Are There Different Types Of Torque Wrenches?
While you might think all torque wrenches are alike, they are not. Most average classic car owners who work on their car use a basic “click” type torque wrench, but many automotive applications (as well as HVAC or plumbing) require exact amounts of torque to accomplish the task. The following descriptions list several torque wrenches most commonly used in classic car restoration projects.
Click Torque Wrench
This wrench is the most basic and standard torque tool in a mechanic’s toolbox. When the preset torque level is reached, the wrench will emit a “click” or “beep.” These wrenches can be purchased in various load limits and are perfect in areas where the mechanic might need to be careful about overtighting a bolt or nut.
Beam Torque Wrench
The beam torque wrench is longer and has a flexible, pivoting handle that moves as the torque increases. The wench is shaped like a long lever (beam) and uses fundamental physics to allow users to move to an exact amount of torque. Most beam wrenches have dials on the handle that displays ft/lbs or Nm readings. They are the simplest in design and usually last a lifetime.
Split Beam Torque Wrench
The split beam is just like you imagine. It uses two beams to deliver exact torque pressure. One beam connects to the handle for torque pressure, and the second is attached to the head as an indicator beam. Most torque wrenches have dials built into the handles that allow you to preset the desired level, lock it into place, and then it will “click” or “beep” when the level is reached.
Digital Torque Wrench
Digital torque wrenches can be expensive, but it is also more accurate. The wrench registers the torque electronically inside the handle and displays the desired torque setting in an LED window. An electronic torque wrench tends to be more delicate and requires batteries.
What Are The Best Torque Wrenches?
Several companies make excellent torque wrenches for purchase in various sizes. We’ve included our favorites below.
ACDelco ARM601-4 1/2” Digital
The ACDelco ARM601 is a digital torque wrench with an LED flash and audio notifications that help car owners know exactly how much pressure to use when making repairs. The wrench is lightweight and feels good in the hand. The display reads in real-time and can be used in ft/lbs or nm readings. The wrench weighs only 4 lbs and is rated from 14.5 to 147.5 lb/ft pressures.
The wrench has an ergonomically soft grip handle that helps provide more steady control and comfort. The wrench has a ½” fixed head and has 2 AAA batteries for powering the LED display. The ACDelco has a 1.5% +/- accuracy rating and meets all ISO 6789 standards. It also comes with a limited one-year warranty.
ACDelco torque wrenches are made in Taiwan and are one of the leading manufacturers of torque wrenches anywhere. The history of ACDelco dates back to the early 1900s (the company was bought by GM in ‘74). They have a rich history of maintaining GM and Chevy vehicles for almost 50 years.
Cost: $109 - $120
- Great grip
- LED Display
- Excellent accuracy rating
- Not American made
TEKTON 1/2 Inch Drive Micrometer Torque Wrench
This Tekton ½” Drive is one of Amazon’s best torque wrenches with a 4.7 rating. The wrench can be preset and “clicks” when the desired torque is reached. The TEKTON’s dual ratchet head registers torque in clockwise and counter-clockwise directions, which makes it the perfect beginner’s wrench. The torque wrench has a high-contrast scale that is easy to read. The TEKTON has a storage case, so owners should expect more than average longevity.
At three pounds, it is one of the lighter torque wrenches on the market. The wrench is rated for 10 - 150 lbs/ft, and other sizes are available. At $50, the price is also a budget-friendly wrench that will find its way into almost any toolbox.
Tekton makes these wrenches in China (Taiwan). The company produces various equipment and organizers, from impact wrenches to screwdrivers and hefty toolboxes.
Tekton derives its name from the root word for “technical” or “technician.” The company’s support staff is based in Grand Rapids and offers a no-receipt or time-limit warranty.
- Good basic torque wrench
- Budget-friendly price
- Steel construction
- Free replacement warranty
- Won’t Torque less than 10 lbs.
CDI Comfort Grip Dual Scale Micrometer Torque Wrench
The CDI Micrometer Torque Wrench is rated for 30 - 250 lb/ft (47 - 332 Nm). The CDI torque wrenches are calibrated at the factory and shipped with a calibration certificate. The wrench is 24 inches long and has an ergonomic grip on the handle. The CDI has easy-to-read dual scales, and it comes with a molded case for storage when not in use.
The CDI is a “click” torque wrench that registers an audible clicking sound when the torque setting is achieved. The torque wrench has a fixed head with an easy-release button. The wrench is ISO and ASME certified. The torque wrench comes with a full twelve-month warranty.
CDI Torque Products are part of the SnapOn Speciality Tools family and are made in the US (City of Industry, Ca.). The company is best known for being the primary tool supplier to the GSA of the government (a role they have enjoyed since 1968). They produce a variety of tools and are a familiar purveyor to automotive mechanics across the country.
- Good Basic wrench
- Made in USA
- One year warranty is not long enough for the price.
Olsa Tools Split Beam Torque Wrench
Olsa Tools Split Beam is a ½ inch flexible head click type torque wrench that is easy to use with excellent accuracy. The wrench is made from a chrome vanadium steel alloy for long-lasting durability with a chrome finish. Many mechanics will tell you that a flexible head allows them to torque bolts in hard-to-reach areas. The “click” torque wrench is rated for up to 250 lbs/ft of torque.
The torque scale is easily read and adjusts to the proper torque setting. The dual beam torque wrench splits at the desired torque level to prevent overtightening. The torque wrench is only to be used for clockwise tightening, which limits its ability, but it meets all ISO and ASME standards. A molded carrying case protects the wrench when not in use. The flex head has a 15-degree range, so the wrench can work properly.
Olsa Tools has been in existence since 2015 and are located in Nisku, Alberta (which is right in the heart of Canadian oil country). The company offers a limited lifetime warranty. They have excellent customer service and free shipping for orders over $125.
- +/- 4% accuracy
- The torque range is 50 - 250 lbs.
- Free shipping for orders above $125.
- Lifetime warranty
- No counter-clockwise movement
Yellow Jacket Digital Adjustable Torque Wrench
The Yellow Jacket Adjustable Torque Wrench is one of the best torque wrenches a mechanic can invest in for their toolbox. The fixed square head is a combo crescent wrench and torque wrench (this is a great idea). The Yellow Jacket has eight interchangeable heads, including a ratchet attachment that fits a ⅜” socket.
The digital display is bright and easy to read, and the wrench will “beep” with an audible tone when the torque specs are reached. There are nine preset torque levels, so owners can adapt the pressures as needed.
The wrench is made from high-quality aluminum and has a powder-coated finish. The torque wrench does have a low maximum range of 59 foot-pounds. (It may not be suitable for more significant repairs). The Yellow Jacket has a one-year warranty and ships within 3 - 5 business days. Although it is one of the more expensive torque wrenches, it is a practical, versatile tool.
Yellow Jacket is known for supplying tools, hoses, and equipment for the automotive and HVAC industry. They are a part of the Ritchie Engineering Company, headquartered in Bloomingdale, MN.
- Audible Tones
- Adjustable heads
- Multiple uses
- Low max torque range
- One year warranty
EPAuto 1/2-inch Drive Click Torque Wrench
This EPAuto Click Torque Wrench is the number one bestseller on Amazon and is the best value we could find in a torque wrench. The click-style wrench is solid, and the
Chrome Vanadium Steel alloy feels heavy in hand. The wrench is rated for 10 - 150 ft/lbs (13.6 - 203.5 Nm). The EPAuto wrench has a dual scale that is easy to read and an adjustment screw at the base that turns quickly and easily.
There is a durable ratchet head that can handle the abuse that some torque wrenches endure. The wrench has a non-slip handle with a rubber grip and comes in a molded carrying case. (The torque pressure must be released before storage).
The wrench is only made to be used in the clockwise direction. The kit includes a five-inch extender and a ½” to ⅜” adapter. The EPAuto wrench comes in many configurations, is made in Taiwan, and has a lifetime warranty. EPAuto has been in the aftermarket auto parts industry since 2016.
- Great Value in a torque wrench
- Solid construction
- Good basic wrench
- Solid feel - Loud click
- Lifetime warranty
- Only torques in CW direction
eTORK - Electric Torque Wrench
The eTORK electric torque wrench is a capable instrument with a very accurate precision read. The wrench works in either direction and ranges from 25 - 250 ft/lbs (33.9 - 339 Nm). The electric display is effective and comes with a battery life indicator.
The wrench is made of steel alloy, with a plastic handle that fits well in the hand. It is a click-style torque wrench (we wish it had an audible “beep”).
The eTork has a +/- 3% accuracy rate and comes with a calibration certificate.
eTork wrenches are made in China, but serviced at the plant near Roswell, Ga. The company has a rich history (over forty years) in torque wrench development and production. eTork offers a limited lifetime warranty, free re-calibrations if needed (no time limit), and the staff has excellent customer service.
- Lifetime warranty
- Works in both directions
- Durable wrench
- The display is easy to read
- Faint click
- Not American-made
CRAFTSMAN 1/2-IN DR TORQUE WRENCH
The Craftsman Torque Wrench is another good value in a standard wrench if you need one for occasional use. It is an Amazon Choice award winner and exceeds all ASME standards. The wrench is made from steel alloy and is very durable. The locking display is built into the handle.
The torque gauge is a rotary dial situated at the top of the hand grip, and we appreciated that Craftsman made the grip hand-friendly. While a rotary dial is simple to use, we wondered if it might be prone to slipping, but every review indicates that the wrench performed admirably.
The torque wrench is made in China but doesn’t seem cheap. The only thing that could e improved on is the carrying case. (The case will wear out long before the wrench does). Craftsman offers the wrench in ½ “ or ⅜” sockets (we wish they had included an extender and an adapter with each one, but they don’t.
Craftsman has a long history of building quality tools and sold them for years in Sears stores (they still do). You may have a few of their tools in your garage already, so you know that they offer a lifetime replacement warranty.
- Amazon choice
- Good Value for basic wrench
- Lifetime replacement
- Not American made
- Case is plastic
Tooluxe Dual-Drive Beam-Style Torque Wrench
This Tooluxe Dual Beam style torque wrench uses a calibrated scale fitted into the handle to provide exact readings. The wrench is rated for 0 - 150 ft/lbs and works in both directions. The wrench is made from steel alloy and has a corrosion-resistant chrome finish. The 17” long shaft is perfect for most automotive torque applications.
We appreciated that the torque kit includes a dual anvil style which means it fits either ½” or ⅜” sockets. The grip is nicely formed and soft (which is terrific for extended work periods).
The wrench is made in Taiwan, and the price makes it a must-have in every mechanic’s garage.
- Great value
- Good beam wrench
- Dual anvil head
- Not American made
How Are A Torque Wrench And An Impact Wrench Different?
Torque wrenches are manually operated, while impact tools are power-generated through compressed air or electricity. Impact wrenches are commonly used to loosen lug nuts, rusted nuts, or bolts that a manual wrench cannot budge. The impact wrench can often loosen or tighten nuts faster than a standard wrench can manage. The downfall of impact wrenches is that the torque they produce cannot be controlled, which a torque wrench can do. (If you ever wondered why oil pan plugs are so challenging to remove, become stripped, or are overtightened is because somebody used a power wrench they shouldn’t have.