24335 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench

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The Tekton 24335 can be used on cars, SUVs, motorcycles and even light trucks. It’s easy to use and provides precision tightening of nuts and bolts. 

Constructed from chrome vanadium and resistant to corrosion, this is a tool designed for heavy duty use. With nonslip twist and a 10-150 ft-lb. range, the high contrast makes it easy to read.

A click is heard when you tighten the fastener, confirming you have applied torque. The Tekton 24335 also has a knurled handle for a comfortable grip, and with its durable steel construction will last a long time.

CDI 2401CI3 Drive Computorq 3 Electronic Torque Wrench

Editor Rating:

The CDI Computorq is a top of the line torque wrench, combining ease of use with superior performance. Its readout provides information and stats, and you can view the measurements in different forms (cm, kg, Newton meter, inch pounds). Designed for everyone, you can use this tool in different ways and it’s a breeze to adjust.

The Computorq has a lot of advanced features, but its ease of use makes it ideal for anyone regardless of technical expertise. With this you’ll have an easier time calibrating, and it comes with an Easy Push Button to release the socket, and it works clockwise and counterclockwise.

CDI Torque 2503MFRMH Torque Wrench

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The Torque 2503MFRMH can be used on a range of 30-250 ft. lbs. and it includes a micrometer tool for easier management. 

Dual direction calibration is supported and it has a safety lock which you can turn on and off with a press of a button. This ½ inch drive torque provides extra strength that can withstand regular use.

Quik Wax contains ingredients that provide long term protection. The formula is great for protecting paint, but it’s also good for maintenance. With just a bit of Quik Wax your car gets that waxed look even if you haven’t applied any. Quick to apply and remove, it’s best used on a clean, washed car.

Precision Instruments PREC3FR250F Silver 1/2″ Drive Split Beam Torque Wrench

Editor Rating:

The PREC3FR250F is hard to match when it comes to durability and functionality, and with its unique mechanism can be used by DIY enthusiasts and professionals. It has an ergonomic grip and a nice chrome finish, and you can lock it on wrenches for repeat use.

There’s no need to worry about spring tension problems because it has an adjustment knob, and it is pre-calibrated so you can use it right away. The click is also very distinct, and you don’t have to wind down to zero when storing. This is also a very versatile model, a popular choice for bike enthusiasts. About the only drawback is the PREC3FR250F works only clockwise, but other than that it works fine.

CDI 1501MRPH 1/4-Inch Drive Adjustable Micrometer Torque Wrench

Editor Rating:

The 1501MRPH has a range of 20 to 150 in. lb. so it’s suited for a wide range of applications. Using the torque wrench for an extended period isn’t a problem with its ergonomic handle and while the torque wrench is powerful enough for professionals to use, even DIYers can handle it.

All good torque wrenches have dual direction calibration and the 1501MRPH is no exception. A positive lock is included for extra protection, and it comes with a pull down ring so you can lock and unlock quickly.

What Torque Wrench Size is Best?

Torque wrenches come in different sizes, but for cars, the ½ inch drive torque wrench will usually do fine. You can use the same wrench for trucks, SUVs and various types of equipment. Mechanics have torque wrenches of various sizes, but for general all-purpose automotive repairs the ½ inch works.

If your work mostly involves nuts and bolts, motorcycles, bikes, lawnmowers and other small gear, get a ¼ inch. For heavy machinery and equipment you should get a 1 inch torque wrench. A 1 inch drive torque wrench is ideal for cargo aircraft, marine equipment, tractor trailers and aircraft.

You will also find 3/8 inch drive wrenches, and they’re also suitable for different types of passenger vehicles as well as light trucks.

Your vehicle’s manual contains information on what torque wrench size to use for tire or engine repair, but usually it’s the ½ inch. With regards to range the safe bet is the middle of 30 to 150 ft.

Torque Wrench Range

Torque wrench range determines the maximum and minimum torque that can be applied with the tool. The range is measured in Newton-meters (NM) or foot-pounds (ft-lbs), and you’ll need to familiarize yourself with this to get the most out of your wrench.

The 15 – 75 ft-lb range is ideal for light tightening or fastening tasks, and this is the range you will work with when covering spark plugs, oil drain plugs, valve cover bolts and more. While this is in the low range it is still effective.

The aforementioned 30 – 150 ft. lb. range is also classified as low range, and it is suitable for lug bolts, caliper bolts, head bolt tightening and other tasks the 15 – 75 ft. lb. cannot handle. This is one of the most common ranges used so you need to have one in your toolbox. From simple repairs to upgrades, this is the range you will most likely need.

The 50 – 250 ft-lb. is the mid-range, and it’s the most widely used for steering, suspension and critical assembly. Light trucks and trailers often rely on this range.

The upper range is around 120-600 ft-lbs. and this is what you’ll be working with on machines and heavy equipment, bearings and drive line components. These are used in race cars as well as heavy equipment.

All these ranges have minimum and maximum values of course, but for accuracy purposes it is best not to use the extreme values and go for somewhere in the middle. It’s also essential to find the proper balance in the center of each range because it affects calibration.

While we mentioned some ranges are more widely used than others, it’s a good idea to have torque wrenches with varying ranges as you may find yourself needing them on occasion.

Useful Tips for Buying the Best Torque Wrench

Frist thing you should do is check its size and range specs, and there needs to be a locking mechanism included. Also note what square drive you need for the job, and the grip has to be comfortable especially if you’re going to use it for an extended period.

The top torque wrenches also meet the ISO 6789 and ASME B107.14M-1094 standards. While you’re shopping for one of these tools, look for those that come with a storage case, and also check the length and weight if you’ll be comfortable using it.

Tips for Using a Torque Wrench

If you use the torque wrench on a consistent basis you don’t have to wound it back. But if you’re going to store the tool for a long period, you should wind it down, but not all the way to zero.

Do not store a torque if it’s “fully loaded” because it is going to weaken the tool. However, offloading the spring completely might cause the components to move. When you apply the spring compression again, the components’ orientation could change and render it inaccurate. The best option is to leave a little spring compression during storage.

Follow all the instructions that came with your torque wrench, and don’t use it for anything it isn’t intended for. Also, one click is often enough, and multiple clicks could apply too much torque. One of the mistakes first time users make is believing that multiple clicks are required for fastening. Doing this actually results in overtightening and could damage the components.

Not all torque wrenches can be used counterclockwise, so unless it is stated on the box, assume the torque works in the clockwise direction only. Using a clockwise only torque wrench in an anticlockwise manner could damage the component and result in a loss of torque.

All toque wrenches are adjustable, but how you adjust varies from brand to brand. However, the manufacturer is going to provide the appropriate torque for a vehicle / equipment, so you just need to follow the specifications given.

The majority of torque wrenches come with a marked loading point, and it’s a good idea to use it. For the best results your hand has to be on the load point, and you’ll also want to pay attention to the load point as you’re calibrating.

Unless it is mentioned in the product guide, do not use a torque wrench to loosen fasteners. Some may say if the wrench can handle 250 ft-lbs. of tightening, there should not be any problems with loosening the same nuts and bolts. However this isn’t true because there’s no telling what’s needed for loosening.

A car that’s heavily used accumulates a lot of grime and undergoes numerous heat cycles. This could cause the bolt to set on the threads and necessitate more torque to take it out. Most don’t look at the torque when bolts are loosened, and this could cause the tool to exceed its maximum torque loading.

A wrench that has exceeded its maximum torque loading may still be used, but it may no longer be that effective as its calibration will be off.

Types of Torque Wrenches

There are different types of torque wrenches, and it’s critical you choose the right one to optimum tightening, efficiency and being able to withstand vibrational pressure.

Hydraulic Torque Wrenches

made for fasteners, you can use hydraulic torque wrenches to apply pressure on nut heads or bolts. You can pre-calibrate the torque, and provided the nuts and bolts are lubricated, tighten them well. Hydraulic torque wrenches are often used in large cars and other tasks where pressure and power are needed.

Click Torque Wrenches

These allow you to take advantage of clutch systems, so when the desired torque level is attained, the clutch slips. This provides the tool with breakage protection as well as accuracy.

Beam Torque Wrenches

These wrenches have a lever that separates the head and handle, and the lever bends when pressure is applied. It looks a bit like a needle and weight scale combined and can be used in different ways.

Deflecting Beam Torque Wrenches

These tools have enhanced safety features and also among the most accurate in generating torque. A standard feature of these tools is the clicking sound when you get to the torque level you want.

Electronic Torque Wrenches

These are programmable and you can configure it to certain preset limits. These tools have a strain gauge and by notifying the transducer you can determine the torque force per unit.

Most of these tools have LED screens which display its value for your convenience. These tools also have processor chips and a memory stick so you can access the data from your computer.

Plumber’s Torque Wrenches: these tools are designed for coupling and soil pipes. These tools are pre-calibrated and you can make adjustments when required. While these are versatile tools, they’re more suited for plumbers than car owners.

Conclusion

Trying to find the best torque wrench can be like looking for a needle in a haystack given the number of options. By knowing what your needs are and what properties make up a good wrench you won’t make a mistake with your purchase. It might take some time to learn how a torque wrench works and what features to look for, but it’s going to pay off.

  • Updated April 2, 2017
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