Maybe you aren’t totally convinced an electronic torque wrench is a good idea, and you want to try one out before spending $600-800 on a super high-quality tool truck brand one. Well, which one should you buy? I found that this Gearwrench digital torque wrench on Amazon had awesome reviews and an even better price. It seems to be a PERFECT option for anyone wanting to buy an accurate and comfortable digital torque wrench without breaking the bank.
Best 1/2″ Digital Torque Wrench in 2019 Under $200?
It is basically a direct copy of a name brand version with all the same features and usability. I found that for the price the GearWrench 85077 1/2″ Electronic Torque Wrench had the best reviews and value for your money. To see for yourself click the link above to check the current price on Amazon.
You will need to get used to using a digital torque wrench. It can be less intuitive when it comes to knowing when you are at torque on the fastener. Don’t worry though, after a little bit of use you will never want to go back to the old click type torque wrenches.
The Important Specifications:
When looking at buying a torque wrench there are really a couple of very important specifications. The main ones that make a big difference are the actual length of the torque wrench and the torque accuracy. It is also nice to know that it has a comfortable handle, and some warranty available.
Well, you are in luck with the Gearwrench model. While I do wish it had a better warranty, almost no brands will warranty torque wrenches for very long. That is because even dropping a torque wrench from a couple of feet off the ground will usually cause it to become damaged or inaccurate.
Here are some of the details about the GearWrench 1/2″ Digital Torque Wrench that are worth knowing:
- Can do Ft-lbs, Nm (Newton Meters) and Inch Pounds (In-lbs)
- The Max Ft-lbs is 250ft-lbs.
- 1 Year Warranty (90 days on accuracy)
- It DOES NOT do torque angles (a more expensive version (+100 or so will do it)
- Max Torque is Displayed! As well as real-time torque ratings as you get up to torque on your bolt. Meaning it shows you a live readout of your torque.
- It has LED lights, an audible alarm, and a vibrating handle when you reach your torque setting. You can set a percentage of the torque when you want it to start alerting you via sounds. I.e., set it at 10% of 100ft-lbs means it will start warning you at 90ft-lbs that you are close to your desired torque. Then keep torquing until you feel the handle vibrate and viola you are there! Double check the digital gauge and see the Max torque as it will keep the number on the display!
- Comes with a NICE plastic case.
- Unlike click type torque wrenches, you simply turn it OFF to store it.
- Uses 2 AA batteries (buy your own)
- It is around 2 feet long handle the head. PERFECT size for going up to 250ft-lbs if need be.
- Weighs 5.19 pounds.
- Made in Taiwan (like all of Gearwrench Tools)
- +/- 2% Accurate Tightening (clockwise). +/- 3% loosening (counter-clockwise)
- They say they are shock resistant. However, please check calibration if you drop your torque wrench!
How to Properly Use a Torque Wrench:
There are a lot of times people use torque wrenches but use them wrong. There are a couple of important tips and tricks for first-time users and I will cover some of those now. I will also link to some videos that if you watch completely you will be ready to go with a torque wrench. I also HIGHLY recommend reading my post on torque wrench myths and also how to get a feeling for torque.
Some general torque wrench guidelines:
- Always tighten lug nuts in a star pattern, it is a good practice to go slowly up to torque then double-check tightness after you are done.
- Never drop a torque wrench.
- The only place your hand should be ever on a torque wrench is on the end of the torque wrench. Do not ever tighten with the torque wrench with your hand placed halfway up the torque wrench etc. It will throw the numbers off wildly.
- Torque changes when fasteners are wet vs. dry. Wet means lubricated. Dry means threads are completely dry. Always follow the factory service manual for whether or not the torque values are dry or wet. Lug nugs should always be torqued dry.
- 1/2″ torque wrenches are for heavy-duty stuff like lug nuts and suspension work. They are not the right tool for smaller torque values like 14ft-lbs or less. You should be using a 3/8″ torque wrench or 1/4″ torque wrench when you get into in-lbs or small torque values.
- ALWAYS use a torque wrench when learning to do car repair. For anything that the factory service manual lists a torque value. From that, you will learn to feel the torque and then you can start skipping torque values on less important fasteners that really don’t need to be torqued exactly (ie., fender wheel well plastic guards or your oil pan drain bolt or the plastic covers that go over your timing belt).
Why It Is Important To Always Torque Lug Nuts:
Look it is a very expensive repair if you happen to mess up and torque your lug nuts down wrong and end up losing a wheel. Trust me it happens more often than you would think.
It is also definitely commonplace in shops all around the world that a technician in a rush forgets to torque down a wheel or all the wheels. It is not uncommon to hear stories from any shop about a technician going out for a test drive and coming back with his tail between his legs and with some serious damage on the car from losing a tire while driving.
I personally lost a tire due to never checking the lug nut tightness after buying a used truck. I was on the freeway and my rear tire sheared off the lug nuts and literally passed me going down the freeway while I ground to a halt. I ended up having to sell the truck in the parking lot of a shop for much less than I paid because the repairs were going to be super expensive.
Is that enough reason to spend some money and get a good torque wrench? I hope so. The more important thing is that you remember to USE IT. Someone right now is probably forgetting to torque down a wheel and is about to lose it going for their test drive. Don’t let that be you!
I love the idea of having a high-quality digital torque wrench that doesn’t break the bank. If you wanted a comparable Snap-On or other tool truck brand name torque wrench that had the same capabilities you are looking at spending 2x-4x the price.
If you want to just see all the available digital 1/2″ torque wrenches on the market right now here is a search on Amazon all set up for you. You can see all the best top-rated 1/2″ digital torque wrenches here. You will see the Gearwrench is already at the top! GearWrench also has a 3/8″ Digital Torque Wrench for sale if that is what you need.
I personally love the feeling of correctly torquing down nuts and bolts and knowing you did exactly what the factory called for. Something satisfying about it.