A torque wrench is a very special wrench, because it makes sure that your nut or bolt is tightened correctly. A torque wrench, by design, is a tool that allows you to apply a specific amount of torque to a given bolt or nut; the amount of torque needed is generally based on a specification provided by the machinery. This is an important thing to consider, especially when working with heavy machinery like cars and trucks. A properly torqued nut or bolt can make sure that something remains attached and works how it’s supposed to.
Torque wrenches are mostly used in the automotive industry, because cars and trucks have a lot of moving parts that need precise calibration. Also, torque wrenches are not an all-purpose wrench. This is due to the fact that they should only be used to tighten nuts or bolts, and they should never tighten something beyond its specifications. This is important, because when you tighten a nut or bolt on a car too much, it can actually wear down the threads.
So if you need to pick up a torque wrench, you’re definitely in the right place. We’ll be showing you exactly what you need to know before buying a torque wrench, and we’ll show you 10 great products to make the buying process a breeze.
- Features to Consider in Good Torque Wrenches
- The 10 Best Torque Wrenches 2020
- 1. TekTon ½ Inch Torque Wrench
- 2. Epauto half inch
- 3. Epauto ¼ Inch Torque Wrench
- 4. Epauto ⅜ Inch Torque Wrench
- 5. TekTon ⅜ Inch Torque Wrench
- 6. TecTon ¼ inch Torque Wrench
- 7. TekTon 1/4 Inch Drive Dual-Direction Click Torque Wrench
- 8. TackLife ⅜ Inch Torque Wrench
- 9. ETork ½ Inch Torque Wrench
- 10. Neiko 03727A ¼ Inch Torque Wrench
- Guide to Buying the Best Torque Wrenches
Features to Consider in Good Torque Wrenches
Before we dive right into the best torque wrenches, it’s important to understand the things that you need to look out for. Each torque wrench comes with different specifications, so we want to make sure that you know what you’re looking at.
The first thing you’ll want to consider is the torque rating, because that’s what you’ll primarily be buying a torque wrench for. A torque wrench is a very precise tool, which means that you’ll be tightening a nut or bolt to a very specific parameter. This means that you should never overload the amount of torque a wrench is certified for, because this can actually damage the tool. When considering the torque, also be on the lookout for accuracy ratings. If a torque wrench is rated at +/- 4% accuracy, this means it’s very accurate. The lower the number, the more accurate the wrench.
As for the torque ratings themselves, they come in all different shapes and sizes. You’ll find wrenches that have up to 150 pounds of torque, and the increments may vary. When looking at the torque of a torque wrench, keep the project you’ll be working on in mind. If you’ll be needing more torque, you’ll need a wrench with a much higher torque rating. On the other hand, some projects that are very small, may only require you to use very small amounts of torque. This is when you’ll see the inch-pounds rating instead of the foot-pounds rating.
You’ll notice that a lot of torque wrenches have different inch measurements attached to them. These are called drive sizes or range. This is a very important measurement to consider, because it tells you the size of bolts that a wrench is compatible with. Here is a look at the common measurements, and what they mean.
The ¼ drive size is a very common drive. While it’s not the most versatile size, it will take care of most small nuts and bolts. Keep in mind that this drive size is designed for small applications, and can usually handle a torque rating between 50 and 250 inch-pounds of torque.
The ⅜ drive is actually one of the most common torque wrenches on the market. This is due to the fact that they can handle most automotive applications, and they’re the closest thing to a one-size-fits-all torque wrench. These wrenches can usually handle between 15 and 75 foot-pounds of torque.
The ½ drive is designed for larger applications. This means that a ½ inch drive is more appropriate for heavy machinery like engine or transmission work, and this drive size is usually rated for 30 to 250 foot-pounds of torque.
The ¾ drive is one of the less common sizes on the market. They’re best used on very large nuts and bolts, and aren’t very versatile. While this may be the case, when working with something like a lug nut, a ¾ drive can come in handy.
Not every torque wrench is made the same, and there are actually 3 different types that you’ll find on the market. Each type has its benefits, but the most common one that you’ll find are click wrenches. Here is a brief overview of what the 3 different types of torque wrenches look like.
The click-type torque wrench is by far the most popular type of torque wrench. They have a very simple design, and they get the job done. The way the click-type wrench works is very simple; once the required amount of torque is applied, the wrench will click. Once the wrench clicks, you’ll want to stop, because continuing leads to a risk of making a nut or bolt too tight.
The electric torque wrench is actually very similar to the click-type torque wrench. This is due to the fact that this wrench makes a beeping sound once the required amount of torque is applied. Also, electric torque wrenches may also come with some more features than click-type torque wrenches, because they utilize LCD monitors.
The beam-type torque wrench is the oldest type of torque wrench on the market. These torque wrenches are typically very cost effective, because they’re a bit harder to use. Instead of making an audible notification, you’ll have to pay attention to the rating of torque shown on the beam. The only time this torque wrench should be used is if price is something you’re very concerned about.
The 10 Best Torque Wrenches 2020
Drive size: ½ inch
Torque: 10-150 foot-pounds
The TekTon ½ Inch Torque Wrench is great for automotive usage. With a ½ inch drive size, you’ll be able to complete most projects that require work on the engine, transmission, or even the brakes. This means that you’ll be able to apply this torque wrench to most nuts and bolts.
The TekTon ½ inch Torque Wrench also comes with plenty of torque to get the job done. There are 10 increments to select, and you’ll be able to use up to 150 foot-pounds of torque. This makes it ideal for engine work, and you’ll never find yourself needing even more torque. Also, with an accuracy rating of 96%, you don’t have to worry too much about making a bolt too tight.
The TekTon ½ inch Torque Wrench is also made up entirely of stainless steel parts, which makes it very durable. This torque wrench also boasts an impressive dual-ratchet system, which means that you’ll have no problems getting those hard to reach nuts and bolts; no matter the angle, you’ll be able to reach it.
The TekTon ½ Inch Torque Wrench isn’t that cheap, but you still get a high quality torque wrench for a comparative bargain.
- The dual-ratchet head allows it to reach even those hard to reach angles
- The click sends a vibration as well, so even if you don't hear the click, there is a good chance that you'll feel it
- It works very well on engine assemblies and transmissions
- The ½ inch drive does make this torque wrench a bit less versatile than others; it's best used for engine parts
Drive size: ½ inch or ⅜ inch
Torque: 10 to 150 foot-pounds
The Epuato ½ Inch Torque Wrench comes with everything you need for any application. You’ll be able to work on much larger bolts than most other torque wrenches, but you’re not limited to that size. This means that you can actually change the settings to compensate for smaller nuts and bolts, making this torque wrench one of the more versatile torque wrenches on the market.
The Epuato ½ Inch Torque Wrench also comes with a carrying case, a very sturdy ratchet head, and an arm extension tool. The ratchet head is made of a steel alloy, and a satin finish that prevents the tool from being corroded. Therefore, if you’ll be using a torque wrench often, the Epuato ½ Inch Torque Wrench is a very good choice.
This tool is extremely useful, because it allows you to apply more leverage or reach hard to reach areas. This is the ideal torque wrench for construction, automotive, or really any project that requires a torque wrench (firearms aside).
Despite its low price, you still walk away with a very high quality torque wrench.
- The arm extension tool allows you to increase the length of the tool by a total of 5 inches
- You can reduce the tool from a ½ inch drive to a ⅜ inch drive, making it useful for most automotive jobs
- It does not have a dual-ratchet head
Drive size: ¼ inch
Torque: 20 to 200 inch-pounds of torque
The Epauto ¼ Inch Torque Wrench is perfect for small applications. While it won’t work well for bigger jobs, if you’re only working with smaller nuts and bolts, this is one of the best torque wrenches on the market. This is due to the fact that the ¼ inch drive helps it fit almost any small nut and bolt, and by measuring torque in inch-pounds, you don’t need to worry about ruining the threads on smaller nuts and bolts.
The Epauto ¼ Inch Torque Wrench also comes with a carrying case that fits the entire tool, and its components, which makes it great to use if you’ll be on the go. The quality is also very sturdy, and this is due to the fact that the ratchet head is made up of steel that has a satin finish. This finish reduces corrosion, and makes sure that your tool lasts much longer.
The Epauto ¼ Inch Torque Wrench also comes pre-calibrated at +/- 4%, which means that it’s very accurate when it comes to applying torque. The click system is also very reliable in letting you know when to stop applying torque.
The Epauto ¼ Inch Torque Wrench is very inexpensive. Compared to other torque wrenches on the market, the Epauto ¼ Inch Torque Wrench is definitely a bargain buy.
- The ¼ inch drive makes it great for working on smaller applications
- It comes with a sturdy rubber handle combined with a non-slip grip, which makes it very easy to handle
- It's very inexpensive, but it's still quality
- The ¼ inch drive size does make it fairly limited to smaller applications, and it doesn't have the torque to tighten most larger nuts or bolts
Drive size: ⅜ inch
Torque: 10 to 80 foot-pounds
The Epauto ⅓ Inch Torque Wrench is one of the best torque wrenches on the market due to its versatility. A ⅜ inch drive size works well for almost any application, and can apply the torque that you need. It may not work on very large nuts and bolts, but for the average project, the Epauto ⅓ Inch Torque Wrench has it all.
The Epauto ⅓ Inch Torque Wrench is made up of very sturdy parts. The steel alloy used is made up of chrome vanadium steel, which is one of the sturdiest types of steel you can find for a torque wrench. This torque wrench also comes equipped with a portable carrying case to make working on the go a breeze.
The Epauto ⅓ Inch Torque Wrench also works on a click-system, which makes it very easy to know when you’ve applied the perfect amount of torque. The product itself is also lightweight, which makes it very easy to use this torque wrench for a prolonged period of time.
The Epauto ⅓ Inch Torque Wrench is definitely a bargain buy. It won’t cost you an arm or a leg, and comes equipped with high quality parts for the price.
- The ⅓ inch drive makes it compatible for most automotive applications
- It combines lightweight steel with a sturdy ratchet head to make frequent usage very viable in short bursts and long-term
- It comes with non-slip grip that's knurled
- 80 foot-pounds of torque may not be enough for large jobs
Drive size: ⅜ inch
Torque: 10 to 80 foot-pounds
The TekTon ⅜ inch Torque Wrench is made from quality stainless steel, and comes with a dual-head ratchet to make any job a simple one. The click mechanism can be both heard and felt, which makes it very easy to know when you’ve applied enough torque. Also, the 80 foot-pounds of torque that you get is plenty for most applications.
The TekTon ⅜ inch Torque Wrench also comes with a very handy plastic carrying case. This case can hold the wrench, numerous sockets, and makes using this tool on the go very easy. If you need a portable and reliable torque wrench, the TekTon ⅜ inch Torque Wrench is perfect. The TekTon ⅜ inch Torque Wrench also doesn’t skip out on accuracy. This is a pre-calibrated torque wrench that comes with +/- 4% accuracy.
The TekTon ⅜ inch Torque Wrench is priced a bit higher than other torque wrenches on the market, but the price is definitely justified. This is due to the fact that you get dual-head capabilities, making it very easy to get this wrench into hard to reach places.
- The dual-head ratchet is made up of high quality steel, and comes with enough options to work in most applications
- The ⅜ inch drive makes it ideal for most applications
- It's a bit more expensive than other torque wrenches on the market
- There is no extension arm
Drive size: ¼ inch
Torque: 20 to 200 inch-pounds of torque
The TecTon ¼ inch Torque Wrench is a great torque wrench for smaller nuts and bolts. While it won’t work very well for larger engine applications, if you need to fine tune small bolts, this torque wrench is perfect. Also, with an accuracy rating of +/- 4%, the 20 to 200 inch-pounds of torque can be applied with the comfort of knowing that you’ll be accurate.
The TecTon ¼ inch Torque Wrench is made out of a very strong stainless steel alloy, and comes with a dual-head ratchet allowing you to work both ways. Also, this torque wrench comes with no plastic parts, which means that it will last a very long time. The dual range scale (for torque readings) is also made with the user in mind. This means that you’ll be able to read this torque wrench in conditions that have little to no light.
The TecTon ¼ inch Torque Wrench isn’t that cheap. This means that you may have to sacrifice a little more of your wallet for a high quality torque wrench.
- The dual-head ratchet and scale are easy to work with in hard to reach places or low-light conditions
- There are no plastic parts, which means that this torque wrench will last a long time
- The ¼ inch drive size makes it great for smaller projects and applications
- The ¼ inch drive does limit the range of use to smaller projects only, especially with a lower torque rating
Drive size: ¼ inch
Torque: 10 to 150 inch-pounds
The TekTon 1/4 Inch Drive Dual-Direction Click Torque Wrench is a high quality torque wrench. It comes with a very high accuracy out of the box, +/- 4-6%, and uses a 72-tooth ratchet head to latch onto almost anything. Therefore, even if you need to work in multiple directions, you should have little to no issues with the TekTon 1/4 Inch Drive Dual-Direction Click Torque Wrench.
The TekTon 1/4 Inch Drive Dual-Direction Click Torque Wrench is made of high quality steel, and utilizes no plastic parts. This makes it very high quality. Also, this torque wrench comes with a very handy carrying case to make it very portable.
The ¼ inch drive also makes it very handy for smaller nuts and bolts, and when you combine this with dual-direction capabilities, there is no job that’s out of reach. Therefore, even if you’re dealing with smaller nuts and bolts in hard to reach places, the TekTon 1/4 Inch Drive Dual-Direction Click Torque Wrench has you covered.
The TekTon 1/4 Inch Drive Dual-Direction Click Torque Wrench is a bit more expensive than most torque wrenches on the market. However, it’s extremely versatile. While it may not work well for bigger projects, it’s definitely one of the best torque wrenches on the market if you need to work with small nuts and bolts.
- The click system can be both heard and felt, which makes it very easy to apply the perfect amount of torque
- It can be used in low-light conditions, because it utilizes a very easy to read scale
- The dual-direction 72-tooth ratchet is one of the best torque wrench heads on the market
- It's a bit more expensive than most torque wrenches on the market, the non-electronic ones at least
- The ¼ inch drive only works well for smaller projects
- It doesn't reach the 200 inch-pounds of torque that most ¼ inch torque wrenches on the market do
Drive size: ⅜ inch, ¼ inch, ½ inch
Torque: 10 to 80 foot pounds
The TackLife ⅜ Inch Torque Wrench is one of the most versatile torque wrenches on the market, because it’s highly customizable. With this torque wrench, you can change it to meet most project parameters. The 10 to 80 foot-pounds of torque is great for most applications, and it has an accuracy rating of +/- 4%.
The TackLife ⅜ Inch Torque Wrench comes with high quality steel, and a laser etched scale to make it very easy to read the measurements. There are no plastic parts, and the grip helps a user feel the click even if you can’t hear it. The TackLife ⅜ Inch Torque Wrench can also be used both clockwise and counter-clockwise, which makes it easy to reach nuts and bolts you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.
With all of the attachments, extensions, and configurations, it really is one of the best torque wrenches on the market. If you need a versatile wrench for a wide array of projects, the TackLife ⅜ Inch Torque Wrench is the perfect torque wrench for the job.
- It comes with up to 3 different drive sizes, which makes it perfect to use on any project
- The laser etched scale is easy to read, even in low-light conditions, and never wears down
- You can hear and feel the clicks through the rubber non-slip handle
- It has 3 drive sizes, but 80 foot-pounds of torque is not always enough for heavy-duty applications
Drive size: ½ inch
Torque: 50 to 150 foot-pounds
The ETork ½ Inch Torque Wrench is great for working on large projects that require a lot of effort. This is due to the fact that you get a ½ inch drive for larger nuts and bolts, and this is paired with a highly intuitive electronic interface. Also, this torque wrench is one of the most accurate on the market, because it comes with an accuracy rating of +/- 3%. This is a rating that beats out the other best torque wrenches that measure at +/- 4%.
The ETork ½ Inch Torque Wrench is also made using high quality steel parts, and has a built in clicking feature if that’s something you prefer. This makes it a very diverse torque wrench, and helps it work well for both beginners and experienced users alike. Also, the ETork ½ Inch Torque Wrench can be operated in both counter-clockwise and clockwise positions.
The ETork ½ Inch Torque Wrench can be used in both standard measurements and metric measurements, and every measurement is easy-to-read thanks to the digital interface. The soft grip handle also makes it very easy to use, and it actually requires up to 50% less torque than most wrenches on the market. This is a professional grade torque wrench.
The ETork ½ Inch Torque Wrench is definitely priced on the high side, and is designed for those of you that need a reliable torque wrench very often. For the price, you definitely get what you pay for and more.
- You can choose whether or not you want to hear a click or an audible ping, and the electronic interface is both easy to read and easy to work with
- Each wrench comes with an individual certification, proving that it's tested for +/- 3% accuracy
- A locking knob actually locks in a torque setting, which makes it very difficult to accidentally use the wrong torque
- It's more expensive than the competition, and only works well for professional usage on large nuts and bolts
Drive size: ¼ inch
Torque: up to 80 inch-pounds
If you need a torque wrench for a very low price, the Neiko 03727A ¼ Inch Torque Wrench is the way to go. While it may not be great for prolonged usage, the Neiko 03727A ¼ Inch Torque Wrench is great for small projects on your vehicle or around the house.
The Neiko 03727A ¼ Inch Torque Wrench comes with up to 80 inch-pounds of torque, which makes it both beginner friendly and hard to over-tighten with. The beam-type system comes with precise measurements and increments, and is very easy to read, even when lighting is not that great.
The Neiko 03727A ¼ Inch Torque Wrench also comes with an easy-to-grip ball handle, and comes with a ball detent socket to make sure that it never gives you a loose hold. As for accuracy, the Neiko 03727A ¼ Inch Torque Wrench comes rated at +/- 4%, which is competitive with some of the best torque wrenches on the market.
The Neiko 03727A ¼ Inch Torque Wrench is very inexpensive. If you need a budget torque wrench for around the house usage, you really can’t find a better value.
- Very affordable and easy to use
- You can use either universal readings, standard readings, and even metric readings
- Can be used both clockwise and counter-clockwise
- The beam-type design makes it hard to know exactly what torque you're at if you're not paying attention
Guide to Buying the Best Torque Wrenches
If you have questions about the type of torque wrench that you need, or how one may be better for you than another, you’re in the right place.
What is a torque wrench used for?
A torque wrench is a precision tool that’s designed to tighten a nut or bolt to a specified torque rating. Therefore, torque wrenches are typically used on heavy machinery that has a lot of moving parts. This is due to the fact that you’ll want a precisely torqued nut or bolt in order to prevent damage to nuts, bolts, or even the machine itself.
A torque wrench is typically used on automotive applications, because cars need to be perfectly calibrated. If a part becomes too tight or too loose, you can be in a lot of trouble out on the road. If you plan on doing any engine work, or on changing your brakes or even a tire, a torque wrench is a great tool to have.
How do I use a torque wrench?
A torque wrench works like a ratchet, which means that it clamps onto a nut or bolt. From there, you set the torque that you need, and tighten the nut or bolt until you reach that torque rating. Here is a torque wrench in action.
How do I know which torque wrench to use?
When shopping for the best torque wrench to fit your needs, you need to consider a couple different factors. Therefore, pay close attention to the parameters you need to keep in mind, and we’ll give you a brief run-down of how to properly gauge the best torque wrench for you.
If you’ll be working on a smaller project, you’ll want to use a smaller drive size. This means that ½ inch or ¾ inch torque wrenches should be out of the question. Those drive sizes are designed to work well for bigger applications, like engine work, while smaller drive sizes are better suited for small nuts and bolts. This is where the ¼ inch and ⅜ inch torque wrenches shine.
Also, if you can find a torque wrench that can be set to different drive sizes, that’s definitely a great option. Just be sure to make sure that they’re built with quality parts, and that they have enough torque.
Torque is either measured in foot-pounds or inch-pounds. On larger drive size torque wrenches, you’ll see a foot-pounds rating, while smaller wrenches will have the inch-pounds rating. To determine which torque wrench you need, carefully consider the project you’re working on. If the bolts are small, you’ll likely need a smaller drive size with a smaller torque rating in inch-pounds. On the other hand, if the bolts or nuts are large, you’ll need more torque. If you’re unsure about torque, this guide will help you understand the physics of torque, which will help you gain some insight into why precision is so important.
How important is accuracy?
When you’re using a torque wrench, accuracy is extremely important. This is due to the fact that a torque wrench is a precise tool, so you want that torque measurement to be as accurate as possible. If your torque wrench is not precise, you can end up damaging the nuts and bolts that you’re tightening.
When shopping for a torque wrench, you’ll want to have a rating that’s as low as possible. For example, a +/- 3% accuracy rating is good compared to a +/- 6% accuracy rating. Also, keep in mind that the accuracy rating may be different for clockwise or counter-clockwise ratings. For example, a torque wrench may be +/- 4% accurate clockwise, and +/- 6% accurate counter-clockwise. While the difference is minimal, it’s something to keep an eye on. Here you can see how to calibrate a torque wrench.
How does ratcheting work on a torque wrench?
A torque wrench works in a very similar way to a standard ratchet. Think of a torque wrench as a ratchet with some extra accuracy. Therefore, considering the ratcheting options is very important. Most torque wrenches will operate in a clockwise direction, but there are some torque wrenches that can actually be used both ways.
If you come across a torque wrench that can be used both clockwise and counter-clockwise, this is a more versatile wrench. It can reach more angles and give you better leverage in hard to reach places. Here’s a more detailed summary of the differences between torque wrenches and ratchet wrenches.
Do the materials of a torque wrench really matter?
Metal is stronger than plastic, and when you’re working with precision, you’ll want to utilize a torque wrench that has stronger materials. Therefore, the materials definitely matter. While a plastic torque wrench may be viable for a few around-the-house uses, 9 times out of 10 a metal torque wrench is going to be the better tool.
When you’re shopping for a torque wrench, you should also consider the type of metal that’s used. Stainless steel is great for handling wear and tear, but it can be corroded. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to find a torque wrench that has a corrosion resistant ratcheting head.
Can I loosen nuts and bolts with a torque wrench?
A torque wrench is designed to tighten bolts to a specified torque setting, which means that it should only be used in that way. If you do loosen bolts with a torque wrench, you can actually cause some issues. These issues include: extra wear on the wrench, wear on the nuts and bolts you’re working with, and a reduction in accuracy.
Finding the best torque wrench is not as easy as may seem. With so many different configurations, drive sizes, and torque ranges, if you don’t know what you’re looking at shopping for a torque wrench can be a real nightmare. Hopefully, this buyer’s guide has shown you everything you need to know in order to help you with your next purchase. If you have any questions, or become lost along the way, please feel free to refer back to this article as a guide.
Keep in mind that torque wrenches are not universal. Always make sure that you understand what you’ll be using a torque wrench for before you buy one, or you may end up with the wrong one. Once you know what you need, and what you’ll be using your torque wrench for, finding the best torque wrench for you should be very easy to do.