If you’re reading this, then you probably already know how essential an effective torque wrench is to working on a vehicle. Having just the right torque on the nuts and bolts of your vehicle means making sure it’s safe to drive. But is it worth it to get a digital torque wrench rather than something much simpler and cheaper?
The main selling points behind digital torque wrenches are accuracy and convenience. Much unlike the digital options of a decade or two ago, today’s digital torque wrenches are incredibly precise. They’ve come a long way in terms of durability as well. Notable features usually include preset calibration, an audible notification when the desired setting is reached, a display showing force applied as you use it, internal memory, and max torque applied. Most importantly, they’re significantly more accurate than click type or beam type torque wrenches, so if you want to get the most precise instrument, digital is definitely the way to go.
Digital torque wrenches (also known as electronic) often display the applied torque in inch-pounds, foot-pounds, Newton-meters, or Kilogram-centimeters. They come in a few different sizes. If you’re working on cars, you’ll probably need a 1/4”, 3/8”, or maybe 1/2”. For jobs that are measured in inch-pounds, you’ll need a 1/4”. 3/8” generally covers 15-75 foot-pounds, and 1/2” usually covers 50-250 foot-pounds, but some wrenches cover a much broader spectrum.
The answer to whether or not digital wrenches are worth the price compared to traditional type depends on which model you’re talking about, because some of them offer great value considering what they’re capable of. In order to find out for sure, you simply need to try one for yourself. Below is a list of the best digital torque wrenches overall and direct links to view them at online retailer websites. You can’t go wrong if you choose one of these.
CDI 1002CF3 Drive Computorq 3 Electronic Torque Wrench, 3/8-Inch
The high quality, feature filled CDI 1002CF3 electronic torque wrench works from 10-100 foot-pounds. It displays all four torque units in real time, and when the desired setting is approaching, an orange LED illuminates. When it’s reached the correct torque output, a green LED light comes on and a sound is made. If you exceed your preset torque, an alarm will sound signifying that you’ve surpassed your stopping point.
When you turn the 1002CF3 off, the computer inside saves the setting last used so that next time you turn it on you don’t have to fiddle with any of the settings; you can just get straight to using it. The head flexes 15 degrees, which is helpful when working in tight spaces. It comes with a long lasting lithium ion battery that’s good for several hours of continuous use before needing to be recharged. The CDI 1002CF3 is arguably the best digital torque wrench on the market. It’s at least as good as the super expensive Snap On model, but costs significantly less, going for roughly $300 online.
GearWrench 85071 1/2-Inch Drive Electronic Torque Wrench 25 – 250 ftlb
ACDelco ARM601-4 1/2″ Digital Torque Wrench (4-99 ft-lbs)
Brown Line Metalworks BLD0212BM Digital Torque Wrench in Black Case
Craftsman 9-13919 1/2-in. Drive Digi-Click Torque Wrench 25-250 ft. lbs.
Powerbuilt 944004 1/2-Inch Drive Digital Read Out Torque Wrench
1/4 Digital Torque Wrench BM