The 8 Best Impact Wrenches of 2022

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If you spend much time on auto repair or DIY projects that involve repetitive tightening or loosening of nuts and bolts, an impact wrench is a handheld tool that will save you a great deal of strain. Kyle Shirley, owner of Sol Vista Roofing, remarks, “Impact wrenches and their attachments come in many shapes and sizes, depending on how they will be used. Before buying one, first understand exactly what you need. Be sure you are looking at the right type of wrench for the job you need to do.”

We evaluated impact wrenches based on power, impacts per minute, reliability, and overall performance. Our top pick, the Milwaukee Fuel High Torque 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench, is versatile, durable, and surprisingly compact.

Here are the best impact wrenches across a variety of categories.


Final Verdict

The Milwaukee Fuel High Torque Impact Wrench is one of the most powerful impact wrenches for its size; it makes quick work of even the toughest nuts and bolts, letting you loosen or tighten them with ease. But if you merely need an impact wrench for simple tasks around the house or garage, and don’t demand the utmost in power and torque, you’ll find the PORTER-CABLE PCE211 is very reasonably priced and a great choice for the average DIYer.

Power Source

There are three basic types of impact wrenches: those powered by air, AC current, or batteries. 

Pneumatic, or air-powered impact wrenches, are standard in auto-repair shops, but aren’t so popular for at-home or DIY use. These tools are very powerful, lightweight, and generally less expensive than electric impact wrenches, but require an air compressor to work and are generally more tool than required outside of a professional auto shop. 

Corded impact wrenches are next in line when it comes to power, but tether you to the closest electrical outlet. Still, if you need a lot of power and don’t want to be bothered keeping track of a battery’s charge level, this could be the right choice for you. 

Cordless impact wrenches are the most popular type for homeowners, DIYers, and those who do car repair as a hobby. On the plus side, these tools give you the utmost in freedom to use them wherever needed. On the downside, you’ll need to keep track of the battery life, cordless tools tend to be heavier than the other two styles, and they are a little less powerful when it comes to torque.

Torque

An impact driver is all about torque; that’s the tool’s twisting force. Some manufacturers state the torque in foot-pounds of force, while others use inch-pounds. Don’t automatically assume that you need the highest amount of torque; too much torque and you’ll find your fasteners snap in half.

As a general rule, you’ll find impact drivers with torque as low as 100 foot-pounds (1,200 inch-pounds) and as high as 1,000 foot-pounds, as well as everything in between. But for most people not working in professional auto shops, a tool towards the lower end of that range is more than sufficient, while a tool in the mid-range is suited for most automotive work.

Kyle Shirley, owner of Sol Vista Roofing, adds, “When using an impact wrench, the most important tip is to take care and not over (or under) tighten. Impact wrenches are great when you apply just the right amount of torque, but overtightening can result in needing to re-do the work.”

Speed

The rate at which an impact driver spins is measured in revolutions per minute. As a rough guideline, most cordless impact wrenches have maximum speeds of anywhere between 1,000 and 3,000 rpm, with the middle of that range being average. Some impact drivers have variable speed controls so you can choose from two or three different settings depending on your needs.

Impact

The “impact” in an impact wrench is a burst of additional power that adds to the tool’s turning strength, and is measured in impacts per minute. As a general rule, most cordless impact wrenches deliver anywhere from 1,500 to 4,000 impacts per minute.

FAQ

  • Mainstays in automotive shops, impact wrenches are widely used by both professionals and hobbyists to affix or remove lug nuts from car wheels. But they are also a very useful tool for tightening or loosening nuts, bolts, and other threaded fasteners on all manner of large machinery, during construction or remodeling, and similar scenarios that involve lots of large threaded fasteners. 

    While most DIYers won’t need an impact wrench, if you plan on taking on a large home remodel or addition, you enjoy doing your own auto maintenance, or you live on a farm or work on large machinery, an impact wrench is a worthwhile addition to your tool collection.

  • You might wonder if you can save money by using the same socket set with both your ratchet and your impact wrench. Unfortunately, while it’s generally okay to use an impact-wrench socket with a ratchet, the opposite is not true; affix a regular socket to an impact wrench, and you risk a potentially dangerous shattering of the socket. 

    The steel of an impact-wrench socket is slightly softer than the steel used for regular sockets. This allows the impact-wrench socket to have a tiny bit of “give” under the tremendous torque forces of the tool. The harder and more brittle steel of a regular socket is prone to cracking or shattering when exposed to so much force, but entirely suited to the force of your handheld ratchet.

  • If you have a pneumatic or air-powered impact wrench, you’ll need an air compressor to use it. The size air compressor you’ll need depends somewhat on the size of the impact wrench you are using. The most common size for the average DIYer or automotive enthusiast is the 0.5-inch impact wrench, which has enough power to turn the lug nuts of a typical car. 

    As a rough guideline, to power your 0.5-inch impact wrench, you’ll need an air compressor with a 6-gallon tank and an airflow of 3.5 to 5 cubic feet per minute (cfm) at 90 pounds-per-square-inch (psi).

    For a smaller impact wrench with a 0.25-inch drive, an air compressor with 1 to 2 cfm airflow at 90 psi is sufficient, while a tool with a 0.37-inch drive does best with an air compressor that has 3 to 3.5 cfm airflow at 90 psi.

  • To use an impact wrench, first, you’ll want to make sure you’re dressed appropriately. Make sure you put on safety goggles and ear muffs or noise-reducing earplugs. Once you’re properly dressed, check your impact wrench’s battery and make sure it has enough to complete your task. Then, check and make sure you have the appropriately-sized socket for your project and attach it. Now you can set the wrench direction, test it to make sure it spins, and then set the speed.

    For attaching, place the bolt in the correct place and screw it on by hand, making sure it’s properly aligned. Then double-check your speed, direction, and other settings on your impact wrench before placing the socket on the bolt. Once the socket is on the bolt, gently turn it from side to side to ensure that it fits. Then using both hands on the impact wrench, press the trigger button in short bursts until the bolt is properly tightened. Then, remove the wrench and move on to the next attachment.

    For the removal process, you’ll want to double-check the impact wrench’s settings to make sure the direction is set to reverse. Then following the same rules for attaching, place your socket on the bolt and make sure it fits properly. Then with both of your hands hold the wrench and press the trigger button in bursts to loosen the bolt. You can increase the speed if it doesn’t loosen immediately or after a few tries. Once it’s loosened, use steady pressure (not bursts) to completely remove the bolt.

This article is edited and updated by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs. For this roundup, she considered dozens of impact wrenches, evaluating each for basic features, extras, and customer feedback. Kyle Shirley, owner of Sol Vista Roofing, offered further input and advice.

Disclaimer: Curated and re-published here. We do not claim anything as we translated and re-published using google translator. All images and Tattoo Design ideas shared only for information purpose.

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