Over the years, there have been a number of advancements when it comes to hand tools. One such advancement is the digitizing of torque wrenches. Today, rather than relying on traditional click or beam type torque wrenches, more and more mechanics are turning to the digital torque wrench for its accuracy and functionality. In this article we’ll look at the main features you should look for when shopping for the best digital torque wrench and give you a list of popular wrenches that’s used by mechanics and DIYers.
- Torque Accuracy
- Torque Range
- Design Durability
- Handle Comfort
- Scale Readability
- Alert Features
- Auto Shutdown
- Storage Case
- Our Picks
- GEARWRENCH 1/2inch Drive Electronic Torque Wrench, 30-340 Nm – 85077
- ACDelco ARM601-34 3/8″ & ” Heavy Duty Digital Torque Wrench Combo Kit with Buzzer and LED Flash Notification – ISO 6789 Standards with Certificate of Calibration
- CRAFTSMAN Digital Torque Wrench, SAE, 1/2-Inch (CMMT99436)
- Summit Tools 1/2 inch UltraPrecision Digital Torque Wrench, 7.4-147.5 ft-lbs Range Accurate to ±1%, Set Target Torque, LED and Buzzer, Calibrated (WEP4-200CN)
Without question, one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing the best digital torque wrench over a more traditional design such as a click or beam style wrench is its accuracy. With traditional torque wrenches, there was a lot of room for error when it came to the reading of the gauge.
While these traditional torque wrenches were sold as pre-calibrated units, they weren’t as accurate as some mechanics would prefer. The digital torque wrench, on the other hand, is very accurate. Most of the units available on the market day are accurate to within 4% of the actually measured foot-pounds of torque.
One unique feature of a digital torque wrench is the ability to connect the torque wrench to a smartphone in order to track and record the various fasteners and their torque levels. As a result, with a single push of a button, a mechanic can choose from a preselected list of torque settings based on the particular bolt or nut. Moreover, the tracking ability also provides added security benefits for the digital torque wrench, as it is possible to lock it out which would prevent it from being used if it is stolen.
Digital torque wrenches come in a number of size options.
The smallest torque wrench features the standard 3/8-inch square drive, which is perfect for torquing down nuts and bolts with anywhere from 10 all the way up to 150 ft-lbs. of torque.
The next size up is the 1/2-inch square drive wrench that is commonly used when torquing down nuts or bolts within the 30 to 250 ft-lbs. range.
Lastly, you have the larger 3/4-inch square drive torque wrench which is capable of ratcheting down a nut or bolt anywhere from 100 ft-lbs. all the way up to 600 ft-lbs. or more.
Just like the traditional torque wrench, digital torque wrenches are designed to be both strong as well as durable. They are composed of some of the highest-grade hardened steel alloy housings that provide you with years of use. The only major difference is that the measurement and settings of the torque level, are done digitally rather than manually.
When it comes to digital torque wrenches, you will find that most models feature a well-designed rubber handle over the top of the steel body. This rubber handle is designed to give you plenty of grip, while at the same time providing comfortable use over longer periods of time. This is important, as it helps to reduce the amount of hand fatigue that a mechanic has to deal with while working on larger assemblies.
One of the biggest advantages that digital torque wrenches have over the traditional style, is how easier they are to read. With click style torque wrenches, you generally set the ft-lbs. that you desire by turning the handle. And while click units are generally the more accurate of the traditional styles, they are not always calibrated the best. Likewise, when dealing with beam-type torque wrenches, there is a lot of room for error when it comes to reading the ft-lbs. All of this is solved thanks to the introduction of digital wrenches. Not only do they provide you with an accurate display readout of the actual ft-lbs., but the backlighting feature on most units makes it easier to read even in lowlight conditions.
When dealing with beam-type wrenches, there is nothing to inform you when you hit the correct ft-lbs. Rather, you have to pay close attention to the gauge as it moves across the meter. Click type wrenches, provide a little bit better usability, in that once you reach the desired ft-lbs. it will click, alerting you that you have reached the correct levels. Another benefit of digital units is that, not only do they have an LED light that can alert a user once the desired ft-lbs. has been reached, but some units also have an audible alarm, and can even vibrate the handle.
Because they are powered by batteries, it is important to make sure that you turn off your digital torque wrench. While there are a number of units that do not feature any form of auto-shutdown feature, most of the units available today provide this feature in order to extend the life of the battery. The automatic shutdown feature can be adjusted to turn the wrench off automatically after a set period of inactivity
Because they are sensitive digital devices, ensuring that your digital torque wrench is properly stored in a hard case is important. Although you use them to torque down nuts and bolts to the desired ft-lbs., they can be damaged if they are knocked around too much or dropped. In order to prevent the possibility of damage, or the need to recalibrate the wrench, it is important to make sure that it is stored in a quality case that provides plenty of internal padding and a clasp to keep the case locked shut.
These are the main factors your should consider when purchasing the best digital wrench. Happy Shopping!
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GEARWRENCH 1/2inch Drive Electronic Torque Wrench, 30-340 Nm – 85077
The Gearwrench electronic torque wrench features a 1/2-inch square drive and has a very capable torque range from 22 ft-lbs. all the way up to 250 ft.-lbs. Thanks to its LED display and buzzer feedback, this particular unit can provide measurements in ft-lbs., in-lbs., Nm, Kgf-cm, as well as Kgf-m. When it comes to accuracy, the Gearwrench provides an accuracy of within plus or minus 2% when used in the clockwise direction, and plus or minus 3% when used in the counterclockwise direction. All in all, this digital 1/2-inch torque wrench meets all of the standard requirements for use in a professional automotive shop.
ACDelco ARM601-34 3/8″ & ” Heavy Duty Digital Torque Wrench Combo Kit with Buzzer and LED Flash Notification – ISO 6789 Standards with Certificate of Calibration
ACDelco’s ARM601 is a combination kit featuring two electronic torque wrenches, one with a 1/2-inch and one with a 3/8-inch square drive. The 3/8-inch drive torque wrench has a range from 3.7 ft-lbs. all the way up to 37 ft-lbs., while the 1/2-inch unit’s torque range runs from 14.8 ft-lbs. up to 147.5 ft-lbs. although these units feature a very easy-to-read LED display along with a buzzer warning system, they are only able to provide measurements in Nm and ft-lbs. As is standard with digital torque wrenches, both of the ACDelco wrenches in this combo Kit are capable of providing an accuracy of +/- 2% clockwise direction, as well as +/- 3% counterclockwise. For those who are fans of ACDelco tools, you will not be disappointed with this very capable combination set of 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch electronic torque wrenches.
CRAFTSMAN Digital Torque Wrench, SAE, 1/2-Inch (CMMT99436)
This popular Craftsman electronic torque wrench has a strong 1/2-inch drive. This handy little digital torque wrench provides a large torque range that starts at 50 ft-lbs. and goes all the way up to 250 ft-lbs. As is to be expected, the Craftsman Digital torque wrench comes complete with a backlit LED display and feedback tones, and with the help of that digital display, the wrench is able to provide measurements not just in ft-lbs., and in-lbs., But also in Nm. There are many things to love about this Craftsman 1/2-inch digital torque wrench, but, the fact that there is no advertised accuracy for this unit, is a definite drawback. Notwithstanding the lack of any advertised accuracy, this particular torque wrench is backed by one of the most popular names for both professional and backyard mechanics.
Summit Tools 1/2 inch UltraPrecision Digital Torque Wrench, 7.4-147.5 ft-lbs Range Accurate to ±1%, Set Target Torque, LED and Buzzer, Calibrated (WEP4-200CN)
The Summit Tools UltraPrecision digital torque wrench features a powerful 1/2-inch square drive and has one of the widest torque ranges of any 1/2-inch torque wrench, that starts at a mere 7.4 ft-lbs. and goes all the way up to 147.5 ft-lbs. The digital readout on this UltraPrecision digital torque wrench not only provides feedback to the user, but it’s able to handle measurements in in-lbs., ft-lbs., Nm, and Kgf-cm. As one of the most precise 1/2-inch digital torque wrenches available on the market today, the Summit Tools digital torque wrench is able to provide an accuracy of within +/- 1%, regardless of whether you use it clockwise or counterclockwise. Without a question, if you are looking for one of the most precise digital torque wrenches available on the market today, then the Summit Tools UltraPrecision electronic torque wrench is the perfect option.