A high-quality, accurate torque wrench is a must, especially if you’re tightening lug nuts. After all, you don’t want the wheels of your car to roll down the road while you’re driving. That’s a terrifying thought but it happens.
It’s important to put a lot of thought into which torque wrench you use for lug nuts. You don’t want a cheap one that will wear down on you within a year. So, we’ve created a small guide so you can find the best torque wrench for lug nuts and shared our favorite torque wrench.
What to Look for in a Torque Wrench
When you go looking for the best torque wrench for lug nuts, there are several factors you need to consider. You don’t want to buy the first one that comes up on Amazon or that you see in the store.
First, you need to know exactly what you want and what you need in a torque wrench.
There are three different types of torque wrenches. Each style brings something different to the table.
1. Click Style Torque Wrench: A click type torque wrench is the most commonly used. This traditional design is particularly loved by mechanics. They’re called “click torque wrenches” because once you hit torque, they click to let you know. The only downside is that you can over-torque if you don’t hear the click.
2. Beam Torque Wrench: A beam torque wrench or split beam torque wrench is the oldest style. They’re complicated to use and not the most accurate type available. They use a meter to let you know where you are in the torque process. Reading the meter can be hard while you’re putting pressure on the torque wrench and it’s not fun to juggle the tool.
3. Digital Torque Wrench: A digital or electronic torque wrench is the newest type. Their advanced technology and makes life simpler. These torque wrenches have an LED screen that displays the toque measurement. Plus, when you hit the set torque, they either beep or buzz to let you know. This type is pricier than the other two types.
Torque wrenches come in different sizes, just like lug nuts. If you’re only going to use it on your car lug nuts, you only have to worry about one drive size. Each drive size matches close to the torque range. Measure the torque range in foot-pounds for what you need.
The basic drive sizes that you need to worry with an adjustable torque wrench include:
- 1/4 inch drive
- 3/8 inch drive
- 1/2 inch drive
- 3/4 inch drive
- 1-inch drive
Accuracy is a major factor when searching for a good torque wrench. An inaccurate torque wrench isn’t helpful at all. In fact, it’s actually pretty pointless. Your best bet when buying a torque wrench is to choose one that has an accuracy of +-4 or less. It should also come with a certification to prove it’s been pre calibrated.
The material of your torque wrench is another important factor to consider. You want one made from heavy duty chrome vanadium steel or other metal. These torque wrenches are durable so if you drop it, it’s not going to break.
Unfortunately, there are torque wrenches made from plastic parts. They masquerade as high-quality torque wrenches at a great price. While they work just fine, they’re not a good investment if you’re going to use it often. Be careful if you choose to buy a plastic torque wrench.
The grip on a torque wrench doesn’t have to be the best but it sure helps when you’re working with lug nuts. It’s easy for old-school torque wrenches to slip out of your hand. Then, you’re frustrated and have to start all over.
Most newer torque wrench models on the market come with anti-slip grips. They are made of rubber and have a texture that sits in your hand.
Best Torque Wrench for Lug Nuts
This ACDelco digital torque wrench model is our absolute favorite. We have nothing against click torque wrenches and they work as well but there’s just something about using a digital torque wrench. It makes dealing with lug nuts easier.
This digital torque wrench is made of sturdy and heavy duty steel. The handle is anti-slip which is always a major plus on any tool. It’s not going to fly out of your hand while you’re working.
You have a drive size selection that includes: 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch, and 1 inch and a 4 to 99 foot-pounds torque range. The accuracy is +- 2% clockwise +- 3% counter clockwise of indicated value. The measurements are super easy to read since the torque setting uses an LED screen.
There are a few different settings you can use, including torque, measurement, and peak and trace. When you reach the right foot pounds, the torque wrench buzzes at you. It also has a flashing LED light that goes off to notify you.
There’s no meter to read nor do you have to strain to hear a click when you reach the torque setting. Every ACDelco digital torque wrench is calibrated in production and ready to go right out of the box. Plus, you receive a calibration certification when you buy it.
Finding the best torque wrench for lug nuts doesn’t have to be difficult and you don’t have to be a professional mechanic to find the right torque wrench for your wheels.
Our torque wrench buying guide should give you a helping hand when looking for the right tool for tight spaces. And don’t forget to check out our recommended ACDelco digital torque wrench.
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