There are at least five different types of torque wrenches and many mechanics have their own personal favorites. Perhaps you’ve narrowed your decision and you’re wondering which is the best digital torque wrench you can buy.
I’m here to help you make that decision. I’ll not only highlight some of the best models on the market, but I’ll also provide some general information that should benefit your decision-making process
Whether you’re looking for a torque wrench with a specific feature set or just something that offers all-round best value for your money, you’re in the right place.
Let me start with the general info, as that may help you eliminate some of the reviews I’ll list further down.
Digital Torque Wrench vs Standard Wrench
A click type torque wrench is one of the most popular types on the market, yet many feel that digital is the only way to go. What are the differences and what are the pros and cons of each?
Let me address accuracy first.
Many websites will make sweeping statements saying that a digital torque wrench will always be more accurate. To which I feel compelled to say, “Hold on there, pardner.”
Yes, in some cases a digital torque wrench will be better. But in some cases, a regular click torque wrench may be better as well. It all comes down to you get what you pay for. Meaning you could buy a cheap, low-end digital torque wrench that falls short of a high-quality click type torque wrench.
However, you can say that the digital type would be more precise in its readout, which doesn’t necessarily indicate the measurement itself is accurate.
When it comes to digital vs standard torque wrenches, the biggest differences are in the visibility of the scale, the torque settings, reliability, cost, and maintenance.
Standard, Click Torque Wrench
Standard or click types have a set torque using a mechanical scale, that sometimes, but not always, shows units of measure in both metric and SAE. Torque is set by rotating the handle until you land on your desired setting.
The click style is a simple tool. You may have heard the term KISS (keep it simple, stupid), and I’m one who likes to follow this principle. Because it’s often the case that the more complicated an item, the more chances there are for something to go wrong.
In the case of a click type torque wrench, simplicity is a bonus. It means they are less expensive, and often more reliable. But again, this falls in line with the quality observation I made above.
Simplicity also means there’s less to worry about in terms of maintenance, however, keeping it clean and calibrated is still a necessity.
- Easy to use
- You can continue to apply torque even after the click indicates you’re reached your desired measurement
- Handling of the wrench can impact torque
- Torque isn’t measured or traced
Digital Torque Wrench
A digital interface allows you to read and adjust your settings and most models provide some sort of feedback to alert the user to the fact desired torque has been achieved. Some will even provide an advanced warning as you are nearing your setting, which helps to prevent situations where you might over-torque.
Digital torque wrenches also allow for 5 different unit of measurement readings.
- Controls offer a “certificated” error-proof torque
- You can see your tightening results in real-time
- Measuring does not depend on handling
What to Look for When Buying a Torque Wrench
This applies to all torque wrenches, not just digital models. However, the principles are the same, so still useful.
- Accuracy and Calibration
Brands. As with anything you buy, you get what you pay for. Sticking to quality brands will mean a durable product that measures accurately.
Price. There’s a fair range in prices. My advice is don’t buy based on price alone. Understand what features you want and need and then price within that range.
Quality. Should I repeat the “you get what you pay for” advice? You may pay more for good quality, but that typically pays off in the end. A substandard tool can equal an equally substandard job. So keep that in mind if you take pride in your work.
Size. Torque wrenches are available in 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch, and 3/4-inch sizes.
Accuracy and Calibration. Make sure you choose a wrench with an accuracy of plus or minus 5%.
Storage. Yes, it matters. The accuracy of your wrench will depend on how well you store it. If what you plan on buying doesn’t come with a case, make sure you buy one as it will protect the calibrator.
Materials. If you buy a cheap knockoff with substandard metals, you can expect that it won’t last long. Be sure to buy a wrench made of strong, durable materials.
Detailed Reviews of the Best Digital Torque Wrenches
I mentioned above that you want a torque wrench that promises good accuracy. The Gearwrench 85077 has a torque accuracy of plus 2%.
To prevent overtightening, it also offers feedback at two points. It will give a “target torque alert” as you near your chosen target torque and then will again alert you when you’ve reached your target. This second notification happens three ways. The handle vibrates, a buzzer goes off, and an LED light goes on. Pretty hard to miss all of that!
If you often find yourself trying to work in tight spaces, this model offers a 72 Tooth ratchet mechanism with a 5° swing arc.
Finally, measurement units are read out in Nm, ft lb, In pounds, kgf m, and kg cm, so don’t be fooled by the 30-340 Nm mentioned in the name.
|Multiple alerts||No flex head in this model.|
|Accuracy of +/- 2%||Requires batteries|
This is an all-round good choice with a great range of 25 to 250 foot-pounds. And if you need a flex head, they do offer a model with that feature included.
The accuracy of this wrench is well within the range detailed in our buying guide, coming in at +/- 3% in the clockwise direction.
In my opinion, one of the best features of this wrench is the fact that it will stop when you’ve reached your desired preset torque. You have the option of this or having it simply click when torque is reached.
And depending on your local units of measurement, you have the choice of converting between Lb.ft, N.m, Lb.in, and Kg.cm.
Finally, this wrench meets the certification requirements of the America National Standard ASME B107.300-2010 and comes with a lifetime personal use guarantee.
|Well built||No small adapters for 1/2", 3/8, and 1/4|
|Easy to use and adjust|
|Multiple units of measure|
|25 to 250 foot-pounds|
If you’re looking for value for your money, this is a great buy. For the price, it has an impressive build quality.
The buying guide recommends looking for brands you know you can trust. I think we can check this box off when it comes to ACDelco.
This feature-rich wrench has a torque range is 3-99 ft-lb, making it a great choice for most automotive work. Its digital display is prominently situated on top of the handle, making it easy to read your settings. It’s an LCD screen that will convert units between ft-lb, in-lb, kg-cm, and N-m. It also includes peak torque readout and trace mode, allowing you to view the torque you’re applying in real-time. And once you’ve hit your required torque, it chimes to alert you.
This wrench will tighten in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions, with an accuracy rating that is +/- 2% when using clockwise and +/- 3% when counterclockwise.
|3 wrench settings||Maximum of 99 foot-pounds of torque|
|Clockwise and counterclockwise torquing||No backlight on the LCD|
If your requirements fall under 99 foot-pounds of torque, this is a great choice.
Another quality option from the ACDelco brand, this wrench has an accuracy rating of +/-2% in the clockwise direction and +/-3% in the counterclockwise direction. It has also been pre-calibrated.
The display will tell you when you’re about to reach your torque setting and the wrench will begin to slow down, meaning you will never overtighten anything again. And since this model offers both race and peak modes, you’ll be able to see current and maximum torque values. And those values are available in units of foot-pounds, Newton meters, and kilograms/per centimeter, with a range of just over 1 foot-pounds to over 700 foot-pounds.
|Easy to use||No backlight on the LCD|
|Wide range of torque|
|National Institute of Standards certification of calibration|
Ideal for heavy duty projects, though the lack of backlight is distinct at this price tag.
At just under 10 inches in length, this is the torque wrench you need if you’re working in tight spaces. It also means it’s easy to carry and store.
This wrench has a torque range of 1.33 to 44.25 ft-lbs. It is accurate to 2% clockwise & 2.5% counterclockwise when in 0.01 ft-lb resolution, and it meets or exceeds ASME B107.14-2004, ISO 6789 standards.
It comes with a large LCD display and provides measurements in units of N-m, kgf-cm, lbf-ft, and lbf-in. It also has 3 measuring modes. Real-time, peak, and preset modes and allow for 999 sets of stored values. It also has a buzzer to let you know when you have reached your target torque.
Finally, it’s constructed from high-quality steel and industrial ABS plastic, meaning it’s a durable choice.
|Quality construction||Poor instructions|
|Buzzer at torque|
If you’re looking for a small and inexpensive torque wrench, this is the one to choose!
As I’ve mentioned, having the right tool for the job is critical, so taking the time to choose the best digital torque wrench is worth your time.
If you’ve been through the buying guide above, that will give you a great start in making the right choice. Or you can simply make a choice from one of the selections above. Assuming the feature set meets your induvial needs, the GearWrench—our best overall choice—might be your answer.
Ultimately, your choice will depend on your unique needs, but hopefully, the information here has helped in some way. Why not check out our related posts below? Maybe there’s something else we can help you with!