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Can a $20 torque wrench from Harbor Freight, etc., be good enough for lug nuts?

We should recheck lug nuts 100 miles after intitial tightening?

Put the torque wrench at the three or nine o’clock position on a bolt that is real tight, then hang a weight on it and see what it reads. If you hang a 20 lb. weight 15 inches from the bolt’s center it should read around 24 lb. ft. of torque. I use an old beam and needle style torque wrench for my wheel nuts and it works fine. I think getting them close and consistent is more important than getting them to an exact value. If you get into cylinder head bolts you’ll want to invest in a better torque wrench.

I See HF Has A $34.99 1/2" Torque Wrench On Sale Online For $9.99.

I’ve never looked at one of these. The nearest HF store is 3+ hours from here.
I can only imagine that you get what you pay for, though.


I use leg torque. Right leg, only, medium down pressure. My tire service puts the nuts on so tight that I have to jump on the tire-iron,

To answer your question, “Yes”

Yes, a $20 torques wrench from Harbor Freight is excellent as a lug nut wrench. I carry one in my tire change stuff with the proper socket on it. With a coupon, usually available right at teh store, it’s $9.99.

It’s not rocket science building a torque wrench that works on the cheap…now one that last in a professional setting is different. For a home user, cheap can be good enough.

i say yes too. i have that exact one. and also more expensive beam type ones. both are accurate in the “good enough” range for the casual amateur mechanic.

I like beam types too. The advantage of a click-type to keep in the trunk for flats is that if you get a flat at night on a dark street it’s awfully hard to read a beam type in the dark. With a click type, as long as you’ve preset it you’re good to go.

Actually they work quite well. We used them in the factory after testing a number of different brands, including some that were quite expensive and their torque remained within tolerance as long or longer than any of the others. They are not as comfortable to use as some other brands though.

In the end, we settled on the brand Utica, comfortable and reliable.

The closest HF to me is about 90 miles away so I never go there unless I just happen to be in the neighborhood. On occasion I’ve picked up a few things on a whim and it’s been hit and miss.
Some things are excellent value for the money and some aren’t worth walking out the door with.

A HF torque wrench should be fine; especially considering that many torque specs on lugs have a bit of leeway anyhow.

On a whim once, I bought a set of 3 HF micrometers that were on sale cheap to use around the metal lathe and the first thing I did at home was check them out against the Standards from my Starrett set.
One of the 3 needed a slight half thousandth adjustment but other than that they were dead on and measure out exactly like the Starrett mikes. I never would have figured… :slight_smile:

The last time I was at Walmart I noticed that they sale the $20 Torque wrench

My tire service puts the nuts on so tight that I have to jump on the tire-iron.

Then I would suggest you get a new tyre service provider.

More is not always better.

You can get a click-stop torque wrench at lots of places in the $20 range. And they’re all perfectly good for occasional home use.

I agree with Joseph. Repeated overtightening is certain to result in damaged studs. They DO stretch at the base threads if you pull 'em too hard often enough.

I have one from HF and it works just fine for my needs. They also have a lifetime warranty, so when one was being a bit quirky, I took it in and they exchanged it for a new one.

the same mountainbike wrote:
With a click type, as long as you’ve preset it you’re good to go.

I’ve always been under the impression that torque wrenches need to be set to the lowest torque setting when they’re stored.

That’s prudent of they’ll be in long term storage and you need to maintain calibrated accuracy of the instrument, but I figure I’ve only got 15 years left in me, and I don;t think the spring is going to weaken enough in that timeframe to make my lug nuts unsafe.

I’d rather put my lug nuts on with a slightly out of tolerance torque wrench than to just wildly guess.

I wouldn’t count of 15 years if they are not stored properly, with the tension off the spring. Torque wrenches would last 3-4 months in the manufacturing environment before they would go out of tolerance and had to be replaced.

One factor was they they were used all day long, but another is that since they were generally used at one station, they would be set to the torque requirement at that station and never changed, so the tension on the spring was constant. I really can’t say one way or the other, which was more responsible, probably a little of both. But I always relieve the tension on my personal torque wrench.

It’s always good to relieve the tension on any spring for storage. However, realize that I’m talking about a torque wrench that I carry in the spare tire stuff for emergency use. I’m not concerned with that level of accuracy, only that the lugs are secured without being oevrtightened…which is easy to do. And unless I have my reading glasses with me I’ll be unable to set it in the field…even during daylight.

Its always good to buy a cheap pair of drug store cheaters to keep in the glove box. That way if you go out to dinner, and forget your good glasses you still have a spare to read the menu. Or like me you could ask to borrow your wife’s dorky looking ones out of here purse. : )