There’s an old arcade game, commonly found in bars. where people can gather ’round after throwing a few back and test the true nature of their might. I don’t think there’s any real unified name to it, it’s just “that punching bag game.” You know the one, as it’s routinely dominated by the biggest person in the pub. They take a swing at the floating pouch and the machine registers a score of 424, followed by a supposed weakling who casually taps the bag and hits a score of 602. Impossible!
Despite how seriously people take it, and use it to cause or endure extreme embarrassment, it’s not exactly the most scientific measurement. So we’d like to propose a new game aimed at automotive enthusiasts: the “how hard can you torque this lug nut” using a precisely accurate torque wrench. The loser has to perform a tire rotation.
Torque wrenches are a required tool for every amateur or serious mechanic’s garage. They’re not technically used to measure strength, but they do tell the user exactly when wrenching hits the desired torque number. Countless nuts and bolts on your car require exact torque specifications, and a regular socket wrench isn’t going to cut it. Picking a torque wrench to buy, however, can be confusing and annoying as there are so many types of torque wrenches, and so many brands that make them.
The Guides & Gear channel of The Drive wants to search for the best option by sorting through the pages of choices and testing them in real life. So today we’re going to be talking about the Husky torque wrench with a 1/2-inch drive that you can find at Home Depot.
Our Initial Reaction to the Husky ½-inch Torque Wrench
Sometimes the best option is the option that’s available, and the Husky 1/2-inch torque wrench was the only worthwhile option after calling a Lowe’s, visiting an AutoZone, and walking into a Home Depot. Husky is Home Depot’s in-house brand, so it was the only torque wrench available at the physical store, but it was a vastly superior product compared to the $15 beam-style torque wrench at AutoZone.
You can find the Husky torque wrench on shelves in the hand tools section of the hardware aisle. It’s packed in one of those awful plastic casings that have been melted together at several points along the edges. I tried to open it as cleanly as possible, but it never fails. I got pissed it wasn’t breaking apart, had to pull harder, and ended up shredding multiple parts of the package, so don’t expect to keep that.
Once out of the plastic, the wrench is tucked inside of a blow-molded plastic case. It’s only plastic, there’s no foam or cushioning, and the plastic is pretty easy to bend and press in. So, yes, it does have a case for protection but doesn’t expect it to hold up under any weight or serious impacts.
My first impression of the Husky is that it’s massive and heavy. When my girlfriend saw it, she noted it could be used as a legitimate weapon, and she’s not wrong; it feels like a mini-golf club on steroids. It’s helpful that it comes with a case, as torque wrenches require good protection and handling, and I was delighted to see it was primarily made with steel parts, not some cheap plastic. It was also nice to see a certificate of calibration, with all the details of when it was inspected.
The bill came out to be $79.97, about $88 with Chicago taxes. That’s similar to Lowe’s Kobalt model that, at the time of writing, is listed at $89.95 before taxes, while Menard’s Masterforce model is $59.97 before taxes, though the Masterforce model is shorter than the Husky. For further reference, a Pittsburgh model from Harbor Freight is listed at $19.99. Autozone’s $87.00 OEMTools, and $46.99 Duralast options didn’t even match the same specs, as they were limited to 10-150 foot-pounds of torque compared to the Husky’s range of 50-250 foot-pounds.
If you wanted to stick with Husky, HD also offers a $100 combo package with a ½-inch breaker bar or a $149.00 combo package with both ½-inch and ⅜-inch click-style torque wrenches. A Husky 3/8-inch electronic digital torque wrench is listed at $159.00, at the time of writing.
Getting after it with the Husky ½-inch Torque Wrench
Good: Sturdy feel and construction, loud and obvious click, smooth locking dial settings, comfortable rubber handle, immediately available for pickup at Home Depot, solid warranty.
Bad: Doesn’t apply to low torque numbers, does not work counterclockwise, length could limit parameters of use, heavy to lug around, plastic case is pliable, doesn’t apply to low torque numbers. Also made in China, which could turn some people off due to country pride and potential quality concerns.
Once I got the Husky home, I realized a slight hiccup: I only had 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch sockets. Luckily, I have a handy set of stubby Gearhead adapters, so I grabbed those and headed out to a parking lot where I could do some work (my apartment garage is too dark and awkward).
The last time I took my wheels off, I used an impact wrench to put them back on. I know, I know, it’s not a great practice, but when you’re in a hurry, it’s the easiest method. So, I figured I’d correct them by backing them all off and retightening them the correct way with a torque wrench.
This is a good place to remind everybody that you absolutely cannot use a torque wrench to back bolts off or break lug nuts. This tool has a very specific purpose, measuring and identifying torque, and when used incorrectly for other things, it could damage the mechanism, throw the calibration out of whack, and leave you with a useless tool. If you used an incorrectly calibrated tool for torquing, you could get the wrong torque, and something on your car could be damaged, or worse. So, I used my car’s lug wrench to back all of the nuts off and prepared them for retightening.
It might take a bit of brainpower to understand what’s going on with all the numbers on the Husky torque wrench, but once you get it, it’s super easy to use and follow. On the stalk of the wrench there are two maps of stepped intervals, one for newton meters and one for foot-pounds. For foot-pounds, they increased by 20, and a collar around the stalk is used to measure increments of 2. Pull down on a sliding collar near the handle to release the locking mechanism, then rotate it to increase or decrease the set torque. Let go of the collar, and the wrench will lock into the next interval. The lug nut torque specification for my 2003 Acura RSX is 80-foot pounds, so I set the Husky to 80 and went to work.
What’s Dope About the Husky ½-inch Torque Wrench
Any time the word “calibration” is involved for a tool, it’s a red flag to avoid cheaping out. Calibration requires in-depth research and development, quality manufacturing, and high-grade materials. In regards to accuracy, click-type torque wrenches are already a massive step up from beam-style wrenches, and the Husky says its wrench is rated to +/- 3% accuracy.
This is equal to the Kobalt model but better than the +/- 4% accuracy ratings for the Duralast and Masterforce. A Gearwrench beam-style wrench did give us a similar reading to what the Husky provided, but in the spirit of transparency, we do not have the equipment to properly test what the real calibration is set at.
Actual usage of the Husky was a breeze. The release collar and turning dial are easy to use with one hand and the “oil resistant elastomeric” handle provides good grip. Upon pushing down on the lug nut, the rubber provides a bit of cushion and insulation from the hard steel, and when I reached my desired torque, there was an obvious and loud click that I not only heard, but physically felt in my hand as well. The sound does get slightly more muted on the lower torque range, but there was absolutely no mistaking what was going on.
We must also speak about the warranty. Although HD’s website lists the warranty as Limited Lifetime, which is restricted to defects, I called HD to inquire how they treat it in store. I was instructed by an employee at the South Loop, Chicago, location, that hand tools are looked at as lifetime warranty products, no restrictions or questions asked. I was told that you could bring this torque wrench in at any time, for any reason, and HD would replace it free of charge.
What’s Not about the Husky ½-inch Torque Wrench
There was a point in time years ago when many of HD’s Husky brand tools were made in America, but that’s no longer the case. Although it is not listed anywhere on the website, it’s clearly marked at the bottom of the front of the packaging: Made in China. It’s no surprise these days, but considering Home Depot first sprouted in Georgia, it’s still somewhat disappointing. Even if the wrench is well-built and durable, a characteristic which is not entirely dependent on where something is made, some people in America will be turned off that it was produced outside of the country.
Other than where it’s made, the other issues are fairly minor. Whereas I enjoy the weight of the wrench and hope that it signals quality, others might find it an unnecessary ruse that makes it annoying to carry around. The quality of the case could also be of concern, as it’s fairly easy to indent the plastic, but for the most part, a torque wrench will stay safely away from danger on a shelf, so that’s not a major problem.
When using the Husky wrench, there are two features that might cause people to avoid it. Although it has a switch for alternating direction, Husky states, “This torque wrench is designed and calibrated to work in the clockwise direction with an accuracy of +/-3%. It is not calibrated to work in the counter or anti-clockwise direction.”
It’s also quite bulky. At 24 inches long, it will certainly get in the way during certain jobs in the engine bay and could even prevent work in some cases. The socket adapter actually helped me out when torquing my lug nuts, because without it, the stalk and handle of the torque wrench would have been pressed against and hitting my wheel arch. This can be avoided with a smaller wrench, though those might not have the same torque capabilities as the Husky.
Our Verdict On the Husky ½-inch Torque Wrench
If you’re looking for an American-made tool, this Husky is not the one, but we assert that it’s worth checking out regardless. If digital torque wrenches are out of your price range, the Husky click-type feels sturdy in hand, is comfortable to use, is easy to set, and clearly lets you know when you’ve hit your desired torque. We cannot speak to the durability of the product, as this was a short-term test, but the fact that it’s primarily made of steel gives us hope that it’ll last.
The Husky click-type feels sturdy in hand, is comfortable to use, is easy to set, and clearly lets you know when you’ve hit your desired torque.
FAQs About the Husky ½-inch Torque Wrench
You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!
Q. Does Husky make a digital torque wrench?
A. They do, it’s called the Husky Electronic Torque Wrench, but it uses a 3/8-inch drive rather than the 1/2-inch drive seen on the model tested here.
Q. Can you use a torque wrench as a breaker bar?
A. Nope! Do not use your torque wrench to break nuts and bolts free in any circumstance. Doing so could damage the calibration or the torque wrench itself because they are not designed for that task.
Q.How often should I calibrate the Husky torque wrench?
A. Husky recommends calibrating torque wrenches at least once a year, or about every 10,000 torque application cycles.
Q. Where can I get my torque wrench calibrated?
A. Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer to this, as you’ll have to search for a professional shop or lab nearby that is certified to calibrate torque wrenches. Home calibration tools are available for purchase, but they are expensive, and they introduce further room for error if the device is not properly maintained.
Q. What are the Husky Torque Wrench’s specs?
A. Here’s a short list.
- Drive size: 1/2 inch
- Torque range: 50-250 lb-ft
- Material: Steel body, rubber grip
- Length: 24.2
- Included in packaging: Plastic case, user manual, quality and calibration certification, torque wrench
- Calibration: +/- 3% accuracy
- Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty
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