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stevetone

Torque Wrench Recommendation Anyone?

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I'm will be starting two timing belt, water pump, pulleys, seals, etc. projects on my subes within a month and figured it was time to buy a decent click-adjustable torque wrench (been using a cheap beam type up until now). After searching through the forums, I found little in the way of actual recommendations, other than the cheap ones make a fun whoop-whoop-whoop sound as you wing them across the room. So I thought I'd ask: Any recommendations for a reasonably-priced, reasonably-accurate 1/2" drive torque wrench?

 

I figure that one that has a maximum range of 150 ft. lbs. would be best, as from what I gather the higher capacity wrenches have lower accuracy at the bottom end of their ranges (I've seen specs like +-4% once over 20% of maximum range). Would that 150 ft. lb. upper range be sufficient?

 

Now I normally use Craftsman tools, but the latest reviews I've seen regarding their torque wrenches are not very good. They do not carry the lifetime warranty either.

 

I figure that Snap-On makes the best, but I'd rather not spend that much unless it's necessary to get a consistent quality. I'm not a professional mechanic, so it would only see occasional use. Although, as I said earlier, I'll be doing two projects.

 

I'm open to all opinions, as I may be completely wrong on all the above! Thanks for your help.

 

Steve

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I have a Craftsman 1/2" "click-type" wrench. I believe it's like 30-150lbs.

 

It only sees pretty light duty use but I don't have any complaints. Feels solid, weighs a good amount. The only thing that could be nicer is the handle, which is a bit of cheapy plastic.

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Yes I bought three of those Craftsman click style wrenches, one of each range they had, about a year ago. They seem to work OK so far. Clickers can go out of calibration and are supposed to be calibrated periodically. The biggest thing you can do is when you're done using it, turn the torque setting back down to very low. Don't leave it sitting dialed in at some torque.

 

And right on, you want to use a torque wrench where the target torque falls between say 20% to 80% of the range. I try to go 40% to 80% of the range. So forget about trying to torque valve cover bolts or even spark plugs with a 150 ft*lb unit.

 

I also have the beam types from Craftsman and those work pretty well. It is harder to read the scale when doing higher torques, so they may be accurate but it depends how well you can read it while applying torque.

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I forgot to read what you planned to do with the torque wrenches. For the job you mentioned (timing belt, water pump, etc), ideally you need all three ranges, or at the minimum the 0-150 ft*lb and a low range such as 0-250 in*lb (0-20.8 ft*lb).

 

Crank pulley bolt you will need the 0-150 ft*lb

Idler pulley bolts and crank sprocket bolts you could probably use the 0-150, but 0-75 ft*lb would be better.

For the water pump and oil pump, you need a low range, such as the 0-250 in*lb, you do not want to strip out those bolts.

 

edit: also you could check out other torque wrench styles such as beam and strain gauge. Harbor Freight has cheap torque wrenches esp when they're on sale.

 

Also note of course that the torque specs are typically for clean dry threads, unless otherwise noted (such as for the crank pulley bolt). So if you put antisieze or loctite on the threads the torque typically should be reduced.

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P73:

 

Did you get the standard Craftsman versions or the Craftsman Professional versions? On the Craftsman website the reviews of the standard versions are not so hot, but then again I suspect that many people are using their torque wrenches as (expensive) breaker bars.

 

And thanks for the idea of multiple wrenches to cover the torque ranges correctly. Any idea as to where would I get them recalibrated/checked?

 

Steve

 

Yes I bought three of those Craftsman click style wrenches, one of each range they had, about a year ago. They seem to work OK so far. Clickers can go out of calibration and are supposed to be calibrated periodically. The biggest thing you can do is when you're done using it, turn the torque setting back down to very low. Don't leave it sitting dialed in at some torque.

 

And right on, you want to use a torque wrench where the target torque falls between say 20% to 80% of the range. I try to go 40% to 80% of the range. So forget about trying to torque valve cover bolts or even spark plugs with a 150 ft*lb unit.

 

I also have the beam types from Craftsman and those work pretty well. It is harder to read the scale when doing higher torques, so they may be accurate but it depends how well you can read it while applying torque.

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I've been told that Sears will send off your Craftsman torque wrenches for recalibration at no charge. They are not lifetime replace, but they are lifetime re-cal.

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I had a POS Craftsman torque wrench for a while, but the thing broke. So I bought a $10 one from Harbor Freight, and have had no problems with it for the past 2 years.

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One of the guys on the Grassroots Motorsports board with access to a number of different wrenches did some testing.

 

He found that the Craftsmen repeatedly came up at the bottom for their accuracy.

 

On top was Snap-On, but surprisingly, just below them was HF.

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have the HF 1/2" drive 0-150 ft/lb one here - a MUST for axle nuts and crank pulleys - have no real complaints with it. works just fine for the occasional use - if I had to use one every day I would go for the high end Snap-on.

also picked up the HF in/lb version as well, only used that one once so far, but seemed to work fine.

 

i do agree with turning it back to a low setting before putting away - we also store it in its original packaging & NOT in the tool box where it can get banged around.

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I've been told that Sears will send off your Craftsman torque wrenches for recalibration at no charge. They are not lifetime replace, but they are lifetime re-cal.

 

Well that is pretty cool if it's true.

 

The biggest thing you can do is when you're done using it, turn the torque setting back down to very low. Don't leave it sitting dialed in at some torque.

 

I've never heard that one. Might need to get mine recalibrated sooner than later. Oops..

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Just my .02. I used to sell Craftsman tools and having been an ASE master mechanic in the past (no longer turning wrenches for a living) I think I can add some perspective here.I sold Craftsman for 6 years,and at the time the individual stores did repairs on repairable warranty tools.The one thing we never did was calibrate torque wrenches,but we would replace the ratcheting guts on the inside.All calibrating was done through the service department who sent it to a center in SLC,Utah. I never saw a great abundance of issues with Craftsman tools and if you have a local store in town it was very convenient to just walk in and get a replacement. On the professional front of turning wrenches I've had and still have my original set of all Craftsman tools,sure some have been replaced, especially screwdrivers,and some sockets that were used in appropriately but Sears still replaced them no question.I have also numerous Snap on and Mac tools,and my main contention with them was always the amount of time I had to wait for 1)the local dealer to show up at the shop and 2) the wait while they sent it in for confirmation and replacement and/or repair.I'm not questioning the quality of any of the tools,I don't personally find any difference in quality,I like convenience and I'm hard on tools,so choose to maintain my stock of Craftsman.As far as quality the three I've mentioned are all good tools,Snap on is rather pricey for the average home mechanic and the dealers do not respond very well to home calls,same with MAC.Of course Craftsman doesn't make house calls at all,but not a problem if you've got a local store.Well I'm to long winded here,I'll check back later.

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Thanks to everyone for chiming in on this.

 

I may be overanalyzing this, but I fear, particularly with the cheap wrenches, that they may appear to be working fine, but could be way out of spec and torquing too little or (worse) too much. And if that's the case I may as well not use one at all and just go by feel.

 

If you send it off to be recalibrated periodically, it better be a well-known brand and be capable of holding a calibration reasonably well, because you'll be spending $30+ just for someone to check if it's within specs.

 

I gather that even if I purchased a used Snap-On torque wrench for approximately $150 on eBay I should get it recalibrated prior to using it.

 

BTW, brands that I am considering include Snap-On, CDI, Precision Instruments, SK, Proto and MAC. Anyone with experiences with those?

 

Steve

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