If you’ve ever spent some time tinkering around with your car, you’ve probably stumbled upon a mechanic’s nightmare – a jammed bolt! If the bolt has rusted or has been tightened too much, it can be so frustrating to sort out!
That’s where an air impact wrench can come to help. Also called an air impact driver, this tool is an investment, but certainly is worth every penny. As a professional mechanic, my father taught me the true value of it.
Again, having an air impact wrench saved me a lot many times during all sorts of DIY jobs around the home, I really wouldn’t be without one now! But the market scenario has changed lately. There are literally hundreds of brands coming up with cheap and useless machines that don’t last more than a couple of months.
Whether you’re looking for something advanced, affordable, or one with high torque, we’ll have something for you in this guide. We’ll take you through a collection of top-of-the-line tools and provide you with the most useful information so you understand everything about these wonderful tools.
Drillly is gradually becoming a household name for the woodworking and metalworking communities and DIY enthusiasts around the country for a good number of reasons. We’ve been dealing with all kinds of wood and metalworking projects for the most part of our adult life.
We made numerous mistakes and we learned numerous things over the years. Our experience with all the latest tools and equipment helped us grow critical insights into different metal and woodworking tools.
Whether we review a wood router or a drum sander, for the most part of our reviewing process, we proceed with objectivity to derive facts from data analysis and field tests. Our research framework is set to detect the ultimate power tools and equipment for our audience.
We maintain no financial relationship with any brands or manufacturers. Instead, we stick to the facts. Our sole mission is to bring all the useful information on a reviewing unit to our readers, so they can make an informed buying decision.
Our Product Selection Process
We’d gone through a series of market analysis, consumer report analysis, specs check, feature analysis, comparison, field-tests, and reassessment of the final models in the light of expert’s views and understanding before we got our final list at hand.
Initially, we spent more than 30 hours doing extensive market analysis and research to hunt down the most advanced air impact wrench models with the highest number of positive reviews. That way, we were able to extract 25 top-rated models from the most reliable brands.
A group of community-based volunteers helped us manage all the listed models and we want to take this opportunity to thank them. Next, we took the initially listed models to our workshop to test them out.
When testing we focused on they performed on a wide range of bolt sizes, jammed screws, and rusted joints. We also checked their built quality, power production, noise rate, versatility, weight, adjustability, simplicity in design, ergonomics, and durability. Based on these criteria, we championed 10 models from the rest.
Our quest didn’t end there. We also consulted with other professional mechanics, industry experts, and designers to talk about our final selections. They shared curious perspectives on our models and we learned a lot from them. Based on our practical experience with the items and the newfound knowledge, we proceeded to write comprehensive reviews on the best air impact wrenches.
Our 10 Best Air Impact Wrench List
So, what is the best air impact wrench? Well, here’s the moment of truth: there’s no single tool that meets everyone's needs. That’s why we have a collection of them sorted, tested and reviewed for you to choose from. Let’s jump right on to it.
We believe the Ingersoll Rand 2235TiMAX is simply the best air impact wrench out there. This is a powerful tool suitable for use with passenger cars as well as light trucks in the automotive industry.
Our testers found that it was certainly powerful enough to tackle most jobs. Size-wise, it does really well and is quite light compared to similar models. We did find it to be ever so slightly louder than typical air impact wrenches but we didn’t consider this to be a problem, given how powerful it is.
Ingersoll markets this air impact wrench as having the best power-to-weight ratio – and we agree! We found that it can handle really tricky lug nuts and bolts too. Since it only weighs 4.6 pounds, this means you are able to use it for longer stretches without getting tired.
It also has a forward and reverse push button that you can operate with one hand as well as a power regulator with 4 positions.
Durability-wise, this is outstanding. It has a titanium hammer case and the robust housing is made of composite materials. We think Ingersoll has it right with this air impact wrench – it’s designed to withstand heavy usage and it has great torque.
Maximum Torque up to 930 ft.-lb.
Loosening Torque up to 1350 ft.-lbs
Free Speed : 8500 rpm
Weight : 4.6lbs
Length : 7.6 inches
Sound level : 98 dB
This is a light tool when compared with tools of similar power
The trigger control is good
The change of direction buttons are solid and intuitive
Solid detents prevent a user from changing power level unintentionally
The body is made of plastic
It feels a bit ‘front heavy’
The 2235TiMAX came top on our list as it is such a great product for the money. It is corded electric, lightweight yet powerful, and will suit any mechanic working with passenger cars and small trucks – even the home mechanic who wants to splash out on a professional product! It is the second most expensive product in this guide but we think it’s worth spending your money on!
Our Runner Up is this AIRCAT 1150 “Killer Torque” ½-inch impact wrench. It’s a tool that really packs a punch when it comes to torque. In testing, it was able to remove a really tricky crankshaft bolt that is tightened to 283ft.lbs. This air impact wrench has an impressive 1295ft.lbs. of loosening torque and it certainly did the job!
This is a twin-hammer wrench that has 1400 Blows Per Minute. AIRCAT claims this to be the strongest tool of its class on the market and we think they might be right! We liked how lightweight this tool felt and its composite body all in black looked great and felt comfortable to hold too.
The handle is ergonomic and AIRCAT have patented this. This air impact wrench also has a lower noise level than many – at only 86 dB.
Maximum Torque up to 900 ft.-lb.
Loosening Torque up to 1295 ft.-lbs
Free Speed : 9000 rpm
Weight : 4.5lbs
Length : 8.25 inches
Sound level : 86 dB
CFM : 8
This is a quiet tool in comparison to other similar tools
There is an easy flip lever to change from forward to reverse
It is comfortable to hold
The composite housing is durable
The rear dial is on the small side
The trigger isn’t as responsive as some others
This is a great half-inch air impact wrench for all mechanics and would-be mechanics or workers in the automotive industry. It does what you need it to do and it functions well at the same time. It is quieter, comfortable to hold, and extremely durable. No wonder why it’s one of the best-rated models on our list. it’s a mid-priced wrench when compared to others in our Top 10 but it holds its place as our runner up due to its incredible value for money.
If it’s a high torque impact wrench you’re after, look no further! The NitroCat 1200-K 1/2 –inch Kevlar Composite Air Impact Wrench is superb. Not only is it effective at doing what you need it to but it is one of the quietest of its kind. Our testers used this for removing lug nuts from a Mercedes and had no trouble whatsoever, even the really tough ones.
This wrench has lots of patents too. The technology used to keep it quiet, the forward/reverse switch, the power management switch, the trigger and the comfort grip all have patents. What’s more, we found this to be really durable and robust and can see it lasting years to come.
It also comes with a two-year warranty for peace of mind. This air impact wrench has a twin-clutch. This means that it is hard-hitting and smooth and is suited to heavy-duty use, for example, using on frame work and medium to heavy-duty trucks.
Loosening Torque up to 1295 ft.-lbs
Free Speed : 8000 rpm
Weight : 4.5lbs
Length : 8.25 inches
Sound level : 86 dB
CFM : 8
This is easy to carry in one hand and is light
It is a quiet tool
It has low impact vibration
There is an easy flip switch for power control & forward/reverse
The trigger control is sensitive
Those looking for high torque as a key priority should choose the NitroCat 1200-K air impact wrench that’s a truly powerful device for sale. It’s a professional tool and the price reflects that. We can safely say that anyone who works with cars will love it. We loved how quiet it was and how little it vibrated compared to other models with a similar torque power.
For people looking for an affordable air impact wrench, we recommend the Campbell Hausfeld ½-inch TL140200AV. This wrench is a lot cheaper (by around $40) than the others in our Top 10 list but it is a great entry-level item.
Despite it being a cheaper option, it is able to generate a loosening torque of 550 ft.lbs., which means you will be able to rotate car tires, repair brakes and change the blades of your lawn mower. It also still has 3 different speeds, making it easier to choose the right tension when removing lug nuts.
Our testers found that this tool was sturdy and durable and remained lightweight. The handgrip was ergonomic and soft, which meant that this was easy to work with and caused less fatigue and vibration in your hands. Also, even though it is on the cheaper side, it still comes with a 1-year limited warranty, which is fantastic.
Loosening Torque up to 550 ft.-lbs
Weight : 8oz
Length : 9.8 inches
A great bang for the buck
For more torque, you can upgrade hoses and connections
It has a one-year warranty
It is lightweight
This isn’t ideal for someone working with heavy-duty trucks
If you need a torque gun and don’t have much cash to spare, this CH model is the best you can find for your dollar. It’s also a really good tool for someone starting out tinkering with cars at home.
What’s great about this is that it can be upgraded with different connections and hoses so you can actually get more torque than advertised, if you wish. Despite being a low-end product, you still get a great year-long warranty so you can’t really go wrong for your money!
If you work with air impact wrenches professionally, you might want something a bit more advanced. Our Advanced Choice is quite a bit more expensive than the rest of the wrenches in this guide but not without reason. This is a professional tool for a professional user.
Our testers loved how much control there was in the trigger compared to other air impact wrenches. The trigger is featherable and so it has a wide range of power settings. This also has a one-hand operated forward/reverse switch that is patented.
What’s more, the 360-degree swivel inlet makes it really useful as you won’t be getting your cables twisted, reducing wear and tear. Speaking of wear and tear, this is a really robust item that has a seriously rugged design. It also has a two-year warranty so you can rest assured that you are buying a great product and are well protected against failure.
This has a fantastic power-to-weight ratio – the best in its class, which means that you get all the power without all the hand fatigue. It is also quieter than most as it uses Quiet Tool Technology that is patented.
Maximum Torque up to 780 ft.-lb.
Loosening Torque up to 750 ft.-lbs
Weight : 3.95lbs
Length : 9 inches
It has a great power-to-weight ratio
It is quieter than a lot of others
The trigger is responsive
It has a swivel inlet
It is expensive
The saying goes “you get what you pay for” and when you spend a considerable amount of money on an air impact wrench, you expect it to be the best. For those experienced air impact wrench users, this could indeed be a great step-up tool for heavy-duty use, especially if you know you don’t need torque going into the thousand figure for what you require in a tool. For the experienced only, but a great item nonetheless.
The Ingersoll Rand IR 231C is a product where reliable, classic design meets power and performance. This is a tool that can be used time and time again and can withstand being battered around a bit. It is ideal for anyone who has to change their tires seasonally or for anyone in the automotive industry.
Our testers liked the 2-piece design as it meant it was easy to maintain and service. What’s more, it was ready to use straight out of the box, which is always a bonus when buying tools!
In terms of usage, it has an adjustable power regulator so you can adjust the wrench for the task in hand. One thing we did comment on was the noise levels. This is a noisier product than many others in our list but, with a decent pair of ear defenders, this shouldn’t matter.
Some online air impact wrench reviews complained about the trigger getting stuck on when it had been out of use for a few weeks so it’s probably a good idea to have a great maintenance schedule with this air gun. It comes with a great warranty though that offers peace of mind.
Maximum Torque up to 600 ft.-lb.
Free Speed : 8000 rpm
Weight : 5.8 lbs
Length : 8.8 inches
Sound level : 99 dB
It has a two-part construction
Great for maintenance and servicing
It is powerful & hyper tough
You can adjust the power easily
Offers good value for its price
On the heavier side
This is a great air impact wrench from a reliable brand. It is ideal for anyone needing to change their car tires seasonally or any mechanic or automotive industry worker. Its two-piece construction means it is easier to maintain and the best thing is that it comes lubricated and ready to use out of the box! We thought this was a good product for its price: it was powerful and robust.
In 7th place is the Dewalt DWMT70773L. This air impact wrench is powerful and has an adjustable regulator. There is also a twin-hammer mechanism and can be operated with one hand. The forward and reverse switch is easy and quick to flip for changes in direction.
Our testers liked the body of this tool. It has a composite body and a handle that is ergonomic and comfortable with a grip that has a rubber cushion. The housing bumpers are shock-resistant which make this a really robust and reliable product. They also prevent scuffing so this stays looking great as well as functioning great.
Maximum Torque up to 650 ft.-lb.
Free Speed : 7500 rpm
Weight : 4.63 lbs
Length : 10.8 inches
CFM : 5.9
It generates a lot of torque with little airflow
It has good ergonomics – it is not too bulky or big
It is relatively quiet
It is good value for money from a well-respected brand
The rubber-like compound does pick up dirt easily
This Dewalt air impact wrench is suitable for all mechanics and would-be mechanics tinkering with their own cars in the garage. It is powerful, robust and easy to handle. What’s more, its quietness in comparison to other similar tools means your ears will be happier when you’re using it! This is a mid-priced item but we think the brand is worth the expense for the quality that you get.
For something light and quiet, the AIRCAT ½” Compact Composite Impact Wrench is the one to go for. It is great as a daily-use impact gun for taking off tires, crank bolts, calipers, struts and subframe bolts.
There are a few patents on the features of this air impact wrench: the silencing technology, the comfort grip, the power management switch, and the trigger. It also comes with a two-year warranty for peace of mind. For durability, it has a jumbo hammer mechanism, which is reliable – although some may prefer a twin-hammer mechanism.
One of our testers is left-handed and said that this is great because you can use it well in both hands without anything getting in the way of use. What’s more, it was comfortable to hold and didn’t induce hand fatigue due to its lightweight.
While it isn’t the most powerful of air impact wrenches in this guide, it is certainly one of the lightest and quietest.
Maximum Torque up to 550 ft.-lb.
Weight : 2.5 lbs
Length : 7 inches
Sound : 85dB
It is lightweight
It is quiet
It is great for left and right-handed people alike
It is comfortable as well as robust
It doesn’t have a twin-hammer mechanism
We liked this tool due to its ability to get whole jobs done – wheel pulling, axle nuts, ball joints and caliper brackets were so easy with this model. It is ideal for all types of daily tasks that you would expect an auto technician to perform. It is the second cheapest out of all of our reviewed products too so even the home mechanic can afford this product and get a great deal!
Another Ingersoll makes it to 9th place in our best air impact wrench guide and reviews. This is a powerful wrench made to last a long time. This is a bit pricier than other top air impact wrenches but it has a lot of positive features.
There are a fantastic 5 power setting positions. Even on the lowest power setting, we found this tool to be great at tightening bolts. One downside is that there is not as much torque on this model as with some others we have reviewed but for general use, this won’t be an issue at all.
It also has one-handed functions for forward and reverse changes as well as for operating. Ingersoll have patented their one-handed functions too.
Maximum Torque up to 230 ft.-lb.
Loosening Torque up to 300 ft.-lbs
Free Speed : 15000 rpm
Weight : 2.48lbs
Length : 6 inches
CFM : 17 at full load
It is lightweight
It is comfortable to hold
It has 5 power settings
It is a good performer
A bit loud
If you want a powerful air tool that will last a long time, this air impact wrench could be a choice for you. It is pricey compared to many others but you do get your money’s worth, if not more.
This is ideal if you require a decent-quality air impact wrench but don’t need a lot of torque. It is a bit noisy but there is a quieter version available in the same model too. Under 200 bucks, it’s one of the highest performing models you can have.
Here are other Models from the same manufacturer that you might be interested in:
The Astro Pneumatic tool is a great piece of kit for anyone needing a good air impact wrench. We loved how incredibly light this tool was and how compact it is too. It fits in the smallest of places.
For its size, it still has a great amount of torque. It is capable of taking most things off and can give you access to places you haven’t been able to reach with other larger air impact wrenches.
This tool comes with a removable grip that is made of soft rubber, which we found really comfortable. Despite its size, it is still a really solid and well-built wrench.
Even though it is one of the cheapest in our best impact wrenches list, it still has an innovative twin-hammer design. At 85dB, it is also one of the quietest tools in this review.
Maximum Torque up to 450 ft.-lb.
Free Speed : 10,500 rpm
Weight : 3 lbs
Length : 3.85 inches
Noise level : 85 dB
CFM : 5.6
There are six different settings
It is super lightweight
It is really compact
It is quiet
The trigger response is a bit stiff
Switches aren’t really great for single-handed use
Even though this is last in our Top 10 List, this air impact wrench has some features that the others don’t – its size is one of them! This is the tool that will get into the tightest of spaces. This is a great tool for anyone needing something light, quiet, and really compact. Mechanics, automotive workers and car enthusiasts will all appreciate this air impact wrench. What’s more, it’s low cost, has six settings, and is comfortable to hold.
It doesn’t matter how high the ratings of an air gun unless it meets the specific requirement of your work. To pick the right model you got to have some basic knowledge about the tool. Let’s get to know some relevant points of information before making a decision.
1. Drive Size
The drive size of the air impact wrench is one of its most important features. This feature determines what you can use your wrench for. Most car repairs will use a half-inch impact wrench for things like removing the wheels. Most home jobs or worksite jobs will require this size too. The most common sizes are 2in, 1 inch and 0.5 inch.
2. Torque & Speed
The air impact wrench’s torque matters because this will determine what it can be used for. In simple terms, the higher the torque, the more versatile and powerful the tool is.
Sometimes, you won’t really need a high torque tool because even the low-torque ones are able to handle such basic tasks as loosening smaller bolts. So, before you part with your money, make sure you actually need all of the power that the impactor has.
In terms of speed, you will need to see how many impacts per minute there are. The higher the number, the quicker the speed. Speed also depends on power output. Medium power range models swing between 12 to 18 volts range while heavy-duty models absorb 18, 19, 20, 21, 36 to 110 volts.
3. Dimensions & Weight
Air impact wrenches are hand-held so you need to consider their weight and dimensions. Holding something big and heavy for an extended period of time will be uncomfortable.
A good tool will be lightweight and easy to use, meaning that you can get on with the task in hand with minimal fatigue in the hands. Remember that it’s a mini tool with lots of power output, so you’ve got to handle with care.
4. Noise level
Air impact wrenches are noisy and you will need to use ear protection when you are using one. That said, there are varying noise levels produced by impact wrenches. NitroCat and AirCat wrenches are some of the quieter tools. Industrial tools tend to make more noise as they pack more torque.
As is obvious from the name, an air wrench needs an air compressor though there are hydraulic and electric ones. Thus, you need to make sure that there is adequate airflow when you choose a tool. Most tools are rated in terms of airflow in their description or on the tool itself so ensure that it is appropriate for your job when choosing.
As with any tool you buy, you need to take into consideration the build quality of your rattle gun. These tools are expensive and will see a lot of use with a hammer and anvil generating huge force inside. This is why the majority of air impact wrenches have housing that is reinforced. Usually, they are manufactured using metal or Kevlar.
In terms of the cords, there are both corded and cordless impact wrenches available on the market. Cordless models are powered by strong batteries that are also rechargeable. They may provide less power output but are highly portable. When designing, portability is emphasized on the construction.
Different jobs will need different torque settings and different speeds so you need to think carefully about the intended use of your air impact wrench before purchase. There are multi-purpose models out there but these are the most expensive usually. If you are a right-handed person, make sure you get a right angle model and vice versa
8. Grip & Ergonomics
Different windy guns suit different hand grips so you should test one out to see how it fits in your hand and check if it’s comfortable for you to hold. You should get one with an ergonomic handle made from high-quality materials. This will help prevent fatigue in your hands.
Air impact wrenches can be adjusted to change how much torque is applied. There are two ways this can be done. Firstly, cheaper models will have a dial to adjust the torque and usually, there will be three different options – low torque, medium torque or high torque.
Models that are more expensive will have a torque adjustment system that automatically adjusts the torque depending on how much you pull the trigger down. However, you can learn all about the tool’s adjustment from the manual it comes with.
It is always a good idea to buy a product that has a warranty. A one-year warranty should be ok but opting for one with a bigger warranty for at least two years is a better choice.
As with all purchases, buy the best that you can afford. An air impact wrench should be seen as an investment, so consider your options really carefully before committing to buying one.
Still, if you want something cheap that will do the job, you can get a 90 degree angled ratchet wrench. But then you’d miss out on the real experience and the efficiency an air impact wrench can add to your task. Also, look out for special discounts on Black Fridays.
There are a number of things you need to do to maintain your air impact wrench’s condition.
Do inspect your cords regularly – don’t drop it or drag it along, always carry it by its handle once it is switched off. Checking your cords regularly for wear and tear is so important.
Check all parts regularly – make sure you look for any wear and tear and damage, including misalignment and get these repaired when they are noticed.
Maintain and clean all of the accessories – keep everything out of hot and wet conditions. Make sure all parts are free of dirt and debris. If you let dirt accumulate, you could jam parts that could damage your tool.
Use grease and cleaners that are recommended only – make sure you follow all manufacturer’s instructions for your product.
All machinery can be dangerous when not used correctly. This is even more true for things that use power like air impact wrenches. Here are some safety tips for your impact wrench no matter the type you have in your arsenal:
Don’t use the tool if there is damage to it or its accessories – make sure you check before use
Don’t use your impact wrench if it is wet or if it is raining – water and electricity do not mix and can cause electric shocks
Always use your impact wrench in the correct socket and not a standard one as they can’t handle air impact wrenches
Make sure you wear protective gear like goggles and gloves
Keep control of the tool all the time
Don’t use impact wrenches with aluminum as this can strip off and can damage the impact wrench
After using your tool, remove the power and store it away somewhere safe and dry
A Word from Drillly
In this buying guide, we have shown you the high-end pneumatic wrenches on the market. You should be aware that there are so many tools available out there so you need to find one that is right for your requirements and preferences.
We hope that our guide has provided you with enough information to have a deeper understanding of the specifications and features of the best air impact wrenches, allowing you to make an informed buying decision.
Certainly, a tool like this should last you for many years to come, so be sure not to choose the first one that comes up in your search. If you still can’t decide, our Editor’s Choice is an excellent all-rounder model to suit most people’s needs. Once you’ve bought one, don’t forget to share your thoughts and experience with us.
1. What size impact wrench do I need to remove lug nuts?
Ans: I would use either a ½-inch impact wrench or a 3/8-inch impact wrench. With these sizes, you will have enough power for removing the lug nuts without having to apply too much torque.
2. Can I use regular sockets with an impact wrench?
Ans: No, you should never use a regular socket for your air impact wrench. There are big differences between standard sockets and impact sockets. Firstly, impact sockets have a lower hardness when compared to standard sockets. This is because it makes them more ductile and allows for a reduction in wear and tear on impact wrenches. It also means you can dissipate forces better. Impact sockets are much less likely to fail as a result.
3. How does a pneumatic impact wrench work?
Ans: The impact wrench stores energy and releases it with small impacts. When the trigger is pulled, it activates a motor inside the air impact wrench that begins spinning a weighty block. A tension spring is compressed when the block is rotated so far. Until that moment, all the energy is stored up. Once the rotation goes past this limit point, the spring lets go over the tension and creates small impacts against the wrench’s output shaft. An impact driver, therefore, rotates as well as hammering while rotating.
4. What type of air compressor is needed?
Ans: An air impact wrench needs an air compressor with a certain minimum size in order for it to work. Typically, if your impact wrench is ½ inch, you should get an air compressor that has 4 to 5 CFM at 90 PSI. You should also think about getting a 20-gallon size compressor so that you can avoid delays.
5. What are PSI and CFM?
Ans: PSI stands for Pounds per Square Inch. CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute. PSI is a common unit of pressure for things like tires. CFM measures the velocity of airflow in and out of a space. It is used in computer cooling systems as well as air impact wrenches and other things.
6. What Is the Difference Between a Pneumatic Wrench and a Cordless One?
Ans: A cordless impact wrench, as the name suggests, doesn’t have a cord. When you want to use a cordless wrench, you simply pick it up, attach the socket and begin. A pneumatic wrench, on the other hand, means you need to attach a hose. This might mean you have to attach it to a compressor as well as the tool and you’ll have to charge up the compressor before you grab your socket and begin. We discussed this factor in details here.
Brent lives in Wisconsin and is a woodworker, custom cabinetmaker, interior consultant, and a freelance writer who got the opportunity to write several magazine articles for different publications on home … Read More
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