There are many benefits to working on your car. For some, it can be therapeutic in that it relieves stress. For others, it can save significant cost versus taking your car into a mechanic and paying for labor. However, despite these benefits, there are also a few risks if you try to rush things.
One of the corners people most commonly cut is skipping out on properly torqueing fasteners in favor of tightening them by hand. This guessing game can lead to incorrect repairs that can result in damage to your vehicle or safety risks to its occupants. While some DIY mechanics may get away with this occasionally by guessing correctly, this frequently leads to stripped bolts or parts that vibrate loose.
Fortunately, this drama can be easily avoided by employing the use of a well calibrated torque wrench and following the manufacturers specifications for appropriate bolt torque. There are many high quality options out there on the market. One such example that we really like is the GearWrench 85176 120XP 3/8” Drive Micrometer Torque Wrench. GearWrench offered to send us one to review, and we gladly obliged!
First off, let us just take a moment to state that this is one of the nicer feeling torque wrenches we have held. A great deal of attention has been paid to the ergonomics, and the wrench has an extremely substantial feel. While plastic is a necessity on digital torque wrenches, there is no plastic to speak of on this wrench. Every component is machined, casted, or formed steel which makes for a very robust feeling wrench.
Regarding the range, the 3/8” drive 120XP Micrometer Torque Wrench is suitable for 10 – 100 ft/lbs. This is an ideal range for most automotive work. Torque accuracy is 3% clockwise covering the upper 80% of the wrenches range, which is industry standard. The markings denoting your torque settings are silver on a black backdrop, making them extremely visible, even in lower light (which is often the case when underneath your vehicle).
The ratchet head on this click type torque wrench is enclosed which makes the wrench easy to keep clean and prevents any grime from entering the guts of your wrench. This is hugely important with a calibrated tool, as you will maintain your calibration for much longer with a wrench that keeps its insides clean. The ratcheting mechanism has a three degree ratcheting arc, which means that you only need to rotate the wrench three degrees to engage the next tooth. This allows you to turn fasteners even when there is very little room to work.
The wrench also comes with a form fitting case that keeps the wrench safe when stored.
When it comes to build quality, this wrench is one of the best we’ve handled. The all steel construction provides a nice and confidence inspiring heft. All touch points have aggressive knurling for grip when wet, although not so aggressive that it will tear up your hands if you use the tool without mechanic’s gloves. Everything feels extremely solid. All moving components are notchy in a good way, and you are rewarded with satisfying mechanical clicks as you move things into position (such as when setting your torque). Overall the build quality on the wrench is outstanding.
While the wrench is awesome, we would be remiss not to mention the amazing case. This is hands down the best case we have seen on a torque wrench to date. Most torque wrenches seem to come with a one piece molded case. GearWrench’s 85176 120XP comes with a hinged multi-piece case with extremely crisp closure latches, a feature for a padlock, and high density form fitting foam to keep the wrench safe. Regarding the looks of the case, we know this judgment is highly subjective so your mileage may vary, but it comes in a black and yellow motif that we like a whole lot.
When it comes to value, in our experience GearWrench usually represents a strong value. The 85176 120XP 3/8” Drive Torque Wrench is no exception! It is an extremely well built and robust tool for the money, and although it’s not the cheapest, we certainly think you get what you pay for.
Overall, we are confident that this torque wrench will treat you well over the long run. As far as where to find the best price, Amazon tends to have competitive tool prices so we suggest starting there. If you want to do a little more research before diving in, have a look at our torque wrench buyer’s guide by clicking here. Happy wrenching!