Torque Wrench vs Socket Wrench – Key Differences

When it comes to working with nuts and bolts, there are two different types of popular wrenches available: torque wrench and socket wrench. Each wrench has its own specific uses, benefits and drawbacks. Choosing one from them is difficult if you don’t have enough knowledge about these tools.

But which is better: torque wrench vs socket wrench? It is a common question that mechanics and DIY-ers have asked for years.

In this post, we will compare the torque and socket wrench to help you decide which is best for your work. Let’s take a look at each wrench individually to find out.

torque wrench vs socket wrench

What is a torque wrench, and how does it work?

A torque wrench can apply a specific torque to fasteners, such as nuts or bolts. Its ratcheting head allows you to use particular power quickly and easily.

They also have a dial or digital display that shows the applied amount of torque. This feature is necessary to confirm that the correct tension level has been achieved. It is often used when it is crucial to achieving a certain level of tension in the fastener, such as when assembling an engine or setting the tension on a bicycle chain.

What is a socket wrench, and how does it work?

A socket wrench is a regular wrench used to loosen or tighten simple fasteners. It requires a handle with a ratchet mechanism and a socket attached to the handle’s end. The socket is placed over the head of the fastener to use the wrench.

A socket wrench handle is turned in the direction that loosens or tightens the connection. The ratchet mechanism allows the socket to remain engaged with the bolt or nut even when the handle is rotated in the contrasting path, making it easier to loosen or tighten a connection. Socket wrenches usually come in different sizes.

Torque Wrench vs Socket Wrench – Comparison

Working speed

When it comes to working speed, torque wrenches are the clear winner. They can quickly loosen or tighten screws by applying a particular amount of preset torque without damaging sensitive materials. Some electronic torque wrenches are available on the market and will do the same task faster. But, it can take some time to loosen and tighten fasteners if you use a manual torque wrench.

On the other hand, socket wrenches are not as fast and can take some time to tighten and loosen screws, but they can complete the simple task quickly and easily.

Functionality and precision

Regarding functionality, the socket wrench is better for loosening and tightening screws or bolts that do not require a lot of torque. You can operate it manually counter wise or counterclockwise.

The torque wrench usually uses for tightening screws or bolts to a specific level of tension to prevent damage or ensure that the screw functions appropriately, making it ideal for precision work.


Another difference between the two types of wrenches is that a torque wrench is typically calibrated at the factory, while a socket wrench needs to be calibrated by the user. A torque wrench is more likely to provide accurate readings than a socket wrench.


The socket wrench is more durable than the torque wrench and can withstand more wear and tear.

Socket wrenches are made from steel or chrome vanadium, which makes them strong and durable. On the other hand, Torque wrenches are often made from aluminum, which makes them more prone to damage.

Overall, a torque wrench is the better choice for doing tasks fast with accuracy. However, a socket wrench is better if you need a more durable and simple wrench for your regular jobs.

Handle and socket

A torque wrench has an extended handle with multiple functions, such as torque setting and changing directions. This feature makes it easier to apply torque to the screws or bolts.

On the other hand, a socket wrench requires a handle, and it looks pretty simple and shorter than a torque wrench. Its shorter handle makes it rather challenging to apply torque than a torque wrench. Both wrenches come in various sockets and are typically designed according to the fastener’s size.

The socket wrench also has a ratcheting mechanism, which allows you to loosen or tighten screws or bolts even when the handle is turned in the opposite direction. This feature is not available on the torque wrench.

Power and Torque

A torque wrench can apply higher preset torque to the fasteners, making it ideal for more brutal screws or bolts. The socket wrench is not as powerful and cannot apply as much torque as the torque wrench.


Torque wrenches have multiple functions that help you complete your task comfortably and efficiently.

Comfort is the most considerable thing while you work for a long time. The torque wrench offers you more comfort rather than a socket wrench. Although, using the wrong size and type of wrenches can cause excessive fatigue on your hand.


A torque wrench is more costly than a socket wrench. A standard torque wrench typically costs more than $100. On the other hand, you can get a standard socket wrench usually costs less than $50.

Torque wrench vs socket wrench – comparison table

Torque WrenchSocket Wrench
TypeProvide accurate torquenormal wrench
UsageWhere particular torque is neededIdeal for regular fastening works
HandleIt comes with an extended handleHandle requires to operate
PowerMore powerfulLess powerful
DesignMultiple functionsSimple
DurabilityLess durableMore durable
FlexibilityLess flexibleMore flexible

You may also like: Can you use a torque wrench as a breaker bar – complete guide

Torque wrench vs socket wrench – which is better?

Auto mechanics need a good wrench set for tackling car repairs. But there are so many types of wrenches available on the market, so it can be hard to know which ones to choose. Two of the most popular options are torque wrenches and socket wrenches. So, which is the better choice?

A socket wrench is a versatile and valuable tool that is ideal for various tasks, from loosening and tightening bolts to removing and replacing spark plugs. They are available in multiple matrics and standard sizes, making them compatible with a wide range of fasteners.

Furthermore, socket wrenches can be used with either hand, giving you greater flexibility when working in tight spaces. However, they do have some drawbacks. Socket wrenches require frequent adjustments and can be challenging to use with one hand. 

On the other hand, torque wrenches are specifically designed for tightening fasteners to a specific level of torque. This power makes them an essential tool for critical repairs like cylinder head replacement.

Torque wrenches are also available in both standard and metric sizes. But unlike socket wrenches, they are not left or right-handed, and they can only use in a clockwise motion, which makes them challenging to use in tight spaces. Another downside of torque wrenches is that they must be calibrated regularly to ensure accuracy.

So, which type of wrench is the better choice? The answer largely depends on your needs. A socket wrench set is a wise investment if you intend to accomplish a lot of repair work on your car or work in tight and stubborn fasteners.

However, if you only need to tackle occasional repairs, then a torque wrench may be all you need. Ultimately, the best wrench is the one that fits your needs the best. Don’t use a torque wrench on stubborn and tight fasteners because it can easily damage these tools.

Can you use regular sockets with a torque wrench?

A torque wrench is one of the valuable tools in any mechanic’s toolbox. This tool is essential when working with delicate machinery, as too much or too little torque can lead to severe problems.

A torque wrench usually comes with various sockets to fit a range of fasteners. However, using a regular socket with a torque wrench is also possible. You must purchase an adapter compatible with your particular wrench to use a normal socket.

Once you have the adapter, please attach it to the socket and then affix the socket to the torque wrench. With this method, you can use any socket you have on hand, giving you greater flexibility when working on various projects.


After reading the above article, you may understand the difference between torque and socket wrench. So, torque wrench vs socket wrench – which is best suited for you- depends on your working requirements.

These two handy and powerful tool is crucial for every mechanic or home user. Always remember that following all safety guidelines before using these power tools is necessary.

Happy wrenching!

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