Torque–pronounced tork–is a word many know, but few can accurately explain.
Can you give a definition?
Most of us can’t.
That makes researching the best torque wrench pretty difficult. Understandably, it can be a daunting task to purchase a tool if you’re unsure about its technicalities. This guide is aimed to teach you all there is to know about torque wrenches.
Read on and we’ll give you a solid foundation that will allow you to select the best torque wrench for your needs, so you can make your purchase with the same confidence of a seasoned professional.
Why Trust Us
We consulted five professional mechanics, and spent 42 hours learning all about torque wrenches and what separates the best from the worst. I also read through hundreds of customer reviews to see what real world torque wrench owners were saying about their tools.
After looking at 32 different torque wrenches, I was able to come up with a list of the 10 best torque wrenches available in 2017.
|Product Name||Image||Features||Overall Rating||Details|
|CDI 1002MFRMH 3/8-Inch Drive Metal Handle Click Type Wrench, Torque Range 10 to 100-Ft.lbs||Suitable for either professional or individual use, this torque wrench tops our list given its durability and versatility.||9.5||Check price|
|Industrial Brand CDI Torque 2503MFRPH 1/2-Inch Drive Adjustable Micrometer Torque Wrench||This torque wrench features incredible accuracy and a laser marked scale for ease of reading.||8.5||Check price|
|TEKTON 24335 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench (10-150 ft.-lb./13.6-203.5 Nm) with TEKTON 15356 1/2-Inch 24-Inch Breaker Bar||Unlike other models, this torque wrench comes equipped with a breaker bar making it extra useful for loosening rusty bolts and fasteners.||9||Check price|
|TEKTON 24340 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench (25-250 ft.-lb./33.9-338.9 Nm)||An affordable option that’s perfect for work on automobiles and tractor. It’s all steel design (no plastic on this bad boy) makes it a very durable, long lasting option.||9||Check price|
|Precision Instruments PREC3FR250F Silver 1/2" Drive Split Beam Torque Wrench with Flex Head||The split beam design makes this wrench one of the easiest torque wrenches to work with. And let’s not forget it accurate to an astounding 0.01%||9||Check price|
|ACDelco ARM601-4 1/2" Digital Torque Wrench (4-99 ft-lbs)||This torque wrench might be light in weight, but it’s loaded with desirable features such as an LCD screen, a quick release, and the ability to operate in both directions.||8.5||Check price|
|Neiko 03704A 3/4-Inch Drive Automatic Click Torque Wrench, 50-300 Foot-Pound | Chrome Vanadium Steel||Weighing in at 8-pounds, this is one of the heavier models we looked at, but it that added weight means it’s more than capable to handle even the toughest jobs.||9||Check price|
|Pittsburgh Pro Reversible Click Type Torque Wrench Sizes 1/4", 3/8", 1/2"||A lifetime warranty and three size options make this torque wrench the perfect choice for those looking to invest in a high quality tool.||9.5||Check price|
|VENZO Bicycle Bike Torque Wrench Allen Key Tool Socket Set Kit||If you will only be using your torque wrench on bicycles, the affordability of this option make it our top choice. But if you need a little more versatility from your wrench, you may want to look into other options in our list.||9||Check price|
|Park Tool Ratcheting Click Type Torque Wrench||Our research discovered this to be a good option if you’re working on smaller projects such as bicycles and small automobiles, but this may not be the right choice for heavy uses such as truck and tractor repairs.||9||Check price|
Okay, so just what is torque?
In essence, it’s a “measure of how much a force acting on an object causes that object to rotate.” Clearly, it’s a word relating to mechanics. You find torque being used to explain machinery as well as tools.
For instance, the dictionary explains torque as the “measured ability of a rotating element, as of a gear or shaft, to overcome turning resistance.”
So, your engine has torque, but your hand and power tools do too.
This type of torque is usually found in wrenches. Specifically, a torque wrench. And as you might guess, if you look for the best torque wrench, it has to be designed for the way you intend to use it. There are torque wrenches ideal for working on guns, bicycles, vehicles, and so on. As you may have pieced together by now, torque wrenches come in different sizes and styles.
So, we know what torque is and that wrenches can supply that special type of force, but what exactly is a torque wrench?
What’s a Torque Wrench?
As good old Wikipedia tells us, the torque wrench is a tool “used to apply precisely a specific torque to a fastener such as a nut or a bolt. It is usually in the form of a socket wrench with special internal mechanisms.”
Does that mean the best torque wrench is adjustable?
Actually, many have easy to use adjustments, and you set them based on your specific project or task. They also have swappable sockets to save you from owning dozens of different wrenches.
Even so, why are torque wrenches needed? Why not stick with socket wrenches?
Well, it’s really all about safety and performance.
Safety critical components usually have very specific manufacturer settings for torque and will tell you the right amount for fastening something safely. Too much and you damage the parts. Too little means you’re at risk for a failure of some sort.
Will all of the projects or tasks you do with a torque wrench require specific settings?
No, not at all. But that doesn’t mean you can use just any torque wrench for any project.
As one expert said, “It is supremely important to ensure that you use a torque wrench to apply the correct amount of torque needed when the job calls for it.”
In the reviews below, we’re going to point you towards some of the best torque wrenches for specific tasks, ensuring you save time and money while equipping yourself to tackle the job.
How to Use A Torque Wrench
First, the good news…
Though we’ve said you have to use a different wrench for different tasks, most have easy to swap “sockets”. These sockets are sized to fit almost any size nut, bolt, or fastener. You just use a single wrench and add the socket to fit the hardware you’re dealing with. They are similar to ratcheting socket wrenches, but a bit more precise.
Second, the better news.
Using torque wrenches is the simplest thing imaginable. If you’re eager to have a basic explanation of how to use a torque wrench, it can be summarized in a few simple steps:
Yes, that’s all there is to using one. The key, as you might have guessed, is choosing the best torque wrench for the task planned. Because we’ve mentioned that a few times, let’s take a few moments to look at the different types and sizes of torque wrenches.
Watch a torque wrench in action:
Types and Sizes of Torque Wrench
First, the sizes.
The most common sizes you will find are:
1/4″ Torque Wrench
This is the smallest size and works well on nuts and bolts, usually for automotive projects and smaller tasks.
3/8″ Torque Wrench
This is the most commonly chosen size because almost all bolts and nuts on vehicles are able to be “torqued” to specifications using this size.
1/2″ Torque Wrench
This is the ideal size for larger projects such as engine or transmission work. It’s often able to deliver from 30 to 200-foot pounds of torque or more.
Why buy more than one?
There is some overlap in the capabilities of the different sizes. As the torque requirement increases, so does the size of the torque wrench. If you need maneuverability or have to work in small spaces, the larger wrenches are tough to use.
In addition to the sizes, you also have the “type” and the most common are the click types and the beam types.
As the name of the click type implies, they make an audible clicking sound when you reach the proper amount of torque. This means you don’t have to see the gauge as you work.
The beam types are the lower priced options. This is due to the fact they can be less accurate. They’re designed with a large gauge at the far end of the handle, and this displays the amount of torque being applied. Because you have to see the gauge, they can be a bit difficult to operate effectively.
Are they all manually operated? Is there such thing as a power torque wrench?
Actually, there is such a thing as an electric torque wrench.
These are called both electric and digital. They operate in the same way, but rather than waiting for you to hear or feel the “click”, these give you a loud beep that lets you know you’ve hit the torque sweet spot.
If you want the best torque wrench, and you want the latest in tech, the electric torque wrenches are pretty cool. Some have memory, let you know if max torque has been applied, and more. Of course, these “bells and whistles” come with a higher price, but if you want those features, they’re worth it.
Considerations, Features, and Performance
When seeking the best torque wrench, start with the type and then the size you require. But don’t overlook those other “considerations” such as the features of the individual torque wrench.
- Material – Plastic and force are not good bedfellows, so if you see a lot of low-grade plastic or poor quality materials, look for another option.
- Accuracy – The best torque wrench is the one that can deliver the precise amount of torque dialed into the setting. The best will be accurate to 5% or better, and the very best come with certificates of calibration to let you know the accuracy.
- Warranty – The best torque wrench is one with at least a one-year warranty, but the very best brands often warranty their goods for longer.
- Cases or storage – A torque wrench is tough, but it definitely lasts longer if it’s kept from banging into other tools. A hard storage case is a fantastic feature or extra, and will keep the tool in good shape and more accurate over time.
- Ergonomic – A handle that’s easy to grip, and holds your grip is an optimal choice. Especially if you know your hands might be greasy or grimy when using it.
- Clear indicators – The best torque wrench is one that indicates the setting clearly. Don’t buy one that forces you to squint or tilt your head at an awkward angle to read the settings. Pick one with a clear indicator or easy to read scale and you’ll be much happier.
Obviously, you won’t find everything on all the torque wrench options, but we have assembled a collection of “best of” torque wrenches for specific needs or projects. They include wrenches in different sizes and styles. There are even options for affordably priced sets to help you build your tool collection without breaking the bank.
When reviewing each, we are going to look at the design, materials, accuracy, warranty, and whether or not the wrench has any nice extras. We will also identify the various pros and cons for each to help you make the right choices.
The Lineup of the 10 Best Torque Wrenches Available
If you’re buying your first torque wrench or you’re tired of investing in additional tools because lower quality wrenches have failed you, our choice for best all-around torque wrench is the CDI 1002MFRMH 3/8-Inch Drive Metal Handle Click Type Wrench, Torque Range 10 to 100-Ft.lbs. Rated for individual as well as industrial use, it’s an ideal choice for all buyers.
This is a click type torque wrench, noted as one of the most finely made in the industry. It’s incredibly durable and features dual scales that make it both easy to read and use. The grip has been carefully crafted to prevent any slippage. It features a handy quick release button that allows for fast socket removal, but excellent socket retention. It also has a positive lock with spring loaded pull down lock ring.
This wrench is all metal. Crafted from durable steel with light knurling on the handle to ensure a non-slip grip.
The dual scales have been calibrated in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions with accuracy at 4% or better. You can see measures in foot pound and Newton meters and you can read them from both sides of the handle. The torque range is an impressive 10 to 100 foot pounds. The clicking is very loud and easy to feel and hear. It‘s backed by N.I.S.T. certification, so precision out of the box is a certainty.
All CDI products have a full, one-year warranty and will replace or repair any torque product that fails to provide satisfactory performance if it’s defective in any way. As the warranty states: “Repair, replacement or recalibration shall be at the election and expense of CDI“.
It arrives in a rigid plastic case that can ensure years of protection and accuracy.
- Dual scale and calibrated in dual directions
- Easy to set, read and use
- Quick release buttons
- Calibrated to NIST
- None of note
Though it’s not the universally appealing 3/8″ size, the Industrial Brand CDI Torque 2503MFRPH 1/2-Inch Drive Adjustable Micrometer Torque Wrench is a good choice. A bit more powerful, with its 30 to 250-foot pound capability, it features streamlined design and tremendous ease of use.
This torque wrench features a 1/2″ drive adjustable micrometer design with dual scale calibrated in both directions. It provides users with a loaded pull down lock ring to ensure fine tuned adjustments and security. The scale is laser marked for easier reading and offers a quick release button to make it easier than ever to swap sockets.
The handle is an ergonomically designed comfort grip, but is made of plastic rather than steel.
The shaft and torque wrench are all steel. The ergonomically designed handle is made of durable plastic molded for optimal grip.
Accuracy is superior in this model–3-5% or better depending upon the value. Each wrench is individually serialized and delivered with a matching calibration certificate traceable to NIST.
All CDI products have a full, one-year warranty and will replace or repair any torque product that fails to provide satisfactory performance, or which is defective in any way. Again, “Repair, replacement or recalibration shall be at the election and expense of CDI“.
Arrives in a molded, plastic case for storage and safe transport.
- Laser marked scale is easy to read
- Dual scale calibration
- Easy to set
- Fast release button
- Accurate to 3% or better
- Plastic handle may wear over time
- ½” size may not be the best choice for everyone
#3 TEKTON 24335 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench (10-150 ft.-lb./13.6-203.5 Nm) with TEKTON 15356 1/2-Inch Drive by 24-Inch Breaker Bar
If you’re looking for the proverbial bang for your buck, the TEKTON 24335 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench (10-150 ft.-lb./13.6-203.5 Nm) with TEKTON 15356 1/2-Inch Drive by 24-Inch Breaker Bar is a good choice. Unlike other models, this brings along with it the wrench AND a breaker bar. This is a component that can help to loosen any rusted bolts or nuts. Its design allows optimal flexibility.
A click-type torque wrench, this features an easy to read scale on an easy to grip handle. Adjusts to both Newton and foot pound, and drives in both directions thanks to the reversible ratchet head.
Both the wrench and breaker bar are made of super durable materials. With high torque chrome and heavy duty steel ensuring years of reliable use. No plastic parts minimizes wear out or breakage. In other words, this all-steel tool is one to count on.
Calibrated to an accuracy of 4% or better, it’s a no-nonsense torque wrench that ensures you’re getting the right level of torque each time. It is incredibly simple and easy to use with a reversible, ratcheting head and durable breaker bar. It has a 180 degree flex head that lets you get into even the tightest spaces, and a spring-loaded ball bearing prevents it from sticking to work or dropping it when removed.
The manufacturer has an impressive warranty they call their “always guaranteed” warranty. What this means is simple – there’s no time limit on the guarantee and you can have a tool repaired or replaced at any time.
This comes in a rigid plastic case that’s been designed to withstand years of use. The case holds both the wrench and breaker bar in place while in storage.
- High contrast dual scale is easy to set and read
- Drives in both directions
- Is accurate to 4%
- Locking handle ensures accuracy
- Finish can appear scratched
If you’re looking for a similar design, but without the added breaker bar, the TEKTON 24340 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench (25-250 ft.-lb./33.9-338.9 Nm) provides a lot more torque. At the same it features similar overall quality and affordability. Good for working on larger equipment, as well as cars, tractors, and trucks. It’s an accurate and powerful tool.
A bit stocky at 25″ long, this click type torque wrench features a high contrast handle that allows you to easily see the dual range scale with its Newton and foot pound settings.
All-steel, this is a model that’s certain to provide many years of service. Without any plastic parts or components, it just won’t wear out the way lesser models do.
This model arrives calibrated to 4% or better allowing you to easily set to whatever manufacturer’s standards your task needs. The easy to read scale has a dual range that locks into whatever setting you require.
The traditional TEKTON warranty stands on this product, too. That means the company will repair or replace the tool at any time–even years after initial purchase.
The torque wrench arrives in a rigid and durable plastic storage case.
- All steel construction
- Easy to read – high contrast – scale
- Simple to use with loud click
- Calibrated for accuracy
- Does not lock for settings above 50 pounds
The affordability of the beam style torque wrenches is one reason to consider the Precision Instruments PREC3FR250F Silver 1/2″ Drive Split Beam Torque Wrench with Flex Head. Yet this is no bargain basement device.
In fact, you’ll find it is a bit costlier than some of the best.
This is because the split beam design overcomes many of the problems faced by earlier designs. As one manufacturer so aptly explains, the “split Beam Torque Wrenches are the easiest wrenches to work with because the torque level can be set by turning an adjustment dial on the side of the wrench while looking at the torque level indicator window on the handle.”
Ergonomic in every way, this split beam torque wrench has an appealing finish and a slim handle that clearly displays all you need to know. This is a model that can be used and put away without any turning down or adjusting.
It has a side mounted torque setting lock that lets you create settings for repetitive application. Easy to use dials make it a matter of seconds to set and use and it operates in both directions.
Finished in chrome and nickel it’s made of durable steel for years of service. The ratchet head is an award winning design that operates in a flawless way.
This is easily one of the most accurate on the market with a 1% or better accuracy. When against a master test bar, it has proven itself to be accurate to an astonishing .01%
This can deliver 50 to 600 pound foot torque.
This brand has been viewed as one of the best makers of torque wrenches in the U.S. since the 1930s. Their warranty stands behind that reputation and provides
The wrench is shipped in a protective carrying or storage case.
- Ideal for applications that are harmful to the displays or counter
- Works in both directions
- Made of durable materials
- Ergonomic design and award-winning functions
- Appealing finish and easy to read gauges
- Higher priced than many
Though the clicking of a traditional torque wrench is familiar, the beep of the digital or electric torque wrenches is just as effective. The ACDelco ARM601-4 1/2″ Digital Torque Wrench (4-99 ft-lbs) rates easily as one of the best electric torque wrench for many reasons.
Bold in design, it features four measurement scales, three settings, and a brightly colored, no slip grip handle. Guaranteeing the ultimate in precision, this wrench uses its LED flashing light with buzzer to indicate your desired torque setting. It can provide from four to 99 foot pounds of torque and weighs a meager 1.4 pounds!
Equipped with a quick release as well as a reversible ratchet, it’s the ideal tool for efficiency when working on vehicles and other tasks.
Made of durable steel and plastic, it’s a battery powered model that requires three AAA batteries. Yet it remains lightweight and easy to handle. The LCD display will operate in in-lb., N-m, kg-cm measurements to help you get the job done as accurately as possible.
This unit operates in both directions and has the standard functions that include torque settings, measurements, and modes. It doesn’t have any specific data relating to its accuracy, however.
All ACDelco tools are inspected for accuracy. All of their products are backed by a full, one-year warranty.
Includes carrying/storage case.
- Large LCD display
- Sure grip design
- Quick release for ease of use
- Reversible ratcheting
- Four different measurement scales
- No data as to its accuracy and calibration
- Battery powered
#7 Neiko 03704A 3/4-Inch Drive Automatic Click Torque Wrench, 50-300 Foot-Pound | Chrome Vanadium Steel
For those who know they’ll use their torque wrench for heavier duty tasks, the Neiko 03704A 3/4-Inch Drive Automatic Click Torque Wrench, 50-300 Foot-Pound | Chrome Vanadium Steel rates as the best torque wrench for wheels and more. It weighs in at a staggering 8 pounds and is 28 inches in total length.
Heavy duty in its overall design, it can handle from 50 to 300 foot pounds or 70-420 Nm. It uses a clutch mechanism to ensure you don’t over or under tighten bolts or nuts– eliminating the guesswork with its easy to use settings.
The no slip, knurled metal handle will offer years of service and safety.
It’s manufactured of heavy duty drop forged CRV steel that’s both rust and corrosion resistant.
You can easily set and lock your torque range with the adjustable ring. This wrench is calibrated to 4% or better in terms of accuracy and easily switches from forward to reverse.
No information available from the manufacturer about extended warranty coverage.
Arrives in a rugged carrying or storage case that’s made of plastic.
- Heavy duty and ideal for bigger jobs
- Accurate and easy to set
- Easy to read and use
- No slip safety handle
- Adjusts in both directions
- No warranty data made available
The lifetime warranty on this set of 3 Pittsburgh Pro Reversible Click Type Torque Wrench Sizes 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″ is eye catching, but the individual units are also a good reason to invest in this option. If you have yet to own and use a quality torque wrench, this is a good way to complete your tool set.
All three wrenches are heavy duty and made entirely of steel. They are click style torque wrenches that prevent you from over or under tightening bolts or nuts. Knurled handles ensure a tight grip. The cam and pawl mechanisms are reversible, allowing you to use them in both directions. The 3/4″ has a range of 50 to 300 pounds while the smallest, 1/4″ can deliver from 20 to 200-inch pounds.
As indicated, they are made of heavy duty steel and come with that lifetime guarantee. They have no slip handles and weigh in at a total of more than seven pounds.
All three wrenches are calibrated to within 4% or better of the desired torque setting. They’re consistently ranked as some of the most accurate available. They have fast release buttons, too.
As indicated, these come with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer and will be repaired or replaced at any time.
Each is packaged in its own plastic storage or carrying case.
- Lifetime warranty
- Accurate to 4%
- Cam and pawl mechanism
- Three separate cases
While a good set of torque wrenches is useful for those who need the best torque wrench for bike repair, we feel the VENZO Bicycle Bike Torque Wrench Allen Key Tool Socket Set Kit is the one to choose.
This affordable set is ideal for the avid cyclist. Highly portable, it includes a standard 1/4″ torque fix set along with Allen keys 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 8 / 10 mm, and the 5mm longer Allen key. The wrench itself is cleverly designed with a handle that turns to the appropriate setting. Fast changes in the keys are done with the quick release button and it all tucks into a handy carrying kit.
A blend of steel, carbon, and plastic, these are considered higher quality tools and are designed to last.
The wrench can give from two to 24 Nm and is accurate to 4% or better.
This set features a one-year warranty from the manufacturer.
As indicated, this arrives in a handy storage kit with individual slots for the heads and keys.
- Ideal for cyclists
- Easy to use, read and adjust
- Accurate to 4% or better
- A complete set for any cyclist on the go
- Made with mixed materials that might wear
Though you’ll see the Park Tool Ratcheting Click Type Torque Wrench described as a good resource for the mechanic, this model is best suited to lower torque settings that are more appropriate to proper seat post, seat clamp, handlebar, and stem applications.
Ergonomically designed, it has been created for easy use by both left and right-handed people. It has a dial adjust system to allow for easy torque presets and works with the Newton meter range. It incorporates a conversion scale on the body of the tool and is in a bold blue and black design making it easy to see in any conditions.
Features a 1/4″ drive but comes with a handy 3/8″ adapter.
Made of a blend of materials, it features a nonslip plastic handle, steel shaft, and components.
Calibrated to be accurate to 4% or better, it is adjustable to 0.4 Nm increments.
Limited lifetime warranty applies to any Park brand tools. Should the product fail to perform its intended purpose or have defects, it is repaired or replaced.
Ships in its own rugged, molded carrying or storage case.
- Ideal for cycle or small vehicle repair jobs
- Easy to read dial has dual settings
- Handy conversion table on handle
- Ratcheting drive with adapter
- Uses plastic components that can wear
A Few Words on Safety
We did look at one torque wrench with a breaker bar, and several styles of various sizes and weights. These are all designed for their specific function. One thing you must never do is use a “cheater bar” with your torque wrenches. These are often used to create added leverage, but can damage the best wrenches at best or lead to serious injury at worst.
Instead, find a quality option with a breaker bar component and you should be good to go!
Can I use my torque wrench to loosen?
Do I need to purchase a tester to certify my wrenches?
Why isn’t the calibration on my torque wrench guaranteed?
I want to use an extension on my torque wrench. Will affect the accuracy of the calibration?
Whether you’re looking for a torque wrench for gunsmithing, motorcycle work, or just an all-around tool for the shop, you’re sure to find an ideal solution from the list above.
Remember, like so many other things in life, you get what you pay for.
In other words, don’t use price alone as the main factor in your decision-making process. Instead, think long-term use, safety and adjustability.
The best torque wrench options have adjustable heads and easy to use release buttons, ensuring you can make the most of any purchase. And always look for a warranty!