A torque wrench is a specialized tool that is regularly used in automotive repair to ensure that the parts of the vehicle are not under- or overtightened. Mechanical tasks are easier and more precise with digital torque wrenches, which provide users with a digital display that shows the exact amount of torque in use. Some of these devices are equipped with warning signs—including flashing lights, sounds, or vibrations—that indicate when the user has reached the desired torque.
Digital torque wrenches are precalibrated. Some allow users to preset multiple torque levels so they can quickly shift from one everyday task to another with the push of a button. To further help with the decision-making process, we performed 12 hours of hands-on testing with the following digital torque wrenches to find which is the model to have.
- BEST OVERALL: eTork EC3250 ½-Inch Drive Digital Torque Wrench
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: eTork ⅜-Inch Drive Digital Torque Wrench
- UPGRADE PICK: Gearwrench ½-Inch Drive Electronic Torque Wrench
- BEST ADJUSTABLE: Yellow Jacket ⅜-Inch Digital Adjustable Torque Wrench
- BEST FOR ACCURACY: Summit Tools UltraPrecision Digital Torque Wrench
- MOST VERSATILE: ACDelco ARM602-4 ½-Inch Digital Torque Adapter
How We Tested the Best Digital Torque Wrenches
When we set out to assemble a list of the best digital torque wrenches, we knew we had our work cut out for us. A lot depends on a torque wrench, as things can easily go awry if a bolt is too tight or too loose. We called upon all of our experience as both mechanics and DIYers to determine which were the most important features to have in a digital torque wrench before performing hands-on testing with all the models in our lineup.
First, we did an inventory of every nut and bolt we had around the house, garage, and driveway and chose 12 different fasteners to test these torque wrenches on (some were the ½-inch drive models and some were for the ⅜-inch models). We adjusted each wrench over and over again, tightening lug nuts, snow blower parts, nuts on children’s bikes, lag bolts on railings, and a few fasteners under the hood of a project truck, among others.
We tested their adjustments, the way they alerted to torque settings, how their ratchets functioned, and what their grips felt like. The two wrenches that failed our tests were removed, while those that passed were given awards based on their strengths.
Our Top Picks
These top-rated digital torque wrenches were chosen based on quality, price, and customer satisfaction. Whether users are looking for a model with top accuracy or one that won’t break the bank, this list is a good place to start.
This digital torque wrench has a ball-bearing release mechanism that gives it greater sensitivity, consistency, and precision. It has a locking knob that keeps the selected torque from being modified accidentally. Its display allows the user to convert instantly between four units of torque measurements: foot-pounds, inch-pounds, Newton meters, and kilogram-centimeters.
The eTork has a torque range of 25 to 250 foot-pounds and can operate at an accuracy rating of ±3 percent in the clockwise direction and ±6 percent in the counterclockwise direction. While this digital torque wrench doesn’t give users a visual alert when they approach the desired torque setting, it does make an audible clicking sound like a regular click-style torque wrench would make to keep from overtightening fasteners.
During our test, we found the EC3250 from eTork to be a nice combination of digital tech and analog adjustments. There is a dial on the end of the handle that is easy to adjust, even with a gloved hand. Also, we found that we could set the torque and then turn the dial off, as this wrench depends on mechanical settings and not electronic ones. The readout is simply digital, allowing the mechanical release to click or pop when it reaches the set torque.
Read our full review: eTork EC3250 ½-Inch Drive Digital Torque Wrench
- Length: 23.25 inches
- Max torque: 250 foot-pounds
- Material: Alloy steel, plastic
- Converts between a range of measurements so users can dial in the exact measurement they need
- Audible clicking notification alerts users when the target torque is reached
- Users can dial in the torque settings and then turn the dial off to save battery life
- No light or other indicator to alert the user that they’ve reached the correct setting
Get the eTork EC3250 digital torque wrench at Amazon or Sears.
With a low torque range of 2 to 21 foot-pounds, this wrench by eTork is great for working on bicycles, small recreational vehicles, and larger power tool motors. Its digital display can be adjusted to display torque in four units of measurement, including inch-pounds, Newton meters, foot-pounds, and kilogram-centimeters.
This tool’s hardened alloy-steel housing is strong and durable but also slim enough to fit into tight spaces. It can be used both clockwise and counterclockwise, with an accuracy rating of ±3 percent clockwise and ±6 percent counterclockwise. And it comes in a hard plastic carrying case.
We tested the eTork ⅜-inch drive digital torque wrench with a variety of fasteners around the house, garage, and driveway. We really liked that once we set the torque setting, the digital display didn’t even need to be powered on, as this model alerts with an audible mechanical click. We also liked that we could work in much lower torque settings than the larger torque wrenches. Our only complaint is that a light or beep alert could improve use, particularly when working with low settings as the click can be too soft in volume to notice.
- Length: 15.38 inches
- Max torque: 21 foot-pounds
- Material: Alloy steel, plastic
- Short and compact size allows it to fit in tight places like engine bays while still ratcheting
- Once set to the correct torque setting, the wrench doesn’t have to be on to provide a mechanical click
- Works with lower torque settings, allowing users to dial in smaller fasteners to the right torque setting
- No beep or light to alert the user when reaching the torque setting
Get the eTork ⅜-inch drive digital torque wrench at Amazon.
Folks who don’t mind spending a little more for a quality tool should consider the Gearwrench 85077 ½-inch drive electronic torque wrench. This wrench measures 24.75 inches long, providing plenty of leverage for applying up to 250 foot-pounds of torque on the high end. On the low end, it can handle 25 foot-pounds, providing plenty of range for most mechanical tasks.
This model from Gearwrench offers three alert functions for when the user creeps up on the preset torque setting: It beeps, lights up, and even vibrates. The vibration is very easy to feel despite the rubber overmolded grip. The 85077 also provides multiple modes, including setting, peak, and tracking, as well as several units of measurement.
Overall, we felt this was a top-tier torque wrench worthy of the upgrade price tag. We liked how the buttons have a positive click when we pressed them, even when wearing gloves. We also liked how easy the large screen was to read and how the vibration ensured we didn’t miss our torque setting (it’s pretty impressive). Our biggest complaint is that adjusting the settings and scrolling through numbers is confusing: Users can hold down the adjustment buttons rather than clicking individual tenths of a pound, but the speed increases the longer the button is pressed, making it hard to land on the correct setting.
- Length: 24.75 inches
- Max torque: 250 foot-pounds
- Material: Alloy steel, plastic, and rubber
- Long handle length makes it easy to apply leverage to bolts and fasteners up to 250 pounds
- Clear, legible display makes checking on real-time torque readings in the track mode a breeze
- Vibration setting ensures users notice when they’ve hit their predetermined torque setting
- Torque rating can be difficult to set quickly, making it inconvenient to change settings
Get the Gearwrench digital torque wrench at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Gearwrench.
Users fed up with searching for the right socket may wish to consider Yellow Jacket’s ⅜-inch digital adjustable torque wrench. It features adjustable jaws that allow the users to increase or decrease their size for any fastener under 1.25 inches.
The wrench has a range between 3.1 and 62.7 foot-pounds, with other available units being inch-pounds, Newton meters, and kilogram-centimeters. It’s made of alloy steel, plastic, and a rubber overmold with a comfortable contour to fit nicely in the user’s hand.
This was the first time we used wrench-style jaws on a torque wrench, but we really liked how this tool performed. Rather than sorting through sockets, we were able to make quick adjustments for whichever fasteners we had on hand. Our only complaints are that the handle’s grip is a little small and the large wrench head isn’t going to fit everywhere. Luckily for the latter complaint, this head can swap off for a ratchet head (though that will be an extra purchase).
- Length: 13 inches
- Max torque: 62.7 foot-pounds
- Material: Alloy steel, plastic, and rubber
- Comfortable grip with rubber overmold is contoured to better fit the user’s hand
- Easy-to-adjust jaws allow users to save time looking for sockets
- Users can purchase swappable heads and ratchets for the times when the wrench-style head won’t fit
- Wrench-style head is often too large to fit into tight places
Get the Yellow Jacket digital torque wrench at Amazon or Grainger.
Accuracy is a primary concern when working on a vehicle, so a tool with a high degree of precision is an asset. This digital torque wrench from Summit Tools boasts an impressive accuracy rating of ±1 percent. It allows users to set the target torque rating and then set the wrench in either peak or tracking mode. In peak mode, the digital display will track the maximum amount of torque used while tightening so that users can see how much force was applied. This mode is useful when the user cannot see the digital screen while using the wrench, or when determining how tight a bolt or nut was before loosening.
Tracking mode is a live update of the current torque being applied. Both modes alert the user via flashing LED and buzzer alert when approaching the desired torque. This digital torque wrench has a torque range of 7.4 to 147.5 foot-pounds and can display torque measurements in kilogram-centimeters, Newton meters, inch-pounds, and foot-pounds.
To be fair, we don’t have a way to test this wrench’s accuracy, so the calibration certificate had to be good enough for us. But beyond accuracy, this tool was a pleasure to use. We could adjust the settings with gloved hands, and the buzzer alert and lights were extremely noticeable (the LEDs work as a scale, gradually alerting the user as they approach the setting). The grip proved comfortable, and there are two small knobs that prevent the wrench from rolling off of a workbench—a real benefit for a precision tool. Our only real issue is that its hefty price ought to include the two AA batteries it requires.
- Length: 20.4 inches
- Max torque: 147.5 foot-pounds
- Material: Stainless steel, plastic grip
- Extremely accurate, allowing users working on engines and high-end bikes to avoid breaking anything on their machines
- Comfortable grip features ample rubber overmolding to prevent slipping under torque
- LED lights work as a scale, alerting users as they approach the desired setting
Get the Summit Tools digital torque wrench at Amazon.
This digital torque wrench adapter may well be one of the most versatile tools in a workshop or garage. The compact adapter allows DIYers and mechanics to use any regular ratchet wrench as a digital torque wrench by fitting onto the square drive of a ratchet wrench. It provides a digital readout of the applied torque on a backlit LCD screen.
This ACDelco adapter has a wide range from 25 to 250 foot-pounds, multidirectional functionality, a clockwise accuracy of ±1.5 percent, and a counterclockwise accuracy of ±2.5 percent. It also has both an audible buzzer and a flashing LED light to alert users before overtightening fasteners. It comes with a hard plastic mini case for storage.
Though truly the dark horse in the digital torque wrench race, this adapter proved to be a winner in testing. At first, we weren’t sure how we’d like that the unit rotates while tightening the fastener since we wouldn’t be able to see the display. However, the indicator lights are so bright that it was easy to tell when we hit the torque setting, even while wearing Bluetooth ear protection with music playing to simulate shop noise. Setting the unit wasn’t intuitive, but once we figured that out, this proved to be a very handy tool.
- Length: Fits various wrench lengths
- Max torque: 250 foot-pounds
- Material: Plastic and metal
- Converts a regular wrench into a digital torque wrench for maximum flexibility
- Wide torque range between 25 and 250 foot-pounds, similar to a full-size torque wrench
- Bright lights and audible alarm indicate when desired torque setting has been reached
- Spins when tightening or loosening so it’s not always possible to see the display
Get the ACDelco ARM602-4 digital torque wrench at Amazon or Advance Auto.
The ACDelco wrench has several bells and whistles that should make repair jobs a snap: Its built-in alert system makes an audible buzzing noise and flashes a bright LED light when users have almost reached the desired torque. It also has multidirectional capabilities, with an accuracy rating of ±2 percent clockwise and ±3 percent counterclockwise. However, this ACDelco kept shutting off during testing. We changed the batteries, but it continued to fail. As we write this, it still will not turn on, so we can’t recommend it.
The Craftsman wrench has a range between 12.5 and 250 foot-pounds, and it features a ½-inch drive head. It does what it’s supposed to—but we can’t recommend it because none of the descriptions on the internet are correct. We can’t recommend a tool that we aren’t confident is accurately described—especially for this price. Additionally, the adjustment arrows that increase or decrease the torque setting are backward and not intuitive.
What to Consider When Choosing a Digital Torque Wrench
Before shopping for a digital torque wrench, it’s important to know which features matter most. Read on to learn what to keep in mind so you can find the right digital torque wrench for your needs.
Accuracy and Measurement Units
If a wrench is not accurate, users may under- or overtighten fasteners during use, which can cause fasteners to break or come loose during the machine’s operation. Most digital torque wrenches are precalibrated to an accuracy rating of about ±4 percent, though more and less accurate digital torque wrenches are available.
Torque is measured in inch-pounds or foot-pounds. An inch-pound is 1 pound of force applied to 1 inch of distance from the pivot point of the torque wrench. A foot-pound is 1 pound of force applied to 1 foot of distance from the pivot point.
If a digital torque wrench’s range is too low, the types of jobs it can perform are limited. A torque wrench with a range maximum that falls below 100 foot-pounds is ideal for simple tasks, like working on a lawn mower or bicycle. However, wrenches with a lower torque range aren’t much use for most automotive and mechanical torque wrench applications.
Some digital torque wrenches have a very wide torque range, with some reaching a maximum of 1,000 foot-pounds of force. However, most digital torque wrenches have a moderate range that reaches up to 150 foot-pounds, which is more than enough torque to tighten lug nuts on a car.
Multidirectional tensioning, also called ratcheting, allows the user to change the direction of the wrench quickly in order to measure torque in both the clockwise and counterclockwise orientation. A torque wrench with this feature gives the user better access than one that only operates in the clockwise direction.
Not all torque wrenches are available with this feature because these tools should never be used for loosening nuts. This is because a nut may initially be seized when the user tries to loosen it, and when the torque wrench applies force, the nut can jolt forward and cause the wrench to require recalibration. But, in cases where reverse-thread bolts exist, multidirectional tensioning is an asset in a torque wrench.
Most torque wrenches come with either a rubberized plastic handle or a steel handle with a raised grip. The upside of rubber grips is they are comfortable and reduce hand fatigue; metal handles, however, can provide better control over the wrench.
When using a digital torque wrench for long stretches at a time, it’s wise to prioritize comfort and choose an ergonomic grip that does not cause a hand cramp. What’s most important is that the digital torque wrench selected has a handle that users can grip without their hand slipping. They must be able to stop the motion of the wrench handle quickly when they reach the desired level of torque so they don’t overtighten the fastener.
Digital torque wrenches have a big advantage over other types of torque wrenches when it comes to their scale reliability because they have prominent displays that show the current torque reading. However, the size, shading, text, and even menu options on the digital display vary among individual products.
For folks who have difficulty reading small text, a digital torque wrench with a large, easy-to-read display may be ideal. If it’s for working in dim lighting conditions, look for a digital screen with backlighting. Just remember to keep the batteries in a digital torque wrench charged, or there won’t be any readings at all.
A terrific feature to look for in a digital torque wrench is an alert that will let users know when they reach the desired inch-pounds or foot-pounds of torque. Some products alert users via a blinking LED light or a visual indicator on the digital screen, and others alert users via handle vibration, an audible alarm, or a combination of two or more of these signals.
Visual indicators on the digital display may even signal how far the user has exceeded the optimal torque. This emergency alert feature makes tightening fasteners while working almost foolproof because the wrench is telling the user to stop.
Digital torque wrenches are powered by batteries that operate the digital screen, the internal mechanics of the measurement device, and the alert systems. The problem with batteries, of course, is that they can run out of energy. When this happens, the user should either recharge the batteries or replace them before they can resume working.
To help extend the battery life of a digital torque wrench, some models will automatically shut off after several minutes of inactivity. Given how many times the user may put down and pick up the torque wrench while working on a car without turning it off, this auto-shutdown feature will probably save a significant amount of battery life.
Digital torque wrenches are sensitive devices whose accuracy can be affected if they are knocked against anything or dropped on the ground. To protect the device and reduce the number of times it must be recalibrated, look for a digital torque wrench that comes with a storage case.
Digital torque wrench cases are usually made of hard, durable plastic that protects the tool but is also lightweight and easy to carry. For additional protection and security, invest in a torque wrench case that has interior padding and a lockable clasp.
The Advantages of Owning a Digital Torque Wrench
A digital torque wrench is an upgrade over a regular torque wrench for several reasons. First, a digital device uses built-in alerts—including sound, light, and even vibration—to prevent users from overtightening the fasteners being worked on.
The digital display on a digital torque wrench is also much easier to read than the physical display on a regular torque wrench; many digital products even have backlit screens that can be read in the dark.
Another great benefit of owning a digital torque wrench is that it is precalibrated. When users do have to calibrate a digital wrench, it’s easier to do so than it is with a regular torque wrench because the digital display provides a more accurate measurement.
- Digital torque wrenches have built-in alert systems to notify users when they reach the optimal torque.
- The digital display is much easier to use for getting an accurate reading of the applied torque.
- Digital torque wrenches come precalibrated and are easier to calibrate than a regular torque wrench.
Below are helpful answers to some of the most common questions about torque wrenches.
Q. What is a digital torque wrench?
A digital torque wrench is a precalibrated torque wrench that displays the torque output on a digital screen. When the user reaches the required amount of torque, the wrench will notify them with a buzz, click, beep, vibration, light, or some combination of these alarms so they do not over overtighten the fastener.
Q. How do I know if my torque wrench is accurate?
To know whether a torque wrench is accurate, test the torque reading on the digital display against a known torque output. Here’s how:
- Secure the square drive of the wrench in a bench vise, allowing the rest of the wrench to move freely.
- Measure the distance between the square drive on the head of the wrench and the point of grip.
- Multiply the distance measured in Step 2 by 20 to find the inch-pounds torque wrench setting.
- Hang a 20-pound weight from a thin string at the exact place on the handle of the torque wrench where you would normally grip (often marked with a line).
- If the readout on the digital display matches the inch-pound findings in Step 3, your digital torque wrench is accurate.
- If it is not accurate, calibrate it yourself or take it to an experienced professional to calibrate it.
Q. How do you calibrate a torque wrench?
You can calibrate a torque wrench using a bench vise, a 20-pound weight, a thin rope or string (capable of holding at least 20 pounds), and a measuring tape.
- Measure the length of the torque wrench from the square drive on the head to the exact point on the handle where you grip the wrench. This line is commonly marked already on a torque wrench, so you shouldn’t have to estimate based on your average usage.
- Put the square drive of the torque wrench into the vise and tighten it.
- Multiply the measurement you took in Step 1 by 20 to find the inch-pounds setting you require for the torque wrench.
- Tie a loop through the 20-pound weight with the string and hang it from the end of the handle where you took your first measurement.
- Check the readout on the digital display, which should equal the inch-pounds measurement that you set in Step 3. If it does not match, move the weight toward the head or end of the digital torque wrench until the inch-pound readout properly lines up with what you have entered.
- Measure the length of the torque wrench from the square drive to the point where the weight is hanging, and multiply this finding by 20 pounds.
- With the information you have gathered, you can now calculate the applied torque of the wrench using the formula Ta = Ts x (D1/D2). “Ta” is applied torque. “Ts” stands for torque setting. “D1” is the distance measured in Step 1, and “D2” is the distance measured in Step 8.
- Using this number, you can multiply your intended torque by the difference to get the correct torque setting for your specific torque wrench.
Q. How often should I calibrate my digital torque wrench?
You should calibrate your digital torque wrench at least once a year; however, if you use it regularly, you may want to calibrate it two or more times per year.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Beyond Bob Vila’s decades of experience in the construction, home improvement, and DIY industry, his team at BobVila.com knows what they’re doing. They personally tested each of these digital torque wrenches so they know exactly how well they perform or where they fall short. This straightforward and honest roundup has all the information you need to make an informed decision.