There’s a time and a tool for every situation when it comes to automotive repair. When it’s time to start reassembly, fastening torque is an extremely important facet that it worth paying attention to. When applying torque, there are many torque wrench options out there to choose from. Each has their advantages and disadvantages for various situations.
One common question that we are asked is what’s better: click type versus beam type torque wrenches? In this article, we discuss the merits of both click type and beam type torque wrenches as well as when each type will be most beneficial to the average mechanic.
Click Type Torque Wrenches
Click type torque wrenches are what most people tend to think of when they hear the term “click wrench” or “torque wrench” as they are the most common type of torque wrench found in automotive repair shops today. They are generally the easiest to use because they provide tactile and auditory feedback (the click) and they don’t require a visual reference to determine when the correct fastener torque is reached. One additional benefit to the click type wrenches is that they tend to have higher torque range options than beam type wrenches.
While click type torque wrenches do offer many benefits relative to beam type wrenches, they do have a couple negatives worth mentioning. In order to set the desired torque on the wrench, you will need to turn the handle to the proper torque value. As you screw the handle in (clockwise to increase the torque value on most wrenches), you must stop where the torque value you want is shown. This can become a problem as the letters are typically pretty small and can be hard to see when covered in grease. As long as you keep your wrench clean, this is a pretty small drawback. Perhaps the most important thing to consider is that a click type torque wrench can be more costly than a beam type by quite a bit due to the complexity of the design.
Beam Type Torque Wrenches
Versus click type torque wrenches, beam type wrenches are pretty simple by design which also correlates with their price, which means they are generally the lowest cost torque wrench you can buy for a given torque range. If you have the ability to see the torque scale while you’re using the wrench (perhaps assembling that new engine you’ve been dreaming of) and have steady hands, then a beam type torque wrench can be a useful addition to your tool chest.
One potential downside to the beam type torque wrench is the limited availability in higher torque ranges. Another challenge is that you have to be able to view the scale while you are torquing your fastener (as you don’t get tactile feedback like you would with a click type wrench), which can be difficult to do in an engine bay with limited space or limited light. Also, as they require the operator to visually see what the torque value is to know when to stop torquing, beam type wrenches tend to be less precise and therefore less reliable when it comes to over-torquing or under-torquing when compared versus click type wrenches. If you can’t see where you are, you may end up pulling beyond the torque value required and leave lasting damage on the assembly since there isn’t a positive stop indicator like on a click type wrench.
Overall, when it comes down to choosing between click type versus beam type torque wrenches, the positives and negatives of each make the choice pretty clear. Generally speaking, we recommend that you gravitate towards the click type torque wenches as they tend to be more accurate and more versatile on average. If a click type torque wrench is a little too pricey, a cheaper beam type torque wrench will usually get you by but likely won’t be nearly as convenient or accurate. That said, if you’d like to learn more about torque wrenches, you can click here to see our torque wrench buyer’s guide. Happy wrenching!