Last updated: September 1th 2016
Hey there! Thanks for coming to this page and reading my best torque wrench reviews.
In a world of shop rats, grease monkeys and home mechanics, a man is only as good as his tools & many will argue there is no tool more important than a quality torque wrench. So when it comes to maintenance and repairs, improperly tightening fasteners can regrettably end in only two ways.
- (A) Stripped threading or snapped bolt heads due to over torquing which can and will be a major pain in the ass to fix, or even worse,
- (B) loosely fitted assembly that can potentially end in a horrible mess.
Question…Which would you prefer?
My guess is you answered (C) Neither. In which case we welcome you and humbly try to provide the most useful info to help you select the best torque wrench for the job.
Best Torque Wrench with Reviews
|Tekton 24335||Adjustable Click Type||10 to 150 |
|18 3/8 inches||$$||4.7|
|Neiko||Adjustable Click||10 to 80 |
|CDI 1501MRMH||Adjustable Click||20 to 150 |
|Mountain 16250||Adjustable Click||25 to 250|
|Neiko Classic Needle-Style||Beam Style||3/8 & 1/2 inch||0 to 150|
|Park Tool TW-2||Beam Style||0 to 600 |
|ACDelco ARM601-3||Digital/Electronic||2 to 37|
Foot Pounds or
3 to 50
|CDI 1002CF3||Digital/Electronic||10 100|
Lets take a walk…
Now on the right you have the widely popular click-stop torque wrenches, with external adjustable scales measured in inch-lbs & foot-lbs. Right below them you have your trusty beam type torque wrench. To the left, behind the locked glass enclosure is where you can fawn over the many operator error proof cam-over slipper torque wrenches, digital electronic torque wrenches and split beam’s. Oh you’re doing plumbing work, you say? Then the no hub’s are all the way down by the copper tube cutters.
There are countless adjustable & preset torque wrenches available. And while they all might be able to complete the work, the differences in options, application and especially price can be head spinning. So the question is which is the best torque wrench to complete the work for you?
That depends on your needs.
If you’re like most DIYer’s and shade tree mechanics simply looking to do basic maintenance according to manufacture specs then you shouldn’t have a problem finding a click or beam type wrench at a very reasonable price. If unfailing accuracy & precision is what you must have, well then don’t be surprised when it reflects in the cost.
To help narrow things down, lets intelligently think about this.
What kind of work will you be doing? Automotive? Marine? Motorcycle maintenance? Perhaps you’re repairing or building carbon fiber framed bicycles? Do you need a wrench just for ‘tooling around the house’ or will this be for professional use? And what kind of working conditions will you be operating in?
If you’re in close quarters pinched in by obstructing assembly components & poor lighting, let’s say something like an engine bay or undercarriage then a beam style torque wrench is going to be nearly impossible to read. The audible signal of an adjustable wrench what you’ll need for cramped spaces.
Whereas some die-hards prefer to use a beam torque wrench above anything else so long as they have enough range of motion and visibility of the gauge. Many faithfully trust the beam torque wrench accuracy especially for bench work and even verifying accuracy on click-stop wrenches.
There are different types of torque wrenches
- Electric torque
- Click torque
- Beam wrench
- Beam ratcheting combination wrench set
- Plumbers wrench
- Hydraulic torque wrench
Beam Torque Wrenches
The great thing about the beam style is they’re extremely reliable and you don’t have to worry about calibrating them. Beam’s have a simple design and typically work for both left & right-handed threading. The socket head is connected to two steel beams, one larger beam with a scale attached where the operator grabs and applies torque pressure and the other smaller beam with a needle or pointed head that measures the torque against the scale.
There are countless debates over beam style wrenches vs click-stop and which is the best torque wrench. Interestingly, quality control of some major engine manufacturers only trust beam style wrenches for delicate precision work. Many feel that clickers are much more prone to falling out of calibration under frequent use and heavy tension. Another benefit is that you can actually see when you are approaching the desired torque on a beam wrench which allows you to develop a sensitive feel for pressure. Whereas with an adjustable micrometer torque wrench you’re subject to waiting for the audible click to know when the right torque is reached.
When it comes to double digit inch pound measurements for bicycles, motorcycles & torquing smaller bolts many feel beam type torque wrenches offer the best true torque. With the delicate nature of carbon fiber framed bicycles, under-torquing or over-torquing can lead to serious problems. Its common to find beam styles as the preference of choice for most bike shops.
The downside is you might have to contort yourself to read the gauge scale clearly while applying the appropriate force in order to measure the right amount of torque. The accuracy of a beam lies in being able to see the gauge & needle straight on. If the angle of the work is slanted or tilted and doesn’t give the operator a clean view of the scale then that could possibly throw off the measurement. If high torque effort is needed holding the beam steady while trying to read an accurate measurement might be difficult due to hand and arm fatigue. Because of the natural force applied the handle might tend to rock back and forth which might the make the gauge tougher to accurately read.
Click Type Torque Wrenches
Contortion need not apply when it comes to a good ol’ adjustable torque wrench. For the home garage workshop, a ½ in 20 to 150 ft. lbs adjustable click-stop can tackle most jobs. It’ll be more than enough from everything to changing wheel lug nuts, replacing spark plugs and even typical weekend projects. As they say just set it & forget it. Apply the torque scale to your specs. Just give it a few little leans and wait for her to ‘click’.
And while although that might sound easy breezy. The counter argument is it has left behind a mile high mountain of broken bolt heads by those who mindlessly crank down waiting for an audible click and haven’t yet developed a keen sense of feel for tightness. Occasionally, no matter how careful, you might still fall victim to a adjustable wrench because it may have fell out of calibration or you maxed out its range. Hey, it happens.
That’s why it’s a good idea to select the wrench that is suitable for the numeric measurements that you’re going to be using regularly. Weather it be in foot pounds, inch pounds or metric scaled, make sure your tools can easily achieve the service specs you need.
For those that appreciate modern craftsmanship and understand the price tag that comes with it, there are many precision tools that can do an excellent job. Digital electronic torque wrenches & split beam torque wrenches just to name a few.
Digital Electronic Torque Wrenches
If you need to keep track of your own service maintenance like a meticulous peanut counter then digital readings are the way to go. An electronic torque wrench will provide high end accuracy & easy operational use. Most of them will allow you to program your settings via a LCD digital display. You can then save your work and later upload the data to track over time.
A digital torque wrench provides accuracy required for precision work. Including measuring the rotation angle past the set torque value. The benefit to having an digital torque wrench is it can not only torque in foot pounds, inch pounds & newton meters but its also extremely easy to use. There is no twisting or moving of dials. You just press the buttons to program it until you see the desired amount of torque displayed on the LCD screen. Once applying pressure, LEDs will light up to indicate you’ve reached the appropriate torque. While most mechanical torque wrenches are accurate within +/- 4%, digital electronic torque wrenches are accurate within +/- 2%. Drives measuring 1/2 commonly adjust quickly between 240 to 2400 inch pounds, 20 to 240 foot pounds & 27.1 to 271.2 newton meters.
A cam-over torque wrench, also known as slipping torque wrenches provide a guarantee that the set torque cannot be exceeded. When the set torque value is reached the tool slips free for a short time until resetting occurs. Accurate process control is ensured by eliminating both over and under tightening thru use of torque slipping technology. Using an internal ball and lobe design mechanism, the wrench slips free preventing the operator of over-torquing. Slipping tools are ideal for high quality assembly operations. Where application of the correct torque is essential. The tightening torque is not influenced by the operators hand position. Cam-over wrenches are commonly found in large repair maintenance garages and assembly floors.
The cam over design is also available as preset models. These preset torque wrenches are high end accurate tools that are ‘pre-set’ at a specific torque from factory. The cam-over design prevents over torque from turn. Featuring tamper proof internal adjustments most have no internal scale and must be preset using a torque analyzer. In order to change the torque setting select a sensor or analyzer that covers the torque range of the wrench & program it accordingly. Most are preset at the required torque setting and ready for use at assembly. Preset cam-over wrenches are more so for commercial use where 1 standard torque is needed and operational over-torquing must be eliminated.
When you’re looking at pipe wrenches, chances are you are looking at what is known as a plumbers wrench. It is mainly put to use to rotate pipes. By rotating a key ring you can adjust and change the size of the diameter of the wrench as needed. It should be used carefully as it can dent the pipe being rotated or even break it. However even knowing that it is still one of the best torque wrenches for your job. This is due to the fact that the wrench is able to close with considerable force. It doesn’t need to put the nut in any engagement yet it can be used on pipes with nuts or pieces of flat points of engagement.
Ridgid 31020 Straight Pipe Wrench
This is a sturdy strong and one of the best torque wrenches for pipe work and is forged in cast-iron housing with an I-beam handle. A great torque wrench by all means. It has a hook-jaw that is fully forged as well. It has a 2 inch pipe capacity. This wrench complies with federal regulations and specifications GGG=W65IE, type II, and class A. In its standing as one of the best torque wrenches, it has backup. It is covered by the maker with a lifetime warranty when it comes to defects in material or workmanship.
Hydraulic Torque Wrench
A hydraulic torque wrench puts torque on fasteners to get proper and correct loosening or tightening through hydraulics by being applied directly to the fastener or with use of an impact socket as well. It’s at the head of the class when it comes to precision and ease. These types of wrenches apply a predetermined, precise and controlled bit of torque to a fastener that has been properly lubricated.
The Enerpac W2000 Low Profile Hexagon Torque Wrench Drive Unit with 2000 Foot Pounds Torque has all the power and precision to back it up. It is made up of high technology design that enables it to control to a precise degree. The steel design offers and guarantees reliability, durability, and most important of all, safety. When in a constant mode, its torque puts out highest accuracy within + or – 3% during a full stroke. This is a great torque wrench to handle what you need and meet your specifications.
Beam Ratcheting Combination Wrench Set
Like the beam wrench, the ratcheting puts it more in the category of socket wrench, which is all, and of itself along the same lines being that it’s manual and a wonderful torque wrench to have. Being that it comes in a set you’ll have lots of sizes to pick from to find what you’re looking for. It’s definitely a great torque wrench for the job and has you covered with the set. The ratcheting part of it allows the nut that is being adjusted to be tightened or loosened with a motion that reciprocates. Therefore you don’t have to constantly remove and refit the wrench after each turn.
GearWrench 85898 9 Piece X-Beam Ratcheting Combination Wrench Set SAE
The ingenious X-Beam model of this product allows you to not suffer from increased hand fatigue from usage. It’s the best torque wrench when it comes to traditional manual usage and stands out among the rest. It reduces the fatigue felt with a lot of steady usage. It’s allows easier access to hard to reach places because it’s up to 25% longer to help get in those areas. It offers up to a 525% increase in area contact of the surface you are working on. It offers a stronger grip plus surface drive and brings you up to 25% more torque. Comes in SAE sizes 5/15, 11/32, 3/8, 7/16, ½, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16 and ¾ inch sizes to work with. With these sizes you are set up with one of the top of the line manual torque wrench sets out there.
Know your torque range
Consider the type of service work you’ll be doing. Does the bulk of it roughly fall within the same torque range? If so, get a wrench that is capable of middling the general high-low value of your torquing needs. For instance, if you need approximately 75 ft lbs of torque it wouldn’t be wise to use a 0 to 80 ft-lbs wrench even though it technically falls within the torque range. By maxing out the high end range of your wrench you are seriously rolling the dice & risk damaging it or setting it out of calibration. For a job requiring 75 ft lbs of torque its better to use a torque range with a maximum of 150 foot pounds. Just be sure that your wrench can handle the capacity of the workload needed. Treat your tools with care & your tools will treat you well in return. Oh and for the love of god please don’t be the guy who decides to slide a pipe on the handle of a torque wrench thinking you can magically turn it breaker bar.