Shop Tool Reviews
Even though the manual torque wrench like this DeWalt has been supplanted in many places by fancier digital torque-angle wrenches, this is still and handy and inexpensive alternative to ensuring you’re meeting important torque specs.
Every automotive Pro who’s been around for a while has heard the adage, “Tight is tight,” which is part practical wisdom for productivity and part laziness. Truthfully, fasteners are designed with a wide range of tolerances depending on the application. In the olden days where more steel parts were used, “tight is tight” was better advice. But today it’s more critical to bring fasteners to their recommended torque settings. If fasteners are too tight, rotors can warp or things break because you’re often dealing with plastics or composites. Too loose, and fluids can leak or parts can fall off. To tighten fasteners just right, you need a Torque wrench. DeWalt has continued its push into the automotive space with the DeWalt 1/2-Inch Torque Wrench and I’m the lucky Pro that gets to see if the company is running a tight ship or playing a little too fast and loose!
The DeWalt 1/2-Inch Torque Wrench has a nice, long throw for leverage. There’s little doubt you’ll be able to easily reach the higher torques. The rubberized grip is quite comfortable and there’s even a rubberized (and removable) rubber head bumper to protect your work. There’s a thick pin holding the head to the shaft, so it looks like you could pop that out for head replacement, too.
DeWalt 1/2″ Torque Wrench Torque Range
The torque range – 20 to 250 foot-pounds – on the bar of the wrench I used for this review is a bit of mystery. DeWalt’s website shows a 3/8-inch version with 10 to 100 foot-pounds and a 1/2-inch version with 50 to 250, but nowhere could I find information on this wider range shown on the shaft. Hey, no complaints here, but we’ll have to get to the bottom of this somehow. By the way, this is the equivalent of 33.9 -345.7 newton-meters.
Further clarification from DeWalt confirms that the effective torque application window for this torque wrench is 50 – 250 foot-pounds. A good rule of thumb to is to use a torque wrench in the middle to upper end of the wrenches torque application window. If you need to torque something at 55 ft-lbs, should probably get a 20-100 ft-lbs torque wrench, etc.
I’d yet to put socket to fastener yet, but I knew that I like the DeWalt’s quick release trigger for finer torque adjustments. Situated just above the handle, you can easily pull it back with your thumb and forefinger to dial in smaller torque increments between those found on the shaft.
Always remember to return your torque wrench to “0” (or the least) when at rest. This will keep your torque wrench in calibration for a longer period of time.
Stick A Torque In It
I usually use torque sticks, but I gave those a rest once I got the DeWalt 1/2-Inch Torque Wrench in hand. It’s all pretty easy: set the macro-adjustment by turning the handle around the shaft. Even though most torque specifications are ranges instead of absolute numbers, you can still use the wrenches micro-adjustment to really dial it in. This is where I used the quick release collar I mentioned above – and it works really well in practice. Much of this wrench is solid but pretty common; however, this little features really stands out.
Once the desired torque is set on the wrench, you begin to tighten the fastener like you would with any other ratchet. There seems to be a lot of teeth inside the head, as evidenced by the smooth action. 72 teeth, to be exact, so you get a 5° swing-arc before engaging the next tooth. Once the torque number is reached, you hear an audible click and feel a slight slip in the action that lets you know the tightening is complete. There was no strain or difficulty because of the sufficiently long handle.
Frankly, this wrench is a bit old school, but that certainly doesn’t make it bad (can I get an “amen” from all of us that attended the old school?). Lots of automotive veterans like me grumble and proclaim they don’t need no torque wrench, but the truth is I could go around the rim with an air wrench and then check my work with a torque wrench and every so often find a lug nut too loose.
Electronics and Angles
But electronic angle torque wrenches are the new thing for such work, as many manufacturers of stretch fasteners not only have a specified torque range but also a number of degrees to turn the wrench past the specification. There’s a computer inside these new torque wrenches and a digital display to guide the Pro. The tradeoff is the price – hundreds of dollars. We have a Matco at the shop that was upward of $700. It’s a great tool, but yikes! For smaller shops or one-man operations, old school might not be so bad. At less than $200, this DeWalt 1/2-Inch Torque Wrench might be way to go.
A great compliment to this DeWalt torque wrench is the DeWalt Impact Deep Socket Set. Check out the video review to see sockets at a great quality and price. The warranty is hard to beat as well.
The Bottom Line
Dewalt inches further into the automotive space with the excellent DeWalt 1/2-Inch Torque Wrench. It’s got a long shaft for great leverage, a comfortable grip, easy macro- and micro-adjustments, and the no-mar rubberized head is a nice touch.
I really liked this wrench – with a wide torque range, you can easily check your work on most fasteners in the shop. Torque specs are becoming increasingly critical, so having this handy and inexpensive alternative to torque sticks or pricey torque-angle wrenches is a welcome addition to my toolbox.
You can buy this DeWalt 1/2-inch torque wrench by clicking here.
DeWalt 1/2-Inch Torque Wrench Features
- Protective head bumper
- Locking Trigger
- Bi-Material Grip
- ASME/ISO/TAA Compliant
- Heavy Duty Storage Case
- Forward and reverse torque capability
- Durable case for easy carrying and protection during storage
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