A good torque wrench is one of the most important items in any home mechanic’s arsenal. We take a look at the Sonic Screwdriver-esque Bahco Electronic Torque wrench.
When it comes to choosing new tools, there are a bunch of things you need to keep in mind, from price to quality, ease of use, features, and durability. Answer these questions and you’re well on your way to getting the best bang for your buck from whatever it is you’re looking at buying.
Anyone who tinkers around in their garage/workshop/shed will have a few key items like a socket and spanner set and a torque wrench. And most of us should have a few of these things in a tool kit in our cars too, check out our look at the Yorktown Quick Detach tool roll if you’re looking for a great way of storing tools in your rig.
Electronic torque wrenches used to be incredibly expensive but the price has come down in recent years making them a genuine option for the home mechanic. The Bahco Electronic Torque Wrench has been on the market in Australia for a while now. In terms of pricing, you’re looking at $1623 so this won’t a be a buy for everyone.
It runs off three AA batteries and offers a visual, audible and vibration signal when the torque unit has been reached. The range covers 3 to 340Nm or from 2.2 to 240 ft.lb which means it covers small, medium and large applications. And it offers a tolerance of +/-2% which is pretty darn accurate. With an interchangeable head it can be used for a range of applications.
In terms of accessories there are a heap of different heads available from Bahco and a cost-optional angle meter which means you can use this wrench for jobs like suspension, transmission or bearing caps which require a specific torque angle wrench.
What is a torque wrench?
Essentially this is a bar with a square drive and has a gauge allowing you to adjust the amount of torque being applied. The ability to adjust the torque applied to, say, a wheel nut (lug) or a bolt, etc is vital as over tightening or under tightening can cause all kinds of problems like stripped fastener threads, stretched studs or even warped drums and wheels falling off. We’ll go into more detail around choosing a torque wrench in another article, but there are a bunch of different types. Just briefly, they are:
A deflecting beam torque wrench which is a one-direction only tool (no ratchet head) and features a deflecting beam rather than a coil spring. Super accurate and they’ll last a lifetime; it’s this type of wrench that’s probably in your old man’s shed.
A micrometer torque wrench which is one of the most commonly used and has a twist-type head that allows you to set the correct torque and it clicks once you’ve ratcheted the nut up to the correct torque. These come in a range of prices but, generally speaking, you get what you pay for.
A torque angle wrench which is generally used for bearing caps, cylinder bolt heads and suspension components. These items require both precise torque application but also angle of rotation to avoid buggering these bolt types.
An interchangeable head torque wrench which is the type just about everyone has in the shed and usually comes in a kit with a range of different heads.
An electronic torque wrench is exactly what it says on the box…it offers a digital readout allowing easy programming of torque. It works, generally speaking, via a strain gauge attached to a torsion rod which is connected to a transducer to workout the required torque per unit. This is then displayed on the digital screen. They usually emit an audible warning when you’ve reached the set torque amount.
A hand torque wrench is usually a better bet than a rattle gun in that it allows you to be way more accurate in the applied torque. See, an impact gun can be inconsistent resulting in either low torque or high torque. Either way, you can end up with something breaking. Oh, and if you have rotated your wheels at home, or had it done at a wheel shop then you should re-torque the wheels after the first 160 kilometres. The correct torque settings for various components in your vehicle will be listed in the owner’s manual.
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