I spent a lot of my childhood hanging out at my Dad’s mechanic shop. As a kid, the torque wrench equalled magic. Here I was putting all my weight into turning and tightening a bolt…then all of sudden, click, click, click…you weren’t. So why mess with magic? The digital torque wrench claims to offer a highly degree of reliability and provides certainty that only a digital readout brings.
We developed this shopping guide to the best digital torque wrenches on the market to ensure you make the best possible buying decision.
But before getting to those nitty-gritty details, here’s a quick breakdown of what a digital torque wrench is as well as how to pick the best digital torque wrench.
Editor’s Note: This article includes links to products that we believe are best in class. At no cost to you, we may earn a small commission if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.
What is a Digital Torque Wrench?
A torque wrench refers to a specialized or technical tool used regularly in securing fasteners to ensure that some parts of an engine, compressor, pump, or other pieces of equipment are not over-tightened or under-tightened. Mechanical tasks are more precise and easier with digital torque wrenches, which provide users with a digital display that highlights the exact amount of torque in use.
Some digital torque wrenches are equipped with some warning signs, including sounds, flashing lights, or vibrations that indicate precisely when you have reached the desired torque.
Most digital torque wrenches come pre-calibrated. A few others allow users to pre-set multiple torque levels so that they can quickly shift from one day-to-day task to another at the push of a button.
Buying Guide: Parameters for Selecting a Good Digital Torque Wrench
Don’t go shopping for a digital torque wrench without knowing the features to watch out for. Here are some parameters to consider in order when selecting an excellent digital torque wrench:
Accuracy and Measurement Units
The first factor to watch out for when shopping for a digital torque wrench is its measurement units and how accurate it is. An inaccurate wrench over-tightens or under-tightens when in use.
This can cause fasteners to come loose or break during operation. Good digital torque wrenches are pre-calibrated to approximately ± 4 percent accuracy.
The majority of torque wrenches come with a steel handle or rubberized plastic handle with raised grips. Rubber grips help minimize hand fatigue and make you comfortable, while metal handles give users better control.
You should always prioritize comfort when choosing a digital torque wrench. Therefore, opt for a tool with an ergonomic grip. Such a grip will never make your hand cramp or make your hand slip during operation.
Any digital torque wrench with a low range will limit the types of jobs you can efficiently perform. A good torque wrench should have a maximum range that falls below 100 foot-pounds, perfect for simple tasks. Such wrenches are useless when used for mechanical or automotive applications.
A few digital torque wrenches come with a wide torque range, with some reaching up to 1000 foot-pounds of force. But most digital torque wrenches come with ranges of about 150 foot-pounds; this is more than enough torque to tighten to typical manufacturer’s requirements.
The significant advantage that digital torque wrenches have over regular ones is their scale readability. This is because digital torque wrenches have highly prominent displays that reveal the current torque reading.
However, the shading, size, text, and menu options on the digital display vary among individual products. In a shop environment, the quality of the digital read-out is importan.
An excellent digital torque wrench must have an alert that informs you when you reach the foot-pounds or inch-pounds of torque you desire. Some models alert you via visual indicators like blinking LED lights, while others have handles that vibrate.
Other digital torque wrenches have handles that vibrate or an audible alarm that catches your attention.
Digital torque wrenches are generally powered by batteries designed to operate the alert systems, the digital screen, as well as the internal mechanics of the measurement device.
However, batteries run out of energy, and you may need to replace them or recharge them before you can resume work.
Digital torque wrenches are highly sensitive devices whose accuracy can be severely affected if dropped on the ground or knocked against anything. Protecting the device is therefore paramount as it will also minimize the number of times it requires recalibration. So, look for a digital torque wrench with a durable storage case.
Drive size plays a key role in selecting an appropriate wrench. Standard drive sizing in the United States is 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″. 1/4″ torque wrenches are not common. The 1/4″ drive is not suitable for most torquing applications as it is designed for low torque. A variety of digital torque wrench selections exist in both the 3/8″ and 1/2″. Our review includes both of these sizes.
Top 4 Digital Torque Wrenches
The eTORK digital torque wrench is constructed with hardened alloy steel and plastic. This long-lasting and highly durable tool comes in a lightweight, slim design, delivering torque ranging from 25 to 250 in-lbs of torque. The digital torque wrench measures torque at an accuracy rate of ± 3% (clockwise) and ± 6% (counter-clockwise).
Every measurement is shown on the eTORK digital torque wrench screen. And you can even switch easily between 4 different units, e.g., ft-lb, Kg-cm, Nm, in-lb.
The eTORK digital torque wrench is a click style model; this means you will hear a click sound that pops when the preset torque value is reached. This wrench is certified by the American National Standard ASME B107.200-2010.
- Wrench clicks or releases when preset torque value is read
- Secure locking knob
- 45 tooth, reversible ratchet head
|Product weight||3.23 lbs|
|Material type||Alloy steel and plastic|
|Storage type||Hard-shell plastic case|
|Dimensions (inches)||17.04 x 2.76 x 2.44 inches|
|Manufacturer’s warranty||Lifetime personal use guarantee|
- Users love the unit’s sturdy and durable construction
- It comes with a hard-shell case for additional protection
- Multiple measurement units
- ± 3% clockwise accuracy
- Users complain that the ‘click’ sound is not as good when the unit is in low settings.
- It shocks some users how much play this unit has
- Some users complain of a lack of adapters.
ACDelco ARM601-3 3/8” (3.7 to 37 ft.-lbs.) Digital Torque Wrench with Buzzer and LED Flash Notification
The ACDelco ARM601-3 digital torque wrench comes with more than a few bells and whistles that set it apart from other torque wrenches. This tool provides a built-in alert system that makes an audible buzzing sound or noise and flashes bright LED lights when you are very close to the desired torque. The torque supplies from 24 in-lbs to 444 in-lbs of torque.
This digital torque wrench has multi-directional capabilities and has an accuracy rating of ± 2 percent clockwise as well as ±3 percent counterclockwise.
- Advanced technology functions
- Anti-slip soft grip
|Product weight||1.25 lbs.|
|Storage type||Metal case with high-density protective form interior|
|Dimensions (inches)||1.5 x 1.5 x 12.25|
|Manufacturer’s warranty||1 year limited warranty|
- Users praise this unit’s pre-calibrated accuracy to the standards of ISO 6789 and ASME B107.14-2004.
- It has auto-angle calibration.
- The unit comes in a durable, sturdy plastic case of gray colors
- It is incredibly portable
- Units include the slot for 4 extra AAA batteries
- A user complained that the unit alerts you AFTER they passed your set value.
- Another user complained that this unit is somewhat difficult to read and inaccurate because the display is not backlit.
- Only 1-year limited warranty.
- Reported instances of shutting down without warning
The Gear Wrench provides a 1/2″ drive, high-quality construction, and between 20 ft-lbs and 250 ft-lbs of tightening capacity. The Gear Wrench digital torque wrench gives readings in 5 different units.
This digital torque wrench comes with a built-in vibration handle with an alert and buzzer that indicates precisely when the desired target is reached. It is lightweight, and its dimensions are manageable. It is certified for torque accuracy of +/ 2 percent CW and +/ 3 percent CCW between 20 percent and 100 percent of wrench capability.
- Vibrating handle, buzzer
- 72-tooth ratchet head
|Product weight||4.39 lbs.|
|Material type||Alloy steel|
|Storage type||Blow mold case|
|Dimensions (inches)||25.65 x 2.86 x 3.26|
|Manufacturer’s warranty||1 year limited warranty; calibration accuracy smartly guaranteed for up to 90 days|
- Users love its LED display
- It comes with a vibrating handle
- It is resistant to oil and solvent
- Users love the unit’s durable build
- Incredibly accurate in both directions
- Constructed of alloy steel
- Multiple readings, e.g., Nm, Ft.-lbs., kg-cm, kg-cm, and in.-lbs.
- According to a user, this unit drains batteries pretty fast
- Users complain of its narrow-angle gauge
- Only 1 year limited warranty
The Milwaukee M12 is the industry’s #1 digital torque wrench that comes with a motor that delivers monitoring, reporting functionality and precise torque accuracy. This tool delivers up to 50 percent faster installation time and replaces the hand tool. This provides even more control to reduce the over-torquing of most fasteners.
This 1/2in. digital torque wrench provides up to 12 1/2-150 ft. /lbs. of torque range as well as accuracy within 2 percent of full-scale for torque critical fasteners. This is a battery-powered digital torque wrench equipped with Milwaukee One-Key, which gives users the power to track, report, as well as manage this tool.
- 4 notification nodes
- Adjustable run-down torque
- One-Key technology
|Storage type||Carrying case|
|Dimensions (inches)||23 5/16 x 2 1/8 x 5 1/8|
|Manufacturer’s warranty||5 year limited warranty|
- Users love this unit’s faster and more productive torque reporting that provides customizable reports and torque data for owners or inspectors.
- This unit has adjustable run-down torque that allows users to control the tools output torque through the motor in order to prevent over-torque
- Its durable design enables it to withstand demanding job site situations or environments.
- The unit is highly compatible with all M12 chargers and batteries.
- Several times more expensive than its competitors.
- A user complained that this unit is somewhat cumbersome and job-specific
Technicians and engineers should take a long at acquiring a high-quality digital torque wrench. Our favorite pick? As usual, it depends on the application. The GEARWRENCH 1/2″ Drive Electronic Torque Wrench provides power, flexibility, and reasonable pricing and lands as our top overall pick. For high specification compliance required on capital projects, the Milwaukee M12 FUEL 1/2in. Digital Torque Wrench‘s high price tag certainly is worth it. The ACDelco ARM601-3 3/8” and eTORK Click-Style Torque Wrench provide strong all-around performance with a 3/8″ ratchet.