Using a torque wrench is the best way to tighten a nut or bolt to the specified manufacturer torque value without relying on guesswork. If you end up under or over torquing your car’s nuts or bolts, it can result in catastrophic failure of the tightened component and even cracking.
From using a torque wrench for lug nuts to tightening spark plugs, the correct torque value is crucial. Torque wrenches provide instant feedback once you’e reached the pre-set torque value, which prevents over-torquing.
If you want a quick answer, the best torque wrench is the TEKTON 24335 1/2″ Drive, which provides +/- 4% accuracy and uses a reversible ratcheting head for additional usability. However, if you would prefer a digital alternative, the ACDelco ARM601-4 is best option.
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Torque Wrench Comparison
|Torque Wrench||Type||Drive Size (Inch)|
|eTork C3250||Click||1/2, 1/4 & 3/8|
|CDI 1003LDFNSS||Dial||1, 1/2, 1/4, 3/4 & 3/8|
|Summit Tools WSP4-135CN||Digital||1/2 & 3/8|
|GearWrench 85077||Digital||1/2 & 3/8|
|Precision Instruments||Split Beam||1/2|
|Capri Tools 31007||Click||1/2, 1/4 & 3/8|
|Gorilla Automotive TW705||Click||1/2|
Torque wrenches are available in four main types, which include click, split beam, dial and digital. The click type is the most popular but many mechanics are upgrading to the digital examples that offer more functionality.
Considering that torque wrenches play a big role in car repairs and they can last several years, it’s worthwhile investing slightly more for superior quality and maximum usability.
Below is a list of the best torque wrenches that can be used for a range of applications from lug nuts, spark plugs and much more.
The Best Torque Wrench
1. TEKTON 24335 1/2 Inch Torque Wrench
TEKTON are a highly reputable brand and their 24335 torque wrench is one of the most popular on the market. It’s a click type that emits a “clicking sound” once the torque preset value has been met. It also uses a reversible ratchet head to drive the bolt in both directions, which is a desirable feature when it comes to working on cars.
Other features of the Tekton 24335 include:
- 1/2 inch drive
- 24 tooth ratchet
- All steel construction
- 10 to 150 ft-lb range
- Calibrated at +/- 4% of accuracy
- Easy to read high contrast scale
- Lifetime warranty
The Tekton 24335 is the best torque wrench for the money and is virtually unbreakable with an all steel construction. The brand also offer many other torque wrenches that are equally as good as this 24335 model.Check it Out
2. eTORK Click-Style Torque Wrench
ETork are a brand that specialize in torque wrenches and they produce both analog and digital types. However, this particular model is a click torque wrench, which the brand states is accurate to +/- 3% and is able to operate in both clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
Other features of the eTork Click Torque Wrench include:
- 45 tooth ratchet head
- Hardened alloy steel housing
- Ball bearing release mechanism
- Factory tested with a calibration certificate
- Ergonomic soft-grip handle
- Dual, English and metric scales
- Hard shell plastic case included
The eTork brand offer this torque wrench in multiple different configurations to best suit your requirements. Whether you require a 1/2, 1/4 or 3/8 inch drive sizes or a 20 to 250 ft-lb torque range, there are models to suit. The brand also provide a lifetime personal use guarantee for complete peace of mind too.Check it Out
3. ACDelco ARM601-4 Digital Torque Wrench
For those that want to add some technology to their garage, the ACDelco ARM601-4 is the best option. It’s a digital torque wrench that uses a LCD digital screen to display the amount of torque, which can be between 4 and 99 ft-lb. Once you have tightened a bolt to the set torque value, it then produces an audible siren and the screen also flashes.
Other features of the ACDelco ARM601-4 include:
- Measures in ft-lb, Nm, in-lb and kg-cm
- Uses 3 AAA batteries with no wiring or ports
- Reversible ratchet and quick release functionality
- Anti slip comfortable grip
- Calibrated at +/- 2% of accuracy clockwise
- Calibrated at +/- 3% of accuracy anti-clockwise
- 1 year warranty
The ACDelcoe ARM601-4 is the best digital torque wrench and is much cheaper than many other digital alternatives. As it’s battery powered, it’s also more durable than those with built in charging ports. The brand also offer it as a 1/2 or 3/8 torque wrench to best suit your requirements.Check it Out
4. CDI 1003LDFNSS Needle Dial Wrench
CDI are a premium brand and their torque wrenches are designed to be the best but they do come at a premium cost. However, they are built to the highest of standards and are designed for maximum accuracy.
The brand also offers the largest array of sizes and torque ranges to best suit multiple applications. It’s available with drive sizes that range from 3/8, 3/4, 1/2 and 1 inch as well as a torque range from 0 to 1,000 ft-lbs.
Other features of the CDI 1003LDFNSS include:
- Various sizes available
- Memory dial needle type
- Strong torsion beam design
- Larger frame for more strength
- Multiple torque ranges available
- Certificate of calibration traceable to N.I.S.T
The CDI 1003LDFNSS is a great option for mechanics that use a torque wrench on a daily basis. Although expensive, it’s worth spending the extra for the build quality and accuracy, which has been thoroughly tested.Check it Out
5. Summit Tools Digital Torque Wrench
The Summit Tools WSP4-135CN is a digital torque wrench that’s available in 5 different configurations to best suit your requirement. In terms of the design, it has a distinctive large LCD display that displays torque measurements in a variety of units along with peak hold and tracking modes.
According to the brand, it provides up to +/- 3% accuracy with a torque range between 5 to 99.5 ft-lbs, which is perfect for most automotive tasks.
Other features of the Summit Tools WSP4-135CN include:
- Compact and rugged design
- Stainless steel and industrial plastic construction
- LED and buzzer indicator for feedback
- Directional in clockwise and counter clockwise
- Protective storage case included
- Meets ASME and ISO standards
This digital torque wrench is an excellent option that ticks all the boxes and is available with a variety of drive sizes. Summit Tools also provide various sockets to complete the package, which further improves the value for money with this wrench.Check it Out
6. GearWrench 85077 Digital Torque Wrench
The GearWrench is a premium digital torque wrench that uses a 72 tooth ratchet mechanism for tightening fasteners in small spaces. It’s one of the most advanced electronic torque wrenches that’s available with numerous functions. A unique feature of the 85077 is that not only does it provide audible and visual feedback but it also vibrates once the torque value has been reached.
Other features of the GearWrench 85077 include:
- Uses two AA batteries
- Digitally tracks torque measurements
- Warns you when approaching the pre-set torque value
- Vibrates, buzzes and flashes once the torque value is reached
- Handle and housing are oil and solvent resistant
- Accurate in clockwise to +/- 2% and +/-3% in a counter-clockwise
- Five torque measurement units
GearWrench offer this digital torque wrench in either a 1/2 or 3/8 inch drive size and multiple torque ranges to best suit your requirements. Although it comes with an expensive price tag, the additional functionality and precise accuracy makes it one of the best digital options on the market.Check it Out
7. Precision Instruments Split Beam Torque Wrench
The Precision Instruments PREC3FR250F is a split beam torque wrench that’s made in the USA. It’s constructed of a heavy duty nickle and finished in an attractive chrome that looks great alongside other tools. It also has a unique flex head that allows you to angle the torque wrench to provide maximum control whilst tightening nuts.
Other features of the Precision Instruments PREC3FR250F include:
- Split beam type
- 1/2 inch drive
- Ergonomic grip
- Clockwise tightening only
- 50 to 250 feet pounds of torque
- Flex head for an adjustable angle
- Includes a storage case
Overall, the Precision Instruments brand have a great reputation for producing high quality tools and this torque wrench is no different. It’s a professional grade wrench that’s easy to use and has been designed to withstand heavy duty usage in tough garage environments.Check it Out
8. Park Tool TW-6 Ratcheting Torque Wrench
The Park Tool Ratcheting torque wrench is another click type with a 3/8 inch drive that’s calibrated to +/- 4% accuracy. It’s also adjustable in 0.4 Nm increments, which makes it ideal for applications that require maximum precision. The brand also offer this torque wrench in lengths of 7.5 or 15 inches with a matching protective case.
Other features of the Park Tool TW-6 include:
- Ratcheting click type
- Torque range between 18 and 124 inch pounds
- Aluminum construction
- Conversion scale on the tool body
- Read and registers both left or right hand threading
- Made in the USA
The smaller torque adjustments of the Park Tool TW-6 makes it a very desirable torque wrench. The main drawback is that it does come with a premium price tag but it’s a worthwhile investment that won’t disappoint.Check it Out
9. Capri Tools 31007 Torque Wrench
The Capri Tools 31007 is a budget click torque wrench that has been tested for accuracy and validated as +/- 4%. It uses a patented “pulse-stop” technology, which allows you to instantly feel and hear when the torque setting has been reached. For maximum durability within a garage environment, it uses a chrome vanadium construction that’s finished in a matte color.
Other features of the Capri Tools 31007 include:
- Torque range between 10 and 245 ft-lb
- Choice of 1/4, 1/2 and 3/8 inch drive
- High contract scale that is easy to read
- Durable storage case provided
- Textured and anti-slip handle
- Includes a 1 year warranty
Overall, it’s an excellent all-round torque wrench that offers great value for money and is also available with multiple drive sizes and torque ranges. The Capri Tools 31007 also comes with a 1 year warranty and has been certified to ASME and DIN Standards for complete peace of mind.Check it Out
10. Gorilla Automotive TW705 Torque Wrench
Gorilla Automotive are well-known for their wheel locks but they also produce a range of tools such as this cheap torque wrench. It’s perfect for removing lug nuts with a 50 to 250 feet pounds torque range. A desirable feature of this particular torque wrench is that it displays measurement in an easy to read dial in both ft-lb and Nm.
Other features of the Gorilla Automotive TW705 include:
- Click type wrench
- Anti-slip grip
- Rugged steel construction
- 50 to 250 feet pounds of torque
- 1/2 inch drive
- Includes storage case
Overall, the Gorilla Automotive TW705 is a great all round torque wrench that won’t disappoint. Desirable features such as an anti-slip grip and adjustments printed in ft-lb and Nm makes it standout from many of the other cheaper alternatives.Check it Out
Torque Wrench Buying Guide
Torque wrenches are built to last and it’s worthwhile spending slightly extra for the best possible option on the market. To help you make an informed buying decision, we have produced the below guide regarding torque wrenches.
Different Types Of Torque Wrenches
The variation of torque wrenches has changed over the years due to technological advances. Many people choose upon their personal preference and the click torque wrench is the most common due to simplicity and lower costs. Below are the four most common forms of torque wrenches available today:
In terms of accuracy and repetitive use, the click type is the best torque wrench to buy. It’s the most basic and requires you to pre-set the torque value and then tighten the nut or bolt. Once the torque value has been reached, the mechanism will click.
It’s excellent at reaching perfect accuracy and normally the most cost effective solution. The simplicity is also a very desirable factor, which makes the click type by far the most popular among professionals and the average DIY’er.
The beam wrench is very similar to the way a weighing scale operates. 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’s not used as much as the click type because its hard to read the torque whilst you are tightening a bolt. The visibility may also be poor and you might not be able to see it as easily as you would with alternative types.
The dial type has a simple dial that displays the amount of torque that’s being applied. Once you have reached the torque value, you simply disengage the wrench. The main drawback of this type of wrench is that you need to look at the dial constantly, which can be inconvenient.
The digital torque wrench uses 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.
How To Use a Torque Wrench For Lug Nuts
The main purpose of a torque wrench is to tighten a bolt to a certain torque value. You simply cannot do this with a normal wrench and most of the time it’s a guessing game that results in over or under torquing the bolt.
If you are struggling to find the correct torque rating for your lug nuts, Continental have a complete list of values that you can use as a guide. To use torque wrenches for tightening lug nuts, follow the below steps:
- Ensure Torque Wrench Is Calibrated. Purchase the best torque wrench for lug bolts that is already calibrated correctly. All the ones mentioned above are calibrated and ready for use.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Check Torque After 100 Miles. As a safety precaution, always recheck the torque setting after 100 miles in case of movement within the bolts.
Using a standard wrench and over torquing your bolts can end up with the lugs becoming stripped and potentially warping the brake rotors. There is more stress on the lugs which could even cause them to snap and your wheel falling off.
Under torquing is more common and can result in the wheel falling off. For those that use a cordless impact wrench, this can be fairly common. After using an impact wrench, it’s recommended to follow up by using a torque wrench.
Recalibration of Torque Wrenches
All torque wrenches of all types will require recalibration to ensure they remain accurate. However, premium wrenches are known for holding their calibrated settings far longer than the budget alternatives.
RSal state that after 2,500 to 3,000 repetitions, it may be time to recalibrate the torque wrench. However, it will be fairly hard to count each and every one of the repetitions after each use.
Many professional mechanics would state that if the accuracy goes beyond 5%, you should get it recalibrated. After all, using a faulty torque wrench defeats the objective of using it in the first place.
As with most tools, there are multiple sizes that are suitable to certain types of automotive tasks. If you require as much torque as possible, you will want a wrench with a large inch pounds of torque.
However, as you increase the torque rating, the size of the wrench will increase and this could make the movement of the torque wrench slightly more difficult.
The four most commonly used sizes include:
- 1/4 inch drive – Perfect for small nuts and bolts that require 50 to 250 ft/lbs
- 3/8 inch drive – Suitable for most automotive tasks between 15 and 75 ft/lbs
- 1/2 inch drive – Suited to larger nuts and bolts with a torque of 30 to 250 ft/lbs
- 3/4 inch drive – The largest sizes that are suitable for task involving max torque.
Owning multiple torque wrenches is highly advised and ensures you are able to move the wrench freely with adequate torque.
The torque wrench can be used for many different applications and not just tightening wheel lugs. It’s a ratchet with a handle but with the addition of torque settings. When working on cars, matching the torque wrench with the recommended socket sets, enables you to have the perfect setup.
All of our recommendations cover all the different types of torque wrenches and offer excellent value for money. Investing into a quality wrench ensures you are able to correctly set the torque value for the nuts or bolt.