Choosing A Digital Torque Wrench in 2017

digital torque wrench

Many years ago, a digital torque wrench was the butt of many jokes. Unreliable, not particularly accurate and with a penchant for snapping at the head, most mechanics stuck with their ever reliable old mechanical wrench.

Fast forward about 15 years, and the market for digital wrenches is very healthy indeed. Quality has improved and modern gauges are far more accurate than their traditional counterparts.

Features to Look Out For

One thing we really liked when testing our digital wrenches, was the way some had a buzzer inside that could be set to sound when you reach your peak torque setting. This is something many old timer mechanics will really love (I know I do) as it mimics the “click” sound of a traditional torque wrench as it reaches its tension setting.

Another thing most of our test wrenches offered, and something we would really advise getting, is an auto off function. When scrabbling around a car, bike, scooter or outboard, we all know we’ll “forget” to switch our electrical wrenches off, that’s life. Auto off just means your wrench won’t have a dead battery the next time you reach for it!

If you’re looking for the best digital torque wrench, here’s 5 top-rated wrenches available today.

The Best Digital Torque Wrenches for 2016

ModelImageSizeFeaturesPriceReview
BikeMaster 1/4 Inch
Digital Torque Wrench
1/4 InchDigital Display
2.2 - 22.1 ft. lb Range
Peak & Track Mode
Auto Shut-Off
$$Read our Review!
CDI 2401CI3 Electronic
Torque Wrench 1/4-Inch
1/4 Inch2 - 20 ft.lb torque range
4 Units of Display inc NM
5 degree flex
ratcheting head
$$$$$Read our Review!
ACDelco ARM601-3 3/8
Digital Wrench
3/8 inchPre-set Peak & Trace Mode
Preset Range 3 - 50 NM
+/- 2%CW. +/- 3%CCW
Tolerance
$$Read our Review!
GearWrench 85071
1/2-Inch Drive
Electronic Torque Wrench
1/2 Inch25 to 250 FT lb
Backlit LCD screen
Buzzer & Light Alerts
$$$$Read our Review!
Powerbuilt 944004 ½"
Digital Torque Wrench
1/2 InchRange - 30 to 150 ft/lbs
Reversible ratchet
Two year warranty
$$Read our Review!


Bike Master ¼” Digital Torque Wrench Review

The first wrench we tested, and a pleasant surprise! I’ve never own a digital wrench myself, using a traditional torque wrench handed down from my father. This wrench has some pretty cool features, such as auto shut off, a range of measurements and settings including Newtons, Pounds and Kilograms plus a “Peak” mode that measures the highest torque achieved whilst in use.

While testing, we found this wrench to torque perfectly with a decent handle size and solid base, handy when torquing nuts for a car cylinder head. The auto shut off is handy for someone not completely used to electrical units, it shuts off every time which should help save the battery.

The only niggle we found, and something that many people has mentioned. Is that we needed to swap out the battery to get it working properly. Not a major issue and the wrench ran like a champ afterwards, just a note in-case yours doesn’t work out of the box.

CDI 2401CI3 Computorq 1/4″ Electronic Torque Wrench Review

A more expensive wrench was next to test on our list, and this one does come with some nice features to make it worth your while. The Computorq has a range of pound measurements from 2 to 20, plus it gives out a real time reading.

During use, we found it similar to traditional mechanical wrenches, with a nice ratchet mechanism and easy to grip handle. Personally, I quite liked the digital display that updated in real time, although it’s probably not something you’d notice in everyday use.

The only negative, apart from price, was that the Computorq had a tendency to under torque bolts. We tested this against two other torque wrenches, the Gear Wrench model listed below and my trusty mechanical wrench. Both measured perfectly yet the Computorq consistently under read the value.

We think this is probably a safety mechanism against over zealous mechanics. (You know who you are!)

If you do purchase this wrench, just keep the above in mind and ensure you do reach your intended torque setting.

ACDelco ARM601-3 3/8″ Digital Wrench Review

Back down to domestic market prices, the ACDelco has a design very similar to the Computorq, at well under half the price. It features a bolt torque and measurement setting coupled with an LCD output that gives all the information you’d expect.

One thing this wrench does do, which is a boon to anyone who’s familiar with the “click” old fashioned wrenches would give on reach torque, is give a helpful “beep” to achieve the same thing.

I loved this, as did many other testers in the office. We think it’s very reminiscent of traditional wrenches and for some reason it was the wrench us old school mechanics kept going back to!

Another quite good feature, is that the wrench is reliably accurate to quite low tensions. This makes it perfect for bike maintenance or smaller engines like outboard motors.

Gear Wrench 85071 ½” Electronic Torque Wrench Review

First things first, this is the first wrench we tested that really did copy the feel and look of an old school torque wrench. The Gear Wrench has such a slim design and a nice feeling handle, even if the digital display makes up part of it.

It features a buzzer system for when you reach peak torque and it will convert and torque between Pounds, Newtons and Kilograms.

I’ve used many Gear Wrench tools before and found them all to be superbly well made and easy to use. The Gear Wrench torque wrench follows in this path, making it our choice if your a daily user or run a small garage.

The price is pretty steep for a domestic aimed wrench. We would suggest this one if you’re going to get some serious use out of it, even better if you’re going to be using it in a small garage setting.

Powerbuilt 944004 ½” Digital Torque Wrench Review

If you want something that at least partly looks this the Gear Wrench, but costs half-the-price, the Powerbuilt 944004 is for you.

It offers up all the same conversion settings, the ratchet feels strong and well made plus the digital display is located slightly higher up the handle.

This we feel is a slightly better design choice and ensures the display doesn’t get mucked up with oil and grease!

While testing it, we found it to be a reliable beast. It torqued well and the readout was perfectly accurate whilst the weight and built quality was just about right for this price point.

To be honest we couldn’t find fault with this torque wrench. At this low price, it represents great value. It offers almost all the same features of the Gear Wrench, albeit in a slightly lesser quality package.

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