10 Best Budget Torque Wrenches under $100 of 2020 – Top Picks & Reviews
There are a large number of torque wrenches under $100 that you can find from several brands. However, many tools at this price point can have significant flaws with their design, and you may want to do a little research before choosing a torque wrench to use on your projects.
We’ve chosen 10 different brands of budget torque wrenches to review for you to help you learn a little more about the differences between them. We’ll tell you about our experience using them, as well as any special features they may have. We’ve also included a short buyers guide will we take a close look at how torque wrenches work and what you should look for while shopping.
Join us while we talk about foot-pounds, weight, ease of use, accuracy, and more to help you make an educated purchase.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||EPAuto ST-010-1 1/2-inch Drive Click Torque Wrench||
|TACKLIFE HTW1A 3/8” Drive Click Torque Wrench||
|Performance Tool W3001C 1/2 in Torque Wrench||
|TEKTON TRQ21101 1/4 Inch Click Torque Wrench||
|LEXIVON LX-182 3/8-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench||
The 10 Best Budget Torque Wrenches under $100 – Reviews 2020
Here are the ten budget torque wrenches under $100 we have chosen to review for you.
1. EPAuto 1/2-inch Drive Click Torque Wrench – Best Overall
The EPAuto ST-010-1 1/2-inch Drive Click Torque Wrench is our pick for the best overall budget torque wrench under $100. It’s constructed from hardened Chrome-Vanadium steel so it won’t bend or tarnish. It has a knurled non-slip handle that’s easy to grip, even in wet conditions, and the high-contrast, dual-range scale is easy to read and lists torque in foot-pounds (ft/lbs.) and Newton-meters (Nm). It’s calibrated to within 4% accuracy and allows you to set the desired torque between 10 and 150 ft/lbs. It clicks when you reach the set value, and you can feel it in the tool as well. The 72-tooth ratchet allows you to work in tight spaces, and the tool includes an extension bar and a ⅜-inch adapter. It also comes with a convenient plastic storage case.
The EPAuto ST-010-1 is one of our main tools around the shop, and the only problem we have with it is that it’s easy to rub off the markings on the handle.
2. TACKLIFE HTW1A 3/8” Drive Click Torque Wrench
The TACKLIFE HTW1A 3/8” Drive Click Torque Wrench can measure torque between 10 and 80 ft/lbs. and allows you to set torque in increments of ½ ft/lb. It clicks when you reach the set value, and the laser engraved dual-range scale is easy to read even in low light conditions. It’s calibrated to be accurate to within 4% and includes an extension bar as well as ½-inch and ¼-inch adapters. The all-steel construction is durable without any plastic parts to wear out, and the storage case comes with the tool.
The TACKLIFE HTW1A is a good overall torque wrench, but the reversible ratchet only has 24 teeth, so you will need a lot of space to swing the handle to use it when compared to our top choice.
3. Performance Tool 1/2 in Torque Wrench
Performance Tool W3001C 1/2 in Torque Wrench is a beam style torque wrench that can measure torque between 0 and 150 ft/lbs. It’s also available in several other models that can measure a wide range of torque values. It comes with a torque specification table and features a comfortable non-slip grip handle.
The downside to the Performance Tool W3001C is that it’s lightweight and feels cheaply made. Also, it’s not exactly accurate, especially in the lower range, and it doesn’t come with any accessories to convert to ¾-inch or ¼-inch bolts.
4. TEKTON TRQ21101 1/4 Inch Click Torque Wrench
The TEKTON TRQ21101 1/4 Inch Click Torque Wrench is adjustable between 10 and 150 inch-pounds (in/lbs.), and it clicks when you reach the desired torque to prevent you from overtightening. It’s accurate to within 4%, and it can measure torque in both directions. The dual range scale allows you to set torque in inch-pounds or Newton-centimeters. The 72-tooth ratchet head is great for working in tight areas, and it comes with a convenient storage case.
The biggest problem we had with the TEKTON TRQ21101 was that the torque selector which would stick occasionally and not reset after it reached torque. The instructions that come along with it are also very hard to read and written exceptionally small. There are also no included adapters or extenders to make the tool more versatile.
5. LEXIVON 3/8-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench
The LEXIVON LX-182 3/8-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench Is an attractive torque wrench that features a black body with highlighted yellow print. The bright dual-range scale is easy to read and calibrated to within 4% accuracy. It includes a certificate of calibration that demonstrates your tool’s response to 9 separate tests. You can adjust it to measure any torque between 10 and 80 ft/lbs, and the all-steel construction is durable and should last many years.
The main downside to the LEXIVON LX-182 is that the ratchet occasionally slips while you are using it, and the click sound to let you know of torque is extremely quiet.
6. Neiko 3/8” Drive Adjustable Click Torque Wrench
The Neiko 03713A 3/8” Drive Adjustable Click Torque Wrench features a hardened Chrome-Velarium steel body that won’t bend or corrode over time. You can adjust it to any torque between 10 and 80 ft/lbs. and is accurate within 4%. It comes with an ABS custom-fitted storage case to protect your wrench when it’s not in use.
Our problem with the Neiko 03713A was its flimsy handle. The bar is nice and sturdy, but the thin, fragile handle snapped and cracked after only a few uses. We also found it a little more difficult to adjust the torque settings than many other brands, and the click is very quiet, so you will need to rely on tactile feedback to know when you’ve reached the desired torque.
7. eTORK 1/2-Inch Drive Digital Torque Wrench
The eTORK EC3250 1/2-Inch Drive Digital Torque Wrench is a digital style torque wrench that can give you torque readings in multiple formats, including foot-pounds, inch-pounds, Newton-meters, and Newton-centimeters. Pre-calibration guarantees it to be within 3% accuracy, making it one of the most accurate tools on this list. It also comes with a calibration certificate giving you the exact performance of your tool. The digital screen is easy to read, and it can measure torque clockwise and counterclockwise directions. It features a 45 tooth ratchet head and a ball bearing release mechanism for accuracy. You can set it for any torque between 25 and 250 ft/lbs, and it includes a storage case.
We felt there was a lot of play in the eTORK EC3250 ratchet head, and we felt it was heavy compared to many other brands on this list. It’s also very expensive, and it just makes it under our $100 cap, and you will need to replace batteries often.
8. ACDelco 3/8” Digital Torque Wrench
The ACDelco ARM601-3 3/8” Digital Torque Wrench is another digital model that uses an easy to read display for setting the desired torque. You can adjust the torque between 2 and 37 ft/lbs., and flashing lights and an alarm alert you when you have reached the desired value. It’s calibrated to be one of the most accurate tools on this list and claims an impressive 2% accuracy. It can measure torque in both directions, and it includes a convenient storage case with your purchase.
The small range of the ACDelco ARM601-3 will limit its overall usefulness, but there are still many small jobs it can perform. It uses up batteries quickly and, unlike the last model, does not come with your first set. If you use it close to the higher end of its range, you risk getting an error code that renders the tool useless, and we found the alarm didn’t ring until you were beyond the set value.
9. BULLTOOLS 1/4-inch Drive Dual-Direction Click Torque Wrench
The BULLTOOLS 1/4-inch Drive Dual-Direction Click Torque Wrench is adjustable between 20 and 200-in/lbs. It’s accurate to within 3%, and it clicks when you reach your torque value. The 72-tooth ratchet head is perfect for tightening and removing bolts in tight areas. The handle is anti-skid, anti-rust, and anti-corrosion. We found it comfortable to hold, even in awkward positions, and it comes with a storage case to keep it in when you are not using it.
We didn’t like that it was extremely hard to hear the click while using the BULLTOOLS 1/4-inch, and many times we don’t believe there was a click at all. The laser-etched dual-range scale can also be challenging to read in certain positions or low light.
10. J&R Quality Tools 1/4-Inch Adjustable Torque Wrench
The J&R Quality Tools 1/4-Inch Adjustable Torque Wrench is our last torque wrench under $100 on our list. This model is guaranteed accurate to within 4% and has a durable Chrome-Vanadium steel construction that shouldn’t bend or tarnish over time. It is adjustable between 20 and 200 in/lbs., which is more than enough for many light jobs around the home.
Our problem with the J&R Quality Tools was that it was challenging to set the right torque due to their strange scale divisions. The settings on the shaft are in 15 in/lbs. increments while the twist handle divides the 15 pounds into ten divisions. So, to set it for 35 in/lbs., you make the dial read 33.3. We also didn’t feel it was very accurate, especially toward the lower end of its range. The click is quiet and difficult to hear, and the Chrome started peeling off our tool only a few days after we received it.
Here are some of the most important things to consider before purchasing a budget torque wrench under $100.
How does a torque wrench work?
Torque wrenches use an internal scale, usually in the form of a spring, to figure out the force applied to turn a bolt. When the desired forces reach an internal mechanism causes a click sound and usually releases force on the bolt, so you are aware it’s time to stop tightening.
The clicking sound with some give is the most popular way the torque wrenches work. However, modern wrenches may use flashing lights and then digital alarm to alert you when you reach torque value.
Torque wrenches are available in several sizes, including ¼, ⅜, ½, ¾, and 1 inch. Larger wrenches will measure more foot-pounds and are suitable for big jobs that require a lot of force. Smaller wrenches will have a reduced range and are better suited for smaller jobs that only require a few pounds of force. The half-inch torque wrench will likely provide you with the most usable range of torque.
We recommend they ½-inch torque wrench when possible for the most versatility and useful measurements.
We measure torque in foot-pounds or inch-pounds in America. In places that use the metric system, you are more likely to use Newton-meters or Newton-centimeters. Most brands have both measurements printed right on the tool, but you can easily find a chart or smartphone app that will help you convert on to the other. Many times, the amount of torque a tool can measure is directly related to its size. A ⅜-inch torque wrench can often measure the torque from 10 to 100 pounds, while a ½-inch wrench can measure from 25 to 250 ft/lbs.
When choosing a torque wrench for your workshop, purchase one to measure torque in the range you need. The ⅜-inch wrench is the smallest for light automotive work, but you will need the ½-inch for lug nuts and bigger engine jobs.
Another important metric to look for while you are shopping for a new torque wrench is the accuracy. In our reviews, you will see many units listed as precalibrated to an accuracy of about 3 or 4 percent. Accuracy in torque wrenches is like tolerance in electronics. If you have a torque wrench rated at 4% accuracy and set it to click when you apply 1,000 ft/lbs. pressure, it will click somewhere between 96 and 104 pounds. A torque wrench with 3% accuracy will click somewhere between 97 and 103 pounds.
Some tools come with a certificate that states how it performed when tested at the factory. Some models on our list come with a certificate, but it is usually for higher-end models. If you pay more than $100 for your torque wrench, you should purchase one that comes with a certificate of calibration.
We highly recommend our top choice, the EPAuto ST-010-1 1/2-inch Drive Click Torque Wrench, for most people. It’s a ½-inch torque wrench covering small jobs and bigger jobs like lug nuts and engine work. It has a durable construction with a comfortable handle, and the 72-tooth ratchet head will allow you to work in tight areas. It also comes with an extender and a ⅜-inch adapter to increase the tool’s flexibility.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over our look at one of the more useful tools in the shop. Once you get used to using it, you will wonder how you ever got along without it. If you have found it helpful and informative, please share this guide to the best budget torque wrenches under $100 on Facebook and Twitter.
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- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Budget Torque Wrenches under $100 – Reviews 2020
- 1. EPAuto 1/2-inch Drive Click Torque Wrench – Best Overall
- 2. TACKLIFE HTW1A 3/8” Drive Click Torque Wrench
- 3. Performance Tool 1/2 in Torque Wrench
- 4. TEKTON TRQ21101 1/4 Inch Click Torque Wrench
- 5. LEXIVON 3/8-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench
- 6. Neiko 3/8” Drive Adjustable Click Torque Wrench
- 7. eTORK 1/2-Inch Drive Digital Torque Wrench
- 8. ACDelco 3/8” Digital Torque Wrench
- 9. BULLTOOLS 1/4-inch Drive Dual-Direction Click Torque Wrench
- 10. J&R Quality Tools 1/4-Inch Adjustable Torque Wrench
- Buyer’s Guide