The Torque Wrench Is a Goldilocks Tool – Here’s Are the Best Ones to Keep Handy

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When it comes to tightening screws, nuts, and bolts, the presumption is often that tighter is better. But if you have ever stripped a screw, you’ll know that overtightening can often be just as bad — if not worse — than under-tightening. After all, a loose screw can be tightened later, but a stripped screw is pretty much, well, screwed. If you’re putting together a shelf or closing the back of a remote control, it may not be that big of a deal. But there are some instances where having something that is precisely the right tightness can actually be kind of a big deal, even dangerous. In that case, you may want to invest in a torque wrench.

Torque wrenches are used for nuts and bolts, and they allow you to get a specific tightness using a built-in dial. There’s substantial variation in how accurate they are and how easy it is to get a precise reading of the torque. Many torque wrenches also utilize a ratcheting mechanism. Ratchet wrenches, which are themselves a subsect of socket wrenches, feature a rotating mechanism that allows the user to tighten the fastener without having to take the wrench out and readjust it.

One of the most common applications is in automotive settings — torque wrenches will often be used to tighten the lugs on a car’s rims. Having an accurate torque will help prevent damage to the rims and ensure the car’s tires are properly set. With anything having to do with tires, you don’t want to risk improper installation. Torque wrenches can also be used on other parts of the car or in non-automotive settings.

The best torque wrenches also feature a mechanism to alert you when a desired torque has been reached. Many of our favorite wrenches produce an extremely satisfying clicking noise when the job is done. So whether you’re a pro mechanic looking to add another tool to your belt or a DIY expert who wants to take repairs into their own hands, these are the best torque wrenches to get.

1. TEKTON 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench

Tekton is perhaps the most well-known maker of torque wrenches, and this tool has a few smart features that make it a solid choice for a basic torque wrench. When desired torque is reached, the wrench will produce an audible “click,” which can be felt in the handle. This will ensure that you don’t accidentally over tighten. The dual-range scale includes foot-pounds and Newton-meters. The range in feet-pounds is 10-150, and the range in NM is 13.6-203.5. The wrench drive is 1/2 inches.

Pros: Clicking mechanism to ensure proper torque. Comes with a case. All-steel construction.

Cons: Click sound could be somewhat louder.

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2. Precision Instruments Torque Wrench

This is one of the most unique options on the market, and it has several features that set it apart from other brands’ offerings. Most importantly, this torque wrench has a flexible head, making it easy to reach tight spots and work at a more comfortable angle. The convenient knob makes it easy to make adjustments, and the dial is large and easy to read.

Pros: Flexible head. Easy to adjust. Made in the U.S.

Cons: More expensive than some other options.

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3. ACDelco 3/8-Inch Digital Torque Wrench

Digital torque wrenches are convenient and have less of a learning curve, and this option from ACDelco is a good pick if you’re looking for a 3/8-inch drive. The large display and intuitive buttons make the wrench easy to use, and it has flashing and buzzing features to notify you when the desired torque is reached. The large textured grip is easy to hold and use.

Pros: Convenient digital option. Intuitive buttons.

Cons: The desired torque notification can sometimes be slow.

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4. TEKTON 1/4-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench

This option from Tekton has many of the best features of the best torque wrenches, with one major improvement. While some of the other options have a ratcheting mechanism that goes in both directions, this tools allows you to set the torque when turning both clockwise and counterclockwise. It provides accuracy within 4% when torquing clockwise and within 6% when counterclockwise. The wrench clicks when the desired torque is achieved, and it can be both heard and felt, which is useful in loud working conditions and garages. It also automatically locks in place when the desired torque is achieved. The drive is 1/4 inches.

Pros: Reversible, allowing the user to find desired torque for clockwise and counterclockwise rotations. Clicks and locks in place when desired torque is achieved. Includes a soft, zippered carrying pouch.

Cons: Soft case isn’t as protective as a hard case.

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5. EPAuto 1/2-inch Drive Click Torque Wrench

This affordable torque wrench from EPAuto has a 1/2-inch drive. Like the Tekton options, it utilizes a click mechanism that indicates when the desired torque is reached. Plus, bonus accessories are included. There’s a 0.5-inch drive extension bar and a reducer that converts the 1/2-inch drive to a 3/8-inch drive. Plus, there’s a hard plastic carrying case. It features a dual-range of Newton meters and foot-pounds.

Pros: Affordable, includes helpful accessories like an extender and a 1/2-inch to 3/8-inch reducer. Clicking mechanism indicates when desired torque is reached.

Cons: When torquing at lower ranges, the clicking can be less audible.

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6. TACKLIFE 3/8-inch Drive Click Torque Wrench Set

This pick from Tacklife utilizes a 3/8-inch drive, and it features a variety of accessories to make it more versatile. There’s a 3/8-inch to 1/4-inch reducer, a 3/8-inch to 1/2-inch adapter, a storage case and an extension bar. Like some of the other options on this list, this torque wrench utilizes a clicking mechanism that indicates when proper torque has been reached. The dual scale allows you to use your preferred measurement system. The all-steel construction adds to its durability.

Pros: Affordable torque wrench that comes with various accessories like an extender, reducer, adapter and a carrying case. All-steel construction adds to its durability.

Cons: Click can be hard to hear in loud working environments.

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7. eTORK Click-Style Torque Wrench

While more expensive, this option from eTork makes several improvements over some of the other torque wrenches. For one thing, it’s calibrated to measure within 3% accuracy, whereas most of the other options on this list measure within 4%. The dual scale is printed on black and red text against a white background. That makes it easier to read. Since the dial is visible through a window in the handle, the risk of wearing down the numbers is reduced. The reversible ratchet also measures torque both clockwise and counterclockwise.

Pros: Reversible ratchet that measures torque clockwise and counterclockwise. Features a soft handle with a locking mechanism to reduce the risk of accidentally changing the torque.

Cons: Difficult to use in tight spaces.

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8. EPAuto 3/8-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench

Another affordable torque wrench is this option from EPAuto. Like the other EPAuto pick, it utilizes a clicking mechanism to indicate when desired torque has been reached. This particular pick has a 3/8-inch drive instead of the other option’s 1/2-inch drive. The ratchet head turns in both directions, although it only measures torque when turned clockwise. The handle features a knurled pattern that helps maintain the user’s grip when turning, and the dual-range scale allows for easy measurements and conversions.

Pros: Affordable 3/8-inch drive with dual measurement scale. Produces an audible click when desired torque is reached.

Cons: Unlike the other EPAuto option, the only accessory included is the hard carrying case. There are no extenders, adapters, or reducers.

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9. CDI Torque 1/2-Inch Adjustable Torque Wrench

This torque wrench from CDI has a 1/2″ drive and 30 to 250 ft-lbs of torque. The laser marked scale is easy to read and the wrench is designed to be easy to adjust. The dual scale works in both directions, and a quick-release button makes it easy to remove a socket. The textured grip is designed to be easy to hold and comfortable.

Pros: Dual scale. Quick-release buttons. Made in the U.S.

Cons: More expensive than some similar options.

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10. GEARWRENCH 1/2-Inch Drive Electronic Torque Wrench

There’s always a bit of guesswork when it comes to manual dials, which is why we like this torque wrench with built-in digital display. The display also has several buttons for making adjustments and changing the settings as needed. The wrench will start to make noise as you approach the desired target, and once you reach the target it will buzz, vibrate and the screen will light up.

Pros: Easy to use digital option. Beeps and vibrates to indicate when desired torque is reached.

Cons: Batteries not included. It can go through batteries somewhat quickly.

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11. TEKTON 3/8-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench

Another affordable pick from TEKTON is this 3/8-inch drive torque wrench. It features the same basic functionality of the 24335 model, except it has a 3/8-inch drive instead of a 1/2-inch drive. The ratcheting mechanism allows it to turn in both directions, although it only measures when turned clockwise. The audible click helps ensure you get the proper torque without overtightening. It comes with a hard plastic carrying case in high-visibility red.

Pros: Affordable option with a ratcheting mechanism that allows it to turn in both directions (only measures clockwise). Produces an audible (and satisfying) click when the desired torque is reached.

Cons: Adjustments could be smoother.

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