Does your job involve fastening and removing nuts and bolts? If not, you probably don’t know the difference between a torque wrench and a lug wrench. A torque wrench is a precision measuring tool that helps you tighten fasteners to a specific value. This comprehensive guide will show you how to identify the best torque wrench for your budget and applications.
We researched and created this torque wrench reviews to help you make informed buying choices. This guide contains a list of the top torque wrenches on the market. It also provides a detailed buying guide packed with vital information about the torque wrench. We hope it will help you choose the product that meets your expectation.
Read on to learn more about the torque wrench and its major features and specifications. We also cover its applications and how to get maximum benefits from the tool. Let’s go!
Best Torque Wrench Reviews
1. TEKTON 24335 1/2″ Drive Click Torque Wrench
This 1/2″ drive click torque wrench from TEKTON is a high quality product designed for precision fastening applications. It features a durable all-steel construction, allowing you to use it in confidence without fear of breaking.
This product contains no plastic parts, so it doesn’t break or wear out after prolonged use. The wrench comes pre-calibrated to +/-4% accuracy, so you can use it immediately out of the box.
This torque wrench comes with a high-contrast dual-range scale for easy adjustment to a desired setting. The scale is also legible and completely visible in low light conditions. This allows you to use it any time without extra lighting.
The reversible ratchet head can move in both directions. It measures torque in clockwise direction, so you can trust its accuracy. This makes it easy to apply pressure on fasteners in clockwise and anticlockwise direction. This torque wrench is easy to use and long-lasting.
2. Precision Instruments PREC3FR250F Torque Wrench
Precision Instruments’ PREC3FR250F torque wrench is a professional grade tool ideal for a wide range of applications. Built for convenience, torque wrench comes with a length of over 25″, allowing for easy access into crevices.
The tool comes with torque setting locks which you can use on adjustable wrenches for repetitive tasks. Its adjustable knob makes setting torque on ratcheting wrenches simple and quick since it doesn’t rely on spring tension.
You can set and adjust torque on this tool with the tip of your finger. Unlike a micrometer style clock wrench, this product requires no work in before using it for the first time.
This wrench offers reliable long term accuracy compared to wind up clicker models. And it is affordable, easy to set up and provides consistent performance over a wide range of its scales. It enjoys a huge popularity online and customer reviews shows the product delivers as promised.
3. eTORK Click-Style Torque Wrench
eTORK’s 40+ years in the torque technology industry shows through in its products. According to the manufacturer, this product has an accuracy of +/-3% in clockwise direction. The click-style torque wrench features a 45-tooth ratchet head.
This makes it nimble enough for clockwise and counter-clockwise applications in confined workspaces. The wrench features a slim and lightweight design with a hardened allot steel housing for durability and longevity.
This click-style torque wrench uses a ball bearing release mechanism. The feature makes its highly precise and accurate and allows it to deliver consistent performance with improved sensitivity.
Its large, ergonomic soft-grip handle provides the user comfort. Compared to competitors, you need about 50% less turning force to adjust torque when using this product.
To make it easier to use this torque wrench, it comes with dual, English, and metric scales. This significantly reduces adjustment errors, allowing you to achieve higher accuracy.
4. TACKLIFE 3/8″ Drive Click Torque Wrench Set
With an accuracy of +/- 4%, the TACKLIFE 3/8″ drive click torque wrench offers consistent accuracy. It is ideal for a wide range of fastening applications. The product is easy to set and even easier to use.
It has a bottom adjustable ring for easy locking of your torque range while preventing over tightening. The wrench makes a “click” sound when it reaches your preset torque, improving accuracy while reducing the chances of accidents.
The Tacklife click torque wrench features a dual range scale, including the imperial and metric scales. This makes it easy to set and adjust the torque, regardless of a fastener’s country of origin. The high contrast scales are easy to read, even in low visibility environments.
At just 2.7 pounds, this torque wrench is strong but lightweight. The tool’s all-steel construction makes it durable and sturdy. The tool features a compact design and a firm grip which prevents slippage during use.
5. EPAuto 1/2-inch Drive Click Torque Wrench
EPAuto’s 1/2″ drive click torque wrench is specially designed for automotive applications. It comes with a durable ratchet head made from hardened chrome vanadium steel alloy. The ratchet head is not only durable and long-lasting, but is also corrosion-retardant and has a beautiful satin finish.
This drive click torque wrench has a long handle for easy access to hard-to-reach automotive surfaces. It features a high contrast, dual range scale for easy and fast setting and adjustment of torque.
The product has been precalibrated to +/-4% accuracy. It allows you to perform a wide range of precision applications with consistent results over a long period. This torque wrench is simple to use and delivers reliable performance.
It makes a clear “click” sound to alert you when it reaches the preset torque value. That way, you know when to stop applying force to a fastener, thereby preventing accidents.
6. Neiko 03727A 1/4-Inch Drive Beam Style Torque Wrench
This Neiko 1/4″ drive beam-style torque wrench is ideal for precision fastening jobs. The product is designed for left and right-handed use. Its long beam style allows you to tighten fasteners quickly with minimal effort.
Each of this torque wrench is precalibrated from the factory to an accuracy of +/- 4%. This makes it especially useful for fastening operations that require high levels of accuracy.
Its ball end handle provides an ergonomic and comfortable firm grip for seamless turning. The square head also features a ball detent and chamfered ends which provides a secure hold. This prevents sockets from dropping off, helping you to work efficiently without wasting time.
The large and high contrast scale near the handle makes setting and adjusting torque fast and simple. This tool comes with dual scales, which are easy to reach from afar.
What Is a Torque Wrench?
A torque wrench is a tool used to tighten fasteners such as bolts and nuts to a precise torque value. The tool is an important element in mechanical operations. You will find torque wrenches in a wide range of industries, but it is most commonly used by auto mechanics.
A torque wrench allows mechanics to fasten a bolt or nut to the manufacturer-specified tension level. This prevents applying excessive force during fastening operations, reducing the chances of damaging fasteners and joints.
Manufacturers go through a lot of trouble to calculate the torque specifications for every component in their products. The preset torque is not merely a design parameter; it is vital for the optimal performance of a product and the safety of the user.
Take, for instance, over-tensioning a fastener after a tire changing operation. Excessive torque can damage the wheel joint, weaken the fastener, and jeopardize the safety of the car occupants. This is why torque wrenches are so important.
It is important that you don’t confuse a torque wrench with an impact wrench. An impact wrench is designed for heavy applications, while the torque wrench is a precision tool.
You use the impact wrench for the loosening and tightening fasteners quickly. However, a torque wrench is designed for precision measurement jobs. It is extremely sensitive to pressure and not ideal for undoing bolts and nuts.
Torque Wrench Buying Guide
Buying a torque wrench is not as simple as getting an impact wrench. You have to choose from an overcrowded market while trying to get the best product for your job. This buying guide will show you the top factors and features to consider before choosing a torque wrench.
10 Useful Considerations When Buying a Torque Wrench
When shopping for a new torque wrench, consider the following to get the best value for your money:
The most important factor to consider when choosing a torque wrench is the accuracy. After all, it is a precision measuring instrument. Look for products that have been precalibrated to +/- 3 or 4%. Some specialist wrenches may offer even more accurate settings.
You want to choose a torque wrench that can provide reliable and consistent accuracy over a wide range of applications. Thankfully, you can get very precise torque wrenches that have a high level of consistency at affordable prices. Whatever you do, make sure the product you buy can deliver the accuracy you need for your fastening applications.
Another vital consideration when buying a torque wrench is the load limit. This factor determines the type of fastening applications you can do with the instrument. So it is essential to check it before picking a model.
The load limit is the amount of pressure you need to exert on a fastener to reach a specific torque. It depends on the size, weight, durability of the tool.
Buy a large wrench if your fastening projects require a high amount of load limit. If you bought a small-sized torque wrench, you may not get the desired results.
The rule of thumb is to buy a tool with a higher load limit than the work you intend to do. That way, you can easily complete torqueing jobs without the risk of damaging your precision tool or fastener.
There are four different sizes of torque wrenches. The 1/4″ drive is ideal for small fasteners and can produce up to 21 foot-pounds of torque. You can use the 3/8″ drive to deliver up to 15 to 75 foot-pounds of torque. The 1/2″ drive is suitable for larger fasteners used to mount suspensions and engines. Large rigs and aircraft and marine engineers use the 3/4″ drive.
The weight of a torque wrench plays an important role in the type of work you can use it for. If you work in tight areas, such as underneath a car, consider buying a lightweight model with adjustable length.
The size also determines the load limit. Obviously, a light torque wrench will have a lower load limit compared to a heavy-duty model. Consider how the size of the tool will after ease of use, your workspace, and the work you do.
The material used to make a torque wrench is important for its longevity and durability. It can also determine the value you will get from your purchase.
There are models that have all-steel construction, while others are made from alloys such as chrome vanadium. Some manufacturers use a mix of metal and plastic or other synthetic materials.
The most durable torque wrenches on the market are the all-steel and alloy models. They may have a plastic or rubberized grip, but the whole wrench is sturdy and durable enough to last for many years.
A good way to identify long-lasting products is to read customer reviews. Lengthy warranty periods can also help you identify manufacturers who have confidence in their product.
Consistency and Reliability
Manufacturers can claim calibrating their torque wrench to an accuracy of less than 2%. But can the tool provide reliable torque measurements consistently after a long period?
It’s difficult to determine which brand offers consistent and reliable performance except you’ve used it for some time. The best way to find this information is to read honest customer reviews.
The two main types of torque wrenches are the manual and digital designs. If you work in confined spaces, a torque bar with a long handle will make access easier. Some models are designed for repetitive tasks, so you don’t have to stop working to readjust it frequently.
Besides the beautiful digital display and flashy grips, you want a tool that is accurate and reliable. It should be easy to use, sturdy, and built to last. The most important thing is to buy a product that suits your fastening projects.
The top torque wrench brands use scales readable in low light conditions. It should also come with dual-range scales. This means it has scale settings for imperial and metric measurements.
Most of the world use the metric scale, but some companies in the US stick to the imperial system. Thankfully, dual-range scales allow you to work with different fasteners without complicated conversions.
Buy a torque wrench with improved ergonomics. The product should have the ideal length, weight, size, and design.
Models that have large handgrips make it easier to work in comfort for longer with oily and slippery hands. A torque wrench that can ratchet will also make your work faster and less physically demanding.
The cost of a torque wrench depends on several factors, including the material, design, features, and load limit. If your work doesn’t require high levels of accuracy, go for models with standard features. It is better to invest in the most feature-rich torque wrench if you perform precision fastening jobs.
6 Important Features & Specifications of Torque Wrenches
Here are important features and specifications to check when shopping for a torque wrench:
Many torque wrench brands include a certificate that authenticates the accuracy of the tool’s factory calibration. This is important if your work requires exacting levels of precise torque measurements.
Torque Setting Indicator
This feature allows you to know when you reach the preset torque level. Depending on the sophistication of the model you buy, the indicator can be an audible click, a beep, or vibration. Models that come with a digital display will brighten, flash, or count down to a number.
There are different types of scales used on torque wrenches. Most are printed on the tool’s frame, but a few models have a large scale for easy readability. Make sure your torque wrench has dual-range scales so you can use it for standard and metric fasteners.
The ratcheting feature allows you to use a torque wrench for both clockwise and counterclockwise fastening applications. If you buy this type, make sure the instrument only counts torque in a clockwise direction.
Go for torque wrenches with wide and comfortable grips. This will allow you to work in comfort and prevent slipping while fastening bolts and nuts with slippery hands.
Because it is a precision tool, it is important for your torque wrench to come with a hard storage case. This will protect the tool, allowing it to deliver consistent and reliable results every time.
Types of Torque Wrenches
There are different types of torque wrenches. Each type has a unique design and features and serves specific fastening applications.
Here are Some Common Torque Wrench Types & Their Uses
Beam Torque Wrench
Beam-style torque wrenches have a square head that comes with a pointer beam on a scale. As you twist the wrench, the beam remains in place while the scale shows the amount of torque being applied. Once you reach the preset torque limit, the scale stops at that number.
Beam-style torque wrenches are easy to use and very affordable.
Click-Style Torque Wrench
This style of wrench is so-called because it makes an audible click when you reach the torque limit. The tool comes with a spring-loaded lever that you adjust by twisting the handle.
The lever breaks when you reach the set torque level, creating a clicking sound. Most click-style wrenches can ratchet, so you can use them in clockwise and anticlockwise direction.
Electronic Torque Wrenches
Electronic or digital torque wrenches feature a sensor which detects the amount of force you apply to a fastener. A circuit converts the force into electrical current and shows it on a digital display.
Digital torque wrenches are common in auto mechanic workshops. They have a memory stick for recording a wide range of torque settings for different fasteners. These models are especially useful for angle tightening.
Depending on the model, they can give beep, lighting, or vibration signals after reaching the torque level. With digital torque wrenches, you can perform several fastening applications without manually setting the torque.
Dial Torque Wrenches
Dial torque wrenches have a wider design than other models. They have a wrench head, a handle, and a dial scale in the middle to show the level of torque.
Dial torque wrenches are used for applications that require extreme precision. They are common in the aeronautics, defense, and manufacturing industries.
Micrometer Torque Wrenches
Micrometer torque wrenches are another popular type used in the automobile and transport industries. It has a simple design and is easy to use.
Hydraulic Torque Wrench
Hydraulic torque wrenches use pneumatic power to measure the amount of torque in industrial manufacturing processes.
Of all the six types of torque wrenches mentioned above, the most common types are the electronic, beam-style, and click-style models. Most homeowners can make do with the beam-style and click-style models. Auto technicians use a combination of the three in their workshops.
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Differences Between Wrench Types
Torque Wrench Vs Socket Wrench
A torque wrench is a precision tool that lets you monitor the amount of pressure to apply to a fastener. In most cases, you shouldn’t loosen a fastener with a torque wrench; it is designed mainly for tightening bolts and nuts to a manufacturer specification.
The socket wrench or ratchet and socket combination is a tool that comes with detachable sockets. The ratchet is a wrench which you insert into the socket to either loosen or tighten a faster.
The main feature of the socket wrench is that you can pivot the tool back and forth without removing the socket to reposition it.
The torque wrench and ratchet wrench both have a socket attached at one end. The only difference is that the latter helps to tighten or loosen fasteners while the former guides you to a precise tightening to meet specific torque settings.
Both the torque wrench and socket wrench work together. But there are torque wrenches that have a ratcheting head, allowing them to tighten and loosen bolts and nuts.
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Impact Wrenches Vs Torque Wrenches
The impact wrench and torque wrench are both used for fastening operations. But they are two different tools with specific uses and features.
A torque wrench is a precision hand tool that allows you to tighten bolts and nuts accurately. An impact wrench is a power tool that uses immense force to loosen or tighten fasteners, but with limited accuracy.
While the torque wrench is manual, the impact wrench is powered by air, battery, or electric. Because it is a power tool, you can use an impact wrench for long hours without fatigue.
A torque wrench is hand-operated and will cause excessive discomfort after a few hours of use. To avoid fatigue, use the impact wrench for the heavy fastening and finish the job with the torque wrench.
Torque wrenches are silent, but impact wrenches may require the use of ear protection because they make a lot of noise. An impact wrench is also relatively more expensive compared to a torque wrench. However, some hydraulic torque wrenches can be very expensive but are only used for specialist jobs.
4 Benefits of Using a Torque Wrench
The torque wrench is very important in repair and maintenance work, especially in the automotive workshop. Auto mechanics use it to achieve precise torque levels while tightening different types of fasteners. The following are some benefits of using a torque wrench:
- Improves Accuracy
The biggest advantage of using a torque wrench is that it allows you to tighten fasteners to a specific accuracy. This is especially important when you are performing jobs like changing tires or installing engine parts.
While some fastening operations require brute force, others need to be precise. A torque wrench allows you to complete your fastening projects correctly without wasting time or damaging the joints and fasteners.
- Ease of Use
Another big benefit of the torque wrench is simplicity. The tool does not need power or any specialized training. All you need do is learn the correct way to set and adjust the torque and how to maintain it.
By design, torque wrenches also prevent application of excessive force. You only need to exert the amount of pressure to reach a specific torque level.
- Reduces the Risk of Accidents
Torque wrenches are so important because they can help prevent accidents and save lives. The tool allows mechanics and other auto technicians to achieve the correct manufacturer specified tightening during repair and maintenance operations. This means you can prevent over and under tightening bolts and nuts and reduce the risk of failures.
- Less Maintenance
Over tightening or under-tightening fasteners can increase wear and tear, which increases the cost of maintenance. Poorly tightened fasteners can also lead to costly damages, many of which will cost thousands of dollars to replace or repair. The correct use of a torque wrench can help you achieve precise fastening specifications and prevent costly maintenance.
How Does a Torque Wrench Work?
To understand how the torque wrench works, it is important to know the meaning of torque. Torque is the force exerted by rotational force. For torque wrenches, the foot/pound measurement indicates the amount of force (in pounds) applied for every foot rotation of the wrench head. So what the torque wrench does it help you apply a specific rotational force per foot to a fastener.
Take, for instance, a nut that is rated 200 pounds-feet of torque, and the wrench is 2 feet long. You will need to turn the wrench several times until you have applied 200 pounds of force.
Torque helps to balance the clamping force between a joint and fastener. If it’s excessive, you risk wearing the joint and the fastener or even causing more extensive damage. Too weak, and the fastener might come loose spontaneously.
A torque wrench works by applying a specific amount of force per feet on a fastener. The goal of the torque wrench is to prevent you from overloading a fastener and the joint that supports it.
Presicion Measuring With a Torque Wrench
Because a torque wrench is a precision instrument, you need to handle it with care. You also need to know the correct way of setting and adjusting the torque to get the best results.
Most manufacturers precalibrate their torque wrenches to an accuracy up to +/- 3-4%. This allows you to use the tool for precision fastening jobs for a long time without recalibration.
But the factory calibration is not enough. You won’t get precise and consistent results if you don’t know how to set the tension and use the tool.
In subsequent sections, we discuss the important specifications and features to look for in torque wrenches. You will also learn the proper way of using a torque wrench and more.
How to use a Torque Wrench in 5 Steps
Here is how to use a torque wrench correctly:
- Check Torque Specifications
The first step is to check the torque specifications for the bolts or nuts you want to tighten. Don’t guess if you don’t know to avoid problems.
Most shops and service manuals have the torque values for fasteners, but you can check it online, too. Make sure you are using the most recent torque specifications because manufacturers can change them at short notice.
Also, don’t lubricate fasteners except the manufacturer tells you to do so. Otherwise, you will reduce friction between the fastener and the joint, causing dangerous overloading.
- Adjust the Torque Wrench
Before you adjust the torque wrench after a long period, reuse it for several times to make sure the internal parts are free. Then unlock the adjuster if you are using the click-type or beam-style torque wrench. Remember to check whether the fastener is calibrated in foot-pound or inch-pounds and set the torque value accordingly. After setting the torque value, lock it in place.
- Tighten the Fastener
The next step is to tighten the bolt or nut as required until you reach the torque value. You can use an impact wrench to start the work and complete the last tightening with a torque wrench. If your torque wrench has a ratcheting mechanism, it can help reduce the time and effort, too.
- Get the Precise Torque
When the fastener becomes tight, use the torque wrench to apply steady, even pressure until you hear an audible click. The tool may also alert you with a beep and other signals, depending on the design.
While tightening the fastener with the torque wrench, keep the handle centered on its pivot. Otherwise, the tool might lose its accuracy.
Also, some fastening jobs, such as those of engines and suspensions require torqueing plus angle. This requires tightening each fastener snugly one after the other before torqueing in sequence. The method aims to compensate for disparity in fastener quality, friction, load, tension, and other variables.
- Remove the Torque Wrench
Once you have tightened the fastener to the correct torque, remove the tool and store away. If the torque wrench is spring-loaded, set it back to a minimum value to prevent tension loss.
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How to Calibrate a Torque Wrench?
Torque wrenches are precision measurement tools you need to handle with care. They also require regular calibration to provide accurate and reliable results consistently. It is necessary to know how to calibrate your torque wrench periodically to get the best out of the tool.
That said, the best way to calibrate your torque wrench is to hire a professional to do it. But there is no harm in knowing how to recalibrate the instrument yourself, even if the process may not be perfect. Below, we discuss how to calibrate a click-style torque wrench.
First, you need to get all the supplies to perform the calibration. These include:
- Tape measure
- Click-style torque wrench
- Marker or paint pen
- 20-35-pound weight
- A means of restraining the torque wrench, such as a bench-mounted vice or lug nut
- String or rope that can support the weight
- Pen and paper to record your calculations
Calibrating a Torque Wrench Step by Step
Step 1. Measure Your Torque Wrench
Capture your measurement from the center of the square drive and stop at the handle. Remember to mark where you stop. For example, if you have a 20″ torque wrench, start measuring from the point where you attach the socket wrench and stop at the point where you hold the handle. This should be around 18.” Note the value on the paper.
Step 2. Restrain the Torque Wrench
The next step is to secure your torque wrench. For more accurate results, lock the square head in a vise mounted on a table. Otherwise, secure a socket wrench on the square drive and place it on a lug nut fastened to sturdy equipment.
Secure the torque wrench horizontally so you can suspend a weight on it vertically. The handle should move freely after securing the square head.
Step 3. Calculate Your Torque
To calibrate the tool correctly, you need to calculate the torque. This requires multiplying the length you measured in step 1 by the weight you want to hang on the handle. Here, let’s say 20 pounds. You then divide the answer by 12 to get the foot-pounds. The answer will give you the torque value of the instrument.
15 inches x 20 pounds = 300 inch-pounds
300 inch-pounds/12 = 25 foot-pounds.
Step 4. Attach Weight to Calibrate the Torque Wrench
Now that you have the torque value, secure the cable or rope to your weight. Then make a loop on the free end to suspend the weight on the tool. Set your torque wrench to 25 foot-pounds. Next, hang the weight on the point where you marked in step 1, suspending it in mid-air. If the torque wrench clicked, it means it is calibrated.
To test the accuracy of the test, adjust the torque setting to 26 foot-pounds and listen. If you don’t hear a click, it means you have correctly calibrated the tool. If the torque wrench did not click when you suspended the weight, it is not calibrated, and you will have to adjust the setting manually.
Step 5. Adjust the Torque Wrench
Remove the weight and adjust the spring tension in the tool with a screwdriver. There is a screw midway between the wrench handle and the square drive. Turn the screw clockwise gradually.
Then hang the weight at the mark on the handle and listen for a click. Repeat this process until the tool clicks. Confirm the click by removing and replacing the weight and listening for the click.
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FAQ’s & Answers
Here are commonly asked questions about torque wrenches and answers:
- Q: What is the best way to store your torque wrench?
A: When storing a torque wrench for a prolonged period, it is important to wind it down to a minimum setting but not completely to zero. Storing the torque wrench when fully loaded can weaken the spring over time.
Likewise, setting the spring to zero can create a vacuum in the wrench, allowing other components to shift. The next time you want to use the tool, it may have lost its accuracy. For consistent and reliable measurements, allow some compression in the spring before storage.
- Q: Is one click enough when using a torque wrench?
A: When using the torque wrench, pay attention to your hand movement and listen for the click. One click is enough to get a precise torque value. More clicks may add extra torque to the fastener and overload it.
- Q: How do I adjust my torque wrench?
A: Every equipment has a manufacturer-specified torque for all its components and fasteners. It is important to always check the scale to determine the specific torque value for every equipment and fastening application.
- Q: Can you use torque wrenches for undoing bolts and nuts?
A: Yes, but it is not advisable. You can use a torque wrench to loosen a fastener if it won’t require maximum force. If you have to apply maximum pressure to undo a fastener, the torque wrench can lose its accuracy and suffer extensive damage.
- Q: Can I use an extension with a torque wrench handle?
A: Using extensions with your torque wrench can overload the tool and cause serious damage.
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The torque wrench is one of the most important precision measuring tools in the automobile industry and beyond. In the hands of a skilled technician, the instrument can improve equipment performance, reduce maintenance and repair costs, and save lives. But you need to invest in the best torque wrench for your fastening applications to enjoy these benefits.
Choosing a top-quality torque wrench can be tough, though. While the instrument is relatively inexpensive, buying an inferior quality model can be a real problem.
You want a torque wrench that can provide consistent and reliable accuracy for your precision fastening jobs. That is why you need to read torque wrench reviews to know the important features and specification of the top brands.
This guide not only provides reviews of the best brands on the market, it shows you how to make an informed choice. We hope this article helps you choose a quality torque wrench that will last a lifetime.