After some trawling, we’ve brought together four of the best cheap torque wrenches to make your experience working on your car or truck much easier. Don’t expect them to be professional-grade quality, but they’ll be more than enough to get the job done for most home fixes. And, after our reviews, we go into what you should look for when selecting an inexpensive torque wrench. So, without further ado . . .
Performance Tool W3001C 1/2-Inch Dr. Torque Wrench
To start with, we have a beam wrench of high-quality that comes in at under $20. With a half-inch drive and able to deliver up to 150lbs of torque to a bolt, it’s clearly good enough for most uses you might have for it. Since it’s a beam wrench, make sure you view the gauge directly so the needle shows the right area, but other than that you’re good to go once you’ve added this wrench to your arsenal.
Pittsburgh Pro Reversible Click Type Torque Wrench Sizes 1/4-Inch, 3/8-Inch, 1/2-Inch, Set of 3
For a bit less than $50 you can get yourself an actual set of torque wrenches, ranging from a ¼” to ½” drives. They’re accurate to +/- 4% and come with a lifetime warranty as well. Each comes with its own protective case as well, making this a fantastic deal.
The only thing to be aware of here is that they’re click-style wrenches, which can be a bit more difficult for a novice to use but as long as you quite twisting once you hear the click you’ve just added an impressive amount of versatility to your shop for a low price. These should belong on anyone’s list of the best cheap torque wrenches.
TEKTON 24335 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench, 10-150-Foot/Pound
If you’re looking for a heavy duty wrench to make sure the lug nuts on your tires are bolted down, this one from Tekton is exactly what you need. It’s accurate to +/- 4%, beefy, and all steel which will keep it going for a long time.
It’s another click-style wrench, and strong enough you’ll want to be careful when you’re tightening things up but with the proper amount of care you’re not going to find another tool of this quality for less than $100.
Highly recommended for those who’re working on brakes, tires, and other safety and structural features of their vehicle to add a bit more security to your work.
GearWrench Beam Torque Wrench
GearWrench makes some pretty impressive tools and thankfully beam wrenches tend to be on the cheaper side. This one is no exception, for less than $50 you’ll be able to purchase one of the best beam wrenches around, and it’s perfect for pretty much any application as long as you can view the gauge from a direct angle. If you’re an amateur and envision yourself spending a lot of time working on vehicles, this may be the perfect starter torque wrench for you.
Picking the Best Cheap Torque Wrench—Which One?
The first thing you’ll need to decide when you’re looking for a value torque wrench is whether you want to go with a click wrench or a beam. While beams are easier to use, they also tend to be a bit less accurate, and can be hard to read properly when you’re under the hood or frame of a car since you’ll rarely be working straight on with a bolt.
Click wrenches, on the other hand, are a bit more difficult to use. A lot of amateurs like to try to add an extra wrenching motion after they hear the click but you’re liable to break something if you do this and you actually have your torque set right. You may want to set the torque a bit lower than ideal with one if you’re just starting out, as long as it’s not in a dangerous area to do so like a lug nut.
There are cheap sets available, like the Pittsburgh (see full specs) mentioned above. They’re perfectly fine if you’re not using them often, but if you’re planning on daily or even weekly, spend a little bit more money and invest in a quality torque wrench that won’t let you down at a crucial moment (and, what do you know, we have an article on such wrenches).
While torque wrenches look mostly like any other ratchet, especially the click wrenches, they’re complex tools with a lot going on in the handle. Manhandling them isn’t a good idea, and cheap internal pieces are a recipe for a broken tool.
All-steel innards are great, and it can’t be repeated enough. They’ll hold together much better, and for much longer, than those with cheaper components. Remember that you’re going to be putting a lot of force on these wrenches and even a single weak component can disable your whole tool.
Above all, remember that you do get what you pay for in the end. Value tools are great for the weekend warrior mechanic but they’re not really well suited for those who are going to be working daily with them. Everyone has to start somewhere, though, and usually when you’re looking for a specific tool you’ve got a project in mind so make sure to match your desired project to the tool at hand.
The investment in a torque wrench is probably the second most important purchase you can make when it comes to automotive tools, following only your normal ratchet and end wrench sets and it’ll make a huge difference in the amount of ease and confidence with which you can work on your vehicles.
As you can see from our recommendations for the best cheap torque wrenches, you don’t have to break yourself financially in order to get started. No need to hesitate, make the purchase today and add a new level to the capability of the tools in your home’s garage.