Torque Wrench vs Socket Wrench: What are the Key Differences 

People often confuse a torque wrench and a socket wrench. But they have different features and distinct usage. How to identify torque wrench vs socket wrench, and which one is you need?

The most significant difference between a torque wrench and a socket wrench is their functionality. A socket wrench is a normal wrench for turning sockets tools. A torque wrench allows you to apply accurately known torque. Depending on your usage, the choice will vary.

We’ll discuss the key differences between torque wrench and socket wrench throughout this article. In the end, you will get some assistance to select one between these two tools.

Torque Wrench vs Socket Wrench: Quick Comparison Chart

Basis of comparisonTorque wrenchSocket wrench
Function:Set specific torqueTighten or loose nuts
Usage:A connection that requires particular torqueSuitable for most fastening works
Attachment:Requires socketsThe sockets attached with a handle
Handle:The torque wrench itself is the handleRequires handle for turning sockets
Design:Includes clip and swivel functionSimplistic
Size:Same as socket sizeSockets are ¼”, ⅜”, ½”, and ¾”
Cost:ExpensiveAffordable

Torque Wrench vs Socket Wrench: Key Differences

A socket wrench is a type of socket spanner with a closed socket format. A torque wrench is a unique tool to apply a specific torque on nuts, screws, or bolts.

The major differences between a socket wrench and a torque wrench are:

Function

Both the torque wrench and socket wrench have different functional features. As the name suggests, you can apply specific torque with torque wrenches.

A socket wrench works like a normal wrench that you can use to tighten or loose screws. The sockets go on the screw head, and you turn it clockwise or counterclockwise.

Usage

Different functionality makes these tools suitable for different usage. When you want to loosen or tighten a nut without any special retirements, a socket wrench will do the job.

However, some automotive connections require specific torque for optimum performance. Torque wrenches are the perfect solution for such works. 

For instance, having the motorcycle torque wrenches is a must-have. With this fancy tool, assembling or repairing a motorcycle for an auto mechanic or DIY is easy and effective.

Handle

Socket wrenches require a handle to function. Socket set tools include multiple sockets with one or a few handles. The handles are quite simple and made to fit the sockets for turning.

The torque wrench itself is a handle and doesn’t require extra haft. The handle has multiple features, such as setting the torque and changing the direction.

Attachment

Sockets must be attached to the handle for functioning. You can grip the handle and turn it in different directions depending on whether you want to loosen or tighten the nut.

torque wrench uses must need extra sockets to attach to the torque tool. You can not use the torque wrench without attaching any sockets with it. Keep in mind that torque wrench sets don’t come with any sockets.

Design

The design of socket wrench tools is quite simple. The sockets have holes on both sides. One hole is for attaching with the handle, and the other one is for putting it on the screw for fastening.

Torque wrench design includes different clips or buttons for operating the tool. You set the clip for changing the direction and swivel the handle to set the torque. 

Size

torque wrench sizes and socket wrench sizes usually refer to the same thing. That’s because we already mentioned that torque wrenches use sockets.

Sockets of wrenches mainly come in four measurements. The most common sizes are ¼ inch, ⅜ inch, ½ inch, and ¾ inch. torque wrench ⅜ is the standard, and you can do most of your work with it.

Cost

The socket wrench set amazon usually costs between $30 to $150. Considering how many tools you get in a set, the price is quite reasonable.

The torque wrench price is comparatively higher than the socket wrench. However, if you have budget constraints or if you want to get the item in a hurry, you can check out the best torque wrenches under $100 (you need to buy the sockets separately). 

What are the Different Types of Torque Wrench?

Torque wrenches come in various types based on your purpose of usage and the types of nuts. For example, you need to collect specific torque wrenches for lug nuts, while for plumbing work, you will need different types.

The most common types of torque wrenches are:

  • Hydraulic torque wrench
  • Pneumatic torque wrench
  • Electric torque wrench
  • Beam Torque Wrench
  • Battery torque wrench
  • Digital Torque Wrench
  • Dial Torque Wrench
  • Slipper Torque Wrench
  • Adjustable Torque Wrench
  • Impact wrench
  • Split Beam Torque Wrench
  • Deflecting Beam Torque Wrench
  • Mechatronic Torque Wrench
  • Programmable Electronic Torque Wrench
  • Dental Torque Wrench
  • Micrometer Torque Wrench

Why Do You Need a Torque Wrench?

Most nut and bolt connections in automotive require specific torque. Overtightening a screw can lead to catastrophic results. Manually trying to tighten the fasteners often results in imperfect fitting. A torque wrench is a perfect solution for such problems.

Torque wrenches have unique functions that enable you to apply a specific torque. You need a torque wrench to deal with automotive connections that require torques.

How to use Torque Wrench

You can use a torque wrench with three easy steps. First, connect the socket to the torque wrench through the square drive. Change the clip angle to set a specific direction. Then swivel the handle to set the required torque. Finally, put it on the screw and push the handle.

Socket Wrench vs. Torque Wrench – Which one is better?

If you ask which one is better between a socket wrench and a torque wrench, there is no valid answer. That’s because they serve different purposes. However, after buying a socket wrench set, get a torque wrench too. This will help you do all the fastener tool work effortlessly.

FAQs

Is a torque wrench the same as a socket wrench?

No, a torque wrench is not the same as a socket wrench. A torque wrench is different as it has a unique function to apply accurate torque. But a socket wrench is a type of socket spanner that supports general fastening works.

Can you use regular sockets with a torque wrench?

Yes, you can use regular sockets with a torque wrench. The only requirement is that the square drive of the torque must match the size of the sockets to fit.

How much does a socket wrench set cost?

Most socket wrench sets come at affordable prices, starting from $20 to as high as a few hundred dollars. $100 is a perfect budget for buying a good quality socket wrench set.

Torque Wrenches vs. Ratchet Wrenches

Torque wrenches are mainly used in automotive works and have a torque function. Ratcheting wrenches are similar tools but come with a ratcheting technique. Read more.

Final verdict 

The comparison between the torque wrench vs socket wrench shows both are useful tools. A socket wrench set is a must-have tool, while you can not neglect a torque wrench if you need to apply specific torque.