What is an Impact Wrench & How to Use it? | Impact Driver Vs Wrench (2022)

Technological advancements improve and impact humans in every sphere of life. Be it medicine or mechanics, there are abundant advanced tools available to make life easier for the common man. The impact wrench is one such tool that comes into use for everything between a carpentry passion project and fixing faulty machinery. It allows the user to accomplish heavy tasks with efficiency quickly. Here you can have detailed information about what is an impact wrench, its uses and analogy.

What is an Impact Wrench?

An impact wrench, also frequently referred to as an impactor, impact gun, air impact wrench, air gun, rattle gun, or torque gun. It is a mechanical tool characterized by its ability to apply a sudden and intense twisting motion. Usually it occurs in short bursts that provide high torque and efficiently screws or unscrews any nut or bolt, no matter how stubborn it may seem otherwise.

Pneumatic impact wrenches are the most professional-grade devices due to their ability to provide the most torque. They are also generally lighter and easy to use but have the disadvantage of having a very high electrical impact. The user will have limited control over the speed and torque exerted by the device.

How do Impact Wrenches Work?

The impact guns contain an air or electric motor which induces twisting motion. The motion not just rotates but also pushes the fastener in the forward direction. It allows you to carry out the task with minimal effort and maximum efficiency. It provides a very high rotational torque which regular drills are incapable of, proving to be a much better and more efficient machine than the latter. This is achieved by an internal hammering mechanism that transfers the kinetic energy generated to the outer shaft, causing it to rotate.

(Video) Impact Wrench vs Impact Driver - What's The Difference?

What is a Impact Wrench Used for?

The impact wrench is a highly efficient tool used for assembling or reassembling a project, drilling holes, loosening, or tightening screws. You can perform task even in tight and uncomfortable places with ease of usage. The high torque impact wrench allows the user to unscrew tight or rusty nails, even when other tools fail to make it budge. It is a tool frequently used in automotive industries, for instance, while changing car tires. You can also use it widely in the assembly or maintenance of automobiles and other heavy equipment. It is also an essential tool in construction work.

How to Use an Impact Wrench?

An impact wrench, when used right, can save a lot of time and effort on any job it is employed to. You can use it with ease, but extreme caution should be exercised while doing so. Use safety equipment like a pair of gloves, ear , and eye protection while operating equipment to avoid any injury. Since it replaces the ratchet and breaker bars, it makes the removal or tightening of nuts and bolts a much speedier process. It is a tool that has both a forward and a backward switch and allows variable levels of torque that you can adjust according to the task at hand.

Step-1 : Applying Air Pressure

To use it, firstly, it needs to be assembled correctly. This is done by attaching the air pressure unit and the rubber hose to the impact wrench to apply pressure to the right place and maximize the efficacy of your work.

Step-2 : Employ Impact Socket

Next, ensure that it is always run with the Best impact wrench socket set specially designed for that purpose. It usually possesses thicker walls and is flat and black, making it much different from a regular socket. Before changing the socket, make sure you disconnect the power outlet to avoid an electric shock.

Step-3 : Adjust the Torque

Lastly, adjust the torque levels according to what is needed for the task at hand and refrain from subjecting the object to continuous torque action as it may damage it.

(Video) Impact driver vs impact wrench - or just use a hammer drill

Impact Wrench Vs Impact Driver

Mechanically, an impact driver is similar to an impact wrench but is usually incapable of producing the same high torque levels. An impact wrench is deemed more suitable for heavy-duty work, while an impact driver may be better suited for amateurs and people working on home improvements. An impact wrench covers a more extensive range of performances and comes in more task-specific versions. On the other hand, an impact driver is better for users just getting started on construction or carpentry projects. The impact wrench is suitable for working on hex-head fasteners such as nuts, bolts, or timber screws, while an impact driver is better for tasks involving drilling of bits that possess a compatible shank.

Pros & Cons of an Impact Wrench

The pros of impact wrenches include the following:

  • They exert a huge amount of force
  • They allow tasks to be completed faster
  • You can use it to loosen or tighten any screw
  • When used correctly, it can be used to carry out easier and low-powered jobs

The cons of impact wrenches are subsequently listed:

  • Generally more suitable for professionals. It can be challenging for amateurs to figure out their correct usage.
  • They are essentially heavy-duty tools and can be too powerful for home use.
  • Contribute significantly to noise pollution.
  • They may be disturbing to use for an extended period.

What to Look for While Choosing an Impact Wrench?

The following are some factors to consider while choosing an impact wrench:

Power Option

The most common power source choices include air-powered/pneumatic impact wrenches and battery powered cordless impact wrenches, with compressed air power being the most popular choice among buyers. This choice depends on the setup available to the user: if you already have a pneumatic tool system, it may be beneficial to invest in an air-powered impact wrench. If you don’t have access to compressed air, a cordless device would be the best option for you.

(Video) WHAT's the DIFFERENCE? Impact Driver or Impact Wrench [EXPLAINED]

Drive Size

The drive size, or anvil size, refers to the distance between the flat edges of the anvil. The most common sizes include 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″ and 1″. 1/2″ and 3/4″ options are slightly larger, while 1/4″ and 3/8″ are deemed to be more suitable for common jobs around the household.

Brand

Manufacturers like Ingersoll Rand, Sioux Tools, Chicago Pneumatic, and Cleco are renowned names. You can take your pick amongst these.

Torque

It is imperative to pick an impact wrench that offers torque settings to match your requirements. Many wrenches these days offer multiple torque settings. This is beneficial since it allows the user to adjust the torque depending on the task at hand. This helps you avoid over-tightening and saves power. In cordless wrenches, this has the added benefit of helping the battery run longer.

Battery Voltage

A battery powered impact gun with a 20V battery voltage provides a higher power output. So try to get a wench which suits the voltage requirement based on the project you are handling.

Body Type

Impact wrenches come in different styles like corded or cordless. The in-line body style is similar to a large screwdriver. It is sleeker and more suitable for working on tighter and narrower spots. The more commonly used style is pistol-shaped. The user can make their choice depending on their own comfort and needs.

(Video) IMPACT DRIVER vs IMPACT WRENCH

Battery Life

In the case of cordless impact wrenches, battery life is an important factor to consider while making your purchase. It is beneficial to purchase a cordless impact wrench that utilizes the same battery pack or charger as your other devices. You should check the rating such as 1.5Ah or 3Ah; the latter runs much longer.

Ergonomics and Comfort

You should purchase a wrench with excellent ergonomics and a comfortable grip that reduces strain. It’s beneficial to use special vibration-absorbing gloves to reduce the intense vibrations’ strain further.

Durability

Battery-powered wrenches with brushless motors are generally more durable and last longer since they have fewer moving parts, reducing the risk of components breaking down. Wrenches with ergonomic handle grips and anti-vibration settings usually have smaller motors and fewer vibrations, reducing the user’s physical strain while using the device.

If you intend to keep it in your car and use it to change tires when needed, a corded electric impact wrenches may be the best choice for you as it does not require an air compressor to function. However, it has the drawback of being more expensive than air tools. It is also much heavier than corded and air versions of this device. Additionally, their battery gets drained very quickly with continuous use.

Conclusion

Impact wrenches can prove to be helpful in a variety of situations. Users are advised to take the necessary precautions while using this device and pick the correct type based on their needs. The user, however, has to be cautious about over-tightening of parts, using mismatched sockets, purchasing the wrong kind or size of wrench.

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FAQs

What is the point of an impact wrench? ›

What is an Impact Wrench? Impact wrenches do a great job of tightening and loosening bolts, lug nuts and rusted fasteners. They provide a very high rotational torque that regular drills are simply not capable of and deliver high torque output with minimal exertion by the user.

Is an impact wrench more powerful than an impact driver? ›

There's also a special kind of impact wrench we commonly use for utility work. It uses a 7/16” hex collet instead of 1/4-inch, is much more powerful than standard impact drivers, and takes special bits designed for that collet size. There are some exceptions to what we just laid out, though.

What is the main use of an impact driver? ›

Impact drivers handle large screws and bolts more efficiently than the average compact drill. Because they automatically add extra rotational force when they encounter resistance—two to three times more torque than a drill—you'll find using an impact driver is easier on your hand and wrist.

Can an impact wrench be used as a driver? ›

If You Use an Impact Wrench, You REALLY SHOULD HAVE THIS ...

Can an impact driver take off lug nuts? ›

Remove Lug Nuts with Impact Driver - YouTube

Can you use regular sockets with an impact wrench? ›

Impact sockets can be used safely on a hand tool, however you should never use a regular hand tool socket on an impact wrench as this can be extremely dangerous. A regular socket is likely to shatter when used on power tools due to their thinner wall design and the material they're made from.

Can an impact wrench be used as a drill? ›

A cordless impact driver or drill on its own cannot replace a power drill. Impact drivers are not designed to drill holes and they can't take all of the accessories that a cordless drill can.

When should I use an impact driver? ›

Use the impact driver when you want to drive most fasteners, except for very short ones. An impact driver is especially good for uses like driving 3-inch screws into wood, a task that is difficult for a drill even with pre-drilling the hole. Impact drivers excel at driving fasteners into dense or knotty wood.

Do I need a drill if I have an impact driver? ›

In an ideal world, you should have both tools so you have the best tool for all drilling and driving applications. This also gives you the ability to use the drill for pilot holes and use the impact driver to sink fasteners. Since you don't have to switch bits for each fastener, you're much more productive.

Do you need to pre drill with an impact driver? ›

A regular drill is all you need. Impact drivers are for driving screws very quickly, not drilling holes.

Is it safe to use impact wrench on lug nuts? ›

Did you know that impact wrenches shouldn't be used to tighten lug nuts? This may damage or break the nuts, and – in best case scenario – you'll have trouble unscrewing them with a hand wrench.

How powerful of an impact wrench do I need? ›

A minimum of 400 pound-feet of torque should give the power needed to remove lug nuts and perform most suspension work. However, if you live in the rust belt or near an ocean, you may want to consider an impact wrench with a torque rating of 500 pound-feet or more.

Can an impact wrench break a bolt? ›

But an impact driver should be the tool of last resort for larger bolts because they can so often break the bolt off.

Are impact drivers better than drills? ›

The impact driver is much stronger than a drill in terms of the way it can deliver that extra torque to break loose stuck bolts and screws or drive them deeper into the material.

What size impact wrench is best for lug nuts? ›

The most common size is the 0.5 inch impact wrench, which has enough power to turn the lug nuts of a typical car.

What tool is best for removing lug nuts? ›

A lug wrench will loosen and tighten lug nuts, but if you're taking off more than one tire, a 1/2-in. cordless impact wrench significantly speeds up the job.

How many inch pounds does it take to remove lug nuts? ›

A quick glance at a lug nut torque chart shows that most lug nuts should be torqued between 80 and 100 ft-lbs. Some require less torque, others more. But for the purpose of this discussion, let's say that a lug nut must be torqued to 100 ft-lbs. 100 ft-lbs is the same as 1200 in-lbs.

How do you remove lug nuts without impact wrench? ›

Remove Lug Nuts Without an Impact Gun - YouTube

Why are impact sockets black? ›

Impact sockets are typically black. This is because the surface is carbonized in order for it to harden. Ensuring that the surface is hard allows the sockets to absorb sudden torque changes i.e. “impact” a lot better.

What's better 12 point or 6 point sockets? ›

Answer: It's true that 12-point sockets are fine for most lightweight repairs, but heavy wrenching calls for a six-point socket. A six-point socket is much less likely to slip off a stubborn fastener or round over the corners. Here's why: (1) Six-point sockets have thicker walls, so they're less likely to flew.

What's the difference between an impact wrench and a torque wrench? ›

A torque wrench is a pre-calibrated and precise tightening tool used for tightening nuts or bolts to a specified tightness. Don't use a torque wrench for loosening bolts. An impact wrench loosens or fastens any bolt, nut, or lug nut, but it cannot accurately tighten to a specific torque setting.

What is the difference between a drill and driver? ›

DRILL VS. DRIVER (What's The Difference?!! Cordless ... - YouTube

What bits do I need for an impact driver? ›

If you add an impact driver to our arsenal, you'll need to invest in some quality 1/4-inch hex bits, which are available to fit any type of screw head. You can also use your impact driver as a drill if needed, and those hex shanked bits can, in a pinch, be used in a traditional drill/driver as well.

What is the difference between a hammer drill and an impact wrench? ›

A hammer drill exerts greater force directly into the bit as it hits the material being drilled, while an impact driver increases the force being delivered perpendicular to the bit. If you're using a hammer drill, picture someone slamming the back of the drill harder into surface being drilled.

Is a impact wrench worth it? ›

An impact wrench can prove incredibly useful for successfully completing a wide range of tasks – from home DIY projects to car repairs or other bits of work. In some cases, it can even be an essential tool to get the job done. So, it's important that you're able to find one that's right for your project.

Can an impact wrench be used as a drill? ›

A cordless impact driver or drill on its own cannot replace a power drill. Impact drivers are not designed to drill holes and they can't take all of the accessories that a cordless drill can.

Can I use an impact wrench to remove lug nuts? ›

Can an Impact Driver Remove Lug Nuts? Yes, technically. You would need to use a hex shaft to square drive adapter in order to attach a lug nut socket to the tool. However, an impact driver may not have enough torque to break loose a lug nut that's rusted/frozen or over tightened.

What is the difference between an impact wrench and a torque wrench? ›

A torque wrench is a pre-calibrated and precise tightening tool used for tightening nuts or bolts to a specified tightness. Don't use a torque wrench for loosening bolts. An impact wrench loosens or fastens any bolt, nut, or lug nut, but it cannot accurately tighten to a specific torque setting.

Can you use normal sockets on an impact wrench? ›

Impact sockets can be used safely on a hand tool, however you should never use a regular hand tool socket on an impact wrench as this can be extremely dangerous. A regular socket is likely to shatter when used on power tools due to their thinner wall design and the material they're made from.

How strong of an impact wrench do I need? ›

A minimum of 400 pound-feet of torque should give the power needed to remove lug nuts and perform most suspension work. However, if you live in the rust belt or near an ocean, you may want to consider an impact wrench with a torque rating of 500 pound-feet or more.

Do I need a cordless impact wrench? ›

But when you do need to adjust one, a cordless impact wrench will save you both time and energy. They can also loosen and tighten nuts and bolts much more accurately than hand tools such as sockets and ratchets, which is critical when it comes to working with larger bolts or on machinery.

When should I use an impact driver? ›

Use the impact driver when you want to drive most fasteners, except for very short ones. An impact driver is especially good for uses like driving 3-inch screws into wood, a task that is difficult for a drill even with pre-drilling the hole. Impact drivers excel at driving fasteners into dense or knotty wood.

Do I need an impact driver if I have a drill? ›

Do You Need an Impact Driver? If you need to drill holes and drive the occasional medium-sized screw, a regular drill will suit you fine. If you've got a deck to build, a plywood subfloor to install, a tree house to screw together or any other job involving lots of wood screws, consider investing in an impact driver.

Do you need a pilot hole with an impact driver? ›

A regular drill is all you need. Impact drivers are for driving screws very quickly, not drilling holes.

What size impact wrench is best for lug nuts? ›

The most common size is the 0.5 inch impact wrench, which has enough power to turn the lug nuts of a typical car.

What tool do mechanics use to remove lug nuts? ›

A lug wrench will loosen and tighten lug nuts, but if you're taking off more than one tire, a 1/2-in. cordless impact wrench significantly speeds up the job.

Can you change a tire with an impact wrench? ›

How to Change a Flat Tire with an impact wrench - YouTube

Can impact wrench be used as a torque wrench? ›

No, they are entirely different instruments. Impact wrenches are power tools commonly used to unscrew many nuts and bolts because their motors provide extremely high RPMs, maximum torque, and breakaway torque levels. They are widely used to remove rusty nuts and bolts and to change tires.

How much torque does an impact wrench need to remove lug nuts? ›

Realistically, the answer is no. A quick glance at a lug nut torque chart shows that most lug nuts should be torqued between 80 and 100 ft-lbs. Some require less torque, others more. But for the purpose of this discussion, let's say that a lug nut must be torqued to 100 ft-lbs.

Can an impact wrench over tighten? ›

This is the most common mistake. It's easy to underestimate the amount of torque applied by an impact wrench, especially for inexperienced workers. Even if no damage is done, over-tightened fixings can be difficult to loosen. For best results, use an impact wrench only for loosening and refitting nuts and bolts.

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