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Last updated on April 8th, 2021
A torque wrench is one of the most useful tools in the shop or garage. It is used to apply a precise preload on fasteners to avoid over-tightening or underloading. Precisely, a torque wrench is necessary where the torque value is specified. If you are an auto mechanic or a professional electrician, you know what this means. A torque wrench helps you torque down nuts and bolts on different car parts to specific values. This is important for both safety and inspection purposes. There are many other reasons why a torque wrench is necessary and I have discussed them in this article. Personally, I cannot imagine assembling an engine or installing cable lugs on the terminals of my microgrid battery bank without my digital torque wrench.
Types of torque wrenches
There are different types of torque wrenches. You can categorize them by the size of their drives or mode of operation. You can also classify them as either digital or manual. The click adjustable torque wrench is the most common manual precision wrench. It is still a favorite among many auto mechanics because of its ruggedness and price. Unfortunately, digital torque wrenches are now beginning to rule many shops because of their ease of use, accuracy, and increased functionality.
The click adjustable torque wrench uses a spring mechanism to achieve precise torque. It produces a click sound when you reach the target torque. The downside, however, is that you need to back down or reset the tool to zero after every use. Otherwise, the spring mechanism might degrade prematurely and affects the tool’s accuracy. In contrast, a digital torque wrench uses electronics and does not require resetting after every use. It is also easier to use and read values from it. Electronic torque wrenches have additional functionalities such as easy conversion between multiple units of measure and torque recording. Such features make them the right tools for boosting productivity in the workshop. In this article, I will share with you our 5 best 3/8 drive digital torque wrench kits for light and medium-duty applications.
|Milwaukee 3/8 Digital Torque Wrench with Motor||3/8" Gearwrench Digital Torque Wrench||Kobalt Digital Torque Wrench 3/8 Drive||3/8 inch Summit Tools Digital Torque Wrench||ACDelco 3/8" Digital Angle Torque Wrench|
| Users' |
|Check Price via Amazon||Check Price via Amazon||Check Price via Amazon||Check Price via Amazon||Check Price via Amazon|
|Features|| || || || |
|Measuring range||10 - 100 ft-lbs||8 - 100 ft-lbs||5 - 100 ft-lbs||5 - 99.5 ft-lbs||5 - 99.5 ft-lbs|
|Accuracy rating||±2% CW and ±3% CCW||±2% CW and ±3% CCW||±3%||±1% CW and ±2% CCW||±2% CW and ±3% CCW|
|Alert Types||Audio, visual, vibration||Audio, visual, vibration||Audio, visual||Audio, visual||Audio, visual, vibration|
|Units of measure||N-m,in-lbs,ft-lbs,kg-cm||N-m, ft-lbs,kg-m,kg-cm||ft-lb, N-m, in-lb, kg-cm||kg-cm, N-m, in-lb. ft-lb||N-m, ft-lbs, in-lbs,kg-cm|
|Check Price via Amazon||Check Price via Amazon||Check Price via Amazon||Check Price via Amazon||Check Price via Amazon|
Milwaukee Digital Torque Wrench Review
Appearing first during the Milwaukee Tools NPS19 expo, the Milwaukee battery powered torque wrench is the first of its kind. It is powered by an M12 battery and has an electric motor for driving fasteners. The motor delivers up to 100 rpm.
In other words, the Milwaukee M12 Fuel torque wrench is a combination of a digital torque wrench and a cordless ratchet. It drives fasteners with the motor until the target torque is almost reached. Afterward, you can hand tighten with just one turn to the exact torque value. For other torque wrenches that do not have a motor, you have to turn a couple of times until you achieve the desired torque.
You can use the M12 Fuel torque wrench to install fasteners that require between 10ft-lbs and 100ft-lbs torque. The tool has a tolerance of up to 3% from 20ft-lbs and above. It also has memory to record torque measurements.
The miwaukee digital torque wrench is the perfect tool for multiple applications. It allows you to save up to 15 torque targets for your different applications. So, you do not have to set the torque when jumping from one application to another. All you need is to scroll through and select your torque target from the list. This is important for improving productivity at the shop or garage.
The Milwaukee motorized torque wrench has multiple feedback types to alert you when you reach or exceed target torque. When you approach target torque, a section of the LEDs light green, and an intermittent beeping sound is generated. Once you reach the target torque, the whole LED strip lights green, and the theme color of LCD display screen changes to green. The tool also vibrates on the handle and produces a beep sound as well. All this time, the readout torque value is displayed on the screen.
When torque exceeds the allowable limits, the LED strip lights red. The LCD display theme also changes to red and notifies you that the torque is out of range. A discontinuous tone rings incessantly until you back down the torque.
After you have set your fastener, the tool gives you an option to record the torque value by pressing the save button. You can save as much data as you like via Milwaukee’s ONE KEY. This data is particularly useful for inspection purposes.
The ability to record torque data and download it via the One-Key app is what makes Milwaukee M12 digital torque wrench the best electric torque wrench for electricians. They can use it to record the torque applied to each cable lug and present it for inspection.
The 3/8 M12 Fuel torque wrench has outstanding extra features such as an LED light, ONE-KEY connectivity, and a motor. The LED light is useful for lighting dark work areas while the one-key feature makes it possible to download torque records from the tool with your phone. It also makes it easy to track the tool when you lose or misplace it. The ability to save and download torquing data is very good for inspection purposes.
The M12 3/8 digital torque wrench is good for all trades although it is optimized for use by electricians. In fact, Milwaukee touts it as the perfect digital torque wrench for electricians. That aside, this tool takes fatigue from your arm with the inbuilt motor that reduces the number of times you swing it to apply tension. This makes it the most ergonomic digital torque wrench, hand down.
Milwaukee 3/8 digital torque wrench drawbacks
Although it is the best digital toque tool, M12 digital torque wrench has a couple of drawbacks. The first one is the price. Compared to other electric torque wrenches, the Milwaukee costs a king’s ransom. Its price is almost double that of the closest competition.
The second drawback is the speed of the motor. The motor has a maximum rpm of 100, which is very slow for putting lug nuts on. You cannot get the performance of a cordless ratchet from it.
The third drawback is the lack of an angle measurement feature. The Milwaukee M12 torque wrench does not measure torque angle. So, you will need a separate angle gauge to measure torque angle when installing torque-to-yield fasteners such as the head bolts.
That being said, Milwaukee 3/8 digital torque wrench with motor is the best overall among the digital torque measurement tools.
Gearwrench Digital Torque Wrench Review
The Gearwrench 3/8 digital torque wrench is built with durable material including an oil-resistant plastic handle. The handle has a rubber overlay for a better and more comfortable grip when using it. The ratchet head on this 3/8 gearwrench electronic torque wrench has a 72-teeth so that you get a 5 degree swing arc. The tool comes packaged in a nice protective hard plastic carry case.
Measurement range and units
The gearwrench 3/8 digital torque wrench 85076 has a torque range of between 8 ft-lbs to 100 ft-lbs and an accuracy of 2% clockwise and 3% counterclockwise. The accuracy window, however, is from 20 ft-lbs to the full capacity. This means that you can use this tool effectively on fasteners that require a torque above 20ft-lbs and not more than 100 ft-lbs. Furthermore, the torque wrench offers a resolution of 0.01 to increase its accuracy.
Gearwrench electronic torque wrench has multiple measurement units. You can choose either inch-pounds, foot-pounds, newton-meters kilogram-force-meters, or kilogram-force-meters, depending on your application. Moreover, your choice of unit of measure is saved in memory until you change it. Similarly, the target torque you set remains in the memory even shutting down the tool you overwrite it. All these electronic functions are made possible by a pair of AA batteries that do not ship with the tool.
Target torque alert types
The gearwrench digital torque wrench 3/8 makes accurate tightening of fasteners extremely easy with the multiple types of target torque alerts. It has visual, audio, and vibration alert types that go off at different times. A red LED starts to flash when you get closer to your torque setting. The tool also produces an intermittent beeping sound. As you get closer to 100% of your torque setting, the LED blinks faster and the beeping frequency increases. When you hit your target torque, you get a constant vibration on the handle, a solid red light, and a solid beep. During this process, the LCD display also shows the torque as it increases from zero to the final torque setting.
What makes gearwrench electronic torque wrench outstanding is the fact that you decide when the target torque alerts should go off. You set at what percentage of the target torque the beeping and flashing alerts should start. This helps you customize your tool for each application and reduce the chances of over-torquing fasteners.
Drawbacks of Gearwrench digital torque wrench
The gearwrench 3/8 digital torque wrench has a couple of discouraging drawbacks. The first one is the lack of angle measurement. This means you cannot use the tool as a torque-to-yield torque wrench. Secondly, the tool does not have a memory to save torque settings for different applications. This means that you have to set the target torque for each application. You will also lose the recent torque setting when you cycle power on the tool. Third, the LCD display screen is simple and not as well lit as the Milwaukee one. Furthermore, the gearwrench electric torque wrench boots up quite slowly, taking up to 3 seconds before it is ready to crank fasteners.
GearWrench 3/8 electric torque wrench video reviewThis is a full video review of 85076 Gearwrench 3/8 inch drive digital torque wrench. It is a good choice for electricians and mechanics for installing fasteners without exceeding torque. Its price is also good for your pocket.
3/8 Drive Kobalt Digital Torque Wrench Review
The Kobalt 3/8 digital torque wrench is a great precision tool with good features. It ships in a black molded-plastic storage case and is powered by 2 AA batteries. The body is made of sturdy stainless steel sturdily built stainless steel body and a plastic handle with rubber overlay for a comfortable grip.
This electronic torque wrench has a torque range of between 5 ft-lbs and 100 ft-lbs with an accuracy of 3% in both directions. However, the accuracy only applies to torque values of above 20% of the tool’s capacity. This means kobalt digital torque wrench for fastening nuts and bolts that torque specs of between 20ft-lbs and 100 ft-lbs. This range is ideal for engine assembly, cable lugs installation, motorcycle repairs, and installation of tires on many small cars.
The two most outstanding features of the kobalt torque wrench digital tool are the torque angle measurement and the ability to set and save up to nine torque target values in the tool’s memory. These features increase the tool’s versatility and improve productivity.
The 3/8 inch drive kobalt digital torque wrench has more than one type of feedback to alert you when you approach or hit the target torque. It has 2 LEDs; one green and the other one red. When you approach your torque setting, the green LEDs flashes. The tool also produces an intermittent audible alert. When you get to 100% of your torque setting with a margin of 3%, you get solid red and green lights from both LEDs and a continuous buzzer sound. Unfortunately, the tool does not have vibration feedback on the handle. So, if you fancy haptic feedback, this might not be the tool for you.
The kobalt electronic torque wrench has three operation modes from which to choose using the 5-button keypad. The modes of operation include peak mode, angle mode, or track mode. In peak mode, the torque wrench keeps the maximum torque of the last application. This mode also allows you to record torque values to the tools memory until the memory is full.
The angle mode is kobalt digital torque wrench’s unique feature. In this mode, you can set the angle from 0-360 degrees at increments of 1. However, when setting the angle, the tool must be in a stable horizontal orientation. This ensures that you get the most accurate angle setting. The tool guarantees a ±3% accuracy for torque angle measurements. Torque angles are important when installing torque to yield bolts such as when installing cylinder head bolts, clutch assembly, and flywheel assembly.
The track mode is the simplest mode of operation of the kobalt electronic torque wrench. In this mode, torque results are lost on every application. So, you cannot retrieve them after completing the task. You only see the real-time value on the LCD screen as you torque down fasteners.
Kobalt 3/8 digital torque wrench drawbacks
One of the drawbacks of the kobalt digital torque wrench 3/8 inch drive is the lack of the vibration alert. Sometimes when working in a noisy workshop it can be difficult to hear the buzzer and in tight spaces, the visual alerts may not be visible. That’s when a vibration alert comes in handy.
Another downside of the kobalt is the difficulty to remove batteries. The battery cap is quite tight and in most cases won’t come off easily. This can sometimes be very frustrating especially when you want to change batteries quickly so that you can get on with torquing fasteners. Other than that, the kobalt digital torque wrench is a great addition to your tools arsenal!
Kobalt 3/8 Digital Torque Wrench Review VideoThis is a detailed review of the kobalt digital torque wrench with angle. This tool measures torque between 5 ft-lbs and 100 ft-lbs and the torque angle of torque-to-yield fasteners.
Summit Tools 3/8 Digital Torque Wrench Review
The summit tools 3/8 inch digital torque wrench is another great addition to your high precision toolset. It is well designed, easy to use, and poised to keep nuts and bolts torqued to specification.
The summit tools 3/8 ultraprecision digital torque wrench has a measuring range of 5 ft-lbs to 99.5 ft-lbs and almost perfect accuracy of ±1% in the clockwise direction. The accuracy in the anticlockwise direction falls within ±2% of the target torque. However, like the other torque wrenches, the accuracy rating only applies to torque values of between 20% and 100% of the tool capacity. This means that the tool is only useful for torque settings of above 19.9 ft-lbs.
Torque alert types
Torque alerts are as important to a torque wrench as the tool itself. In addition to an LCD readout, the 3/8 drive summit tools digital torque wrench has two more feedback types. It has a visual alert an audible tone. The visual alert system is made up of two strips of flashing LEDs. The LEDs light green when you achieve the target torque and red when you overload fasteners. A buzzer notification also goes off when you overtighten or under tighten nuts and bolts. This tool does not have a vibration alert.
The summit tools electronic torque wrench with 3/8 ratchet drive has a couple of outstanding bonus features. One of them is the flexible head that can swivel 15 degrees, making the tool ideal for tight spaces. You can use it on steering system racks that are often so hidden. Another feature is the two operation modes (follow mode and peak mode). The peak mode allows you to save torque values for future retrieval. Lastly, this tool ships with a high-quality socket set of sizes 5/16 inch, 9/32 inch, 3/16 inch, and 1/4 inch. It also comes with a protective case for easy and safe storage of the electric torque wrench set.
3/8 inch Acdelco Digital Torque Wrench Review
The Ac Delco digital torque wrench with angle is a great addition to your shop tools. It has some great features including angle measurement and a very useful peak operation mode. It also has a quick-release 3/8″ head that allows for quick installation and removal of sockets. The tool has a warranty cover of 1 year and comes with a calibration certificate that is traceable from N.I.S.T.
Torque measurement range and measurement scales
The measuring range of the ac Delco 3/8 electronic torque wrench is 5 – 99.5 ft-lbs. It offers a tolerance of ±2% in the forward direction and ±3% in the opposite direction. As the torque wrenches, this accuracy is guaranteed for torque values between 20% of full scale to 100%. The torque range for this tool is ideal for applications such as chassis assembly, engine assembly, installation of head bolts and other torque-to-yield fasteners, and tightening lug nuts and other parts in small cars.
Torque alert types
The Ac delco 3/8″ digital angle torque wrench has three types of torque notifications. It has a buzzer for an audible warning and 2 LEDs (green and red) for the visual alert. The handle also vibrates when you reach the torque setting. The alerts begin when you reach 90% of your target torque but they change the intensity as you approach the exact value. They help you avoid under torquing or overloading fasteners. The LCD display also displays torque as it builds up so that you know when to start slowing down.
Ac delco electrical torque wrench has peak and trace operation mode settings. It also has the angle mode for measuring the torque angle. The peak setting allows you to save torque values to the tools memory for future reference. Unfortunately, memory is limited to only 30 sets. Like the other digital torque wrenches, you can choose to display torque values in more than one unit of measure just by the touch of a button. No need to carry a calculator for conversion between different measurement units. This tool is powered by 2 AA batteries that must be bought separately.
Digital torque wrench buying guide
Deciding which digital torque wrench to buy requires due diligence. You must put many factors into consideration to ensure the tool you choose meets your needs properly. To help you make the right buying decision, I have put together some important attributes of a torque wrench to consider.
This is the measurement range of a torque wrench. It is given in inch-pounds or foot-pounds and it is the minimum and the maximum torque values a torque wrench can measure. Different applications have different torque requirements. So it is good to know beforehand the torque requirements of the tasks you want to accomplish with the tool.
My rule of thumb when choosing a torque wrench with the best range is to ensure that my minimum and maximum torque needs are inside the tool’s range, creating a margin of at least 5 units on both limits. For example, if I choose a digital torque wrench with a torque range of 10 – 100ft-lbs, then it means the torque requirements for my applications are between 15-95ft-lbs.
Accuracy and Units of Measurement
The accuracy of measurement is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a digital torque wrench. It determines how accurately you torque down a fastener without under-tightening or overtightening. Most digital torque wrenches are calibrated to measure torque with a margin of error of ±3% in both clockwise and anticlockwise directions. There are also those that offer lesser accuracy but ±3% is a decent tolerance for many applications.
When it comes to scales of measurement, many applications require torque to be measured in either foot-pounds, Newton-meter, or inch-pounds. There are others that use unconventional scales such as Kilogram-meter and kilogram-centimeter. Therefore, it is good to choose a digital torque wrench that offers versatility in scales of measurement. Why subject yourself to conversion calculations while you could get a tool that lets you choose different scales by simply pressing the button?
Unlike the manual torque wrenches that have a reading scale, digital torque wrenches have a display screen. Some tools have large advanced screens while others have small simple screens like a calculator. When shopping for a digital torque wrench, it is good to ensure the screen is readable even from a distant. The screen should offer good contrast for easy readability both in day light or in the dark. The Milwaukee M12 torque wrench is the undisputed winner when it comes to screen readability. It has large colored LCD display screen that offers excellent color contrast for easy readability.
Besides using an electronic transducer to measure torque, another reason why a torque measuring wrench is digital is the ability to store values in memory. This is one of the selling points of many digital torque wrenches. So, when you go shopping for a digital tool, it is good to consider a tool with memory. It is more useful and versatile. For instance, a digital torque wrench with memory saves your torque values for future reference or download. Again, Milwaukee electric torque wrench is the winner for this feature. It saves up to 15 torque targets and countless torque values in memory. The tool also allows you to download the torque data to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
Does the tool come with a storage case? Is the storage case molded plastic or soft cloth? Those are some of the questions many prospective tool buyers ask. And they show how much of a big deal is tool storage to many people.
Therefore, when you want to buy a digital torque wrench, look at the kind of storage the tool offers. Decent storage should be a hard plastic case. This will protect your expensive tool from damage during storage or when transporting it to the job site. A torque wrench also needs to be accurate all the time and that is why storage should matter to you.
A digital torque wrench uses a battery to power the electronic components. When investing in one, make sure you know the type of battery it uses and whether you can find it easily. Some torque wrenches ship with batteries that are not easily available. So the tool becomes useless when the battery runs out.
I would advise you to invest in a battery-powered torque wrench that uses either generic batteries or a battery from a known lineup. For example, the M12 torque wrench uses the Milwaukee M12 battery lineup for M12 tools. On the other hand, AC Delco uses AAA size batteries. Av
Feedback or Alert types
Old torque measurement wrenches use a click to notify you when you reach the torque target. With digital torque wrenches, you get different types of feedback including audio, visual, and haptic (vibration). In fact, most of them offer more than one alter type. So, why not get a tool that offers at least two types of alerts so that when you miss one you will not miss the other. I like torque wrenches with both audio and visual feedback types. If you work in a noisy garage, you might want one that has visual and vibration alerts.
Torque wrenches are generally heavy tools and therefore a little bit of comfort comes a long way. So, don’t just focus on features and functionality, focus on ergonomics too. Choose a tool that will get the job done without causing strain and fatigue on your arms. It should also be comfortable to grip and easy to carry to and from the job site.
Digital torque wrenches are far more accurate than regular torque wrenches. Most guarantee accuracy of at least 3% with like the Summit tools and Milwaukee digital torque wrench offering more accuracy of up to 1% and 2% respectively. Some digital torque wrenches also offer different clockwise and anti-clockwise accuracies.
Some digital torque wrenches such as the Milwaukee require regular calibration while others don’t. The Milwaukee motorized torque wrench requires calibration every year or after 5000 cycles (whichever comes first). You send the tool to the manufacturer for calibration.