When considering the best of the best, it’s probably no surprise that Snap-On made the list. This torque wrench is built tough, offering a wide torque range of 12.5-250 ft-lb. The manual preset or automatic track and peak modes make it easy to use and it is easily one of the more accurate torque wrenches on the market. This torque wrench features a fixed head and audible and vibrating alerts, as well as a non-slip grip for comfort. The digital display offers three unit conversions, including N• m, ft-lb, and in-lb. The entire wrench and parts fit snugly inside a premium Snap On storage case when not being used.
The Precision Instruments ½” Drive Split Beam Torque wrench features a fixed ratchet head and a torque range of 40lbs-250lbs in 5 lb increments. Your choice of a nickel or chrome finish gives you an opportunity to pick a match for the rest of your tool set. The ergonomic rubber grip is comfortable and helps you keep a firm grip when tightening. The adjustable wrench allows you to lock several torque settings so that you can easily use the wrench for repetitive applications. No worries with spring tension either, so you can easily adjust the torque settings with a simple adjustment knob. This torque wrench comes with a hard bodied carrying case as well.
This memory needle dial torque wrench is probably a little different than the ratchet style torque wrench you’re used to, but it probably provides a lot more accuracy than you’ve ever seen. In fact, the needle gauge is so accurate and easy to read that this style of torque wrench is the most commonly used in nuclear and military applications. This wrench offers a torque range of 0-300 ft-lbs. The small frame and laser marked single scale make this wrench useful in many situations, and easy to use even in compact areas. CDI offers several different sizes in this style of torque wrench, so you can build an entire set of this highly accurate tools.
This torque wrench by EP Auto is built to be a key part of your toolbox for years to come, crafted from Chrome Vanadium steel alloy (Cr-V) with a sturdy ratchet head. The tool is finished with a non-slip knurled handle grip to help you get a handle on things and features a high contrast scale that is easy on the eyes and offers ±4% accuracy. The audible and physical click notifies you when you reach desired torque, so there’s little room for mistakes. A hard bodied plastic storing case is including for safe keeping. This wrench offers a torque range of 20-200 in-lbs in increments of 1 in-lb.
This torque wrench features an adjustable micrometer and a torque range of 30-250 ft-lbs. It is easy to use and offers a dual scale. The wrench is calibrated for dual direction operation and features a highly visible laser marked single scale. This wrench is incredibly simple and quick to set, with an equally simple quick release system that provides expert socket retention and easy removal. There’s no tricks or gimmicks here, only a durable torque wrench that is both simple and strong.
Here’s another options that provides the durability and quality that only Snap-On can deliver. This torque wrench has a massive range of 60-600 ft-lb, offers three unit conversions, including N• m, ft-lb, and in-lb. Audible and vibrating alerts let you know when you’ve reached desired torque, and the accuracy range is as high as +/- 4%. The interchangeable sealed-flex ratchet head pivots at +/- 15 degrees. The digital display is easy to read and the two lithium AA batteries are included, as well as a hard-bodied carrying case. This wrench is powerful and accurate, providing you with the quality you need to get the job done every time.
This is another option if you’re looking for something that is simple, yet durable and effective. This torque wrench offers a smaller torque range of 20-150 in-lb in increments of 1 in-lb, but is still reliable for most small jobs. It is calibrated for both directions and features an engraved dual torque scale that is easy to read and is accurate. The positive lock mechanism is easy to set and control and the knurled handle offers a stead, comfortable grip. This wrench has an accuracy rating of +/-3%. Capris units have been tested and marked reliable against 10,000 cycles at full capacity.
This electronic torque wrench features a ½ inch drive and a torque range of around 30-340 Nm, which converts roughly to 22-177 ft-lbs. It’s highly accurate and produces unmistakeable audible and physical alerts when the desired torque is reached. The large digital LED display is easy on the eyes and displays torque measurements in three different units, including Nm, in-lb, and ft-lb. The sturdy build and ergonomic rubber grip makes this a tool you will reach for every time.
This torque wrench is another basic option that is easy to operate, but durable and effective. It is pre-calibrated to an accuracy of +/-4%. The tool is constructed 100% from steel with no cheap or plastic parts that will break easily. It offers a torque range of 25-250 ft-lbs, and an audible and physical click that prevents over tightening of the bolts. The reversible ratchet head is equally calibrated in each direction. A knurled handle provides a solid grip, and the laser etched scale and contrasting colors is easy to read, even in dark spaces.
This wrench is another great option if you prefer the ease of a digital read. It also offers both audible and physical alerts help prevent over tightening and a torque range of 4-99 ft-lbs. The LCD display lets you easily toggle between four different measurement units, including ft.-lb., Nm, in-lb., and kg-cm. Enjoy easy to use Peak and Trace modes as well as the ergonomic rubberized grip. Enjoy an accuracy calibrated to +/-2% clockwise, +/-3% counter clockwise, and from 20% to 100% of full scale. This accurate and efficient tool is a must have for every mechanic’s tool box.
This digital torque wrench features an easy to read LED screen and an accuracy rating of +/-3.5% both clockwise and counterclockwise. The torque range of 15-150 ft-lbs is perfect for most projects and the complete over-mold crafted from specialized plastics is resistant to most chemicals or liquids the tool is likely to come in contact with in the garage. The buzzer produces an audible and physical notification when the desired torque is met which decreases the likelihood of over-tightening. The ratchet head is forged from Chromium Vanadium alloy, so you can expect it to last years and years, even through frequent use. The display allows you to easily toggle between units, including ft-lbs, inch-lbs, and Nm. Low battery notification and a two-minute auto shut-off helps keep you on top of the game.
This electronic torque wrench is top of its class, with a flexible ratcheting head that flexes +/-15 degrees. The wrench offers a range of 10 to 100 ft-lbs, and the non-slip rubberized grip is ergonomically sound and comfortable, providing a firm grip. The digital display converts between four different torque units, including ft-lbs, in-lbs, Nm, and kg-cm. Real time torque measurement and audible and vibrating alerts help prevent any accidental over tightening. The wrench comes with a hard-bodied carrying case for storage.
Choosing The Best Torque Wrench To Fit Your Needs
There are several considerations to make when choosing a torque wrench. Whether you’re buying tools for a commercial garage or for your personal side projects, ensuring that you purchase a quality tool is necessary. Accidental over-tightening of bolts can result in severe damage to your vehicles that can be costly and time consuming to repair. Plus, accurate torque wrenches can be costly, so ensuring that your first purchase is sturdy and durable can prevent you from needing to re-buy. These guidelines will help you decide which torque wrench is best for you, which features are ultimately necessary for your needs, and which gimmicks you can avoid to help you cut some unnecessary costs.
Torque Wrench Sizes
There are four typical sizes commercially available for torque wrenches, and most complete tool sets will have multiple sizes. However, each size is better suited for a different job, so if you aren’t working on a large scale you may be able to get away with just one torque wrench. These four standard sizes include:
- ¼” Drive: This wrench is useful for smaller bolts and carries a typical torque range of 4-21 ft-lbs. Typically, this is not a common size for general repair and tune up work, as its too small for most standard size bolts on most automobiles.
- ⅜” Drive: This is one of the most popular sizes and is compatible with most standard nuts and bolts on any automobile, aside from specialty vehicles and some foreign machines. Typically this wrench will have a range close to 15-75 ft-lbs. This is easily the most versatile option if you can only budget for one torque wrench.
- ½” Drive: This size wrench is necessary for working with larger bolts, which you will typically find when doing work on automobile suspension or engine and transmission mounts. This size wrench can have a range of anywhere from 30 to 250 ft-lbs.
- ¾” Drive: This torque wrench is more for specialty applications and is not always a necessary hand tool for your standard tool box. Of course, for more frequent mechanic work, this wrench is typically needed for center lug bolts and other larger applications.
Torque Wrench Types
There are several styles of torque wrenches, and the best one for you is typically completely up to your preference. However, some styles may provide a better torque range or higher accuracy rating than others. Each style will differ slightly in operation, especially in reading torque units, since there are both basic mechanical and digital electronic models. Choosing the best style of torque wrench for you will depend heavily on the type of applications it will be used for, as well as your personal preferences of reading methods. Some common torque wrench styles include:
Click-Type Torque Wrench: This is the most common type of torque wrench and is probably the one that comes immediately to your mind. This basic wrench style is often very reliable and accurate, and produces a click noise to let you know the desired torque has been met. They are generally made from sturdy metal and have a laser cut scale that you need to manually read. This is a cost efficient and accurate option, but may take a little longer to read than the digital option, so it may not be the best choice for high volume commercial garages.
Electronic Torque Wrench: The electronic torque wrench functions similarly to the click-type torque wrench, but it features a digital display and often other great features like unit conversions, audible notifications, adjustable Peak settings, and more features that make it perfect for the everyday mechanic and for wide scale applications and commercial garages. They are typically the most expensive option, but make up for the extra price in reliability and accuracy.
Beam Torque Wrench: This torque wrench is the oldest style available today, and features a simple beam and needle scale. While they are often the cheapest of all styles of torque wrenches, they are also notoriously inaccurate and unreliable, so they are not typically chosen for frequent use or larger applications. It is often better to spend the extra money for accuracy and efficiency.
You will find in your search for the best torque wrench that the accuracy varies greatly from model to model. You will also learn that your torque wrench, if bought new, come pre-calibrated, but may need to be calibrated again over time. Typically, the wrench is calibrated for both clockwise and counterclockwise applications. Generally, an accuracy rating around +/-2% to +/-5% is preferred. Lower accuracy torque wrenches may be used where extreme accuracy is not important, but in most cases accuracy is key to a properly functioning vehicle.
A reliable company will offer a warranty, typically around one year, on their hand tools and products. Some of these companies will even re-calibrate your torque wrench when it needs it. You should always research and choose a torque wrench with a warranty to back your financial investment in the case of an accident or malfunction. Most importantly, though, a company that provides a warranty is a company that has confidence in their own product, and that is always a good sign.
While most torque wrenches are ratcheting wrenches, not all of them are. Most professionals prefer a ratcheting torque wrench and would recommend avoiding the nuisance of non-ratcheting wrenches, which can be time consuming and are often less accurate.
You want to consider the materials that your wrench is forged from ,since it will need to withstand some wear and tear in your garage. One of the most durable, yet cost efficient materiance is Chromium Vanadium Alloy. You want to avoid wrenches made entirely or mostly of plastic materials, as they won’t withstand much pressure or frequent use. Some torque wrenches may have a coating, finish, or outer casting that protects it from chemical damage it might come in contact with in the garage. The best torque wrenches are hardened and provide a protective coating.
If you are purchasing a digital electronic model, this shouldn’t be of much concern. However, if you are leaning towards a manual read model, you should ensure that the scale markings are laser cut or engraved. Painted markings may wear away, rendering the tool useless. Also look for colors that are highly contrasting, which may make it easier to read in low light.
An ergonomic, steady grip is important, both for comfort, and for help getting a tight, secure finish on each bolt. Some torque wrenches feature a rubberized grip, while others may have a knurled handle. Either is better than no grip at all.
Torque wrenches can range in price from as low as $30 to hundreds of dollars. You should expect to spend more for quality and features, such as a digital scale or protective layers. Typically, you can find quality torque wrenches priced between $75 and $150, and you shouldn’t be afraid to spend money on a wrench that will stay in your toolbox for years to come, especially if it includes a warranty.