best torque wrench for wheel bolts

5 Best Torque Wrenches For Wheel Nuts 2018

Tightening your wheel bolts can be done with a cordless impact wrench for automotive use but the proper method is to use a torque wrench. The purpose of a torque wrench is to accurately tighten a wheel bolt to a certain ft/lbs of torque.

The best torque wrench to buy is the TEKTON 24335 1/2-Inch Drive Click that provides +/- 4% accuracy for tightening wheel lugs and will provide as a long lasting torque wrench for many years to come.

Wheel bolts that have been torqued to an incorrect setting can cause severe implications. Both over torqued and under torqued bolts can cause issues, which is not safe and could potentially cause the wheel to fall off.

Best Torque Wrench For The Money

Torque WrenchTypeOur Rating
TEKTON 24335Click4.9
ACDelco ARM601-4Electric4.8
CDI 1003LDFNSSDial4.7
Precision InstrumentsSplit Beam4.7
Gorilla Automotive TW705Click4.6

Using a standard wrench and over torquing your bolts can end up with the lugs becoming stripped and potentially warping the rotors. There is even more stress on the lugs than usual which could even cause them to snap and your wheel falling off.

The opposite, under torquing result is fairly obvious, the wheel can fall off. Before the wheel removes itself from your car, you should feel lots of crunching noises where you should immediately stop. Both incorrect torque settings can cause serious injury and its important that you get yourself the most accurate torque wrench.

Accuracy is an important aspect of any torque wrench and so is the quality. Below is a list of the best torque wrenches for wheel lugs and all the information you need to consider before you buy.

TEKTON 24335 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench

TEKTON are one of the biggest manufacturers of garage equipment for mechanics and their 24335 Click Torque Wrench is one of the most popular on the market. It comes with a reversible ratchet head to drive the bolt in both directions.

As it is a Click Wrench, once  you have hit the preset setting, the click sound will be emitted, which is the best method of tightening a bolt. Without a noise, you are constantly checking the meter, which may not even be visible.

The TEKTON 24335 1/2-Inch Drive comes already calibrated from the box with a +/- 4% of accuracy. The settings are also easy to read with a high contrast dual range in FT-LB and Nm.

It is made from a high quality all steel construction with no plastics or electrics to break when used. As always, Tekton torque wrenches comes with a lifetimes warranty for peace of mind.

Overall, it is the best click torque wrench for the money and is virtually unbreakable, which means its more of an investment.

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ACDelco ARM601-4 1/2″ Digital Torque Wrench

The ACDelcoe ARM601-4 is a professional electronic LCD digital reading torque wrench that also features an LED flashing light and buzzer. It only weights 1.4 pounds, which is the lightest but it is extremely strong and can torque from 4 to 99 feet pounds.

The LCD digital screen measures in ft.-lb., Nm, in-lb., kg-cm for those that like other dimensions. Once you reach the required torque setting, an audible buzzer will be emitted. In terms of power, it uses 3 AAA batteries and has no wires or charging points.

The ratchet is reversible and has a quick release for making working on cars much easier. Even the grip has been thoroughly design with an anti slip soft grip for comfortable usage.

Overall, the ACDelcoe ARM601-4 is the best electric torque wrench for the money and is much cheaper than the competition with a similar specification.

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CDI 1003LDFNSS 1/2-Inch Drive Needle Dial Wrench

CDI are known for their pricey torque wrenches but the additional cost results in extremely high workmanship and quality. If you know about the CDI brand, you will know that long life and accuracy is the main aim. This dial torque wrench is a single scale with a newton meter as measuring device.

It is a 1/2 inch drive wrench, which is the one to go for with regards to tightening wheel lugs. It features a strong torsion beam design and a larger frame model compared to others that provide more strength.

Many mechanics dislike the dial but thankfully it is large and easily read. The torque readings range from 0 to 100 feet pounds. Overall, it is the highest quality torque wrench but only if you can afford it.

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Precision Instruments Split Beam Torque Wrench

The Precision Instruments PREC3FR250F Silver 1/2″ Drive Split Beam Torque Wrench with Flex Head is made from nickel and finished in chrome and is one of the best split beam torque wrenches you can buy.

The 1/2 inch drive clicks once it reaches the specified torque setting and it only tightens clockwise (not reversible). It ranges from 50 to 250 feet pounds, which is ideal for the majority of maintenance on cars and trucks.

The Flex Head is perfect for changing the angle of removing your wheel lugs without hitting your knuckles on the wheels. Precision Instruments always produce top of the range garage equipment and the torque wrench is no different.

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Gorilla Automotive TW705 1/2 ” Drive Torque Wrench

Gorilla Automotive are known for having the best locking wheel nuts but they also have a high quality torque wrench that is perfect for removing those locking wheel nuts with 50 to 250 feet pounds range.

It is made from a steel construction with a non slip grip that clicks once its reached the desired torque setting. The Gorilla Automotive automotive brand is not that well known but every product they sell is known for being strong and high quality.

Overall, its a great alternative to the Tekton and offers a wide range in terms of the torque range.

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Different Types Of Torque Wrenches

The variation of torque wrenches have changed greatly over the years. Many people choose upon personal preference, where the click torque wrench is the most common in the car mechanic world due to simplicity and cost. Below is the three most common forms of torque wrenches.

Click Wrench

In terms of accuracy and repetitive use, the click type is the best torque wrench to buy. Simply preset the torque and tighten a bolt. Upon reaching the torque level, the mechanism will slip and click at the same time. It is excellent at reaching perfect accuracy and is low cost. It is the simplest to use as all you need to do is tighten a bolt and wait for a click.

Beam Wrench

The beam wrench is very similar to how a weighing scale works. The head and the handle of the wrench are separated by a lever arm. A scale also moves when pressure is applied so that you can view the torque whilst tightening. It is not used as much as the click because its hard to read the torque whilst you are tightening a bolt as well as visibility may be poor and you might not be able to see it.

Electronic Wrench

The electronic torque wrenches use an LCD/LED screen to indicate when the torque has been reached. Some even come with memory cards to store information regarding the torque that you have set. However, same issues with not being able to view it whilst you are using it.

How To Use A Torque Wrench For Wheel Bolts

The main purpose of a torque wrench is to tighten a bolt to a certain torque setting. You simply cannot do this with a normal wrench and most of the time it is a guessing game that results in over or under torquing the bolt.

To use a torque wrench properly for tightening wheel bolts, follow the below steps:

  1. Ensure Torque Wrench Is Calibrated. Purchase the best torque wrench for wheel bolts that is already calibrated correctly. All the ones mentioned above are calibrated and ready for use.
  2. Research Torque Setting For Your Bolts. Find the foot-pounds torque setting required for your specific vehicle and bolts. For example, on my Mercedes wheels in the picture above, 100 foot pounds of torque was used.
  3. Ensure Bolts Are Functioning. Many people will use broken or stripped thread bolts in their wheels which will not torque correctly. Check before placing them in your wheels.
  4. Tighten Until You Hear A Click. Using a click torque wrench, tighten the bolts until you hear a click, which indicates the max torque you have set.
  5. Check Torque After 100 Miles. As a safety precaution, always recheck the torque setting after 100 miles in case of movement within the bolts.

Different Sockets For Torque Wrench

The torque wrench can be used for many different applications and not just tightening wheel lugs. It is a ratchet with a handle but with the addition of torque settings. However, the most common use is for tightening wheel bolts. The main reason that I purchased a high quality torque wrench is due to a locking wheel nut snapping on a friends car that used cheap bolts.

It is the perfect addition to your garage tool chest and matched with recommended socket sets, you can have the perfect mechanics setup.

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