Choose the Best Torque Wrench for Automotive
Customer’s Choice: the Best Rated Torque Wrenches for Automotive
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Thanks to professional automotive torque wrenches, you won’t have to guess the torque of any fastener anymore. If you pick high-quality tools then you will be safe from applying too much force and such results as under or over-tightening.
This review focuses on the most popular U.S. automotive torque wrenches. You may check the comparison table to choose the instrument that may work for the best for your daily and/or heavy-duty tasks.
The buying guide will lead you through the variety of torque wrenches for cars and motorcycles.
TEKTON 1/2 Inch Torque Wrench – the best for versatility!
This tool is recognized because of the durable all-steel construction. It has a reversible head to tighten the bolts and nuts in both directions. Also, this instrument is rather small and simple to use.
- Factory pre-calibration
- Reversible head
- Strong molded plastic case
- Lifetime warranty
- Great instructions
- Simple use
- The markings are grey and hard to read
- If you drop the wrench it may stop working
- If you get it wet or too dirty, it may show incorrect numbers
TEKTON 1/2 Inch Torque Wrench can easily become an irreplaceable tool in any handyman’s toolbox. Do not forget the torque range limitations before the use.
TEKTON 1/2 Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench – the best for car’s safety!
It means you may tighten any fasteners in equipment and cars with the maximum precision.
Such an accuracy level prevents even the slightest chance to over-tighten or loosen nuts/bolts and get damaged parts. Also, it is extremely easy to use – when you hear the click sound, stop using the tool because the required torque range is achieved.
- Good quality
- Protects the car parts from damage
- Precise performance
- Easy readability
- Not good for heavy-duty jobs
- The lock mechanism is not very reliable
Besides all these features, the Tekton drive-click torque wrench is very durable because it has the all-steel build. And unlike the use of digital tools, you don’t have to invest in batteries and unnecessary features. This tool is a straightforward but almost perfect wrench for home car mechanics.
EPAuto 1/2-Inch Torque Wrench – the best for novices!
In addition, the manufacturer added the chrome-plated finish to make this instrument even more durable. Also, this wrench has a curved handle with a non-slip cover.
- Top-notch materials
- Comfortable and safe handle
- Simple and easy to use
- Great readability
- Comes with a sturdy case
- Too heavy
- Small torque range
- The head can’t be changed
- Hard to adjust
The 24-tooth ratchet head of this tool may rotate in both directions – counterclockwise and clockwise. This wrench may become a good choice for DIY car repair and small bicycle fixes.
Precision Instruments Beam Torque Wrench – the best for the price!
You won’t have to turn this instrument to tighten bolts. Also, it is long enough to reach even the narrow places.
- Ergonomic design
- Comfortable grip
- Loud and distinct click sound
- Quick thanks to the adjustment knob
- Has a flex head
- Made in the United States
- The plastic case is not sturdy and looks weird
- Only 90-day warranty
- Not good accuracy rate
This torque wrench is unbeatable if you seek a reliable and precise instrument to tighten your car’s nuts and bolts. The Precision Instruments wrench can be compared to the best-selling and expensive Snap-On that is picked by professional car mechanics. Take it as a simpler but top-notch version of Snap-On.
GEARWRENCH Electronic Torque Wrench – the best for extra features!
Besides, like most digital wrenches, this gadget has a few beneficial features – buzzing sounds, a solid LED display with a bright light indicator. The main advantage – additional guard options for keeping your car parts safe.
- Protection from over-tightening the bolts
- All benefits of digital wrenches
- Advanced 72-tooth ratchet head
- 5-degree swing arc to turn fasteners in narrow and tight places
- Batteries are drained quickly
- You have to buy batteries because the manufacturer doesn’t supply
This highly rated and highly accurate tool is extremely easy to apply. Make sure to check the preset modes before the first use.
The Buyer’s Guide
A torque wrench tool is a precise and small instrument with a torque measurement mechanism. Using such a tool, you will be able to tighten the fasteners to the required torque.
Most often, a tool with a built-in torque is used for repair and maintenance of automobiles, commercial vehicles, industrial equipment, construction equipment and assembling high-tech mechanisms. In all these cases, too much or too loose fasteners are at risk of breaking or loosening and falling out, which can lead to significant damage to vehicles.
As you’ve probably noticed, there are a few different types of torque wrenches for cars:
- Beam torque wrenches – the information about the applied force (torque) is transmitted on the scale that looks like a beam. This is the most affordable, least accurate and, frankly speaking, the most inconvenient wrench to use. It is worthy of your investment only if you do occasional and simple car repair jobs – for instance, if you need to tighten the engine’s screws once or twice a month;
- Drive-click torque wrenches – such instruments are much more accurate and convenient than beam tools, and at the same time, the price of click wrenches is significantly lower than digital instruments. That is why click torque wrenches are the most popular choice among professional mechanics and regular car owners;
- Digital/electronic torque wrenches – these accurate instruments inform the user with a loud beeping signal, light indicators and numbers on a LCD screen. These are the most expensive and most accurate wrenches in the market right now. There is no need to buy them if you have a single car and tighten the screws occasionally. These tools are mostly recommended for heavy-duty tasks in car repair shops. If you want to keep the expensive car engine safe, choose a digital automotive wrench;
The most important things to check before buying
- The maximum and minimum torque range;
- The size of the drive (squared connection);
- Correspondence to the ISO 6789 standard;
- Comfortable handle grip;
- A storage case should be sturdy;
- The overall length of the tool;
The most important factor is a torque range of a certain tool. Pick the wrench according to this setting.
For instance, you need to tighten the engine screws and the manual says that you should tighten these nuts with the maximum applied force of 110 Nm. It means you should pick the torque wrench the range of which is at least twice higher than 110 Nm.
Every manufacturer typically specifies the torque range for their instruments. In this case, you should buy the tool with the torque range from 40 to 220 Nm. The drive should be no less than 1/2 inches.
How to calibrate an automotive torque wrench at home?
- DIY calibration of a torque wrench requires from you setting the exact moment of the applied force (torque). At home, you can use a cantor or any load with the exact weight marking (dumbbells);
- Install the tool’s handle at the position and angle;
- Check if the wrench works;
- If a click occurs before the load moves, then you need to decrease the calibration of this instrument;
- If the weight rises without a click, the calibration should be expanded;
- Adjustment of the torque wrench is made until the load barely rises along with the tool’s click or beeping;
- When the required parameter is set, the lock knob must be tightened;
- The lock nut is installed and tightened to lock the calibration mechanism;
How to use an automotive torque wrench?
- Check the fastener type before picking a torque wrench. Typically the car manual or online forums can help to define the fastener’s size and type;
- Clean the fastener of dirt, grease and corrosion spots;
- The bolts or screws should be not be crooked or damaged – you may break the tool if you tighten one of such damaged fasteners;
- It is not necessary to lubricate the threads before applying the torque wrench. A lubricant may reduce friction and distort the results of tightening;
- The use of a torque wrench is usually recommended after pre-tightening of the fastener with a screwdriver;
- When tightening the fastener, check the visual readings only at right angles. Keep in mind that some torque wrenches have not very visible readings and you may need to use a flashlight or smartphone to read these markings correctly;
Picking the torque wrenches for automotive projects
The most common type of high-precision manual instrument for fasteners. Structurally, they resemble a ratchet for socket heads, in the drive of which a measuring mechanism is mounted.
Torque wrenches picked for automobiles are divided into 3 major types:
- Limiting (also called snap and spring);
- Beam, digital and scale-based (with indicators);
Beam tools are considered the most accurate one, but their price is the highest.
Top 5 torque wrenching tools for automobile owners:
- TEKTON 24335 has an accuracy rate of 4% (more or less);
- TEKTON 24340 can boast the ratchet with 24 teeth;
- EPAuto is a very precise ½ tool;
- Precision Instruments released the ½ instrument with a great ergonomic handle;
- GearWrench 85077 is my personal favorite with a 72 tooth ratchet;
Other awesome brands of torque wrenching tools that I recommend due to their huge assortment and affordable price: Mountain, Teng Tools, Gorilla Automotive, CDI Torque.
Consumers are usually encouraged to buy a torque wrench of the desired type and size separately. Also, there are kits consisting of a torque tool and a set of nozzles for it. On this website, I reviewed a couple of such kits and I think that my choice can actually help you. And I encourage you to watch the video tutorial and share your experience with these instruments for vehicles.
Torque Wrenches for Automotive FAQ
What is the best wrench for cars?
A torque wrench’s primary function is to tighten a bolt to a certain torque configuration. You obviously cannot do this with a standard wrench, and much of the time it is a game of chance that ends in the part being over- or under-torqued.
The torque wrench may be used for a variety of tasks other than locking the cartwheel bolts. It’s a ratchet with a stick, but it also has torque settings. The most popular use, though, is for tightening cartwheel bolts.
There are many premium torque wrenches for automotive purposes. For example, you may pay attention to these tools:
- Gearwrench 85078 flex head electronic wrench;
- Tekton 24335 ½-inch drive click wrench;
- Amazonbasics 1/2-inch drive click wrench;
- Epauto 1/2 inch drive click wrench;
- eTork click-style 1/2-inch drive wrench;
- Lexivon LX-181 1/4 inch drive wrench;
Who makes the best quality torque wrench?
A ratchet system is used in modern torque wrenches. It enables the customer to hold the wrench on the fastener even though it has reached the end of its journey in the work area. Turning the wrench in the opposite direction of its planned movement is all that is needed. The gear within the wrench head is used by the ratcheting mechanism to enable the handle to slide backward whilst the fastener stays stationary. It allows smoother processing in a confined room.
The most recognized manufacturers for automotive-ready torque wrenches are:
- Snap On;
The operating philosophy is the same with all brands, although the accuracy, reliability, and prices vary. They are offered in a variety of sizes and lengths and can be purchased in department stores as well as online retailers such as Amazon. Until choosing or purchasing a torque wrench, you should first recognize its characteristics and then choose the right tool for your needs.
What is the torque wrench range for cars?
There are a few categories of automotive torque wrenches if you seek the tool with a different torque range:
- The size of very light-duty instruments is 15 to 75 foot-pounds. This category includes typical repair items including spark plugs, valve cover bolts, oil drain plugs, and other related fasteners;
- Light-duty tools have a torque scale of 30 to 150 foot-pounds. The majority of car fixes fall under this category. In other terms, you won’t be able to finish the bulk of car fixes unless you have a torque wrench in this range. Head bolts, caliper bolts and lug nuts are common maintenance needs in this range;
- Medium-duty tools have a torque capacity of 50 to 250 foot-pounds. While this category contains fewer fasteners than light-duty fasteners, those that do are used in sensitive applications. Axle bolts, hub bolts, and bolts on mounted vehicle hitches are some of the most popular automobile fastening applications within this torque range;
- Heavy-duty tools have torque ratings ranging from 120 to 600 foot-pounds. Driveline modules and bearings, as well as most of the work used in transfer cases and differentials, are popular applications;
The wrench you need would be determined by the sort of automotive work you do. If you’re only concerned with oil adjustments and tune-ups, you’ll probably just need light or rather light-duty wrenches. You’ll need a heavy wrench if you are a car mechanic specializing in hard duty maintenance, such as repairing engines/transmissions or handling structural repairs including axle or hub service.
What is the proper size of torque wrenches?
There is no such thing as “the best torque wrench size” because each torque tool size is required for various user cases. The most common size of torque wrenches for automotive bolts, nuts and fasteners is a 1/2-inch drive socket.
It is the drive’s default size. It is suitable for lug nut installation and operating on car suspension. If you don’t even have a wrench, you’re usually removing lug nuts on your car with a lug wrench or tire iron.
A 1/2 inch wrench usually has a working length of 30 to 160 ft. lbs. It is the proper tool size for lug nuts and other hard fasteners.
What is a decent cheap torque wrench?
It is better NOT to save money on such an essential instrument as a torque wrench. Because cheap torque wrenches are usually not quite accurate and may lead to serious damages to your car’s fasteners.
However, some reputable brands produced a few affordable torque wrenches with premium quality. For instance, you may try such budget-friendly tools from premium wrench manufacturers:
- Tekton 1/2-inch click wrench;
- eTork click-style wrench with pre-set values;
- Performance Tool W3001C ½-inch beam wrench;
- EPAuto 1/4-inch click wrench;
- Neiko 03727A ¼-inch beam wrench;
If more people understand how useful this method is, more producers are producing torque wrenches. The price of a torque wrench is heavily influenced by the materials used, the manufacturing process, and the brand’s reputation.
A basic torque wrench can cost between $150 and $300. Other reasons, such as the product’s demand at the moment, or additional services such as one-day delivery that cause prices to rise slightly.
There are several choices available, ranging from $50 to $1000, so you can quickly find one that suits your budget.
Is it possible to apply a foot-pound wrench for inch-pounds?
You’ll need a torque wrench, which detects smaller values of torque in foot-pounds and converts them to inch-pounds.
Since the inch-pound wrench doesn’t measure in foot-pounds, a quick conversion is needed. Since 1 foot equals 12 inches, e.g. 20 multiplied by 12 equals 240. Or you may use an online calculator and converter to figure out how to use a foot-pound wrench with inch-pound measurements.
Are automotive digital wrenches more precise than other wrenches?
The key benefits of digital wrenches are precision and ease. Digital wrenches are very precise devices. Their more fragile construction, on the other hand, necessitates extra caution while treating. It necessitates maintenance and calibration, as well as precise storage specifications. Though, beam-style wrenches are typically considered more accurate than any other tools for tightening bolts and lugs.
Video Tutorial: Craftsman Digi-Click Torque Wrench 9-13919
There are plenty of automotive torque wrenches in the U.S. market. The key factor to consider when buying a wrench is its accuracy. Even durability comes second. Make sure the instrument that you intend to buy is composed of durable metals. Also, it should be pre-calibrated so you could use it right out of the box.