Cheap Torque wrenches

Discussion in 'Dyna Models' started by R_W_B, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. R_W_B

    R_W_B Senior Member

    Well I wanted to share something with the average dupe guys "like me". All of you pros and more experienced ones can disregard this post as it will have no information you don't already know.

    About few months ago I bought a couple of Torque wrenches on sale at a company that I have bought a lot of "usable" items over the years. I won't mention any names but will refer to the company as H.F. and again I have saved loads of money there compared to buying it elsewhere, on 90% of the stuff I bought there. But my own stupidity got me this time since I should have known better than to buy a precision item like a torque wrench there (or anywhere for less than $30).

    However I do have some redeeming grace in that I check them with my needle bar wrench before using. Heck if it wasn't for upside down and sideways work I would always use a needle (rail) wrench. The little inch pounder H.F works pretty close to right, but today when I tried the ft lb one it wasn't clicking when I thought it should. So I have a 1/2" hex bolt installed on my workbench with metal plates on bottom and top where this bolt is. I set it 20 ft lbs with my needle wrench. The H.F. Wrench just kept on tightening the bolt and would not click when set to 20 ft. lbs. So I set it to 5 ft lbs and tried it on a welded bolt that doesn't move. I could not pull hard enough to get it to click. Obviously the wrench was broke. So I took it back to H.F. They wanted to give me another one and I said just give me a store credit, since I don't trust the wrench anymore.

    I went to Sears and struck a happy medium with a $119.oo ft lb wrench. I know it's not a $250 SnapOn but it will do for me. I will never let my "cheap bargain eyes" get me on an item like this again.

    Some things you must torque like the handlebar switch clamps, I have had these come loose with me while riding if I didn't torque them. Some things you can get by without torque like most pipe threads, just get um where they don't leak.

    But you have to part with some bucks to get a good reliable torque wrench. If I was a pro mechanic I would buy the $300 one. The calibration alone would cost twice what I paid for the piece of (EDIT) I took back.

    Anyhow for anyone out there wanting to buy a cheap torque wrench, "don't".

    Please read this...
    A Friendly Reminder - Harley Davidson Community
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2010
  2. Jack Klarich

    Jack Klarich Expert Member

    you got a pretty good deal, but maybe check on Thursday @ sears to see if that same wrench is cheaper, if it is they will return the differance, just keep your reciept, Check your local store as most will be open Thanksgiving day from 7 -12, CapitalJack
  3. R. Lewis

    R. Lewis Senior Member Retired Moderators

    I would heed Jack's advice here --- He has a "inside scoop" on Sears!! LOL!!
  4. trike lady

    trike lady Junior Member

    I have one of those cheap torque wrenches and have used it a number of times, how accurate it is that's another story. I have the feeling they're not seconds but rejects that cannot be labeled with another private brand name. I may 'Bite the bullet' and purchase one from Snap-on like the professionals use. I've gotten burned with cheap tools too and will be purchasing new and better from Snap-on.
  5. wilks3

    wilks3 Junior Member

    Snap-On makes a back door torque wrench called CDI-torque wrenchs. Check'em out at
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010
  6. Iceman24

    Iceman24 Well-Known Member

    Discovered many years ago - the old saying "you get what you pay for" - especially w/tools. Go w/something quality & there are "budget friendly" manufacturers (Craftsman, Kobalt, Husky, etc.). Money well spent...
  7. The4opps1

    The4opps1 Junior Member

    I have a few HF torque wrenches and have checked them against my buddy's Snap On's. They are well within the limits that I would require. There's nothing wrong with buying expensive, if your wallet can handle it, and, IMO, if you are going to use the item repeatedly. Constant use of a HF torque wrench would most likely not stand up like a more expensive wrench. But then again, I don't use them repeatedly. JMO.....
  8. R_W_B

    R_W_B Senior Member

    Well I had to go on vacation, but if anyone is still following this thread, I had a tremedous amount of replies to a similar post on another forum. It appears there are many who defend the cheaper torque wrenches. And again I still own one H.F. inch pounder myself that works great. So in an effort to hone in on the truth I did some checking.

    A local mechanic shop that I personally know the guys, told me that " if you don't use a T wrench that much, and treat it carefully, a cheap wrench can work, BUT always check them "all" periodically to a needle bar. Further they said with repeated professional use, a more expensive T wrench will hold longer. but treat then all with care, if you drop it, throw it away or have it recalibrated (<-more on this) ".

    Looks like I just had a bad ft. lb. wrench from the start. My H.F. inch pounder is still working like a charm, used it yesterday. But I must admit my new Sears ft pounder operates like a Cadilac and is so easy to adjust and use. Has a nice dial in knob on end. A very nice wrench for $119.

    But on the calibration thing. I have called several mechanic shops and emailed several calibrators online. So far here are my results. It appears to depend on "who you are" in this area.

    1. Snap On (online) told me they don't calibrate any other brand of wrench except Snap On. Price starts at $75, usually is more depending on shipping.

    2. Mechanics told me (most of them) that their tool supply truck K-E, etc. (SnapOn included) would calibrate their wrenches of most any brand, slightly more for other brands. They also said they got it done for around $40 a wrench, picked up and delivered.

    3. Independent online calibrators are very slow to respond, so far not much back from them. (have no idea why this is except maybe they also mainly work with pro shops or companies) I did get a response from one wanting more information on brand and type of wrench, which I sent back and still waiting on return.

    4. Calling around town on the phone, I was not able to find one "local" parts house etc (NAPA included) that could offer or tell me where to get a calibration. Even tried a machine shop, no go. HD told me to call SnapOn.

    5. Sears online said if their wrench needed calibration to take it back to the store. The guy in the local Sears tool department told me Sears does not calibrate wrenches. (Hey the world is crazy now a days, I'm telling you just what I found)

    6. It would appear to me if your not in a pro shop, that calibration is not an option and just buy a new wrench in comparable price ranch of personal decision.

    Just thought I would share this.
  9. kemo

    kemo R.I.P

    I carry a H/F wrench in the truck to check the wheels on the R.V. and the truck. A cheap wrench is good for doing wheels, the idea of torquing wheels is to get an even pattern around the wheel. This helps to keep the brake rotors from wrapping. If the wheels are 2 or 3 lbs off torque no big deal, as long as they are tight and evenly torqued. If you are doing engine work that is another story. Connecting rod bolts require more precise torquing then wheels.
  10. jaxdwg

    jaxdwg Active Member

    When I was making a living as an aircraft mechanic, we had to have our torque wrenches calibrated every 90 days to be in compliance, no matter who made them.