Best Torque Wrench for Engine Building in 2024

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Are you looking for the best torque wrenches for engine building? You’ve come to the right place! Torque wrenches are a valuable tool for both professional technicians and do-it-yourselfers. It aids in the proper tightening of nuts and bolts, which is critical during engine assembly and compression testing.

Unfortunately, there are many ordinary torque wrenches on the market that just claim to be good when but aren’t. For this reason, hours of research and expert knowledge are essential. And that’s where our blog comes in. We examined a ton of torque wrenches from the market and selected the best ones for engine building. 

We will share our findings for each of them below but if you ask we would go for ACDelco ARM303-4A-340 Torque Wrench at first. With accuracy, torque range and ease of use this is by far the best product on our list.

However, we recommend that you read the entire blog post because you will have more information about other torque wrenches and will be able to make a better decision.

Best Torque Wrench For Engine Building

Our Shortlisted Best Torque Wrenches For Engine Building:

  1. ACDelco ARM303-4A-340 Torque Wrench (1/2 inch) – Heavy Duty Digital Torque Wrench
  2. CDI Torque 25003MRMH Torque Wrench (1/2 inch) – Most Accurate Click Torque Wrench for Engine Build
  3. GEARWRENCH Torque Wrench (1/2 inch) – Most Versatile Torque Wrench
  4. Tekton Torque Wrench (3/8 inch) – Best Budget Torque Wrench for Engine Build
  5. Craftsman Torque Wrench (3/8 inch)- Best For Small Engines
  6. Performance Tool M198 Torque Wrench (3/8 inch) – Offers Greater Control

Before reading the quick overview, you need to know-

Why is a Torque Wrench Important to Fix or Build an Engine?

The torque spec is especially important when working with a vehicle engine because the bolts can either be over or under torqued and if they’re they might fail thus putting your vehicle in danger. If you’re working on a cylinder head that has bolts in pattern, it’s vital that these bolts are all evenly tightened because this way, each bolt will be able to put the same amount of clamping force together making sure that the head gasket stays in order to hold back the combustion gas pressures of your engine.

If, say, half of the head bolts are torqued to 80 foot pounds and the other half to100, the uneven clamping will lead to engine failure. Also exhaust manifold bolts that happen to be too tight may crack and can lead to failure at any given time. So it is imperative that you always use a torque wrench especially when installing the internal engine bolts.

Best Torque Wrench for Engine Building: Quick Overview

Hopefully you have understood the importance of a torque wrench while building or assembling an engine from the above discussion. In the next section we’ll dive into the details of our top listed best torque wrenches and try to weigh the benefits and drawbacks each of them come along with.

1.ACDelco ARM303-4A-340 1/2 inch Torque Wrench

With a wide torque range of 12.5 foot pounds to 250.7, ACDelco ARM303-4A-340 is our winner for the best torque wrench for engine building. From small repairs to setting up the necessary parts in the engine, this tool can handle all needs of a veteran builder quite comfortably.

ACDelco ARM303-4A-340 torque wrench for engine works

As a digital torque wrench, ACDelco ARM303 beeps and alerts you when you reach closer to the desired torque value. That comes in handy when you’re working on critical engine components like crankshafts or cylinder heads. The accuracy and ease of use make it the best tool for engine work.

The torque wrench weighs 6.6 pounds making it an ideal option to work on heavy engines. It has a soft grip which extends the ease of operating. Plus it’s made with high-quality materials, so longevity shall not be a concern. 

The rated accuracy is +/- 2.5, which is exceptional for a ½ torque wrench. Moreover, it can move bolts in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions.

The signaling mechanism is intuitive. It has LED lights flashing when you’re overloading the torque and thus prevents you from over-torquing any vital engine component. The only downside is that the torque wrench requires batteries to use.

What We Like

  • High accuracy rating and precision.
  • LED alerts you to prevent overloading.
  • Easy to set torque value and use it.
  • Great torque wrench for different engine parts.
  • Innovative design to keep your hands from being tired.

What Can be Improved

  • Runs on batteries. May shut off during use

2.CDI Torque 25003MRMH Torque Wrench

If you want to make a long term investment in a torque wrench, go for CDI Torque 25003MRMH 1/2-Inch Drive.

It weighs 4 pounds and is built with high quality metal, allowing it to handle all fastener types found in bigger engines. It’s an excellent substitute for ACDelco ARM303 ½ inch torque wrench that we’ve mentioned above.

CDI Torque 25003MRMH 1/2-Inch Drive torque wrench for engine works

The torque wrench with a knurled handle is designed in such a way that the grip won’t slip easily. It has an extremely accurate scale that stays in calibration even after frequent uses. You can set the torque wrench in either inch pound (in.-lbs..) or Newton meter (Nm) scale and measure torque in both directions.

What’s more entertaining is the high contrast laser markings. No matter how dark the surrounding is, you can set and read the scale without issues. The spring filled pull down lock ring is easy to set up as well.

The torque wrench with a quick release button makes it easy to secure sockets into the head and then provides a simple way to remove them. Additionally, the spring loaded pull down lock helps prevent the socket from falling out once it’s attached to the head.

In terms of the price, CDI Torque wrenches are slightly more expensive than other brands in the market. If you are a serious engine builder the extra pennies should not hold you back.

What We Like

  • Comes with variants and you can select the right one for your needs.
  • Portable as it’s only 13 inches in length.
  • Metal handle for durability.
  • Perfect functioning clicking mechanism.
  • Excellent accuracy and torque precision.

What Can be Improved

  • It’s  quite expensive.

3.GEARWRENCH 1/2 inch Torque Wrench

GEARWRENCH 1/2″ Drive Torque Wrench is a solid option if you want to level up your engine rebuild game. Weighing only 1.1 pounds, this tool is very handy when you need to work on your engine for long hours.

GEARWRENCH 85066 Micrometer Torque Wrench

Thanks to the wide torque range (30-250 ft.-lbs.) facility, this tool can perform any repair related to engines. The sealed head of the Gearwrench torque wrench makes it easy for you to apply the correct torque.

The clicking mechanism is spot-on. It gives off a clear and loud noise when the desired torque is applied. Such precision is a must when working with engines.

This 1/2″ drive micrometer wrench works well with 3/8 bolts. The adjuster in the torque wrench is of solid quality and even serious mechanics can work on it.

One of the downsides to this product is that it only turns clockwise. So, you’d have to use another torque wrench if you want to turn bolts in a counter-clockwise direction.

This Gearwrench torque wrench has a high accuracy rate but ACDelco ARM303 is a little better than it in terms of accuracy. It also has a short warranty period of just 90 days.

What We Like

  • Great torque range for engine building work.
  • Highly accurate with an accuracy rating of 3%.
  • Loud and clear clicking mechanism.
  • Well crafted. Made for long-term usage.

What Can be Improved

  • Has a very limited warranty of just 90 days

4.TEKTON 3/8 inch Torque Wrench

The click style torque wrench comes at a low price and you can use it for small engine jobs. The torque range is limited to 10-80 ft.-lbs. but that’s still good value for the price. Tekton 3/8 inch click torque wrench has a reversible ratchet head, meaning it can move in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions.

TEKTON 24330 Click Torque Wrench

It’s on the lower end of the price spectrum but doesn’t cheap out on materials. The construction is well made to sustain long-term use.

It’s lightweight and easy-to-use. The high-contrast dual range setting of this torque makes it easy to set the torque value quicker.

Unlike the other wrenches we discussed earlier, this one has a 3/8 inch drive socket. It has a good accuracy rating (4%) and that places it among the best 3/8 torque wrench for engine building in the market.

With a 14.4-inch handle, it’s the smallest wrench so far on our list. That makes it easy to carry with you on the go for small engine jobs.

Tekton is confident about the quality of its products and that’s why this torque wrench comes with a lifetime warranty.

What We Like

  • Good torque range for the price.
  • Made of steel to prevent wearing out.
  • Easy to read and set the dial even in low-light situations.
  • Works in both directions.
  • Easy to carry.

What Can be Improved

  • The clicking noise is not very loud

5.CRAFTSMAN 3/8 inch Torque Wrench

The CRAFTSMAN 3/8 inch Torque Wrench is an ideal solution for mechanics and automotive repair shops, and a useful tool for your garage.

CRAFTSMAN CMMT99433 Torque Wrench

It’s a simple, no fuss tool but designed to provide you with optimal leverage and the right degree of precision when tightening bolts and nuts. The look and feel of this torque wrench is quite remarkable.

It’s lightweight and compact but still provides good leverage. With a torque range of 20 to 100 ft.-lbs. it can perform all torque applications in small to medium sized engines.

It’s also great for replacing spark plugs, clutches, and flywheels, and installing the bolts on your car or truck. You’d have no problems using it for such tasks.

The bi-material handle of the torque wrench makes it convenient and keeps the hands from getting exhausted. The locking mechanism also works great and you can quickly set the desired torque with this torque wrench.

Last but not the least, the package comes along with a durable case so that it’s easy to store and doesn’t get damaged during shipping. It also comes with a one-year warranty.

But you cannot use it as a precision instrument like those expensive ½ inch models. Also, there’s no accuracy rating mentioned on the packaging of this torque wrench.

What We Like

  • One of the best portable torque wrenches
  • Durable case to protect it during shipping.
  • Perfect wrench for light-duty jobs
  • Affordable, will not put a dent in your wallet

What Can be Improved

  • Clicking sound is bit low in lower torque settings

6.Performance Tool M198 3/8 inch Click Torque Wrench

Another product we recommend for small engine building is Performance Tool M198 Click Torque Wrench. It also has a 3/8-inch drive socket that can exert up to 100 ft.-lbs. of force without issues. In addition, its precision 41 tooth ratchet head will give you a relatively low arc swing compared to other tools on our list.  

Performance Tool M198 Click Torque Wrench for engine work

The Performance Tool M198 has a fixed square head that’ll be perfect for working on the engine. Its body is made of alloy steel and it has a slick and polished finishing that makes it look cool.

There are many variants of the Performance Tool M198 torque wrench but the one that we’ve chosen is the most budget-friendly. Besides, the clicking mechanism on this torque wrench is great as you’ll hear a distinctive sound when you reach the desired torque.

Another handy thing about this torque wrench is that it has dual scale measurement. You can adjust the torque in Inch-Pound and Newton meter easily with this torque wrench.

Performance Tool has patented the torque adjusting lock/unlock collar and it works smoothly. The handle of this torque wrench is close to 20.25 inches, longer than the previous two wrenches that come at a similar price range. While many people prefer long handles, it sacrifices the portability to some extent.

What We Like

  • The compact head makes it great for engine work.
  • Offers a decent torque range.
  • Only weighs 3.1 lbs. and is easy to carry.
  • Loud and audible click when you reach preset torque.
  • Durable body with an alloy steel finish.

What Can be Improved

  • Not as compact as its counterparts.

Choosing the Best Torque Wrench for Engine Building

Compared to traditional wrenches, the main advantage that you get with a torque wrench is that you can apply a specific torque. Torque wrenches are a major improvement over traditional wrenches.

But what are the key features you should look out for to determine the best torque wrench for engine building before you go out and spend your money on it?


Since the main purpose of torque wrenches is to apply precise torque, an inaccurate torque wrench is useless. That is more true when you’re dealing with critical engine parts. Under tightening or over-tightening the nuts and bolts in the engine can cause several problems for the engine. So be sure that the torque wrench you’re buying provides decent accuracy and it has acquired a quality certification.

Ease of Use

The ideal torque wrench for an engine build should be easy to use. When you apply the set torque and you achieve that torque value using the wrench, it’ll notify you.

Depending on the torque wrench you use, the notifying mechanism will be different. An analog torque wrench will notify you via a clicking sound. But a digital torque wrench will give off a loud beep that you can’t miss. In general, digital torque wrenches are easier to use than analog ones.

When it comes to an engine build, either of them is a good option. But since it requires you to torque many different components, you can get an extra edge with digital torque wrenches.

Torque Range

To cover the full range of torque that’s required for engine building, you should look for a torque wrench that can exert up to 180 ft.-lbs. or more. Remember the greater the torque specs the higher the costs would be.

There are some cheaper options but you can’t explore the full range of work with these. Depending on your type of engine, you may need a torque wrench of 50 to 250 ft.-lbs. for head bolts and main bearing caps. For intake manifold bolts 20 to 100 ft.-lbs. torque wrenches should be enough.

Wrench Size

The most common types of torque wrenches available are 1/2 and 3/8-inch drives. 3/8-inch drives are good for simple detailing works. But for heavy duty engine building, torque wrenches with a half inch drive are best.

Wrapping Up

So, we have finished analyzing the best torque wrenches that we found to be the most useful for engine building and assembling new parts. All of these tools are great for working with engines and we think you will be able to find the perfect one for your needs. Have a great day!

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