Torque wrenches are fantastic. They allow DIY mechanics with a wide range of skill and experience to dial in exactly how tight a nut or bolt should be, without having to rely purely on feel. But they're also bulky and heavy, making them a pain if you need to take one on the road. This device changes that.
This nifty block of a tool is called a torque adapter. It's a palm-size plastic cube with an input for a ratchet and an output peg for a socket that takes the place of a traditional torque wrench. Sensors inside the block can pick up how much torque you're applying to the ratchet and feed it to the built-in screen and speaker, in turn acting as a makeshift torque wrench.
Torque adapters are incredibly handy pieces of tech. Good ones are just as accurate as traditional torque wrenches, yet they don't take up nearly as much space. This means torque adapters can be packed into a mobile toolset with ease, allowing mechanics of all levels to have a torque-sensitive ratchet available, even when they're packing light.
Whenever I'm traveling long distances I like to keep my torque adapter in the car. It frees up space for other gear while still being useful for tightening up things like wheel nuts or belt tensioners. I've even switched to using my torque adapter while in my garage for things like spark plugs simply because it's easier to set up and put away.
Even better, torque adapters are often less expensive than traditional torque wrenches. The adapters I use most, the 1/2-inch and 3/8-inch digital models made by Quinn and sold by Harbor Freight, are priced at $49.99 and $39.99 respectively. The 1/2-inch model has a torque range of 25 to 250 lb-ft, while the 3/8-inch model has a range of 5 to 59 lb-ft. Both adapters are accurate within 2 lb-ft, and display torque ratings in ft. lbs., in. lbs., N-m, kg-m, and kg-cm.