Editor’s Choice Torque Wrench
CDI Click Type Wrench

A highly accurate torque wrench ideal for automotive use.

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Best Digital Torque Wrench
ACDelco Digital Torque Wrench

An electronic wrench that’s easy to use with useful features.

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Best Split Beam Wrench
Precision Instruments Split Beam Wrench

A split-beam wrench that is solidly built with a flexible head.

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Budget Pick
Tekton Click Wrench

 

An inexpensive, yet accurate click torque wrench.

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If you perform any type of maintenance on your vehicle, a torque wrench is a crucial tool. Many of the nuts and bolts that hold a car together must be fastened at a specific tightness, and the best torque wrenches help ensure that you don’t over- or under-tighten any of them.

We tested several wrenches for accuracy and comfort, our top picks standing high above the rest. This guide will also describe the different types of torque wrenches and their respective uses.

4 Best Torque Wrenches

4 Best Torque Wrenches thumbnail.

  1. Editor’s Choice Torque Wrench: CDI Click Type Wrench
  2. Best Digital Torque WrenchACDelco Digital Torque Wrench
  3. Best Split Beam Wrench: Precision Instruments Split Beam Wrench
  4. Budget Pick: Tekton Click Wrench

#1 Editor’s Choice Torque Wrench: CDI Click Type Wrench

Pros Highly accurate Easy to use Precise torque setting
Cons Expensive Less accurate at lowest torque settings

The CDI click wrench is a dual-scale wrench calibrated for both directions. It features a positive lock with a spring-loaded pull-down ring for quick and easy calibration. We like this wrench because it’s accurate and simple to use. The CDI wrench provided the most accurate tightening of any torque wrench that we tested.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $150
  • Range: 10.0 to 100.0 pound-feet (lb-ft)
  • Wrench type: Click
  • Fixed or flexible head: Fixed head

Our Experience

While there aren’t any instructions included with this wrench, the operation is obvious to anyone that’s used a click-style torque wrench before. The indicators on the handle are used to adjust torque settings.

Adjusting this wrench is simple, and it has markings in 5.0-lb-ft increments. The push-button socket allows for the easy attachment and removal of drives.

When tightening this wrench, the readout on our monitor matched exactly the torque we set before tightening our lug nuts. Giving an exact match, this was the most accurate torque wrench that we tested.

Overall Rating4.8 out of 5
Accuracy5 out of 5
Ease of Use4.5 out of 5
Durability5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.6 out of 5 based on over 250 ratings

Many purchased this wrench for automotive applications and the majority of customer reviews praise the CDI wrench for its size and accuracy.

A few have said that this wrench fails to click at lower settings (below 30.0 lb-ft). At least one customer with this problem said they requested a replacement and the new wrench worked as expected.

#2 Best Digital Torque Wrench: ACDelco Digital Torque Wrench

Pros Beginner-friendly Accurate Several display modes
Cons Can’t set torque alert below 10.0 lb-ft Requires four AAA batteries

The ACDelco digital torque wrench is a high-quality torque wrench that is accurate and versatile. In addition to calibrating torque in lb-ft, this wrench has peak/track modes as well as angle measuring.

All ACDelco wrenches are calibrated by ISO 6789 standards and come with a certificate of calibration. This wrench also includes a one-year warranty and features an LCD screen that’s readable in low-light situations.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $120
  • Range: 14.8 to 147.5 lb-ft
  • Wrench type: Digital
  • Fixed or flexible head: Fixed head

Our Experience

Being a digital wrench, the ACDelco requires a little more setup than a click-style torque wrench, which is ready to go out of the box. Confusingly, there are two battery compartments, the primary compartment requiring four AAA batteries.

Sockets are attached and detached with a push-button back. The plastic handle is designed for comfort, but our tester found this less comfortable than a rubber or metal grip. However, this handle does offer excellent leverage.

As a digital wrench, torque can be set more precisely, in 0.1-lb-ft increments. A buzzer sounds when the desired torque value is reached. When testing for accuracy, this ACDelco wrench was only 0.2 lb-ft off.

Overall Rating4.2 out of 5
Accuracy4.5 out of 5
Ease of Use4 out of 5
Durability4 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on over 900 ratings

Consumers appreciate this wrench’s features and feel that it is both accurate and easy to use. For the cost (at around $100), many feel this is the best deal you’ll find on a torque wrench (as cheaper wrenches tend to be less accurate). This wrench is easy to use, even for those who aren’t automotive experts.

A few people have complained the torque alert can’t be set lower than 4.0 lb-ft. You can use this wrench to tighten a bolt to a low torque (by watching the digital display), but you can’t set the alarm to beep at anything less than 10.0 lb-ft.

#3 Best Split Beam Wrench: Precision Instruments Split Beam Wrench

Pros Durable construction Flexible head Highly rated
Cons Flex head could angle further

This Precision Instruments torque wrench features a split-beam design and can measure up to 250.0 lb-ft of torque. It has a flexible head design for getting into tight spaces and claims to provide torque measurement accurate to within four percent.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $180
  • Range: 40.0 to 250.0 lb-ft
  • Wrench type: Split beam
  • Fixed or flexible head: Flexible head

Our Experience

We like the design of this split-beam wrench. It is easy to use and calibrate, and the instructions are simple to follow. For its size, this was the most comfortable torque wrench to use, featuring an ergonomic rubber grip and sturdy build.

As for accuracy, this wrench did not perform within the stated four percent margin of error. We found it to be off by about 10 percent during our tests. However, it may be that our particular wrench was improperly calibrated or needed recalibration, as many customer reviews claim this wrench does read the correct torque.

Overall Rating3.8 out of 5
Accuracy3 out of 5
Ease of Use4 out of 5
Durability4.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.8 out of 5 based on over 1,300 ratings

Consumers appreciate the wide torque range as well as the simplicity of the beam-style wrench. Because it is a beam wrench, it does not need to be dialed down between uses (with a click wrench, you need to set the torque as low as possible when not in use).

Several report that this wrench is very accurate, hitting the target torque within the promised four percent margin of error. It’s possible we were shipped an older wrench that needed recalibration. The other feature commonly praised is durability. This well-built wrench can be dropped and manhandled without suffering catastrophic failure.

Some wish that the flex head could be further angled, suggesting it doesn’t bend far enough for the tightest spaces.

#4 Budget Pick: Tekton Click Wrench

Pros Low cost Accurate Durable construction
Cons Doesn’t click at lower settings

If you’re looking for a torque wrench that doesn’t break the bank, consider the Tekton click wrench. The reversible ratchet head can drive in both a counterclockwise and clockwise direction. The all-steel construction guarantees long-lasting durability against drops and other mishaps.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $40
  • Range: 10.0 to 150.0 lb-ft
  • Wrench type: Click
  • Fixed or flexible head: Fixed head

Our Experience

The Tekton click wrench is a simple tool that’s a breeze to set up. The handle is comfortable, and the tool produces a satisfying and audible click when the desired amount of torque is reached.

In our accuracy test, the Tekton was only off by a single lb-ft, making it accurate within one percent.

Overall Rating4.5 out of 5
Accuracy4.5 out of 5
Ease of Use4.5 out of 5
Durability4.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on over 27,000 ratings

Many reviewers claim to have tested the accuracy of this wrench and found it to be indeed within four percent. However, some have noted it is less accurate at measuring lower amounts of torque (below 10.0 lb-ft). Most are impressed with the quality offered by this heavy-duty wrench considering the relatively low cost.

Buyers Guide: Best Torque Wrenches

It’s important that you fasten your automotive nuts and bolts to a specific tightness depending on the component. A torque wrench can tell you when you’ve reached the desired tightness, typically measured in lb-ft (pounds of torque per lever foot). This means the best torque wrench is an accurate torque wrench.

Types Of Torque Wrenches

Most torque wrenches employ one of the following designs:

  • Click wrenches are the most common style of torque wrench. Desired torque is set by twisting the handle until an indicator aligns with the needed torque. When tightening a bolt, the wrench will produce a clicking sound when the set torque is reached.
  • Beam wrenches are the simplest style of torque wrench. These have a pointer beam that displays torque attached to the wrench head. Beam wrenches are generally the cheapest and least-accurate types of torque wrenches.
  • Split beam wrenches are often more accurate than standard beam wrenches. A split-beam wrench allows you to set the desired torque rating and stops tightening when this setting is reached (preventing overtightening).
  • Digital wrenches are often the most accurate style of torque wrench. These typically have an LED screen that lets you set and display torque rating. As they are digital, this type of torque wrench requires batteries.

In addition to wrench type, you’ll want to consider rangedrive size, and head type when purchasing a torque wrench.

Range

The range of a torque wrench refers to the torque force it is able to apply. Torque wrenches can have ranges up to 300.0 lb-ft and higher. Some fasteners require different levels of torque, so it’s important to determine how much torque you’ll need to apply before selecting the appropriate torque wrench.

Most automotive applications require a torque wrench that can apply at least 100.0 lb-ft of torque, so we don’t recommend a torque wrench that falls below this range for your garage.

Drive Size

Drive size refers to the size of bits that can be used with a torque wrench. 3/8- and 1/2-inch drives are the most common for auto applications. Torque wrenches can have up to 1.0-inch and larger drives, but these are only useful for big vehicles like heavy equipment.

Head Type

The head of a torque wrench can be fixed or flexible. Fixed head torque wrenches are solid beams. Flexible head torque wrenches can pivot up and down. A flexible head can be useful for fastening bolts in tight places where there may not be enough room to operate a fixed head torque wrench.

How To Use A Torque Wrench

Torque wrenches are precision calibration tools. If used improperly, you will get poor results. A torque wrench isn’t difficult to operate correctly, but there are some things you should know and mistakes to avoid.

1. Set Torque

Start by setting your wrench to the desired torque level. To determine the proper torque, consult maintenance manuals for your specific vehicle or check online message boards. Most tire lug nuts require 100.0 lb-ft of torque.

With a digital torque wrench, torque is set using a digital keypad. Click torque wrenches are adjusted by twisting the handle. Consult your owner’s manual for details specific to your torque wrench.

2. Attach Socket

Find the appropriately-sized socket for your nut and attach it to your torque wrench.

3. Attach Bolt

When you first attach a bolt and begin to tighten it, do not use your torque wrench. Instead, use a standard wrench or tire iron. Do most of the tightening with a standard socket wrench, until the nut is firmly fastened but not fully tightened. Similarly, you should not use a torque wrench to loosen bolts.

4. Torque Bolt

When you use a torque wrench, you should complete the tightening in one fluid motion. Do not ratchet the torque wrench back and forth or you may get an inaccurate reading. Once the set torque has been reached you will hear a click or a beep, depending on the style of torque wrench you are using.

If you want to check the torque on a nut, you’ll need to loosen it again and retighten it with your torque wrench.

5. Storage And Maintenance

When you aren’t using your torque wrench, it is important to store it somewhere safe. If you drop your torque wrench many times or from an especially high height, this can throw off the calibration. The best torque wrenches often come with a hard shell storage case.

When storing a click torque wrench, you’ll also want to set the torque to its lowest rating, so that there is only slight pressure on the internal spring. This will help your torque wrench stay calibrated for longer.

All torque wrenches will lose calibration eventually. Have your torque wrench recalibrated at least once per year. This can cost anywhere from $30 to $100, depending on where you have your wrench calibrated and if you need to pay for shipping.

At What Range Are Torque Wrenches Most Accurate?

Most torque wrenches are accurate to within two percent. No range is specifically more accurate than another, but digital torque wrenches tend to be the most accurate style, while beam torque wrenches tend to be the least accurate. Some torque wrenches become less accurate when measuring lower ranges (below 10.0 lb-ft).

What’s The Difference Between Foot-Pounds And Pound-Feet?

Foot-pounds (ft-lb) and pound-feet (lb-ft) are two different units of measurement. A pound-foot is used to measure torque. It describes the torque generated by applying one pound of pressure on a one-foot lever.

A foot-pound is a measurement of work, describing the amount of energy used to move a one-pound object one foot in distance.

Best Torque Wrench: Bottom Line

Above all, you want a torque wrench that is accurate. Digital torque wrenches are precise but costly. Click wrenches are often cheaper and just as accurate as digital wrenches (though it is harder to determine a precise measurement in less than 1.0 lb-ft increments).

Overall, we think the CDI Click Type Wrench is a good option for most people, though there is no best torque wrench for everyone.

Other Torque Wrenches We Recommend

If you want more options to consider, the following torque wrenches are exceptionally well-reviewed on Amazon and worthy of consideration.

EP Auto 1/2-Drive Click Torque Wrench

With over 33,000 Amazon ratings, this torque wrench has an average review score of 4.6 out of 5 stars. Most are pleased with this torque wrench as 92 percent of reviewers rate it 4 or more stars. Reviewers include hobbyists and professionals and most like this wrench for its simplicity and rugged design. Many confirm that it is accurate to within 4 percent.

LEXIVON Click Torque Wrench

The LEXIVON Torque wrench is also well-reviewed on Amazon, with 93 percent of reviewers rating it 4 or more stars. This torque wrench is said to be accurate and has some features that make it different from other click torque wrenches. Most notably, it’s black with yellow lettering. This high-contrast design can make it easier to read the torque settings.

Amazon Basics Click Torque Wrench

The Amazon Basics wrench does not have any special features and is similar to most other click torque wrenches. Importantly, it is confirmed as accurate by most of the over 7,900 reviewers on Amazon. Coming in around $30, this wrench is an attractive purchase.

Best Torque Wrench: FAQ

How We Tested

The torque wrenches in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching the web for top products, looking at factors like shipping eligibility, customer ratings, superlatives, and prices.

Our product testing team ordered the wrenches that best met these standards. A team member tested each torque wrench, taking note of accuracy, ease of use, and quality of construction (durability). Each torque wrench was given a rating out of 5 stars based on these criteria.

Accuracy

Accuracy is vital for a quality torque wrench. The best torque wrenches can be accurate to 1.0 lb-ft of torque. We gave the highest accuracy scores to those torque wrenches that most closely matched the readout of our torque adapter.

Ease Of Use

Our ease of use score is based on several factors. How simple is it to set the desired torque and in what increments? Handle comfort and features like a flexible head also contributed to our ease of use rating.

Durability

Our durability score is based on our experience with each torque wrench as well as the collective consensus of verified Amazon reviews. Torque wrenches built to last and featuring solid construction scored best in this category.

Torque Wrench Testing Process

Torque Wrench Testing Process

We tested each of our recommended torque wrenches by tightening the lug nuts on a 2017 Ford Fusion. We set each torque wrench to a specific rating and compared this measurement to the readout given by the ACDelco ARM-602, a digital torque adapter guaranteed by an ISO 6789 certificate of calibration.

Why You Can Trust Us

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

*Data accurate at time of publication.