Good adjustable torque wrenches are available for all budgets. While the latest in digital torque wrenches promise unprecedented accuracy, traditional click-type wrenches still dominate for good reason. They simply tend to last longer and remain more accurate (generally speaking) over a digital model, making them a much better long-term investment. Accuracy, durability, and affordability are the primary attributes to consider when looking to buy the best torque wrench for your garage, shop, or for track use.
The following three wrenches are all high quality and at varying price points depending on your budget. All models use a standard 1/2-inch drive which is by far the most common for any type of engine and wheel work. So while you may use 3/8″ sockets for normal auto maintenance, you’ll need a thicker drive to be able to handle the high torque requirements these wrenches are used for.
Please note that these wrenches (as with all torque wrenches) should always be stored with the torque setting at zero to avoid losing calibration, and that one should never loosen the wrench below zero.
Don’t let the long name fool you, this torque wrench from CDI has more to offer than just a mouthful. Beginning with a torque range of 30 to 250 foot/pounds, this wrench has a dual scale designed for fast, accurate work. It can be calibrated in dual direction, while the laser-marked scale and spring-loaded pull-down lock make it easy to get the right settings every time.
Quick release buttons and easy socket removal without losing socket retention make this wrench even easier to use, while the ergonomic comfort grip ensures you won’t finish a long work day with blisters.
The 2503MFRPH has proven an excellent tool for working on vehicles and machinery, with owners being quite happy with the amount of quality for the price. The plastic handle is solid and made of high quality materials feeling much tougher than some with rubber covers, while the locking mechanism is metal to ensure a longer life.
Also, because CDI is a subsidiary of Snap-On, you can always expect the same quality Snap-On is known for but at a lower price. Inside the molded case you’ll find a unique certificate of calibration which includes accuracy test results of that particular torque wrench.
Most of the complaints regarding this tool are based upon warranty misinformation. The tool comes with a manufacturer’s 1-year warranty, but some sellers claim there is a longer lifetime warranty. Please be sure to verify any such claims from lesser-known sellers before purchasing in the event they’re not offering their own extended warranties.
When looking for a good quality torque wrench and the CDI model above is a bit above your budget, it doesn’t get much better than Crescent’s CRTW12. Ideal for automotive, industrial, and agricultural applications, this wrench features a reversible 45-tooth round ratcheting head for working in small spaces. A slide back adjustment collar and large, laser-etched marks set in a clockwise direction makes setting torque a fast and easy process.
Made from heat-treated vanadium steel alloy and featuring a no-slip hand grip, the CRTW12 provides both comfort and durability. When your target torque of 50 to 250 foot/pounds is reached, the wrench provides an easily audible click, and the accuracy is rated within 4 percent in accordance with ASME standards. The tools themselves come with a lifetime workmanship warranty, and in addition to the popular 1/2-inch drive CRTW12, Crescent also offers their 3/8-inch sister model, the CRTW38.
One of the things users most appreciate about this wrench is the care taken prior to shipping. Like the CDI, each wrench is hand-tested and includes a certificate detailing how it was tested, along with the specific serial numbers and accuracy results. Additionally, owners of the CRTW12 have found it to be of comparable quality to Craftsman and other big-brand wrenches, but at a lower price. The locking mechanism has also proven a major improvement for people who are used to dial-based wrenches.
The single largest complaint about this wrench is the lack of a quick release button, making it a little more difficult to change heads. Also, it must be noted that the warranty covers only the wrench itself, and any accessories or carrying cases are not covered. Keep this in mind if you are purchasing a full set.
Whomever said that cost equals quality has never tried Tekton’s 24335 torque wrench. This little trooper is capable of torque ranging from 10 to 150 foot/pounds and may be purchased alone or with a four-piece adaptor set or breaker bar for a slightly higher cost. It arrives at your home fully pre-calibrated to an accuracy of +/- 4 percent, and the included manual features a handy torque conversion chart. The smaller size of this wrench make it ideal for automotive and garden equipment use without compromising on quality.
The dual-range torque scale is high-contrast to make reading easier in low-light situations, while the reversible ratchet head can drive in both directions, measuring the torque in a clockwise direction. As with most adjustable torque wrenches, the 24335 produces an audible click when the target torque is reached, and that click can also be felt, allowing less room for error in a noisy setting. The durable all-steel construction and handy carrying case ensure this cheap torque wrench feels anything but cheap.
A large percentage of consumers use this wrench for automotive work, and comment on how well it works on lug nuts and engine parts alike. While the wrench is larger and heavier than some of the competition, it does its job with high accuracy and efficiency every time.
This is one of many tools where the “buyer beware” warning is warranted. Many customers who have bought this wrench from non-certified dealers have received used or refurbished items. These used items may or may not be covered by Tekton’s warranty, so make sure you only buy from well known retailers to avoid these scenarios. Also, a few owners have found that higher torque numbers can be difficult to adjust to, requiring more strength as the number increases past 100.