There was a time when people used to tighten lug nut and hope they applied the right amount of tightness. In other words, they depended on ‘feel’.
Problem is, the sense of right torque can be influenced due to external factors like grease, Loctite or carbon. As a result, the user can end up over-tightening the nut or otherwise, not tightening enough. Both are bad and risky.
Then came Torque Wrenches. With them in hand, you no longer need to rely on assumption. They tell you exactly how much force you need to apply to ensure a tight and secure fitting.
It’s important to choose the right wrench for the right job. Choose an inferior or wrong one, you’ll get inaccurate results. That’s why, you need only the best inch pound torque wrench for your particular application.
Best Inch Pound Torque Wrench Buying Guide
Types Of Inch Pound Torque Wrench
Pound Inch torque wrenches come with different variations. The all do almost the same job, it’s just their application method is different. However, a mechanic should be aware of the variations to understand which one is convenient for him.
1. Beam-Style Wrenches
This is the cheapest of all variations, and suitable for heavier jobs. They come with an analog meter that gives you the reading of the force applied. While they are often considered undependable, they can actually do a good job if calibrated properly. They are also equipped for bulk parts and materials.
The only downside is, depending on which angle you’re watching from, your readings might vary. It’s called parallax. The solution is to check the meter head on. But it can be tough depending on your job. If that happens, you should opt for wrenches that give the reading differently.
There is another variation of beam wrench which is known as ‘dial torque wrench’. They contain a dial that displays the amount of torque applied.
2. Click Wrenches
Click wrenches have been popular to operators who use the wrench professionally and frequently. While they can be a little overwhelming for amateurs, you’ll actually like it while you get the hang of how it works.
You have to set a torque range depending on the job. Once the desired torque is reached, you’ll hear an audible ‘click’ sound. This is where it gets tricky. You should stop as soon as you hear the sound and resist any urge to give a final turn.
Professional mechanics still prefer click-wrenches over other types due to familiarity.
3. Digital Wrench
They are the newest inclusions in the world of torque wrenches. They eliminate the downsides you usually get with torque and click wrenches. Best digital inch pound torque wrenches tend to be precise and accurate.
They have a digital meter which eliminates the problem of parallax. They also generate beep sound once you reach the desired torque, which makes the analogous to click wrenches. Most of them even come with multi-colored LED lights to make sure you don’t go overboard.
For obvious reasons, they are usually the most expensive wrenches out there. But they’re worth investing on and convenient for all types of users.
Accuracy is the most important thing when you use an inch scale torque wrench. Without it, the main purpose is beaten. However, the accuracy sometimes depends on the range of the wrench.
They tend to give accurate results if your desired torque falls between 30% and 80% of the total scale of the torque wrench. This is called the sweet zone.
There are some wrenches that measure torque in both directions. They’re good when giving clockwise reading, but underperforms when giving an anti-clockwise reading. The best inch pound torque wrenches should give you accurate results for both directions.
Often, people mistake saving some bucks for ‘value of money’. You can buy a cheap product and save some money alright, but you’ll be forced to buy the product again soon as it breaks, thus spending more money anyway.
Quality inch pound torque wrenches come with best designs, made of top materials and calibrated properly. This means they last for a long time, giving you value for every penny you spent.
Cheaper plastic made handles tend to break when trusted with heavy jobs. Quality wrenches come with metal or steel body. The scale is another indicator. Some comes printed while some come engraved. A printed scale will wear off sooner or later, while engraved models are most likely to last as long as the product itself.
Manual calibration can be difficult and time consuming for a beginner. Also, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll get readings that are far from accurate. That’s why good brands pack their products pre-calibrated.
They are ready to use and you can get on the job instantly. Once calibrated, they should remain okay for the rest of their lives, unless they face bang or hand slippage that knocks them off-calibration.
Usually, products that come pre-calibrated also come with a calibration certificate. However, almost all good products come with a detailed instruction manual on how to calibrate the wrench to keep them in peak performing position.
So, what are the jobs you look forward to doing on a regular basis? Based on the answer, the features and specifications for your ideal torque wrench will differ.
Are you going to work with large materials i.e. trucks and Lorries? Or your application revolves around smaller jobs that require more precision? What’s your desired torque stress you’re looking to handle?
Depending on the uses, you might even need to use more than one wrenches. You might want to check if the wrench works well with the size of bolts and nuts you work with.
Usually, for most vehicles, you need the best 3/8” torque wrench with the range of 15-75 ft. /pounds. Sometimes you will be needing the best 1/2” torque wrench with 30-250 ft. /pounds range. You can always convert an inch pound torque wrench to feet pound.
Depending on the versatility of the job, you might even want a wrench with additional attachments (socket extender and reducer).
Handle: The handle length and grip also decide the level of convenience. Some jobs are done easier with longer handles, while some need closer observation with shorter handles. And since you’ll be holding the wrench for a period of time, the grip should be comfortable.
Readability: If you can’t read the measurement clearly, you’ll do the job improperly and that’ll lead to disaster. The scale should come with big and easily perceivable numbers. If you’re using a digital wrench, the LCD monitor should be bright and easily readable.
Storage Case: It’s really awkward to carry around torque wrenches without any storage facility. Also, they’re hard objects. Any collision with car trunk will damage the trunk and also through the tools off-calibration. That’s why good models always come with hard cases to store them securely.
There’s no decision like informed decisions. When it comes to tools, it’s even more important. You have to work with measurements and ranges. Thus, there’s no way you can purchase an inappropriate tool and get away with that.
Inch-pound torque wrenches are more suited for complex, sophisticated jobs. They come with narrow and precise specifications because their application demands so. So, you need to know your requirements in advance.
The best inch pound torque wrench might not be the same for everyone, but they possess some common characteristics. The only difference is size and range. Otherwise, they tend to be accurate, durable and convenient to use. That’s why they’re admired by the users. Hopefully, with this guide, you’ll be able to find one for you.