All modern equipment – be it a car you drive, the motorcycle, the lawnmower, an industrial equipment, even a bicycle – are engineered for performance, efficiency, and economy. The most precise way to hold it together is with bolts and nuts. Each bolt is designed to hold its share of the load and to keep it in precise alignment. It means that you cannot go on guessing how much to tighten the bolt or nut without risking sheering off a bolt, stripping its thread, or under-tightening a nut at which point it will become loose even just during normal operation.
In the things like wheel nuts and axle nuts (where nut clamping power responsible on properly loading a bearing), under-tightening or over-tightening will cause you very expensive repairs in the future.
Never mind that a brake caliper bolts responsible for your safe stopping on the road. Proper tightening, clamping, torquing is not open for interpretations anymore. It is exact science, and you need to pay attention too. Lucky for you, you stumbled on our website. We do not only explain what are the different types of torque wrench available, we also provide you our top brand choices below to help you out in your buying decisions.
Best Digital Torque Wrench
CDI 1002CF3 Drive Computorq 3 Electronic
Believe us, other mechanics and gear heads will be envious if they found out you have this. The CDI Computorq 3 offers a body design that guarantees maximum durability and performance. It’s an easy-to-use digital readout wrench that displays real time torque values in any of four torque units. Undoubtedly great for light industrial, automotive, motorcycle, watercraft, and aircraft applications. It likewise features a sleek new design and a 15 degree flex ratcheting head. There is a push button socket release head and a large, easy to read digital display. It takes lithium ion batteries for a long life and features an ergonomically designed molded non slip rubber grip.
What’s more cool is that this computer wrench remembers the last unit and torque setting selected. An audible tone sounds when set torque value is reached or alarms when value is exceeded. This is a standard model electronic torque wrench. The torque is 10 to 100 foot pounds. Simply set the desired torque value and apply force until the green LED illuminates.
- Good design with quality rubber around for easy handling
- One of the best and very accurate torque angle ratchet in the market
- Battery end cap cannot be damaged or pulled off
- LED are very bright and easy to read
- Tool can be used to loosen and tighten fasteners
- Lifelong battery
- 4 different calculation for torquing items
- No vibration when set torque is reached (Tool cannot be used by feel alone)
- Beep is not loud enough to hear in a mildly noisy shop
- Beep tone frequency does not increase as you get closer to desired torque
- Not the most durable for heavy shop application
Mechanic's Pick: 1/4 Torque Wrench
Capri Tools 31200 Inch Pound Drive
Capri Tools 31200 inch pound torque wrench has obviously ¼ inch drive. Although this wrench is an industrial-level torque wrench, it has a solid tool for easy and certain adjustments. Drive selection is straightforward, and a ball-bearing bit holder button (instead of a friction bearing) is a nice feature. It’s high tooth count, which is handy when working in tight spaces, might find it handy to most auto mechanics. It’s designed for regular, daily use and long-term durability (Approved for up to 10,000 clicks at max torque without re-calibration). It is also reversible (can tighten both clockwise and counter-clockwise).
For best fit application use it for 40 – 135 in.lbs range. Don’t use it right at 150 in.lbs; the risk of overtightening something is great with the small tool.
- Accurate: less than +/- 3% CW, and +/-5% CCW
- All metal construction
- Well designed and suitable for industrial applications where ISO standards call for NIST traceability
- Socket release button is great, and needed for small size torque wrenches
- Micrometer positive lock ring for secure locking mechanism
- Some people like tools to be shiny, not satin finish
- Again, some people find the scale hard to read
Mechanic's Pick: 3/8 Torque Wrench
GearWrench 85086 Flex Head Micrometer
The Gear Wrench company has a reputation of making great products, and this one is no exception. First of all, if you want a torque which meets all the required standards, then this one is a perfect fit as it meets all the ISO 6789 specifications and exceeds ASME B107.14M. Besides meeting all the required standards, it also has a durable build, and if you are one of those buyers who like being extremely precise, then it suits you, even more, better as it has an accuracy of plus or minus in the clockwise direction from 20% to 100%. To add on efficiency, the midpoint part of the handle is marked so the user can have an easier time. The ratcheting head can flex up to thirty degrees for improved access while fixing it. It uses a locking mechanism which slides up and down hence leading to a more firm lock in comparison to its predecessor which used a side to side lock leading to a loose clamp.
- Great locking mechanism
- It is longer than most torque wrenches hence an advantageous factor
- It is compatible with most cars
- For the features it packs, it is worth the price
- It is generic hence can be used on various bicycles
- You might find the ratchet head to be of lower quality, but it still works
- Even though the markings are marked, they are hard to read in low lighting because they are tiny
Mechanic's Pick: 1/2 Torque Wrench
Precision Instruments PREC3FR250F
Just like the name suggests, Precision Instruments PREC3FR250F Silver 1/2" Drive is a high quality and relatively inexpensive. The torque wrench from Precision Instruments is a prime example of this. Where other wrenches must be calibrated, this one does not have to. The speed of wrenching is increased through the spring-loaded mechanism on the wrench. It is fairly long (22-1/8 inches). This means you can get more leverage out of this tool, which is one attractive feature according to several torque wrench reviews.
Setting the tool requires only fingertip force since the adjustment mechanism is not under load. There is no need to “work in" a C series torque wrench before starting using it.
BONUS: It is not necessary to adjust to the lowest torque setting after use. Split-Beam Click Wrenches overcome many of the problems associated with micrometer-style clock wrenches, especially in real life shop conditions. The wrench has few components as all critical parts welded together during manufacturing.
- No need to wind it all the way to zero before storage like a micrometer type wrench
- Can use it for torque specs that closer to 40-250Ft.Lbs
- Fast, accurate and easy to set
- Works only in Clockwise direction
- Not as accurate as a micrometer type as increments in setting 5 Ft.Lbs
- In the lower range, the handle maybe too long
Mechanic's Pick: 3/4 Torque Wrench
CDI 6004MFRMH Micro-Adjustable
With dimensions of 42 by 2.5 by 2 inches, the CDI torque wrench is an ideal and must have tools for professionals. It weighs about 25 lbs and is quite long in comparison to most wrenches in the market hence giving it an advantage as it can easily torque heavier bolts. For instance, it has a torque range of 600-700 thus making it convenient. The handle is ergonomic and lightly knurled so the user can easily grip it while working and not have worries about it slipping. It also has quick release buttons which offer ideal socket maintenance and also removal and even though the company is yet to release specs on its accuracy most users have reported that it is quite precise.
- The calibration is certified in both directions
- Suitable for both right and left-handed fasteners
- Comes with a durable metal case so you can easily store it away
- It locks securely
- Easy to change or customize it to your desired specifications.
- The long handle makes it easy to torque nuts
- Easy to assemble
- You might find it too heavy
- There have been complaints from previous verified buyers about the calibration being too tiny to read
Mechanic's Pick: Bicycle Torque Wrench
VENZO Bike Allen Key Tool Socket Set Kit
If you are looking for a bicycle torque wrench, then the venzo happens to be one of the best ones in the market. The venzo bicycle torque wrench comes with a gauge for your bike's carbon parts as part of the package hence adds more convenience because finding a high-quality one compatible with such elements can prove to be a futile task. It has an accuracy of plus and minus four which is more than you would expect for its price and also which reduces calibration errors.
Unlike ordinary torque wrenches it has an Allen key which five millimeters longer is thus making it easy for the user to reach the bolts without straining too much. Besides making the calibration process accurate and the extra length of the Allen key, this torque wrench has a range of two to twenty four hence covers most parts of the installation. That not only makes thing more comfortable for the user but also minimizes the costs because now they can use one wrench for various installation eliminating the need of having to but other tools.
It also comes with one year of warranty which further assures you of its quality because not many torque wrench companies offer guarantees if they don’t have confidence in their product.
- Easily installs bolts thanks to the longer Allen key which allows the user to reach the screws quickly
- It easy for you to know when it reaches the preset value as it tends to click
- High quality and durable build hence it’s advisable for you to use
- One year of warranty
- Not well calibrated
- There have been reports of it breaking after several runs of usage
Mechanic's Pick: Gunsmith Torque Wrench
Wheeler 710909 Digital
The Wheeler 710909 digital firearms accurizing torque wrench packs a bunch of incredible features which is why it is a favorite to many professionals. Everything from its design to the technical features spells convenience and comfort. For instance, it has a large LCD digital display which makes it easy for the user to view the technical details such as the range hence promoting to even more accuracy. It has a comfortable and durable design, for instance, the wrench bits are made of S2 steel which is then hardened to 56-56 Rockwell C. This ensures that buyers do not have to worry about purchasing another one soon as the Wheeler digital F.A.T can stand the test of time. Besides resilience, accuracy is the last thing that buyers and current users have to worry about as it has an accuracy that is at +2 pounds which when combined with the audible and visual indicators allow the user to know when their desired torque is achieved and hence avoid making mistakes.
To add on that it has an extensive range of between 15 and 100 lbs. Which further minimizes the chances of inaccuracy ensuring that the results of whatever you are working ends up being nothing but perfect. It boasts a low battery indicator which alerts you of whenever you need to recharge.
- Boasts soft touch buttons
- Adjustable range
- It has various indicators such as low battery and audible indicator tone for further convenience.
- It comes with an injection molded storage case which enables you to store it away safely whenever you are not using it.
- It’s difficult to set to your desired range
- A few people received the item defective upon unboxing
Uses and Sizes
With DYI automotive work on the rise and numerous industries using torque wrenches, it’s important to take note of the 4 different basic sizes available for commercial applications. The different sizes roughly match the torque range that can be described in foot-pounds (ft-lb, lbs, lbf) and newton meters (n m, n-m) for metric fasteners and SAE fasteners. On smaller torque wrenches inch pounds (psi or lbf/in2) are used to describe the torque range.
Ex: (12 inch lbs = 1 foot lbs or 12 psi/ lbf/in2 = 1 ft-lb)
The Four Different Torque Wrench Sizes
Used for really small bolts and nuts and an appropriate range for automotive work is 50 to 250 psi which equals 4 to 21 ft-lbs.
The majority of light-trucks and automobiles use 3/8” bolts and can be torqued to spec using this size. Appropriate range for automotive work is 15 to 75 ft-lbs. For some reason if you can only get one size for now this drive won’t work on everything, however, it’s very versatile.
Larger bolts and nuts for applications like suspension, transmission, and engine mounts could require this drive torque to spec for different sized vehicles. The appropriate range for automotive work is 30 to 250 ft-lbs.
This is made for much larger applications like center lug wheels. This drive isn’t typical of what a normal person would use, this is more suited for commercial sized trucks. You should select a range that is precise to your situation.
After reading the four different sizes and applications for each one you may be left questioning yourself:
Why not get the biggest one they got with the most range and be done with it?
The answer to that question is, as your torque requirements increase so doesn’t the size of your wrench. This makes it harder to get into smaller spaces where most of the automotive work takes place.
It’s easy to picture tons of really tight bolts with torque specs in the triple-digits on a vehicle, the reality of the situation is that bolts and nuts are torqued to numbers lower and a smaller wrench is more versatile and is worth the trade-off of sacrificing some capability for the higher-end of the torque range. Remember that torque wrenches are more accurate in the middle of their torque range, so pick your range accordingly.
Features To Consider When Buying Torque Wrenches
A quality tool should at least come with a 1-year warranty and the higher-end torque wrenches will come with specific warranties according to the manufacturer's warranty policies.
Most torque wrenches will have a varying accuracy, the nice ones have an accuracy of more than 5%. The more expensive torque wrenches will include a certificate of calibration with the accuracy and date. With that being said, torque wrenches should be brought in and serviced according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
Torque wrenches are calibrated instruments and need to be serviced according to the manufacture’s recommendations to keep factory accuracy. If a torque wrench gets dropped and they do, you should do a quick calibration to validate the accuracy. You should always store your power tool according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. The best torque wrench can make the difference in your repair work and if you take care of it, your torque wrench will always be ready when you need it to perform flawlessly.
Less expensive torque wrenches will be constructed with more plastic parts. Even though these wrenches work just fine, the wrenches made of metal parts will be more durable.
Ratcheting is very convenient especially when it’s (bi-directional) clock-wise and counter clock-wise for fasteners with left-hand and right-hand threads.
Get a hard case, it’s more durable versus soft cases that can allow your torque wrench to get roughed-up and knocked out of calibration. Most hard cases are plastic and they work really well to protect your torque wrench.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a digital readout or a mechanical twist handle, save yourself a lot of aggravation and get one that's easy to read.
Look for a torch wrench that has solid grip patterns etched on the handle. This will help when fluids leak onto the handle, the etched grooves are designed to disperse the fluid and leave your hand with a better grip to perform your work.
Torque Formula and Equation Tables
Using a torque wrench will be useless until you know the torque units and values you need to torque the nuts and bolts to. Here are the tables to take the guess work out of most commonly used fasteners. When it comes to intricately engineered and precisely designed parts, or components, you need to consult the repair manuals and assembly instructions.
For example, many engine manufacturers use single use bolts that are designed to Torqued-To-Yield (TTY). In that case, you torque with this wrench, then you turn the bolt X degrees more. Those are designed to utilize the clamping force of the bolt when it is overstretched. There are tools for that as well, and it will be covered on our Advanced guide.
Proper Handling and Care
You need to select the right torque wrench for the application. There are few things one needs to pay attention to, and it is very important to use the tool properly and handle it with care.
Consider its settings value
Choose a wrench that has your specified torque value from 20% to 90% of full scale. This will ensure the most precise torqueing in your application.
Don’t throw or drop a torque wrench
Impact of the tool on a hard surface can throw off its calibration. If the calibration is off, you will not get specified torque value that you need to achieve.
Read the user guide
Most of the time ,it will tell to use a torque wrench only at the end of the final assembly. Unless you doing forensic disassembly, don’t use it as the primary mean of removing nuts or bolts. When you use torque wrench for removing nuts or bolts, make sure it is rated for CCW, and torque value spec is 40% to 60% of the torque wrench full scale. Use appropriate tools for initial fastening as that could damage it and cause it to need recalibrating sooner.
Use appropriate tools for initial fastening
The use of torque wrench in initial step could damage it and cause it to need re-calibrating sooner.
Apply in a controlled, smooth, and methodical manner
Fast or jerky movements can result to inconsistent and inaccurate torquing. It can also damage it.
Use default torque wrenches manufacturers settings
When storing a click type torque wrench, set it to the manufacturer recommended setting. If the setting is not specified, set it to the lowest value on the scale.
Mind where to hold the torque wrench handle
Most torque wrenches are length specific so always grasp the wrench in the center of the handle. If two hands are needed, place one hand on top of the other. Sometimes, when the socket extension is used, support the torque wrench at the pivot point.
Calibrate a torque wrench more often
When a certain amount of time or number of cycles have been reached as specified by the manufacturer, or sooner if it have been mishandled or dropped.
Never use cheater bars or handle extensions
Unless they are allowed by the manufacturer.
Store your torque wrench properly
Preferably in a clean and dry protected area (preferably in the manufacturers case) and keep calibration certificate where you can access it for your reference.
For newbies out there who are new to using this tool, here's a great video on how to use a torque wrench properly.
When using this power tool, you need to make sure that the power torque setting of the tool is set to at least 30% down from the specified torque. Even certified torque settings on power tools are notoriously imprecise. On top of that, the power supplied by air or electricity can fluctuate due to the air pressure or voltage. Now you can use your torque wrench to set right torque values. Make sure you follow the manual instructions on how to use it.
A piece of advice to remember:
Use the torque wrench in one smooth and confident motion.
Don’t be insecure and double-click when you reach the proper value and you are using click type torque-wrench.