There are numerous reasons to own a good torque wrench, not least of which is making sure your lug nuts are on properly. Not only are properly torqued lug nuts important for safety and optimal performance, you’ll find that a nut that’s at the right spec comes off more easily when you want it to. And, you’ll avoid the issue of over-torqued lug nuts causing your wheels to seize to the rims.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite torque wrenches based on ease of use, quality of the product and price.
Best Torque Wrench
CDI 2503MFRPH 1/2-Inch Torque Wrench
You’ll pay a bit more for this torque wrench but it’s worth it. After all, when you really need a torque wrench, you don’t want to find out it’s broken.
CDI products are actually made by Snap-On tools, the number one brand in the industrial tool business. These incredibly durable tools and share almost all of their components with true Snap-On products so you know you’re getting a serious and long-lasting product here.
The 2503MFRPH is decently long at 24.3-inches allowing for plenty of leverage. It has a wide range of torque specification, ranging from 30 lbs to 250 lbs and is accurate plus or minus three percent.
Sometimes the best products don’t have a lot of fancy bells and whistles. They just to the right job, really well. That’s certainly true here with a simple adjuster built into the handle with an etched face for added grip. We do like that this wrench allows you to set the torque in different directions.
As for weight, it tips the scales at just over 3 lbs, which is impressively light for such a large and durable piece of metal.
The laster-etched numbers on the shaft also won’t wear off. Plus, there’s a thumb-operated socket release so you can swap sockets fast.
All CDI torque wrenches are made in the USA at the brand’s City of Industry, California facility. You’d have to try pretty hard to damage this tool, but just in case you’re the type that likes to keep your tools their best, it comes in a custom molded storage case.
Our only issue with this wrench is the price, which is certainly on the high side. But we’ve bough cheap torque wrenches before and you only ever discover they’re broken when you need one. So safe yourself the hassle and get a quality product.
Best Torque Wrench (Alternative)
Capri Tools 31103 1/2-Inch Torque Wrench
Another solid option in the torque wrench category is the Capri Tools 31103.
With a standard range of 30 to 250 lb-ft, it has a slightly wider tolerance range of plus/minus four percent. Still, that’s pretty precise and a certificate of calibration does come with each wrench.
As simple to use as it should be, just pull down the spring-loaded ring and adjust to your specific setting. The handle offers decent grip with a diamond-patterned surface, though it is a bit slick and doesn’t grip in your hands quite like a rough, etched metal surface.
The settings (in both foot-pounds and Newton meters) is engraved into the shaft. Some owners report it’s a bit tough to read.
A quick-release button can be thumb operated to swap between sockets easily. As for leverage, at 22-inches its slightly shorter than some, but still long enough to handle most any job.
The tool weighs roughly 4.4 lbs which is a touch on the heavy side.
Best Digital Torque Wrench
GearWrench 85077 1/2-Inch Drive Electronic Torque Wrench
If you want to get ultra precise, this electronic torque wrench is as good as it gets.
This tool adjusts from 25 lb-ft up to 250 lb-ft and can be set in tiny 0.1 lb-ft increments for ultra precise work. GearWrench also guarantees it for plus/minus 2 percent accuracy in the clockwise direction and plus/minus 3 percent in the counter-clockwise direction. That said, it tops all others for precision.
Stretching to 25-inches in length it’s longer than the other wrenches on this list, which mans it’ll give you a slight advantage in leverage. We also like that it has a 5 degree swing arc, allowing for just a bit more versatility in hard to reach places. And the 72-tooth mechanism means it’s extremely precise.
Easier to use than a mechanical torque wrench (not that those are hard by any means) just insert two AA batteries and adjust to your desired torque setting. Then away you go. We even like that you can set it in five different measurements: Nm, ft lb, In pounds, kgfm, and kg/cm.
Other great features include a “target torque alert” that notifies you when you’re approaching your desired torque level with a vibrating handle and buzzer. Once you reach the desired torque level an LED light goes off. Fancy!
With a large digital readout, the measurement specs are far easier to reach than on a conventional mechanical torque wrench.
The down sides of this tool is the fact that it does take batteries, which can have reduced life if stored somewhere cold. Plus, they’re always likely to be running out of power right when you need your torque wrench.
Overall, we’re incredibly impressed by this tool. You’ll pay for the features, but we also suspect you’ll be a digital torque wrench convert.
Best Budget Torque Wrench
Tekton 24340 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench
If you just need a simple torque wrench and don’t plan on building a high performance engine with it, then the Tekton 24230 is an ideal tool.
Weighing 5.4 lbs it’s heavier than the other tools on this list. Part of that is due to the fact that it is longer at 26-inches, allowing for better leverage.
Torque specs can be adjusted from 25-250 lb-ft, while calibration is accurate to plus/minus 4 percent. Like we said, it’s not ultra precise, but it’s more than enough for most jobs.
The all-steel construction means there re no plastic parts that can break. Because you know they would. It does also come with its on storage case.
The actual ratchet mechanism only has 24 teeth so this isn’t ideal for ultra precise jobs or really tight spaces. We do like the thumb-activated socket release.
Overall, if the main job you need a torque wrench for is swapping tires, this is an ideal tool for the price.