Yes, a Tekton Torque Wrench Can Be Both Cheap and Good
There’s always room for budget-friendly tools.
There’s always room in the conversation for budget-friendly tools. Sure, some folks are fortunate enough to stock their home garage with nothing but professional-grade equipment. (I see you, Ken Block.) Most of us, however, are just trying to find out which affordable tools are worth it and which are junk.
I can get on board with the argument that you should get the best ones you can afford whenever you buy tools, but it’s not always that simple. There are plenty of people who can’t justify dropping a hundred bucks for something like a torque wrench that’ll only see use on rare occasions. That’s why cheap models are on the market in the first place.
Understanding which model is the best for the money, however, can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with the cheaper brands or their functionality. And without putting it through its paces, how could you know? That’s where The Drive comes in. We’re here to lighten the load by putting those tools through their respective paces. And that’s just what we did with the Tekton torque wrench.
Let’s get into what we think about it.
Unboxing the Tekton Torque Wrench
This isn’t my first affordable-torque-wrench rodeo. Although I won’t say that I have any particular bias against them, I’m familiar with the nature of the beast. When I opened the package to see that blow-molded case, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that this is yet another one that’ll fall apart after a weekend of hard use. That is until I opened up that crappy, er, inexpensive case.
Once I saw the wrench, I dialed back my cynicism. The outward appearance alone separates it from many other torque wrenches in its category. Gone is a polished finish in favor of matte silver and a black handle. You can say that these are nothing more than superficial touches, but both the bar and the handle have legible scales that don’t require strategically placed lighting in order to read.
Another touch that grabbed my attention is the tapered section of the bar. The taper will be just a touch easier to use in tight spots where parts of whatever you’re working on might come in contact with the tool and prevent you from working.
Other than that, it’s what you’d expect from a torque wrench in this price range. Both the ratcheting mechanism and the adjustment system are pretty standard. I wonder whether the other changes were made simply to make you feel better about the tool or if they signal actual effort that went into the design of this torque wrench. The only way to find out is by beating up on it.
Getting After It With the Tekton 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench
- Good: Budget-friendly, solid build, reliable performance.
- Bad: Low ratchet tooth count and a finish that won’t hold out.
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Thankfully, there was no shortage of car maintenance to perform when this wrench arrived. Nothing super cool to do such as replacing cylinder heads, but my car was long overdue for new brakes and some front-end work.
On top of that, I performed a little unorthodox testing, such as clamping it in a bench vise to see how much effort it'd take to hit its maximum 150 foot-pound setting. I also gave it a few smacks against a bench to see how strong its socket retention is.
I don't have any equipment on hand that allows me to test the tool's accuracy, so we're forced to take the manufacturer's word in that department. Research on the web indicates that it's fairly accurate, but based on my personal experience I don't think it's right for me to claim that it is.
No matter the level of science behind the testing, I feel I walked away with an understanding of how this wrench holds up in real-world applications. There were no major hitches, sockets weren’t flying off, and I have faith that I can rely on it for future projects.
What’s Good about Tekton’s Torque Wrench
My favorite thing about this wrench is that the designers made sure the scales are clear and legible. All too often on these click-type torque wrenches, you’ll find a scale simply scribed into the bar and the handle. It’s not the worst method in the world, but you can find yourself straining your eyes to read those numbers in low light or when it’s too bright.
The other thing I like about this wrench is the length. It has a total length of about 18 inches, which is suitable for its torque range. Hitting the maximum 150-foot-pound settings is pretty easy, and there’s little fear of overtorquing fasteners closer to the 10-foot-pound starting point of the scale. A smaller model like the Tekton 3/8-inch drive click torque wrench is better for lighter settings, but you can rely on this model in a pinch.
While there certainly are signs of this being a more affordable model, it feels pretty solid. It’s got a good amount of weight to it, the adjustment system doesn’t tend to wander, and it makes a satisfying click when you hit your mark. Even at around 20 foot-pounds, there’s no question that you’ve reached spec. That said, I felt comfortable using the tool for tightening both the lug nuts and various other fasteners on my project.
Speaking of affordable, we have to mention the price point of less than $50. You can undoubtedly score something with a lower price tag, but this wrench’s performance is worth the money.
What’s Not Good about the Tekton Torque Wrench
The Tekton line of torque wrenches receives constant praise, and any amount of research does make it hard to fuss about anything. Perhaps there’s some skepticism about its accuracy, but there’s plenty to make us believe that’s not an issue.
What I don’t like about this wrench is the low tooth count in the ratcheting mechanism. While it didn’t bind me up in any way, experience shows that it is a shortcoming in comparison to models with a higher tooth count. One can argue, however, that fewer teeth works in favor of durability.
It’s worth pointing out that the locking cap on the adjustment system can bind up as you change torque settings. That’s not a problem exclusive to this tool, and it’s not going to stop you from getting the job done, but it is a reminder why other manufacturers make design tweaks in this area.
The last thing to point out is that, although I’m a fan of the finish, it does blemish easily. So what? Tools get beat up. However, I didn’t subject this wrench to any crazy abuse, and there are some pretty bad scratches. That only leaves me to question how long that scale etched on the bar will last.
Our Verdict on Tekton’s 1/2-Inch Torque Wrench
At the end of the day, I give this torque wrench two thumbs up. That’s not because of any life-changing features but because it balances quality and pricing so well. You can find less-expensive wrenches, but I think it’s fair to say that you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that’ll provide nearly as much confidence.
That’s not to say I’d recommend it to professionals. I wouldn’t. It’s not a bad tool. This just isn’t the kind of wrench I’d recommend making a living with. I’d say it’s one of the best options, if not the best, for someone on a tight budget who enjoys tinkering with cars.
At the end of the day, I give this torque wrench two thumbs up.
FAQs About Tekton Torque Wrench
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.
Q. Are Tekton torque wrenches made in the United States?
A. According to the manual, this particular torque wrench is made in Taiwan.
Q: Are Tekton tools any good?
A. My experience with this wrench as well as some online reading tells me that they are good tools for the money. I don’t think they’d shine in a professional setting, but I think they’re a great option for weekend warriors on a budget.
Q. Does Tekton offer a lifetime warranty?
A. Yes, Tekton offers a lifetime warranty. That might be a surprise to those who know that some of the bigger tool brands don’t extend a lifetime warranty on their torque wrenches.
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The Drive's Gear section is our brand-new baby, and we want it to grow. To give you, our dear readers, clarity on the process, the products arrive from a variety of sources, including ones we purchased ourselves and those we received from manufacturers. No matter the source, we maintain our editorial independence and will always give you our honest assessment of any product we test.
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