What’s a mechanic’s shop without a torque wrench? With such an incredible range of electronic (digital) torque wrenches available, no one will want the old-fashioned mechanical tools anymore. These modern equivalents to the traditional torque wrench make things a lot less complicated.
If you were searching for the best electric torque wrench, or cordless imact wrench, you probably want to clink on the link to this article:
Top Electric Torque Wrench ǀ Best Cordless Electric Torque Wrench 2020
For years I’ve used torque wrenches without any digital assistance. There was a time when electronic torque wrenches simply didn’t exist. At first, I couldn’t quite see the point, when mechanical torque wrenches did what we expected of them without much hassle. You set the desired torque, turn until you hear the click and the ratchet releases. What more do you need?
It’s only when I discovered the additional features that simplify your tasks and help you with stuff that you once had to do manually, that I began to really appreciate these great tools. Apart from ease of use, I’m hugely impressed with how accurate an electronic torque wrench is.
Digital torque wrenches vary in their features. If you’ve never used an electronic torque wrench, you may not be aware of how helpful these intelligent tools can be, improving your productivity. Perhaps just to make the whole job easier. I’ll provide a buyer’s guide to electronic torque wrenches after the review. This should shed some light on the topic, helping newbies to these tools make the right choice.
Just like buying any tool, quality is important. When it comes to torque wrenches, manual or digital, there are other factors to consider, like torque range, leverage for better force, and the ability to work in tight spaces. All this will be discussed fully after the product review.
Choosing the Best Electronic Wrenches for this Review
As always, we’ve done some extensive research to help save you time in your search for the best tools. Our policy always remains the same, look for good quality tools to meet the needs of our many different readers. This means the top rated high-end tools, that may be the preferred choice for professionals, down to more reasonably priced alternatives for occasional weekend DIYers.
Regardless of price, we are most concerned about spending your money wisely. I’ve been buying tools for more than 30-years and am fully aware of how important it is to get value for money. Cheap junk is always going to be a disappointment. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a small fortune on the very best either. It will depend on your needs and expectations. We’ve considered this when choosing the digital torque wrenches for this review.
Quick Overview of the Best Electronic Torque Wrenches in this Review
I’ll be providing a detailed review of each torque wrench chosen for our 2020 review. For those who don’t have the time to read a full review of every product, here’s a quick glance of what to expect.
GearWrench 85077 The very best electronic torque wrench. Highest quality and extra length. Most expensive
BikeMaster RJ40583 Very affordable, high quality, electronic wrench for lower torque requirements. Best cheap torque wrench.
ACDelco ARM601-4 1/2″ Digital Excellent value medium-duty torque wrench.
Craftsman 9-13919 Great value high-torque electronic torque wrench, up to 250 Ft LBS. Best cheap electronic torque wrench for high-torque requirements.
Hilmor 1963826 Top grade professional quality and expensive. The only adjustable electronic torque wrench reviewed here.
Best Electronic Torque Wrenches for 2020 ǀ The Full review
Right, let’s get down to it, a comprehensive review of the best electronic torque wrenches available in 2020. Keep reading after the reviews for more information on how to ensure you buy the perfect digital torque wrench for your individual requirements. You can also get the lowdown on the brands featured in this review.
GearWrench manufacture quite a variety of high-quality electronic torque wrenches. The 85077 ½” variant is the best the brand has to offer. I believe, of the digital torque wrenches featured in this review, the GearWrench 85077 is the absolute best. Fantastic quality, from a respected brand has a lot to do with this. Though, more importantly, this is a truly pleasurable wrench to use.
The first thing that really appeals to me is the length, coming in at just over 25”. When it comes to torque wrenches, leverage is everything. A long handle eases a lot of the effort required when applying more force. The comfortable grip is another plus.
Wielding this reasonably long wrench is a synch, thanks to the wonderful 5° swing arc. This allows you to make short swings in confined spaces, making the most of the superb 72-tooth ratchet. Ease of use is elevated by the intuitive digital settings and LCD display.
You can set your target (trace) torque in matter of seconds, with 1% increments of your peak torque setting. When you approach your trace torque, a bunch of different warnings alert you to this. The handle will vibrate, and a buzzer will sound at the start of your chosen target, growing in intensity as you approach the set peak torque. Finally, when you reach the desired peak torque, an LED will illuminate.
Above all, this is a very capable electronic torque wrench, with outstanding accuracy. Minimum torque setting is 25.1 Ft LBS (30 Nm), up to a maximum of 250.8 Ft LBS (340 Nm). Torque can be adjusted in increments of 0.1 Ft LBS or 0.1 Nm. Accuracy of ±2% (clockwise). You can choose between 5 units of measurement: Nm; Ft LBS; In LBS; KG M and Kg Cm.
I’m always blown away by top quality tools. So I get a bit of a thrill when it comes to the Gear Wrench 85077. The polished chrome finish doesn’t just look cool, it is oil and solvent resistant, as is the handle. This makes for excellent durability and your hands won’t be slipping around when trying to obtain a decent grip on the wrench. The Flex-head version of this torque wrench is my favorite, as it makes for easier operation in difficult positions.
For some, the Gear Wrench ½” electronic torque wrench may be a bit on the expensive side of things. If auto mechanics is more of a casual hobby for you, and you want to spend less, there are more affordable options. A professional, who relies on quality and accuracy, will really appreciate a tool like this. Anyone who sees the value in paying a little more for an exceptional tool will love this electronic torque wrench. It would certainly be my first choice. Gear Wrench offer a 1-year warranty on the tool, calibration accuracy is warrantied for 90-days.
Since 1981, the BikeMaster brand has been supplying products for die-hard motorcycle enthusiasts. Started as a company by bikers for bikers, there’s a definite sense of loyalty. This doesn’t mean the BikeMaster RJ40583 electronic is just for motorcycle repairs. This is a very affordable, compact digital torque wrench for anyone who doesn’t require an exceptionally high torque range. Quality is outstanding, yet the price is one of the lowest.
This is the cheapest electronic torque wrench in this review. The low price may suggest inferior quality, though the opposite is true. The low price is partly because this is a smaller torque wrench, with a lower 99.6 FT LBS maximum torque range. Maybe not suitable for large high-compression diesel engines or big rigs, this torque capability should be adequate for most bikes and sedans. Since BikeMaster is prepared to put their name on this product, I have great faith in its quality and reliability.
Digital functions are as good as any of the best electronic torque wrenches. You have the choice of any unit of measurement: In. LBS; Ft LBS; Nm; Kg/Cm and Kg/m. No need for conversion charts when you have a metric spec. The peak and track modes give you the option to record the highest torque reached and it has a built-in memory for 50 torque settings. An alarm and flashing LED will let you know when you’ve reached your desired torque setting. Digital accuracy is assured.
For compact ease of use, this tool is tops. It measures only 15” and weighs just under 4-pounds. In this case, the shorter handle isn’t a real disadvantage, you don’t need as much leverage for the lower torque range that this wrench provides. The compact size is probably better, especially when you don’t have space to work in or for storage. It comes with a tough, protective storage case. The high-quality chrome finish ensures long term durability and the comfortable soft grip handle also looks like it can cope with a fair deal of punishment.
A great little torque wrench, at an even better price, the BikeMaster RJ4053 is a fantastic option both professionals and hobbyists. Not everyone needs the most powerful electronic wrench. So why pay more if you’re never going to use the high torque ranges? Instead, you’re getting top-rated quality at an amazing price.
ACDelco ARM601-4 1/2″ Digital
ACDelco is a respected auto-parts supplier known for affordable prices. Their tools are sourced from reputable manufacturers around the world, chosen for their affordability and quality. To this end, I consider the ACDelco ARM601-4 electronic torque wrench to be mid-level, or medium-duty quality. So, it’s not exactly a high-end professional grade tool. Instead, I’d say great value for entry level professional shops and home shops. The emphasis being on good value for money.
Although I appreciate the great price and general quality of this tool, it is not exactly a high-end product. The 45-tooth ratchet is okay, probably great at this price, but it’s no comparison to the top quality 72-tooth GearWrench reviewed above. This is not really a criticism, rather pointing to the fact that you get what you pay for.
Torque range is acceptable for most auto and bike applications: 4 Ft LBS to a maximum 99 FT LBS. Easy to use digital functions include an alarm and LED when torque is reached and reasonably large LCD display. It’s easy to use, with all units of measurement: Ft LBS; In LBS; Nm and Kg Cm. It also has peak and trace mode settings. Settings are calibrated from 0.1 Ft LBS or NM and 1 In LBS or KG Cm.
Tool accuracy is exceptionally good, for a tool of this class, ±2% clockwise and ±3% CCW. The handle is great and has a good length (17⁵⁄₁₆”), providing a nice balance between practicality and extra power. The non-slip handle is also really cool. The ½” ratchet has a quick release for easier use.
Some may see the ACDelco ½” electronic torque wrench as second rate, others will think of it as extremely good value for money. In this price range, it’s more than I’d have expected. A durable chrome finish protects the tool from oil and chemical damage and is generally of sound quality.
Few US brands are as recognized as Craftsman. Since 1927, this consumer tool and power equipment brand has been the staple for retailers, like Sears. From the outset, Craftsman managers have sought to find the best tools from major manufacturers. The aim has always been to use bulk buying power to supply good tools at a very reasonable price.
Although Craftsman are known for pretty good quality, there have been some quality control issues with the 9-13919 Digi-Click electronic torque wrench. While most customers have been thrilled with this wrench, I could not ignore the number of customer reviews that expressed some concerns regarding slipping ratchets and general quality issues. As the majority of buyers have been more than satisfied, I can only assume that general quality is good. It appears that some may have left the factory with defects. These units would have been replaced under warranty. So it’s more of an inconvenience than a waste of money. If the wrench works, it works well and should do so for a long time.
At this price, the Craftsman 9-13919 is great value for money, something we expect from the brand. It has the same torque capabilities of high-end tools that cost much more. With a maximum torque of 250 LBS, calibrated down to ½” increments, it is an extremely versatile digital torque wrench for every type of user. The digital screen is easy to read, with the advantage of backlighting for poor lighting conditions. It has a simple two-button operation with all the best features. Easily set your peak and trace torque in the unit of your choice, Ft LBS; In LBS or Nm.
The handle is designed for really comfortable and easy use and a chrome finish ensures no rust or damage from oil and harsh chemicals. The 26.1” length is also great when dealing with high torque turns. At 7.2 Oz, no one should have a problem as far as weight is concerned.
While I’d never rate Craftsman tools as heavy-duty, they are tough enough for the average tool user. Priced accordingly, the Craftsman 9-13919 ½” electronic torque wrench is all-round great value for the DIY mechanic and restoration enthusiast.
As someone who’s always used a torque wrench for vehicle repairs and restoration, I don’t quite see the point of an adjustable torque wrench. A socket provides better grip on a bolt or nut. Something that’s important as torque increases. However, there are times when you can’t use a socket. Hilmor has been making specialized tools for the HVAC and related industries since 1926. To this end, they manufacture professional grade heavy-duty tools.
The advantage of using a digital adjustable torque wrench is the one size fits all practicality. This is of particular value for installation and site repair technicians. You don’t need to lug a box full of wrenches and sockets everywhere you go. While the Hilmor 1963826 electronic torque wrench is specifically designed for pipes, it can be great for any application where a socket simply wont work. Anyone working in the air conditioning and refrigeration business will certainly appreciate a tool that can accurately tighten pipe fittings to the exact torque setting.
As for quality and extreme durability, this wrench is magnificent. Hilmor don’t mess about, they aim for the best tools for hardworking professionals. Few adjustable wrenches grip like this one does. Even quite expensive adjustable wrenches can have some play, making for a less than perfect fit onto the nut. The Hilmor digital adjustable torque wrench won’t slip or strip. It’s wonderful in this regard. The jaw can be adjusted from ¼” to 1¹⁄₁₆” (5mm – 27mm).
Electronic functions are of the highest order. Preset memory and functions, as well 9 programmable memory settings allow you to use common or customized torque settings with a single touch. You can set the wrench, with incredible accuracy (±3%), using Ft LBS; In LBS; NM; or KG CM. a large, 3-didgit display makes things easier. This is an easy and comfortable tool use. It has a maximum torque of 99.5 Ft LBS, with peak and track settings. You are alerted when you reach your torque settings by an alarm and LED.
As the most expensive electronic torque wrench in this review, the Hilmor Digital Adjustable Torque Wrench may not for everyone. For an industrial-grade professional tool, this would be money well spent. I’m blown away by the level of quality and superb ease of use that this wrench has to offer.
Electronic Torque Wrench Buying Guide
If the myriad of electronic torque wrench options has left you bewildered, I’m going to provide a guide on how to choose the best digital torque wrench for requirements. We’ve already narrowed your search with the electronic torque wrench review. Some of these are relatively cheap and others may be more durable but quite expensive. So, you may still be left in the dark one how to spend your money wisely.
It would help to know what an electronic torque wrench is and how these tools work.
What is an Electronic Torque Wrench?
For many years, a torque wrench was a mechanical tool. You would turn a dial or adjustment ring on the handle. This would tension a coil spring inside the wrench head that will release when the desired torque is reached. Markings on the dial, usually in Foot-Pounds (FT LBS), or Newton Meters (Nm), allow you to choose the specified torque with relative accuracy. A major problem with cheap mechanical torque wrenches are inferior quality springs. These would lose their tensile strength over time and cause inaccurate torque settings.
Digital, or electronic torque wrenches allow the use to make more accurate torque settings with greater ease. They may have several additional features, like computerized memory functions, that make life easier. The benefit to using a digital torque wrench is mostly improved accuracy and better calibration.
How does an Electronic Torque Wrench Work?
To improve long term accuracy, digital torque wrenches have replaced the old-fashioned coil spring, used for mechanical torque wrenches, with a strain gauge. This converts the physical force of torque into a digital, electronic signal.
In doing this, it is possible to make more accurate settings, usually in increments as low as 1 In LBS, or 1 Nm. The torque setting is displayed on a small digital screen on the wrench handle, making it easier to obtain a precise settings. The user can choose a trace setting, which is the real-time torque as you turn the wrench and maximum torque. The best electronic torque wrenches allow you to choose a trace setting shortly before the desired torque setting. This will alert you when you are getting close to the required torque.
When the required torque is reached (the value set), the user will be alerted in a number of ways. This can be an LED that illuminates, an audible alarm, or a vibrations in the handle, often a combination of these, or all of them.
Digital torque wrenches can have several memory functions, either preset or programmable. These could include trace and torque history and the ability to save commonly used torque (or trace) settings for easy reference.
What to look for in an Electronic Torque Wrench?
Individual needs are not all the same when buying tools. For professional mechanics, a heavy-duty professional grade torque wrench is important. You want a tool that is going to stand up to daily use and last for many years. As with all things, the best industrial grade electronic torque wrenches are the most expensive.
If mechanics is more of a hobby, you may only use a torque wrench once a year. Possibly less. In this case, you will want accuracy, and perhaps extra functions, but long term durability isn’t that important. A digital torque wrench that is seldom used, should last a lifetime, regardless of quality. Well, within reason. There’s no purpose buying cheap junk, even if you only use the wrench occasionally. That’s what the review is for. Even the cheaper, hobbyist torque wrenches that we selected will stand the test of time.
While price may important, as is a reasonable level of quality, there are features that may be important to some, but not for others. Now it’s time to discuss these and what you should look for when buying the best electronic torque wrench.
Since we’re talking about torque wrenches here, the amount of torque a wrench can be set for is important. We see maximum torque specifications for all the electronic torque wrenches that have been reviewed. This should be the first spec you look at.
If you’re mostly looking at tightening lug nuts, when changing tires on a standard sedan, you probably don’t need more than 90 Ft LBS. Though you should check your vehicle manual before making this decision. Wheel lug nuts greater than ½” diameter may require as much as 145 Ft LBS. Though these would not be fitted to an average passenger vehicle.
Torque capacity can range from a round 90 FT LBS (Sometimes less) to more than 230 Ft LBS. The highest torque capacity is usually best, as you never know what you may need to tighten in the coming years. However, high torque capacity will usually cost more. There are relatively cheap electronic torque wrenches with a high torque capacity, like the Craftsman 9-13919 (reviewed above). But you need to understand that a cheap electronic torque wrench with a higher torque spec is never going be a heavy-duty tool. The Craftsman electronic torque wrench, mentioned as an example, is a reasonable tool for occasional use if you desire high torque settings. Conversely, the Bike Master torque wrench that we reviewed is probably a better quality cheap option for more frequent use, however maximum torque is lower, 99 Ft LBS
A ratchet is used to allow you to swing the handle back freely whilst tightening a fastener when using a wrench. It consists of a cog with angled teeth into which a pawl locks as it turns. When you turn the handle in the opposite direction to the selected tightening direction (clockwise or CCW), the handle will turn but he socket remains stationary. This allows you to work much faster as you don’t need to remove the socket from the fastener each time you want move the handle back.
This is a useful time saver used on most torque wrenches. However, ratchet quality differs greatly. The best, most expensive ratchet torque wrenches will have up to 84-teeth manufactured from high-quality metals. Cheaper wrenches may have less teeth, as little as 40, and probably won’t be made from the best metals.
As a ratchet is enclosed within the head of the wrench, you have no idea of the actual quality is. The best you have to go on is price and reviews. Generally the most expensive ratchets will be the best.
This is really a matter of preference, how often you use the torque wrench, and for what purpose. All electronic torque wrenches have easy to use accurate settings. Having more units of measurement can be a big advantage if you use your wrench for locally and foreign brands. Most US manufacturers will specify Ft LBS or In LBS, whereas European and Asian manufactures will mostly use Nm, sometimes KG CM or KGM. A wrench that converts automatically saves you having to use conversion charts. Furthermore, it increases accuracy as charts often round the figure to the closest whole number.
Multiple warnings for torque and trace settings can be beneficial: LED, alarm, and vibration.
Memory functions won’t be that important for the home user, as you’re not resetting the peak torque several times during a working day. For the professional, this can save quite a bit of time. A tire fitment center can have all the normal lug nut settings programmed and simply scroll to the appropriate setting for each tire they’re fitting.
Digital torque wrenches are known for the extreme accuracy and the ease with which they can be set. Generally, ±5% is considered good enough. Many electronic torque wrenches are accurate within ±2 – 3%.
Electronic Torque Wrench Brands
I feel that brand that is an important consideration when buying tools. Quality is important, as is price. Some brands are better options for home users, whilst the more expensive brands are usually the first choice of professionals. Trust is important when it comes to aftersales service and warranty.
In choosing the best electronic torque wrenches for this review, we also took into account the brand reputation. This applies to their quality and service. To give you some background, I’ve researched the history and achievements of the brands mentioned in this review.
The GearWrench brand is part of the Apex Tool Group. The company history goes all the way back to 1919 with the founding of KD tools in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In 1920, KD tools became a major supplier for components and tooling used in manufacture of the legendary Ford Model-T.
In 1965, the Ruey Yang Company was founded in Taiwan. This became the Lea Way Hand Tool Corporation in 1981. Following the later acquisition by Apex Tool Group, this plant became Apex Tool Taiwan.
This is where the GearWrench brand came to be in 1995. The brand became synonymous with professional high-grade tools. Amongst their innovations, the most notable is the 5° swing. By 2002 GearWrench sales reach the one million mark and is now considered one of the top wrench manufacturers.
Apex Tool Group own numerous tool and power equipment brands, including Weller, SATA, Campbell, Cleco, GearWrench, Apex, and Crescent
Back in 1981, a group of motorcycle riders got together to form BikeMaster. With an understanding of what the bike enthusiast wants, they set out to provide O.E.M standard spare parts, lubricants, accessories, and tools for professionals and home shops.
The company is certainly part of a Biker community, though their tools are not exclusively for motorcycles. The BikeMaster Blog is a clear indication of what the brand stands for. The blogsite is packed with news and tips for repairing, rebuilding, and restoring motorcycles. Clearly a company that is passionate about the biker culture.
The ACDelco brand started out as United Motors Corporation. In 1916, William C Durant (founder of General Motors) set up United Motors as an automotive accessory and component holding company. This holding company owned several leading auto component manufacturers of the time, like Hyatt Roller Bearing Company, Remy Electric Company, and Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (Delco). In 1918, United Motors Corporation was acquired by General Motors.
The company changed its name to United Delco in 1960, following the growing popularity of the Delco brand.
In 1908, Albert Champion joined with Durant in developing the Champion sparkplug, under the now familiar name of Champion Sparkplug Company. Initially these were used exclusively for Buick cars. Later the name AC Sparkplugs was used.
In 1974 AC Sparkplugs and Delco were merged as part of the General Motors group. The new division was to be known as AC-Delco. The final evolution of the brand came in 1994 when the hyphen was removed to become ACDelco.
Today, ACDelco is a major spare parts retailer, supplying O.E.M parts for General Motors and other vehicle manufactures to the public. They also stock accessories and tools, sourced from major manufacturers internationally.
Craftsman started out as an exclusive brand for the retailer Sears and was registered in 1927. Craftsman have never manufactured tools. Form the outset Craftsman tools have been manufactured under license to different manufacturers.
Craftsman hardware managers determine the quality standard of each tool and prices are rated accordingly. This is done on a three tier system. The name Craftsman has become a symbol for mid-priced good quality tools. Whereas Craftsman Professional and Craftsman Industrial tools are marketed as high-end tools capable of meeting professional and industrial standards.
Today, the Craftsman brand is a division of Stanley Black & Decker Inc, which owns numerous tool and power equipment brands, like DeWalt and Stanley. Each brand within the group has a unique identity, with Craftsman representing affordable tools, garden equipment, and workman’s apparel.
The Hilmor history begins in 1926, Sheffield, England. The company was founded on the basis of a single product, the Hilmor Cold-Form Bender, used for bending pipes. Today, this may seem like an insignificant start to what would become a respected international brand. However, this innovation revolutionized the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC industries in the early 20th century.
For almost a century, the company has grown its reputation as a high-end specialized tool manufacturer. In 2016, the Hilmor brand was purchased by Stanley Black & Decker and sold again, in 2018, to DiversiTech. As the brand is now owned by a major American cooling and air conditioning group, it is considered a US brand with special interests in the HVAC and cooling industry.
Hilmor tools are highly specialized, with a knowledge of the industry for which their tools are supplied. These are aimed mostly at technicians and engineers working the fields of fluid management, hydraulics, and cooling. Though many in other industries have found Hilmor tools to be of great value, with much respect for their industrial-grade quality and design.