What are torque wrenches, you might be asking? One thing you’ll quickly learn when you begin to work on your car is that the correct torque reading for every fastening is important. As a result, alongside the best tools for each job on your car, you’ll essentially need a tool-shaped guarantor.
This is something that can accurately measure the torque on the important fasteners. That’s where a torque wrench comes in.
It’s not the end of the world if you’re fiddling around with non-important interior trim. That’s where a socket set might come in handy. But if you’re changing a wheel or working on your engine, it’s incredibly important to listen to a manufacturer’s instructions.
The best torque wrenches at a glance:
Editor’s Choice: Silverline Torque Wrench – Buy now on Amazon UK
Best budget torque wrench: Amazon Basics 1/4-Inch Drive – Buy now on Amazon UK
Best compact torque wrench: Icetoolz Torque Wrench – Buy now from Amazon UK
A torque wrench is much more advanced than a more familiar spanner set. They allow you to see how much torque has been applied as you do up the fastening. It’s a real garage essential for car work and we’ve selected our favourites below, suitable for a whole range of tasks and budgets.
The best torque wrenches
- Hefty limit of 210Nm
- 465mm long handle
- Overkill for smaller fasteners
- Good quality tool
- Great value
- Limited to 80Nm
- Great value
- Good limit of 203.5Nm
- Too large for smaller fasteners
- Great for smaller jobs
- Changeable drive bits
- No way to pre-set limit
Best digital torque wrench
- Actual torque read-out
- Audible and visible limit
- High cost for an amateur or occasional mechanic
- Good value
- Simple to operate
- No pre-set limit to indicate the correct torque
You simply adjust how much torque you want using the knob at the end, and being a Wera product, you can be assured the C3 is built to great build quality. There's even a version called the C5 which can go up to 400Nm of torque.
- Great build quality
- Easy to adjust torque settings
- Doesn't differ too much from lesser options
- Make torque handle application easy
- Adjustable stop bar
- Doesn't indicate the actual torque value
What does a torque wrench do?
A wrench is a tool designed to turn nuts and bolts, often by connecting to an appropriate socket. While the terms spanner and wrench are technically interchangeable. In the UK, spanners are fixed sizes while wrenches can be adjusted. Over in the world of multi tools, the attachments are generally fixed sizes as well.
Everything in your car that’s fastened will have a set torque setting set by the manufacturer that needs to be torqued to the correct setting. From something as simple that can’t be tackled by a precision screwdriver set to important bolts that hold the wheels on and keep the engine held together, they all need to be torqued. If you’re planning on doing any task like this you must use a torque wrench so you don’t do some serious damage to your car as you rebuild it.
The best hand tool brands for torque wrenches
Torque wrenches require calibration and need to be accurate for more heavy-duty jobs. Therefore, there is a massive price gap for entry-level and more professional offerings. Professional options from the Sealey Professional line and Norbar are possibly the most accurate examples available. But these may be a little overkill unless you’re doing some serious wrenching. Draper and Sealey cover the more affordable end of the price spectrum. The same applies when it comes to socket sets which are produced by the same brands.
Ryan Gilmore is the Deputy Autos and Tools Editor for Parkers, specialising in car cleaning and hand tools. A veteran car cleaner; if it details, waxes or washes he’ll be on hand to make sure it’s worth your money.
Sign up to the Parkers Newsletter to keep up to date with more of the latest reviews, news, and recommendations from the Parkers team.
Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections – read why you should trust us