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The Best Torque Wrenches (For Fixing Your Car in 2019) With Tips and Buying Guide

click torque wrench scale
Matt Taylor
Written by Matt Taylor

Last Updated

My favourite torque wrench at the moment is the 1/2 inch micrometer torque wrench from CDI. With a wide torque range from 30 to 250-foot pounds, it's a good all-rounder that can be used for lots of different projects. 

Why Should You Use A Torque Wrench?

Using a torque wrench is the only way you can be sure that you are tightening a bolt or screw to the correct torque.

Manufacturers are constantly testing new alloys, plastics, and other materials to enhance fuel efficiency, overall weight and power. So it's really important to be extra careful when tightening parts, not only because you may not tighten enough, but also to avoid over tightening and breaking a delicate part.

Below, I've put together a list of my favourite torque wrenches that I think offer the best value for money.

The Best Torque Wrenches


1.CDI Torque 2503MFRPH 1/2-Inch Drive Micrometer Torque Wrench

  • Torque range 30 to 250 foot pounds
  • Easy To Read Accurate Scale
  • Comfort grip with quick socket release button

The CDI Torque 2503MFRPH is a dual-scale adjustable micrometer torque wrench with ½” drive size. CDI is actually the industrial brand of Snap-On, the popular tool manufacturer.

So we should expect that tools made under the CDI brand are high-quality and made for tough jobs, and this one doesn't disappoint.

What We Like About This Torque Wrench?

Besides being a heavy-duty wrench, the CDI Torque 2503MFRPH is pretty precise. You can rely on its readings from 20% to 100% of the full scale.

Its around 24" long which makes it ideal to apply the right amount of force without much effort. You can also use it in both directions, so you can tighten and loosen with it. Like most of these wrenches, you can change the socket easily using the quick release button, and the scale is easy to read so you can change torques quickly.

What Can You Use It For?

A Torque wrench like the CDI Torque 2503MFRPH  with ½” drive size and 30-250 ft. lb. (41-339 Nm) torque range is usually good for: 

  • Sockets within the range of ½” -1-1/16” - (13mm - 28mm)
  • Precision reading from 50 ft. lb. to 240 ft. lb.
  • Typical applications include crankshaft, cylinder head, connecting rods, engine bracket and any other application involving tightening in the range of 60 ft. lb. to 150 ft. lb.
  • This particular torque wrench is highly advisable for professional use and/or for jobs that require high-precision assemblies.

Specs 

The CDI Torque 2503MFRPH has the following specifications:

  • Drive Size: ½”
  • Accuracy: ± 4% when used clockwise (CW) and ± 6% when used counterclockwise (CCW)
  • Torque Range: 30-250 ft. lb.
  • Total Lengh: 24.4”
  • Mechanical readings, dual scale, calibrated dual direction.

The CDI Torque Wrench Pros and Cons

Pros
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    Wide torque range makes it perfect choice for a wide range of uses
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    Long 24 inch bar makes it easier to use 
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    Accurate to ± 4%  
Cons
  • Too big for use in tight areas
  • Not suitable for tightening lower torque bolts

2. TEKTON 24340 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench

  • Dual-range 25-250 ft.-lb. (33.9-338.9 Nm)
  • Calibrated to +/- 4% Accuracy
  • 26 Inch long, all steel construction

This torque wrench from Tekton is definitely a suitable torque wrench for DIY car enthusiasts. Combines good quality with an affordable price and enough precision for casual assembly tasks.

What We Like About This Torque Wrench?

What makes the TEKTON 24340 special is its unbeatable value. You won’t normally find another good quality ½-Inch drive torque wrench at the price point TEKTON offers.

On paper, this wrench features similar specifications to the CDI Torque 2503MFRPH, it’s a dual scale, adjustable micrometer with almost the same torque range and length

In practice, even when both advertise the same accuracy, the TEKTON cannot compete with the precision of the CDI. Make no mistake, the TEKTON 24340 is good enough for casual DIY assembly projects but it may fall short for everyday high-precision professional tasks.

What Can You Use It For?

A Torque wrench like the TEKTON 24340  with ½” drive size and 25-250 ft. lb. torque range is usually good for: 

  • Sockets within the range of ½” -1-1/16” - (13mm - 28mm)
  • Precision reading from 65 ft. lb. to 195 ft. lb.
  • Typical applications include crankshaft, cylinder head, connecting rods, engine bracket and any other application involving tightening in the range of 80 ft. lb. to 150 ft. lb.
  • This particular torque wrench is NOT advisable for professional usage and/or for jobs that require high-precision assemblies. However, this tool is highly advisable for DIY car owners that require a reliable torque wrench.

Specs

  • Drive Size: ½”
  • Accuracy: ± 4% when used clockwise (CW) and ± 6% when used counterclockwise (CCW)
  • Torque Range: 25-250 ft. lb.
  • Total Lengh: 25”
  • Mechanical readings, dual scale, calibrated dual direction.

The Tekton 24340 Torque Wrench Pros And Cons

Pros
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    Long handle for extra easy tightening at high torque 
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    Very easy to read dual scale
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    Reversible ratchet useful for removing bolts
Cons
  • Not suitable for everyday professional usage
  • Not suitable for use on smaller high precision jobs

3. EPAuto 1/2-inch Drive Click Torque Wrench

  • Dual Range 10-150 ft./lb (13.6-203.5 N/m)
  • High Contrast, Easy To Read Scale
  • Easy Grip handle and plastic storage case

The EPAuto ST-010-1 torque wrench is another good option for DIY car enthusiasts. In a similar fashion to the TEKTON 24340 it combines quality, fairly good precision, and can usually be found at an excellent price.

What We Like About This Torque Wrench?

The EPAuto ST-010-1 is the best value torque wrench in it class. This is the tool you buy for casual DIY projects. It features good enough precision for tasks that require a medium-range torque wrench (10-150 ft. lb.)  

What Can You Use It For?

A Torque wrench like the EPAuto ST-010-1  with ½” drive size and 10-150 ft. lb. torque range is usually good for: 

  • Sockets within the range of ½” -1” - (13mm - 25mm)
  • Precision reading from 40 ft. lb. to 110 ft. lb.
  • Typical applications include crankshaft, cylinder head, connecting rods, engine bracket and any other application involving tightening in the range of 50 ft. lb. to 100 ft. lb.
  • This particular torque wrench is NOT advisable for professional use and/or for jobs that require high-precision assemblies. However, this tool is highly advisable for DIY car owners that require a reliable torque wrench for casual projects.

Specs

  • Drive Size: ½”
  • Accuracy: ± 4% when used clockwise (CW) and ± 6% when used counterclockwise (CCW)
  • Torque Range: 10-150 ft. lb.
  • Total Lengh: 18-1/4"
  • Mechanical readings, dual scale, calibrated dual direction.

The EPAuto Torque Wrench Pros And Cons

Pros
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    A great option for DIY mechanics and casual users
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    Great value can usually be bought at a cheaper price than similar wrenches
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    Useful for torquing heavier bolts   
Cons
  • Not for professional everyday use
  • Doesn't torque in anticlockwise direction
  • Not as accurate as other wrenches at the lower torque scale

4. TEKTON 24335 1/2" Drive Click Torque Wrench

  • Dual Range 10-150 lb (13.6-203.5 Nm)
  • Reversible ratchet head, for tightening and Removing Bolts 
  • All steel construction, with Approx +/- 4% accuracy

The TEKTON 24335 torque wrench has almost the same specifications of the EPAuto ST-010-1. Both wrenches are intended for DIY car enthusiasts, however going by other reviews, the TEKTON appears to be more durable and precise.

What Makes It Different?

The TEKTON 24335 is one of the best value DIY torque wrenches in this price range. It's a good all rounder with a decent torque range that makes it suitable for a wide range of tasks. The socket ratchet works in both directions (torques in clockwise only) and the shorter 18 inch handle makes it suitable for working under your truck or in the engine bay.

It's not going to be the most accurate torque wrench at lower torques, but it's a great choice for occasional use and for torquing wheel bolts and other mid range parts.

Usual Applications

A Torque wrench like the TEKTON 24335  with ½” drive size and 10-150 ft. lb. torque range is usually good for: 

  • Sockets within the range of ½” -1” - (13mm - 25mm)
  • Precision reading from 30 ft. lb. to 120 ft. lb.
  • Typical applications include crankshaft, cylinder head, connecting rods, engine bracket, tire lug nuts and any other application involving tightening in the range of 50 ft. lb. to 110 ft. lb.
  • This particular torque wrench is NOT advisable for professional use and/or for jobs that require high-precision assemblies. However, this tool is highly advisable for DIY car owners that require a reliable torque wrench.

Specifications 

The TEKTON 24335 has the following specifications:

  • Drive Size: ½”
  • Accuracy: ± 4% when used clockwise (CW) 
  • Torque Range: 10-150 ft. lb.
  • Total Length: 18.5"
  • Mechanical readings, dual scale, calibrated in clockwise direction
Pros
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    All steel construction, so it hard wearing and reliable
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    Reversible ratchet, can also be used in anticlockwise 
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    1/2 inch socket for use with a good range of socket sizes
Cons
  • Not suitable for everyday professional usage
  • Not as accurate as more expensive wrenches, especially at the lower end of the torque range

5. Neiko 3/8" Drive Adjustable Click Torque Wrench

  • 3/8" Drive with 10-80 Lb range
  • Reversible ratchet action
  • 14 inch length made from durable chrome vanadium steel 

Usually, ⅜-Inch drive torque wrenches are not as common as their ½ counterparts. Still, there are many applications for them. The Neiko 03713A is an excellent choice when it comes to any job that requires a ⅜-Inch drive torque wrench.

What Makes It Different?

Its cost-benefit ratio is unquestionably the key advantage of the Neiko 03713A. For a ridiculous price, you can buy a tool that is great for occasional use or one off jobs that require a torque wrench.

Usual Applications

A Torque wrench like the Neiko 03713A  with ⅜” drive size and 10-80 ft. lb. torque range is usually good for: 

  • Sockets within the range of ⅜” - ¾” - (10mm - 20mm)
  • Precision reading from 30 ft. lb. to 65 ft. lb.
  • Typical applications include small crankshafts, small cylinder heads, connecting rods, engine accessories, and any other application involving tightening in the range of 20 ft. lb. to 70 ft. lb.

Specifications 

The Neiko 03713A has the following specifications:

  • Drive Size: ⅜”
  • Accuracy: ± 4% when used clockwise (CW)
  • Torque Range: 10-80 ft. lb.
  • Total Lengh: 14"
  • Mechanical readings, dual scale, calibrated dual direction.
Pros
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    Usually can be found at a low price
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    3/8 inch socket drive
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    Made from chrome vanadium steel
Cons
  • Not suited to everyday usage, only for light occasional use
  • Torque range isn't the biggest out there at this price point

6. Craftsman 9-13919 1/2" Drive Digi-Click Torque Wrench

  • 1/2" socket drive digital torque wrench 
  • Range of 25-250 ft/lbs (in 1/2" increments)
  • Features LED screen and easy to adjust settings

The Craftman 9-13919 is, without any doubt, the best digital ½” torque wrench you can buy for everyday usage. If you are looking for a robust, accurate and easy to read digital torque wrench then look for further, the Craftman 9-13919 is all you need.

What Makes It Different?

Being digital is obviously a key difference from the rest of ½” torque wrenches on this list. But the Craftman 9-13919 goes beyond and offers an excellent product, with a high-quality finish, accurate readings, robust construction, and a comfortable handle.

Usual Applications

A Torque wrench like the Craftman 9-13919  with ½” drive size and 25-250 ft. lb. torque range is usually good for: 

  • Sockets within the range of ½” -1-1/16” - (13mm - 28mm)
  • Precision reading from 35 ft. lb. to 235 ft. lb.
  • Typical applications include crankshaft, cylinder head, connecting rods, engine bracket, wheels lug nuts,  and any other application involving tightening in the range of 40 ft. lb. to 230 ft. lb.
  • This particular torque wrench is highly advisable for professional use and/or for jobs that require high-precision assemblies.

Specifications 

The Craftman 9-13919 has the following specifications:

  • Drive Size: ½”
  • Accuracy: ± 4% when used clockwise (CW)
  • Torque Range: 25-250 ft. lb.
  • Total Lengh: 26"
  • Digital readings, dual scale, calibrated dual direction.
Pros
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    Easy to read and configure digital display
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    Long handle makes it easier to use at higher torques
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    Wide torque range makes it well suited to a wide range of jobs
Cons
  • Batteries required to make it work
  • Supplied case is not as robust as it could be

7CDI 1002CF3  3/8-Inch Drive Electronic Torque Wrench

  • Range of 10-100 Ft/Lbs
  • Digital display shows real time torque in one of four units
  • Push button release, 3/8 inch flexible ratchet Head

As explained before, CDI is actually an industrial brand of Snap-On. The CDI 1002CF3 certainly won’t disappoint you regarding functionality, quality, and precision. This is the best 3/8” torque wrench in the market, period.

What Makes It Different?

The CDI 1002CF3 is a technological wonder, exhibiting all the benefits you may want into a torque wrench. Unsurpassed precision, heavy-duty construction, the best handle on its class, digital readings, and a very useful feature that allows it to display (in real time) the actual torque being applied.

Usual Applications

A Torque wrench like the CDI 1002CF3  with ⅜” drive size and 10-100 ft. lb. torque range is usually good for: 

  • Sockets within the range of ⅜” - ¾” - (10mm - 20mm)
  • Precision reading from 15 ft. lb. to 95 ft. lb.
  • Typical applications include small crankshafts, cylinder heads, connecting rods, wheels lug nuts, and any other application involving tightening in the range of 15 ft. lb. to 95 ft. lb.
  • This particular torque wrench is highly advisable for professional use and/or for jobs that require high-precision assemblies.

Specifications 

The CDI 1002CF3 has the following specifications:

  • Drive Size: ⅜”
  • Accuracy: ± 2% when used clockwise (CW) of readings from 20%-100% of full scale
  • Torque Range: 10-100 ft. lb.
  • Total Lengh: 19"
  • Digital readings, dual scale, calibrated dual direction, real-time readings.
Pros
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    High quality, accurate torque wrench
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    Manufactured by well known US company that make high quality wrenches
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    Confortable and easy to use
Cons
  • Requires batteries to work
  • Only beeps (no vibration) when correct torque is reached

8Capri Tools 1/4-in 20-150 Inch Pound Torque Wrench

  • 1/4 inch industrial quality torque wrench
  • 20-150 Ft/Lbs torque range with ± 3% clockwise accuracy
  • Traceable Certificate of calibration included 

The Capri 31200 is the only torque wrench on this list with a ¼” drive size. Usually, automotive applications have little use for such a small wrench. On the other hand, motorcycle, aeronautic and hobbyists applications do require it, and very often.

What Makes It Different?

Without any doubt, its precision. The Capri 31200 is one of the most accurate torque wrenches on this list. That is not a surprise taking into account that ¼” drives are used for small and delicate assemblies.

Usual Applications

A Torque wrench like the Capri 31200  with ¼” drive size and 20-150 in. lb. (2.8 - 16.4 Nm) torque range is usually good for: 

  • Sockets within the range of 5/32” - ½” - (6mm - 13mm)
  • Precision reading from 35 in. lb. to 145 in. lb.
  • Typical applications include automotive, motorcycle, aeronautic and hobbyists.
  • This particular torque wrench is highly advisable for professional use and/or for jobs that ultra high-precision assemblies.

Specifications 

The Capri 31200 has the following specifications:

  • Drive Size: ¼”
  • Accuracy: ± 3% when used clockwise (CW) and ± 5% when used counterclockwise (CCW)
  • Torque Range: 20-150 in. lb. (2.8 - 16.4 Nm) .
  • Total Lengh: 8.3"
  • Mechanical readings, dual scale, calibrated dual direction.
Pros
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    Wide torque range makes it suitable for a wide range of jobs
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    Shorter length handle is great for tight work areas
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    Well built, professional quality, precisely calibrated torque wrench
Cons
  • Shorter handle gives less control in hard to reach places
  • 1/4 inch socket not suited to all jobs, especially larger bolts

9ACDelco ARM601-3 3/8" Digital Torque Wrench

  • 3/8 inch socket with 2 to 37 ft-lbs range
  • Easy to read digital display with audible buzzer
  • Also measures residual torque and works in clockwise and anticlockwise direction

The last torque wrench of this list is no other than the ACDelco ARM601-3. Similar than the CAPRI, this is an ultra-high precision tool suitable for aeronautics, motorcycles, hobbyists and specific automotive applications.

What Makes It Different?

There is a long list of unique features that make the ACDelco ARM601-3 truly different from the rest. It delivers unsurpassed accuracy, four scales to choose from, digital readings, real-time torque, and more.

Usual Applications

A Torque wrench like the ACDelco ARM601-3  with ⅜” drive size and 2-37 ft. lb. (2.71 - 50 Nm) torque range is usually good for: 

  • Sockets within the range of ⅜” - ¾” - (10mm - 20mm)
  • Accurate reading from 3 ft. lb. to 35 ft. lb.
  • Typical applications include automotive, motorcycle, aeronautic and hobbyists.
  • This particular torque wrench is highly advisable for use by professional mechanics and/or for jobs that ultra high-precision assemblies.

Specifications 

The ACDelco ARM601-3 has the following specifications:

  • Drive Size: ⅜”
  • Accuracy: ± 2% when used clockwise (CW) and ± 3% when used counterclockwise (CCW)
  • Torque Range: 2-37 ft. lb. (2.71 - 50 Nm) .
  • Total Lengh: 12"
  • Digital readings, quadruple scale, calibrated dual direction, real-time readings.
Pros
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    Easily set torque in one of four units
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    Works in both directions
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    Buzzes and lights up when you reach the desired torque
Cons
  • Doesn't come with necessary batteries
  • Some reviews suggest it doesn't go to as low a torque as advertised
  • Digital screen is not backlit

What is a torque wrench?

A torque wrench is a tool used to tighten nuts and bolts to a predetermined torque value.

It is used to avoid damaging or breaking bolts and the parts they are holding through over tightening. It also prevents the damage of gaskets and seals that are compressed in place when tightening a part.

An example would be a head gasket that is held in place when building an engine. Over-tightening the head bolts could cause the gasket to not seal properly and could damage the head (and the bolts).

A torque wrench also plays an important part in the safety of vehicles. Parts that are over or under tightened can cause failure of components and a risk of injury.

Torque Wrench Buying Guide

When it comes to choosing a torque wrench it's important you choose one that best fits your needs above anything else.

Before you buy a torque wrench, think about what type of projects you plan on using it for.

Is it going to be used mainly for engine work, or will you be carrying out suspension repairs? You may need a torque wrench capable of tightening bigger, heavier nuts. Or you may need a torque wrench that will fit into tight spaces.If you are carrying out a complete vehicle restoration you'll probably need more than one torque wrench.

Apart from differences in torque range, brand and size, there are four main different types of torque wrench that mechanics are interested in, based on their design and functionality.

These are the beam, click torque, dial torque and digital torque wrenches.

the Different Types of Torque Wrenches

The four most common types of torque wrench are:

1. Beam Torque Wrench

This is one of oldest types of torque wrench, developed in the 1930s by Walter Percy Chrysler. As it does not need to be calibrated, a well cared for beam torque wrench is inherently one of the more accurate types of torque wrench.

The beam torque wrench consists of two independent bars. The first is the handle, and this attaches directly to the head of the wrench and has a scale attached near the handle. The second bar is also connected to the head, but is not attached at the handle end. Instead it has a movable pointer that is used to read the torque measurement.

beam torque wrench

The calibrated scale on a beam torque wrench - Image Source 

As the lever tightens, the pointer will move along the torque scale and the required torque can easily be read when reached. It's a simple accurate way of measuring torque, and doesn't rely on calibration for accuracy.

The downside of this type of torque wrench is that it is more difficult to not over-tighten a bolt than a click or digital torque wrench. There is no audible click when the required torque is reached.

It is also a very delicate design, and can be rendered useless if the calibrated scale becomes damaged or the arm is bent.


2. Click Torque Wrench

This is the one of the most widely used types of torque wrench, especially by mechanics.

It consists of a single lever design with a socket head attached at one end. At the base (handle end) of the lever, there is a calibrated torque scale. When the lever is twisted to a desired torque reading, this preloads an internal spring against a ball detent.

click torque wrench scale

The adjustable scale of a typical click torque wrench

When the wrench tightens to the desired torque, the spring-loaded ball breaks free of its socket , creating a clicking sound.

The advantage of this type of torque wrench is that it gives an audible click and feel when the correct torque is reached.

It is generally more difficult to over torque a bolt with this type of wrench, although it must be calibrated regularly to ensure it remains accurate.

3. Dial Torque Wrench

A dial torque wrench has a similar operating mechanism to a deflecting beam torque wrench. The big difference is that there is a torque dial incorporated into the handle that gives the user a real-time torque reading as the wrench tightens against a bolt.

dial torque wrench

An example of a dial torque wrench

The inside or a dial wrench is a simple design with a lever that connects back to the torque dial. As the lever bends under pressure the needle on the dial moves.

This type of torque wrench is great for checking the tightness of existing bolts, but needs to be calibrated around every 5000 uses to keep it accurate.

4. Digital Torque Wrench

This is a more recent torque wrench design. It looks similar to a standard click torque wrench, with a digital torque display on the handle.

The head of the wrench is an electromechanical head connected to a tension rod. As the wrench tightens a signal is sent to the attached electronic transducer that sends a signal to an LED display where it is displayed as a torque reading.

The advantage of this torque wrench design is that you can easily preset the torque using the digital display. When this torque is reached there will be an audible signal. It can also be used to check existing bolts and some models allow for the storage of torque values for export to a computer later.

This type of torque wrench is usually very accurate, and most allow for the display of torque in a range or units such as nano metres or pounds per feet.

digital torque wrench

A digital torque wrench


9 Factors To Consider While Buying Torque Wrenches

When it comes to choosing a torque wrench, it's important that it is accurate, a suitable size, has the correct sized square drive and is made from metal (not plastic)

Here are a few of the things you should consider when buying a torque wrench:

1. Accuracy 

This is one of the most important things to consider before choosing a torque wrench, after all it’s the reason you’re buying it to begin with! Most good quality torque wrenches will come with a certificate of calibration and should be calibrated to within +/- 4% accuracy. They should also meet of exceed standards laid out in the international standards for torque wrench calibration, ISO 6789-1:2017 and 6789-2:2017.

2. Materials and Design

The materials used to make a torque wrench have a big impact on the usability and durability of the wrench. All torque wrenches are made from a type of steel so they are strong and should resist rusting.

Some are heavier than others and have different size heads to accommodate a range of socket sizes. Before buying, think about how often you will be using the wrench and if a heavier or bigger wrench is needed or suitable. If you are lying under a car using the wrench, you may need a lighter one or a shorter handle. Or if you are going to work on heavier, tighter bolts then a soft grip handle and hardened socket head will be essential.

3. Torque Range

The torque range are two very important numbers when checking the specs of a torque wrench. They relate directly to the type of work you will be able to carry out with the wrench. If you want a wrench that can be used for lots of different projects, then a 1/2 inch click torque wrench will usually be the best option. A typical 1/2 inch will have a range of 10~150 ft./lb (14~200 N/m). This is suited to smaller bolts such as oil sump bungs, spark plugs as well as larger bolts such as control arm bushing bolts and brake caliper brackets.

If you are looking for a lower torque range then a good quality 1/4 inch torque wrench is what you need. Torque wrenches with a smaller, lower torque range are usually more accurate than those with a bigger range, especially at lower torques.

4. Storage

Most torque wrenches come in a hard plastic case, but it’s always worth checking before you buy. It’s very important you get some sort of storage case, torque wrenches are well built, but can be easily damaged if dropped.

5. Scale Readability

The two most common types of torque wrench for auto projects are the click and digital type. If you are buying a click type, check the scale on the handle to make sure that it is easy to read and is engraved (not printed) into the steel. You want to be sure that it is going to be durable and easy to read under most conditions. Check the scale increments too. More expensive torque wrenches will allow you to set the torque to any value accurately.

If it’s a digital torque wrench you are looking at, the LED scale should be easy to read at all angles and positioned low down towards the handle. Mose digital torque wrenches will allow you to change the unit of torque and some store readings for export to a PC. Some also have a backlight so you can see the reading in the dark.

6. Square Drive Size

The dimensions of the square drive (the connector head of the torque wrench) determines the size of the sockets that you can use with the wrench. It also determines the amount of torque the wrench can withstand.

When it comes to torque wrenches, there are four main square drive sizes to choose from: 

¼-inch Drive – This is the smallest size and is usually found on smaller torque wrenches. This particular size is used for lower torque applications, generally under 70Nm. A 1/4 inch drive is usually restricted to usage on engine parts, vehicle trim and interior components. Most torque 1/4 inch torque wrenches are smaller in size, with a smaller handle and are great for use in tight spaces.

⅜-inch Drive – This is an in-between sized drive, suitable for applications in the 10-120 Nm range. It’s mostly suited to lower torque applications but can also be used for some heavier jobs such as suspension parts and wheel lugs. 

½-inch Drive – This is one of the most common sizes for everyday use. Most 1/2 inch torque wrenches will operate at lower torques of around 30Nm and can go as high as 300 Nm. Because of the wide torque range, not all wrenches will be as accurate at the lowest and highest torques. 

¾-inch Drive – This is a less common size, and is really only suited to heavy applications. A 3/4 inch torque wrench will usually be heavier than the other sizes with a longer handle. The larger diameter drive makes it suitable for tightening bigger bolts such as those found on suspension bars or large engine bolts like the crankshaft or engine mount bolts.

7. Type Of Torque Wrench

If you are buying the torque wrench to carry out a range of general car repairs, then a standard click torque wrench will be your best option. They are available in a wide range of sizes, and torque ranges. More delicate repairs are more suited to a good quality 1/4 inch digital torque wrench. 

8. Price

Like most tools, the more you spend the better quality tool you will get. A good quality torque wrench is probably going to set you back over $100. Buying a cheaply produced, unfamiliar brand is not advised in this case as it will probably not be accurate when new, and won’t stay accurate when calibrated. 

9. Warranty

If you can get a torque wrench with a 1 or 2 year warranty then this will protect you from manufacturing faults or problems with the torque mechanism. Some manufacturers also give a guarantee of accuracy within certain limits, and will provide a certificate to prove this. If your torque wrench doesn’t meet these standards you should be able to return it for a refund.


How To Use And Store A Torque Wrench

Depending on the type of torque wrench (beam, click, digital) the usual procedure for using this tool accurately is the following:

  1. (Optional) Check calibration: depending on the kind of job at hand, you may need to check the calibration of your tool. Usually, this is done with another (higher-quality, higher accuracy) torque wrench that is kept stored for this only purpose. Keep in mind this is not an official calibration or certification, it’s only a pre-check prior to critical tasks.
  2. Pre-Tighten the Bolts: using a ratchet tighten the bolts until you feel you reach the point of applying force.
  3. Adjust the Wrench: depending on the type of torque wrench, adjust the desired torque level
  4. Apply the Torque: using the appropriate socket apply force until you reach the desired torque level. You will know when you achieve the torque depending on the torque wrench type. A click sound on mechanical wrenches or a “beep” sound on digital ones.
  5. Release the Wrench Adjustment when done: it is crucial to remember that torque wrenches are precision instruments. Before storing the tool you need to reset the torque wrench to zero. This prevents internal damage to the tool and keeps it calibrated for a longer period of time.
  6. A final recommendation regarding torque wrench usage is that even when they are calibrated in both directions they are not intended to be used to loose bolts, only to tighten them. A bad use of this instrument will decalibrate the tool very quickly.