Ultimate Guide To Buying The Right Impact Wrench
Tight nuts and bolts are frustrating, to say the very least. When one is really on there, getting it off can be both aggravating and damaging – you yourself will lose your mind with frustration, and the tools (or hands) that you’re using will get torn to shreds.
The solution: an impact wrench. This is a tool that uses mechanized torque to effortlessly remove (and tighten) nuts and bolts. Specifically, a motor inside of the impact wrench speeds up the mass, and when you push that against whatever you’re trying to fasten or loosen, the job is done quickly.
It sounds great, but the truth is, many impact wrenches can be just as frustrating as manual tools are. A good one, on the other hand, can make your life a lot easier.
This guide will cover how to pick a good impact wrench that both suits your project needs and is in your budget. Read on, and by the end, you’ll be an expert.
Determining type and socket size
For everyday projects, you’ll see two types of impact wrenches. The first type is called inline, and it looks like a screwdriver, except the handle contains a motor. The second type is called pistol, and you guessed it – a pistol impact wrench looks like an ordinary handgun, except with a socket on the end instead of a barrel. (There are also industrial ones, but the ordinary person will only need inline or pistol.)
The shape itself doesn’t matter too much. What matters is the socket size on the end – that size has to fit the size of your nuts and bolts. Socket size corresponds to the type of impact wrench.
¼” can be inline or pistol, whereas ⅜, ½, and ¾ are almost always pistols. Pistol tends to be more reliable, whereas inline is more portable – if need be, you can just stuff it in your pocket and continue working.
Get the type that suits the job.
So now, you know which type of impact wrench to get… but there are dozens upon dozens of different models for each size and shape. How do you pick the exact model?
Next: Determining your power source
The name of the game in impact wrenches is torque – the more torque you have, the easier nuts and bolts will be handled. Each power source differs in its max output of torque, and they all have their ups and downs – the three are electric, compressed air, and hydraulic.
Electric impact wrenches are the weakest of the three, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t pack a powerful punch. They’re good enough for the vast majority of home workshops – unless you’re dealing with heavy machinery, an electric one will suffice.
For those dealing with bigger nuts and bolts, you will want a more powerful impact wrench. Yes, electric ones are usually good enough, but you always want your tools to match the caliber of your projects.
Compressed air impact wrenches are most often found in shops – car mechanics, etc. You hook up the wrench to a tank of compressed air, and that air makes the mass spin.
The obvious downside is that these types of impact wrenches aren’t very portable. You have to move the tank along with the wrench… and depending on how large of a tank you have, this can be tedious, or even impossible if it’s too heavy for one person to lift.
That being said, the upside is that they can produce a lot more torque than an electric one can. Bigger nuts and bolts will come off easier, and the smaller ones will be a breeze – almost effortless.
Compressed air impact wrenches are usually only found for the larger socket sizes, but there are companies that make smaller ones as well. Mechanics should have all of the socket sizes in order to ensure they can work on all of the cars that come into their shops.
Hydraulic impact wrenches use hydraulic oil to produce exorbitant amounts of torque. Even for mechanics, this amount of torque will be overkill.
The only places that need the power of hydraulic impact wrenches are industrial sites, and sometimes construction sites. The wrench is hooked up to a hydraulic system, so usually, the parts are brought to the wrench, and not the other way around.
You won’t find hydraulic wrenches for sale on Amazon or any similar sites. They’re usually purchased directly from the manufacturer.
How to choose your specific wrench
You’ve measured your nuts and bolts, determined which type of impact wrench to get, and now you have your wallet out, ready to make the leap. If you do any rudimentary search, you’ll see that there are impact wrenches in each category varying wildly in price. That’s no mistake.
It’s sort of like how you can get a wrench for $1, or you can get a wrench for $20 – the $20 one will without a doubt be better, but if you’re only screwing in one thing, you can probably scrape by with the $1 option. Use the same thinking with your impact wrench price.
If you have a casual home workshop and you only deal with small projects, you can get by with one of the cheaper models – they go from $40 to $70. On the other hand, if you’re an enthusiast or you own a business, you’ll want to upgrade to one of the more expensive models.
In general, the more expensive impact wrenches will…
1.Give you more torque
And it’s always good to have the best of something if you’re using something a lot. The more expensive ones can be over $100, but the headache it will save you is well worth the investment. (If you don’t believe us, just wait until your wrench breaks during a critical project.)
Now, you’ve decided on your price range… but the problem again arises – which impact wrench in that price range is the best? They probably all have similar features, right?
When it comes to tools, the best way to get an accurate gauge of the tool’s quality is to talk with people who already own it. You can do this by reading the customer reviews.
Impact Wrench Reviews
It’s very simple to select the best impact wrench in your price range – just go to the product page and look at the reviews. Handymen are notorious for leaving detailed reviews. If the existing customers love the product, you’ll see it, and if they hate it, you’ll also see that.
We also have objective reviews of impact wrenches. We’ll give you all of the facts in a straightforward, easy-to-understand way. You pick the one that suits your needs, then, we’ll link you to all of the reviews from actual customers who already own that specific impact wrench.