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7 Best Torque Wrenches

Torque wrenches make it easy to precisely tighten bolts, nuts and screws with confidence. Here's a collection of top picks.

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7 Best Torque Wrenchs Ft Olsa ToolsVIA MERCHANT

A standard crescent or fixed wrench is fine for basic home maintenance and repair tasks. But when you’re tackling automotive projects, you need a torque wrench.

What is a Torque Wrench?

Torque is the rotational force applied to a fastener like a nut, bolt or screw. A torque wrench allows you to customize the amount of torque you want to exert on a fastener (usually measured in ft.-lb., in.-lb., or Nm), and will give you an indication or reading of when that value has been met. This ensures you apply the right amount of torque to a bolt without over- or under-tightening it.

Torque wrenches are most commonly found in automotive garages, where it’s essential to apply enough torque to a car part to ensure the vehicle operates safely and effectively.

Outside of mechanics shops, torque wrenches are used by plumbers, HVAC technicians, and bicycle mechanics. Often to make sure they are not over-tightening a bolt or fastener, and in turn compromising a more crucial or fragile component that they are working with.

How to Choose a Torque Wrench

Take these factors into consideration when choosing the best torque wrench for you:

  • Style: There are four kinds. Click-style wrenches are the most common, using a rotating dial that clicks when selecting the desired torque. These wrenches need to be stored at their lowest setting to reduce calibration issues. Beam torque wrenches are simpler, with a large dial and needle to show the torque setting. Split-beam wrenches use two beams, one as an anchor and the other to apply the desired torque. Digital wrenches feature an LED screen to set and display the torque setting, emitting a beep the torque setting is reached. These are also the most expensive and require batteries. Several digital torque wrench adapters are also available for those with breaker bars, though these are relatively new tools on the market.
  • Head type: Torque wrench heads can be fixed in a single position or flexible. A flexible head can pivot up to 180 degrees, convenient for awkward or tight areas. Some wrenches feature reversible heads for left- and right-handed fasteners.
  • Drive size: This indicates the size of bits you can use with your torque wrench. Choose from 1/4-, 3/8-, 1/2- and 3/4-inches, with 3/8- and 1/2-inch the most common and versatile.
  • Torque range: Depending on its length and size, your torque wrench will have a range it can apply. This will usually be shown as lb.-ft. (pounds of torque per lever foot units) and can range from 0 to 300. Fasteners require different amounts of torque, so check the requirements of the items you’re working on before purchasing.

How to Use a Torque Wrench

Torque wrenches are used with sockets from a socket wrench set of the same drive size.

When Using a Torque Wrench

  • Attach the socket to the torque wrench’s head in the same manner that you would attach a socket wrench to its handle.
  • If you have a click style, split beam, or digital torque wrench, set the specified value.
  • Tighten the bolt or fastener as usual. If you have a beam style torque wrench stop when the handle bends to the desired value.
  • For click style, split beam, or digital torque wrenches that are set to the desired value, wrench on the bolt until the audible click or digital notification alerts you to stop.

Be aware that torque wrenches, like many other precision measurement tools, are susceptible to losing calibration if dropped. If you wish for these tools to last, handle them with care.

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Best Torque Wrench All Aroundvia merchant

Best Torque Wrench: All-Around

The click-style CDI 1501MRMH Torque Wrench features laser-etched scales that won’t wear off. The 30 to 250 lb.-ft. range is versatile enough for small and large tasks. It can be used in forward and reverse, and the all-metal construction is durable enough for heavy-duty use.

A quick-release mechanism makes it easy to remove sockets when you’re finished. The 25-inch length provides the leverage needed for tough jobs.

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Split Beam Torque Wrenchvia merchant

Best Torque Wrench: Split Beam

The flexible head of the Olsa Tools Split Beam Torque Wrench is perfect for accessing and working with hard-to-reach fasteners while keeping your knuckles and fingers out of harm’s way. Made of durable chrome vanadium steel, it’s ideal for heavy-duty applications.

The cushioned red handle provides a sturdy grip while you work. Bonus: The color makes it easy to locate in a cluttered garage or workspace.

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Torque Wrench Combovia merchant

Best Torque Wrench: Combo Set

This Tekton set includes two click-style wrenches —  3/8- and 1/2-inch drive — so you’ll be prepared to tackle any task from 10 to 250 ft.-lb. Reversible heads can turn in either direction, and the high-contrast scales are easy to read in low-light conditions.

Each wrench comes with a hard-sided storage case for protection and easy transport.

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Splurge Torque Wrenchvia merchant

Best Torque Wrench: Splurge

Although the Snap-on Adjustable Ratchet Torque Wrench costs more than other options on this list, its high-quality construction and precise calibration could be worth the investment.

The electronic readout allows for simple torque setting, informs you when you’re close to the desired level, and offers ten convenient presets. Plus, its 80-hour battery life should satisfy even the busiest car mechanic out there.

This wouldn’t be practical for the occasional tinkerer. But if you have the budget, this torque wrench is the absolute top of the class.

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Budget Friendly Torque Wrenchvia merchant

Best Torque Wrench: Budget Friendly

The Pittsburgh 1/2-in. Drive Click Type Torque Wrench provides precision at a lower cost than most options. Despite the affordable price, it still includes features like a reversible head, wide 20-150 ft.-lb. range and a simple-to-use click-style design.

If you already own an expensive model, this one makes a good backup to keep in your vehicle for roadside emergencies. It’s probably not durable enough for everyday or heavy use, though.

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Digital Torque Wrenchvia merchant

Best Torque Wrench: Digital

The Gearwrench Electronic Torque Wrench beeps when you’ve reached your desired torque level. Its handle vibrates and the LCD screen lights up, too, ensuring you never over-torque your fastener. And the housing resists oil and solvents, protecting the internal components.

You can adjust the units from ft.-lbs. to other units of measurement, like kilograms or centimeters. We also appreciate the yellow handle that makes it harder to lose in a tool box or messy garage. Looking for more?

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Beam Torque Wrenchvia merchant

Best Torque Wrench: Beam

The large red needle of the Neiko 03727A Torque Wrench is easy to set and read, and the 1/4-in. drive head is well-suited for light-duty applications like motorcycle, bike and boat maintenance and repair.

It’s affordable and can be used by right- and left-handers. The large ball end offers a secure grip. Combined with the light weight (8.8 ounces), it’s comfortable to use.

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Alex Rennie
Alex Rennie is a freelance writer who specializes in the home improvement, DIY, and appliance space. Having spent more than five years as a residential and commercial carpenter in NYC–specializing in custom furniture construction and installation–Alex uses his hands-on experience and expert insight to craft product reviews, buying guides, and how-to articles. He has previously written for CNN Underscored, Business Insider, and Popular Mechanics, in addition to Family Handyman. He currently lives in Los Angeles, CA, where he spends his free time hiking and relaxing on the beach with his wife and their two dogs, Louie and Iggy.