Best torque wrenches reviews and buyer’s guide

Last Update 18th June 2016 Looking for best torque wrench for money? Then You’ve come to the right place

Performing a repair is hard enough. You don’t want to perform it twice.

Torque wrench

Torque wrench

Anyone who has performed mechanical repairs knows what this means. You’ve cut corners.

You’ve made a tool to work for something other than its intended purpose. You’ve finished the job, then stood back and admired your handiwork, only to have it fail once you begin to use it or start it up.

The disappointment can bring you to tears. Now you have to redo all the work you’ve just done. You could’ve saved yourself the time, effort, and extra cost of doing it right the first time. Using the proper procedures, but more importantly, using the right tool for the job will save you agonizing hours of redoing work you’ve just finished.

No matter if you are a mechanic in the Automotive Industry or if your hobby is to maintain or repair your own car, motorcycle, or bicycle, you need hand tools. You need tools like screwdrivers, wrench sets, Spanners, pliers, cutters, hammers and others. You definitely need the right tool for the job at hand.

Often mechanical and automotive jobs impose tight work areas, while precision and accuracy is also required. Despite years of experience, an expert mechanic can over-tighten or under-tighten a component which causes damage or breakage of vehicle parts. In these situations we need tools which can work easily in these critical environments, provide accurate results, and alert the user to avoid over- or under-tightening. For tightening of lug nuts on cars, trucks and other large vehicles, a torque wrench is the best tool for applying proper force on fasteners to get the job done precisely.

Best torque wrench

Tekton 24335 1/2 inch drive click torque wrench

Tekton 24320 1/4 inch drive click torque wrench

Neiko 3/8 inch 10-80 foot pound 14 inch long handle

What exactly a torque wrench??

It is an easy-to-use precision tool used to measure the accurate torque on a bolt, nut or other fastener. In other words, it is used to measure the amount of force applied on fasteners to meet the criteria set by the manufacturer. It helps the user to be efficient in tightening or loosening nuts, bolts, and screws while avoiding under-tightening and over-tightening them.

Importance of Torque wrench in our daily life

When we apply a force to the nuts and bolts during the assembly of automobile parts, we actually apply torque for clamping the parts together. For safety measures and for the longevity of fasteners, we need proper fastening tools; tools that will precisely tighten to an exact specification.

A torque wrench is a precision tool and measures the applied force/load/tension on the threaded fasteners during assembly. It helps to achieve the specific fastening torque quickly and correctly, yet operates smoothly with minimal human effort. A properly torqued fastener remains tight during the rigors of operation and vibrations that occur and can save the vehicle from any serious damages. Inadequate tightening or poorly torque fasteners can fail suddenly during operation due to high vibrations or strain and may cause premature failures. To avoid these problems we need proper torque tools. With these problems in mind, engineers have designed torque wrenches to apply the specific amount of torque to joining the parts.

Mostly modern torque wrenches are equipped with a ratchet mechanism. It allows the user to keep the torque wrench on the fastener once it has reached the end of travel in the work space. The user simply turns the wrench in the opposite direction from its intended travel. The ratcheting mechanism uses a gear inside the torque wrench head to let the handle slip backward while the fastener remains still. It allows faster operation in a tight work space.

TW Sizes

There are four basic sizes of square drive head, which are used for different purposes:

  • 1/4 inch drive is used for very small nuts and bolts which require small amounts of torque such as Motorcycle, Bicycle, Lawn and Garden equipment.
  • 3/8 inch drive is mainly used for passenger vehicles like Cars and Light Trucks.
  • 1/2 inch drive torque wrenches are used for Cars, Trucks, SUV’s, some large equipment and for larger automotive repairs.
  • 1 inch drive torque wrenches are also available. They are used for heavy vehicles like Tractor-Trailers, Large Cargo Aircraft, Passenger Airlines and Marine works.

Application: Torque wrenches are used in Automotive, heavy engineering, Aeronautic, Watercraft, Fertilizers and Defense Organizations, etc. In the retail market, there are different types of torque wrenches available from several different brands.

The most recognized and best brands/manufacturer of torque wrenches are:

  • Tekton
  • Norbar
  • Snap on
  • CDI
  • Craftman
  • Parktool

Every brand’s torque wrench has the same operating principle, but accuracy, durability and prices are different. They are available in different sizes and lengths, and are sold in retail shops and online stores like Amazon. Before selecting or buying a torque wrench, we need to understand their features and select the best suitable tool according to our needs.

Features and Qualities to Look For

When purchasing any torque wrenchthere are a lot of questions of how to select the best torque wrench among the numerous sizes and brands available in the market. While requirements vary from person to person, some important things should be kept in mind before making a final decision to purchase so that we select the best suitable tool according to our needs:

  • What size of square drive is needed?
  • What is its operating torque range?
  • Can it measure torque in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions, or only one?
  • What is the maximum torque it can measure?
  • How accurate is it?
  • Is it easy to use and easy to grip during work?
  • Is it easy to read the torque spec while tightening or loosening the fastener?
  •  Is its weight and length easy to handle?
  • How durable is it?
  • Does the manufacturer provide warranty?
  • Does it include a Certificate of Calibration?
  • Does it include a storage case?
  • Does it meet ASME B107.14M-1094 and ISO 6789 standards?
  • Is it manufactured with a locking feature?

Square drive: Torque wrenches are available with different sizes of square drive which have been previously explained in detail. Before choosing any wrench to buy, make sure the size of square drive matches the job you need to perform.

Accuracy:

Mostly torque wrenches have an accuracy of (+/-) 5%, which means a particular wrench should read within plus or minus 5% of the exact torque value. For Example, we set the value 15 newton meters (nm) on the torque wrench, and it should click constantly when the actual torque is between 14.7nm – 15.5nm.

Storage case

Mostly torque tools available on the market come with their own storage case. It is very important to have storage case for to maintain the accuracy and longevity of any tool, especially precision tools. Be sure to buy a case for your tool if it doesn’t come with one.

Certificate of Calibration

It is a document which certifies the accuracy of your wrench against the standard, which the wrench is being tested. Most calibration certificates are valid for 3 years after the inspection or for one year after date of usage. It includes the following key features:

  • Model number
  • Serial number
  • Toque setting to which TQ wrench is calibrated.
  • Accuracy limits
  • Units in either SI or in English
  • Ambient Temperature
  • Date of calibration

 

Decision factors when buying a torque wrench.

It heavily depends on your needs and your budget to determine the best torque wrench for you. TEKTON, NEIKO, GEARWRENCH, and CRAFTSMAN brands are good quality and have wrenches under $50 for the price-conscious shopper.

If you are more concerned with owning high quality, long lasting tools, then you should buy CDI, NORBAR, SNAP-ON torque wrenches. These brands have highly reliable tools with highly precise accuracy.

Find the best torque wrenches reviews

Type of torque wrenches

  • Clicker type wrench

The type of torque wrench most suited for automotive work is a clicker type torque wrench. It is the most popular and widely used torque wrench product in the world. It employs a clutch mechanism so that once the required torque value is reached the clutch starts slipping. It creates an audible click when it reaches the set value.

  • Beam type wrench

It consists of two parallel rods:  the wrench handle, and a second rod contains a needle or pointer which moves in both directions, clockwise and counter-clockwise by applying pressure. Using this style of wrench is accurate, however, it may be a challenging task because you have to constantly look at the needle for an accurate reading.

  • Split beam type

The “split beam” provides accurate reading and trouble-free performance. We can adjust it from the bottom of the scale to the top of the scale within seconds. It requires the least maintenance as the ratchet head is sealed. It has an easy grip handle and reduces user fatigue. The key benefit of this wrench is that you don’t have to release the torque after use.

  • Dial

The design of this style of torque wrench and heavy metal guard makes it robust and durable. It uses a needle, which moves by applying force and shows the exact torque value. Mostly dial torque wrenches can measure torque in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions. According to some experts, dial type torque wrenches are more accurate than clicker type wrenches. It is the only wrench whose accuracy is not affected by hand-hold position. Usually its dial face is large which makes it easier to watch the value and reduces human error.

  • Electronics with digital read out

This is the most expensive, but also the most reliable torque wrench. It is most commonly used where angle plus torque is required. It uses of a large backlit LED display for showing torque digitally to ensure that the users see the reading quickly and easily. It also includes a buzzer for audible noise and 3 different LED lights to alert the mechanics that the required value has been reached. These type of wrenches usually display all 4 types of units of torque: Inch-pounds, foot-pounds, Newton-meters, Kilogram-centimeter. The most advanced electronic torque wrenches have a feature that measures the tightening angle as well as torque. Its accuracy is unbeatable in both clockwise and counter-clockwise direction.

Final Words

Finding the right torque wrench for you depends on your purpose. For bicycles, small engines, and precision repairs to small projects, a ¼ inch square drive is your best choice. 3/8 inch square drives are the best choice for automotive repairs, and ½ inch square drive torque wrenches are best for heavy mechanical, cars, trucks, SUVs, and large equipment. For any industrial projects or repairs, 1 inch square drive torque wrenches are your best choice.

Learn from the mistakes others have made. Obtain the right torque wrench for the job at hand. You will save yourself the time and effort of redoing work a second time.