If you’ve ever spent some time tinkering around with your car, you’ll have stumbled upon a mechanic’s nightmare – a bolt that is jammed! 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 help you. Also named an air impact driver, this tool is an investment, but a really valuable one too. In this best air impact wrench guide, we’ll take you through the best tools on the market.
Having an air impact wrench has saved me a lot of time during all sorts of DIY jobs around the home, I really would not be without one now! So, whether you’re looking for something advanced, affordable or one with high torque, we’ll have something for you. We’ll also show you some key information to help you understand all there is to know about these wonderful tools. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
What Is An Air Impact Wrench Used For?
Air impact wrenches are used widely in the automotive industry, often they are used to remove lug nuts when changing tires. Vehicle repair shops and mechanics see this as a must-have tool. These tools are also used for assembling cars, heavy equipment, machines, and large construction projects.
There are two primary reasons to use an air impact wrench. Firstly, for speed, secondly for power.
Power – if you have a rusty or fused bolt that won’t budge, you’ll know it’s nothing to be laughed at. An air impact wrench puts power into your hands and will generate much more torque than your fingers and arms ever could.
Speed – using an air impact wrench really speeds things up. If you hate wrestling lug nuts on your car wheel, you’ll love how quickly you can do it with an air impact wrench.
Air Impact Wrench - A Comprehensive Buying Guide
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 thins like removing the wheels. Most home jobs or worksite jobs will require this size too.
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 low-torque impact wrenches are able to handle basic tasks such as loosening smaller bolts. Therefore, before you part with your money, make sure you actually need all of the power that the tool 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.
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.
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.
As is obvious from the name, an air wrench needs an air compressor. 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 air impact wrench. 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.
Different jobs will need different amounts of torque 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.
8. Grip & Ergonomics
Different air impact wrenches suit different hand grips so you should test one out to see how it fits in your hand and check it is comfortable for you to hold. You should get one with an ergonomic handle that is 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.
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 of 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.
There are a number of things you need to do to maintain your air impact wrench’s condition.
- Don’t use the wrong bits or sockets – using an incorrect part might end up breaking things or causing accidents or injuries.
- 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 which could damage your tool.
- Use grease and cleaners that are recommended only – make sure you follow all manufacturer’s instructions for your product.
Impact wrench safety Tips
All machinery can be dangerous when it is 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:
- 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 at 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.
In our best air impact wrench buying guide and review, we have shown you the best 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 best for your requirements and preferences.
We hope that our guide has provided you with enough information for you to understand the specifications and features of the air impact wrenches, allowing you to make the best choice for you.
Certainly, buying the best air impact wrench will mean that you have a tool that 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 the one that we consider to be the best all-rounder to suit most people’s needs. Happy shopping!
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 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 its 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.