What is an Impact Wrench? – (Step By Step Guide 2022)

Many people who do not know about the power tools asked what is an impact wrench? The impact wrench, or air ratchet, is a tool that uses compressed air to tighten fasteners and remove stubborn bolts.

Impact wrenches are available in both corded and cordless models. This tool is used for tightening fasteners or loosening bolts or nuts that are hard to remove with standard hand tools.

Moreover, impact wrenches can operate from a vehicle or fixed location. This means they can use it almost anywhere. 

An impact wrench should have the capacity to tighten or loosen at least five-eighths of an inch (1-1/2″) bolt. Sometimes, impact wrenches are referred to as “socket wrenches on steroids.”

They can handle much larger fasteners than a standard adjustable wrench or socket. Impact wrenches also feature a trigger mechanism that allows them to be operated by simply squeezing the trigger.

That is also why it’s great for repairing engines. A good impact wrench will last many years and can be used for years after purchasing it.

The better ones come with a lifetime guarantee that covers you in the event of a malfunction. Impact wrenches can be purchased anywhere from major automotive supply stores to auto parts stores. They are very affordable.

If an impact wrench is damaged, it can usually be repaired easily. In this lesson, you will learn about impact wrenches what are the benefits of using impact wrenches and how they work so, let’s start reading:

Read Also: Can You Use an Impact Wrench as a Drill?

Types of Impact Wrench

1. The Basic or Standard Impact Wrench

These impact wrenches are the most popular choice for home mechanics because of their versatility and ease of use. The standard impact wrench has four-pronged jaws designed to loosen or tighten nuts and bolts. It comes in sizes up to 14-1/2 inches long and ranges 10-30 lbs. 

2. The High-Speed Impact Wrench

These impact wrenches are ideal for tightening or loosening large nuts or bolts. They usually have larger jaw areas to get close to a fastener.

Most high-speed impact wrenches have a range of 20-50 lbs. This type of wrench is ideal if you want a tool that will tighten or loosen large nuts and bolts quickly.

3. The Ratcheting Impact Wrench

As noted, an impact wrench ranges 10-30 lbs. These impact wrenches have a unique feature. They use a rotating head and an oscillating body that causes the rotating head to go through multiple revolutions as it turns.

A ratcheting impact wrench is a type of impact wrench with a locking mechanism that locks in place when it’s turned the required number of revolutions.

The locking mechanism prevents the tool from being turned by hand. A ratcheting impact wrench has a range of 200-300 lbs.

4. The Cordless Impact Wrench

The Cordless impact wrenches are the mechanics’ ultimate power tool because they don’t require electrical power to operate.

These impact wrenches have batteries that are rechargeable and can be operated anywhere. Most cordless impact wrenches have a range of 50-100 lbs.

5. The Electric Impact Wrench

The electric impact wrench is used mostly in professional settings because it is the most expensive type of impact wrench.

It usually has a long handle with a rotating head that speeds. The rotating head is attached to a motor that provides the mechanical power to turn the wrench.

Therefore, the motor must provide an output torque greater than the torque needed to loosen or tighten a fastener.

The output torque needed to drive an impact wrench varies depending on the size of the wrench. For example, an 18-inch long impact wrench will need more torque to loosen a nut than a 12-inch long impact wrench. 

6. The Air-Powered Impact Wrench

Air-powered impact wrenches are used in industrial settings to produce great amounts of torque to loosen or tighten nuts and bolts.

These impact wrenches have a range of 300-600 lbs. Because they produce such high torque levels, these wrenches have very heavy-duty motors that can withstand large amounts of force when turning the wrench. Air-powered impact wrenches can be found in all sizes, including 18-, 24-, 30-inch, etc.

7. The Air Ratcheting Impact Wrench

A handheld air compressor designs an air ratcheting impact wrench. The wrench is connected to a ratchet mechanism designed to lock in place while the user turns the wrench.

The air ratcheting impact wrench can rotate using compressed air instead of mechanical power. The air ratcheting impact wrench has a range of 1000 lbs.

How Does an Impact Wrench Work?

The following are the method of operating an impact wrench

 1. The mechanic attaches a socket to the end of the impact wrench.

2. The mechanic then places the nut or bolt being tightened or loosened onto the jaws of the socket. 

3. The mechanic inserts the end of the impact wrench into the opening of the nut or bolt and turns the handle. 

4. When the trigger is released, the mechanism acts as a compressed air tank and rapidly releases a large amount of compressed air, which is forced into the jaw of the socket. This causes the socket to “explode” outwardly and rapidly spin the nut or bolt.

5. The rapid spinning puts the socket into “impact mode.” This is where the torque generated by the impact wrench is at its peak. The impact wrench will continue to rotate until it is stopped by friction or the nut or bolt becomes so tight that further turning of the wrench will not cause it to spin any faster. Since the socket has a very high rotational speed, this causes the nut or bolt to be tightened or loosened with extreme force.

What Are The Advantages of an Impact Wrench?

There are several advantages to using an impact wrench.

  • It can use in tight spaces like the engine compartment where the wrench can be operated from the front of the vehicle, eliminating the need to open the hood. An impact wrench has a higher torque capacity than a regular socket. It can remove stubborn bolts or nuts and can be used on all sizes of fasteners, from ¼-inch screws to 5/16th inch bolts.
  • It’s also great for use on battery connections for the same reason. Because of its higher torque capacity, an impact wrench is a good choice for installing accessories that will withstand high torque levels, such as brake calipers and struts.
  • Impact wrenches are also used to change flat tires. An impact wrench can be operated with one hand and allows a mechanic to keep both hands free to work on other repairs and prevent injury.
  • An impact wrench’s increased torque capability allows it to be utilized for bigger projects that would ordinarily need more than one person.

How To Pick The Right Impact Wrench For Your Job

In addition to knowing what kind of impact wrench you need, there are several factors you should consider when choosing one. Here are some things to consider:

1. Your Skill Level With The Tool

An impact wrench is much easier to operate than a standard adjustable wrench. As such, it should only be used by a mechanic who has experience operating an impact wrench.

If you are new to using impact wrenches, it is best to learn how to use them safely before using them on fasteners and tools.

2. The Size of The Tool

This is another factor that should consider before purchasing an impact wrench. If you work with larger bolts and nuts, you will need a tool with a larger jaw than a smaller one.

3. The Warranty And Type of Tool You Can Purchase

The warranty should cover replacing any parts that fail and cover the tool for its life. Most impact wrenches come with a warranty that covers this type of replacement. For most impact wrenches, it’s important to make sure they have a lifetime warranty.

4. The Material And Quality of The Tool

This is another factor you should consider when purchasing an impact wrench. You will want to make sure that the impact wrench meets industry standards for quality.

It should be made of metal and be designed to withstand years of use if you are unsure if an impact wrench is right for you.

Safety Tips for Using an Impact Wrench

The following are some safety precautions to keep in mind when using an impact wrench:

1. Keep your hands and body out of the way of the wrench If you are holding onto a nut or bolt, keep your hands out of the way. You could be hurt by flying shrapnel from the impact wrench. Also, if you will be operating the impact wrench on a fastener, be careful not to bump your hand against it.

2. Keep your eyes on the fastener It would help if you never used the impact wrench to remove fasteners too close to you. At the same time, you must see where you are placing your hands and feet. It is also important to see where the impact wrench hits the fastener.

Certainly, if the fastener is very close to you, or if there is a lot of noise and flashing lights around you, you should use an assistant to hold the fastener while you are using the impact wrench.

3. When using an impact wrench Always wear safety glasses and hearing protection. Wear gloves that cover the entire hand. The impact wrench could cause severe cuts or even shatter your fingers. If you’re working in a noisy environment where might harm your hearing, you should also wear safety eyewear and hearing protection.

Where To Buy an Impact Wrench

There are a few options: 

1. You can get a used one for around $ 3.00 to $ at a local auto parts store.

2. Be careful with this option. Many times, mechanics who work on cars will sell their impact wrenches to dealerships or other mechanics. They do this because they know the new owner will maintain the tool properly. However, it is important to remember that if a “bad actor used the wrench,” it could have serious problems when sold to a “good actor.” So, before buying a used impact wrench from an auto parts store, check it out first. 

3. Another alternative is to go to your local big-box store and get an impact wrench from one of the numerous brands available.

4. You can also buy an impact wrench from amazon at a very reasonable price.

How to Know You Are Buying A Good Impact Wrench?

Good quality impact wrenches should have the following features:

  • The handle of the impact wrench should be made of sturdy material such as metal or hard plastic. The rotating head of the impact wrench should be heavy-duty, so it will not become loose. The teeth on the head of the impact wrench should be very sharp.
  • The wrench should come with replaceable hardened teeth. Replaceable hardened teeth mean the impact wrench will last longer and perform better over time. Hardened teeth are vital because they protect the softer nylon or rubber parts of the impact wrench.
  •  Impact wrenches should also have a comfortable non-slip grip. The impact wrench should be made with an ergonomic design that fits the shape of your hand.
  • It should also be easy to read the size of the handle markings. If the handle is too small, you will have difficulty holding onto the wrench. On the other hand, if the handle is too large, you will have difficulty turning the wrench.
  • A quality impact wrench should also have an LED light built into the handle. When working in low-light situations, this capability comes in useful.
  • When shopping for an impact wrench, you should also pay close attention to the warranty provided by the manufacturer. Good quality impact wrenches usually come with a warranty of either one or three years.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Different Sizes of Impact Wrench?

Impact wrenches are classified by size, ranging from 1/4-inch (6 mm) up to 1-1/2-inches (19 mm).Impact drivers come in two categories: those with socket bits (also called “impact sockets”) and those with regular drills.

Impact sockets are used for driving fasteners with hex-head bolts, while regular drill bits are used with round-head screws.

Some impact drivers have both a socket bit and a regular drill bit to make things more confusing. But you should stick to one type or the other and never mix the two.

Impact wrenches are great tools for DIYers and mechanics, but they can also be dangerous if not handled properly. Before utilizing one on any work, be sure you have the right training.

How Long Does The Battery Take To Charge of An Impact Wrench?

This depends on your specific impact wrench.But most impact wrenches can get fully charged in 2 to 4 hours. Of course, if you use a high-power tool, it might take more time.

The type of battery you are using will also affect the charging speed. Also, be sure to check and confirm the manufacturer’s recommendations to get the fastest charging time. 

Why Use An Electric Handheld Wrench Over An Air-Powered One?

You’ll get more control with an air-powered hand tool than an electric one. A well-designed air tool offers more versatility for your work and allows you to exert more force on the workpiece, making it easier for you to finish off the job.

However, this will depend on the sort of work you’re doing and how much you’re going to exert on it. The size of the hand tools may also be another factor to consider. 

What are The Factors Considered For Buying An Impact Wrench?

When buying an impact wrench, the main things you should consider are its power rating, socket size(s), torque specifications and how easy it is to use.

An impact wrench with greater power, wider sockets, and more technical features might cost a bit more, but it will last longer, provide more durability, and be easier to operate.

If possible, you should always get an impact wrench with a digital display to ensure accuracy and safety. 

Conclusion

An impact wrench is a torque-producing tool that allows you to break apart hard-to-remove objects like stubborn bolts, screws, and nuts with relative ease.

Like other torque-producing tools, it’s important to use them safely and only on the items for which they were designed.

Impact wrenches are most often used on heavy equipment, construction sites, and places where there are a lot of men with access to them. However, even non-industrialized uses can be dangerous if not used correctly.

Like any power tool, it’s important to know the limitations and proper usage of impact wrenches. What do you think about impact wrenches? Do you have any questions? Please let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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