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Best torque wrenches 2022 | Manual and digital torque wrenches

Best torque wrenches 2022 |  Manual and digital torque wrenches

popular mechanics; Thanks to Tekton

A torque wrench is an essential tool when you need to tighten nuts and bolts with a very specific amount of torque, known as torque. This is often necessary when performing auto repairs, which may require you to tighten certain bolts to the setting specified by the vehicle manufacturer. But their applications are not limited there, as the plumbing, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and construction industries also regularly use torque wrenches. Due to this diverse range of use, there are different types, sizes and characteristics that can affect the functionality of a particular torque wrench. To help you determine which wrench is best for your needs, read on to learn what factors to consider when shopping, along with my top eight torque wrench recommendations.

Best torque wrenches

The expert: I am a freelance home improvement writer with over ten years of experience in various professions. I have used torque wrenches throughout my professional career in housing construction, as well as in my personal life when working on vehicles. Most recently I have used my torque wrenches extensively while replacing the engine in my 1985 Ford F250. My work has appeared in Bob Villa, The family handymanand the FIR.

Types of torque wrenches

Click: A click torque wrench is the most common variant due to its ease of use and relative affordability. It gets its name from the audible “click” that sounds when you tighten a nut or bolt to the desired setting. To set the torque value, turn the rotary knob on the base of the handle – clockwise to increase the torque and counterclockwise to decrease it – until the indicator is aligned with the torque value markings on the handle.

Ray: A torque wrench with a bar has a long arm (the “bar”) that runs from the head of the wrench to a scale, near the base, that measures torque. So there is no need to set the torque to the specification you are looking for; just tighten the fastener until the target torque value is registered on the scale. This is usually the cheapest variety of torque wrenches and one of the most accurate, making it desirable for professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike. A bar torque wrench can also be faster and easier to use than a click model if you are tightening multiple nuts and bolts with different tightening specifications, because you don’t have to reset the torque value for each fastener.

Split Beam: A split bundle torque wrench is essentially a click style torque wrench with a different torque setting mechanism. Unlike turning the handle, you turn a small rotary knob halfway up the handle. Then tighten the fastener until you “click” the wrench. The main advantage of a split bar open-end wrench over a standard click wrench is that setting the torque value with the rotary knob is significantly faster than turning a knob the length of the handle. This time saving is especially valuable if you are tightening multiple fasteners with different torques. The main drawback is that split bar models tend to be more expensive than most click wrenches.

Digital: A digital torque wrench has an LCD display that allows you to set the torque value and record the torque you apply to the screw as you tighten it. The wrench then signals you in one or more ways when you reach the desired tightening value: a beep, a vibration in the handle, a flashing light on the screen or a combination of these. A digital torque wrench is the most accurate and easiest to use, but usually also the most expensive.

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What else should you look for when shopping for a torque wrench?

Torque range

Torque can be measured using the imperial scale in foot-pounds or inch-pounds or the metric scale in newton meters. Most mechanical torque wrenches (the click, beam and split beam types) have a dual range scale with foot or inch-pounds on one side and the corresponding newton meter scale on the other. Digital torque wrenches usually include all three that you can forward on their LCD screens.

Depending on the wrench, the torque range can range from 0 to 300 foot-pounds, 0 to 1,000 inch-pounds, or 0 to 400 newton meters. To do most auto work, you will need a wrench with a range of 10 to 150 foot-pounds or 10 to 200 inch-pounds (and the corresponding newton gauge). A smaller range of about 10 to 80 foot-pounds is usually sufficient for plumbing or HVAC jobs.

Disk Size:

The “drive” of a torque wrench is the square piece that protrudes from the head of the wrench and where the socket wrench is connected. Therefore, the size of the actuator on the torque wrench must match the size of the socket. In addition, the maximum amount of torque a wrench can withstand and exert is heavily influenced by the size of the drive. Larger drives generally correspond to higher torque values. The length of the handle also plays a role in the amount of torque a wrench can produce, so a larger drive also equates to a longer handle. Smaller drive sizes and shorter handle lengths have the lowest torque ranges, but are also easier to maneuver in tight and confined spaces (like bolts and nuts deep in your car’s engine bay). Larger drive sizes produce the most torque, but are best for jobs where you have enough room to operate the longer lever (such as tightening lug nuts).

Torque wrenches are usually available with ¼, ⅜, and ½-inch discs; the last two sizes are the most popular and versatile for automotive applications. A ¼-inch drive is commonly found on power tools and works well on small motors (such as landscape equipment) and plumbing and HVAC components.

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Accuracy

Because the whole purpose of using a torque wrench is to ensure that the nuts and bolts you tighten fall within a very specific and narrow torque range, a wrench’s ability to accurately measure the torque you apply is critical. to avoid over or under tightening. -tightening. Torque wrench manufacturers perform calibration tests to measure the accuracy of a wrench. Accuracy ratings average about ±4 percent of the torque value indicated by a wrench’s scale, although high-quality wrenches can be calibrated to ±2 percent. Many of the high-end models also come with a calibration certificate to prove that the key you purchased was calibrated before packaging.

How we rated the best torque wrenches

In making my recommendations, I’ve included a wide variety of wrench types so you can find the best torque wrench for your needs. So whether you want a click, beam, split beam or digital torque wrench, I’ve got you covered. I’ve also included a three-piece set of the most common and useful drive sizes to tackle as many different applications as possible. I personally own, and have thoroughly tested, two of the products below. For the rest, I took into account customer reviews on sites like Amazon and Home Depot; researched other articles published by credible sites that reviewed torque wrenches; and drew on my experience using different types and brands of torque wrenches on the job.

Best Overall

Tekton ½-inch Drive Micrometer Torque Wrench

Key specs:

Type Click
Disk size in.
Torque range 10-150 ft.-lb.
Accuracy ±4%

Best Value

EPAuto 1/2-inch drive Click torque wrench

Key specs:

Type Click
Disk size ½ inch by ⅜-inch. adapter
Torque range 10-150 ft.-lb.
Accuracy ±4%

Best click torque wrench

CDI Comfort Grip Screw Size Adjustable Torque Wrench

Key specs:

Type Click
Disk size ½ inch by ⅜-inch. adapter
Torque range 30-250 ft.-lb.
Accuracy ±4% clockwise, ±6% counterclockwise

Best digital torque wrench

GearWrench Electronic torque wrench with -inch drive

Key specs:

Type Digital
Disk size in.
Torque range 25.1-250.8 ft.-lb.
Accuracy ±2% clockwise, ±3% counterclockwise

Best torque wrench with radius

Tooluxe Dual-Drive Beam Style Torque Wrench

Key specs:

Type Ray
Disk size ⅜ inch by ½-inch. adapter
Torque range 0-150 ft.-lb.
Accuracy ±4%

Best Split Beam Torque Wrench

Olsa Tools Split Beam Torque Wrench

Key specs:

Type Split beam
Disk size in.
Torque range 50-250 ft.-lb.
Accuracy ±4%

Best Adjustable Torque Wrench

Yellow Jacket Digital Adjustable Torque Wrench

Key specs:

Type Digital
Disk size in.
Toque Range: 1–62.7 ft.-lb.
Accuracy ±2%

Best 3 Piece Set

Pittsburgh Pro Click Type Torque Wrench Set

Key specs:

Type Click
Disk size ¼, ⅜ and ½ inches.
Torque range 20-200 in.-lb., 50-80 ft.-lb. and 20-150 ft.-lb.
Accuracy ±4%

Torque wrench tips from our expert James Fitzgerald

P.M: Do torque wrenches need special sockets?
JF: Torque wrenches do not require special sockets and can use the same sockets that are compatible with a standard ratchet wrench. That said, the disk size on the wrench should match the disk size on the socket. For example, a torque wrench with a ½-inch drive can only be used with a socket wrench with the same ½-inch drive, unless you attach a drive head adapter (for example, ⅜- to ½-inch) to the wrench.

P.M: Do torque wrenches require maintenance?
JF: Torque wrenches do not require much maintenance, but they do require proper care. While torque wrenches are fairly durable tools, do your best not to drop them and store them carefully when not in use. Click-type torque wrenches should also have the torque setting turned all the way down after you use it to avoid wearing out the internal spring.

P.M: What is the difference between a torque wrench and an impact wrench?
JF: Impact wrenches are power tools — powered by compressed air or electricity — that apply short, strong bursts of torque to loosen or tighten bolts. Their most common uses are removing rusted, frozen or heavily tightened bolts that cannot be loosened manually and tightening a large amount of bolts much faster than a manual wrench could. Besides the difference of being a manually operated tool rather than a power tool, torque wrenches are able to tighten bolts to exact torque specifications, while impact wrenches cannot.

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