When it comes to changing tires or doing general car maintenance work, an impact wrench is an invaluable tool to have at your side. Whether it be tightening bolts or removing rusted, stuck-on bolts, the impact wrench is simply the best tool to have around. However, impact wrenches can have a wide variety of uses, so if you are planning to use it for automotive work, it can be a good idea to know a bit about the tool and what features to look for in an impact wrench for car maintenance.
Best Impact Wrench for Car Tire
If you want my recommendation on the best impact wrench for lug nut removal of your car, here it is.
Now, if you want to make an informed purchase, I suggest you read further to learn how to pick the best impact gun for changing your car tires.
How to Choose Impact Wrench for Automotive Work?
The output torque, ease of use and cost are the three things you should consider when searching for an impact gun for your car. But first, you should decide on the type of impact wrench that you want to use.
The Three Types Of Impact Wrenches
The first thing that you need to understand is that impact wrenches come in three types,
- Corded Electric
- Pneumatic (Air)
Now, those of you who are familiar with power tools probably don’t need much of an explanation as to what those terms mean. The corded version needs to be plugged into electricity out and is not convenient to use and hence not a popular choice.
You probably know that a cordless impact gun is the way to go. But just for the sake of being on the same page, let’s go over what each kind is and what they are good for.
Cordless Impact Wrenches
Cordless impact wrenches make use of battery power, so they look and act like just about every power drill that you have ever used in your life. Most of the big-name brands (like DeWalt, Milwaukee, Black+Decker, etc.) make cordless impact wrenches, so they are very easy to find on store shelves and online.
The pros of going with a cordless impact wrench are going to be pretty obvious to anyone who has used a cordless tool before.
Cordless means what it says, there isn’t any cord for you to trip over. This makes it easy for you to maneuver around the vehicle and do your work. You don’t have to worry about tripping over a cord or worse, having it get caught on something and be pulled out.
Likewise, it also means that you aren’t limited in where you can work since you can just pull out your cordless tool and get straight to work.
One of the biggest reasons to go cordless when it comes to impact wrenches (or any kind of power tool really) is just how much more convenient it is to use a cordless model. With a cordless model, all you have to do is pop in the battery and you can start working.
If you have multiple spare batteries, you can set one to charge while you work with the other in the tool, which leads to minimal downtime. This will be covered in more detail later on but suffice to say this level of convenience just isn’t possible with a pneumatic option.
This may be a bit controversial, but I actually believe that the power output of cordless impact wrenches is a pro, not a con. This needs some explaining. See, for a long time, the conventional wisdom was that pneumatic impact wrenches were always the most powerful option and that cordless models were solely for convenience. This isn’t really the case today.
While it is still true that on average, pneumatic options are the more powerful of the two kinds of impact wrenches, cordless impact wrenches aren’t exactly anything to sneeze at these days either.
This Dewalt Impact removes stubborn nut easily – Click here for details..
Plenty of high-end cordless impact wrenches offer more than enough power to work on cars. You can easily do all the most common car-related jobs like changing tires, removing lug nuts, and more with a cordless impact wrench. You could even use an impact driver, which is less powerful, to remove lug nuts.
So, don’t be misled by anyone when it comes to the power of cordless models.
The cordless version has its disadvantages as well.
One of the biggest issues, if not the biggest issue, with cordless impact wrenches is that they are a lot heavier than you would expect. The reason why is pretty obvious, you have to lug around a large battery in addition to the tool itself.
For short bursts of work, the weight isn’t likely going to be much of an issue. However, the weight can become a lot more noticeable and a lot more problematic when you start working for longer stretches.
Power (In Some Situations)
While cordless impact wrenches definitely have enough kick to them to handle regular auto work, it should also be noted that they can be a bit weak in some other situations. If you are exclusively looking to work on small to medium-sized cars, you don’t have to worry about power output in the slightest.
If, however, you plan on working on larger automobiles or moving onto other kinds of heavy-duty jobs, then you might start to run into the power limitations of cordless models.
Pneumatic or Air Impact Wrenches
Making use of the raw power of compressed air, pneumatic impact wrenches (also often called air impact wrenches) are a very common choice for those who want a reliable, powerful impact wrench.
The air impact wrenches have few advantages over the electric version.
Power (Output Torque)
One of the best things about going with a pneumatic impact wrench is that you never have to ask yourself “is my impact wrench powerful enough for this job.” The answer is always going to be “yes.” Pneumatic wrenches can be extremely powerful, and they almost always have more than enough power to tackle just about any job.
When it comes to maintenance, pneumatic impact wrenches are again held back only by their air compressor. The actual tools require very little maintenance to keep in working order.
The same can’t be said for the compressed air tank. These are substantially more difficult to keep in working order.
The cost can be a positive aspect of pneumatic impact wrenches, but this comes with a very big “if.” Pneumatic impact wrenches are the cheaper option if you already happen to own a compatible air tank and hose. If not, then the cost can be a bit of an issue.
As was just mentioned, the cost can be an issue with pneumatic impact wrenches if you are starting from scratch and need to buy an air compressor yourself. The good news is that impact wrenches only need small air compressors.
I have reviewed the best portable air compressors here and they are very affordable.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of an air impact wrench is the lack of portability. Unlike the cordless version, the pneumatic version needs to connect with the air compressor which will seriously restrict your movement.
Of course, you can carry a small pancake compressor easily. But they require you to plug-in to the power supply to work.
With a battery-powered cordless impact wrench, you have more freedom.
Buyer’s Guide: What to look for when buying an impact wrench for changing tires?
Alright, so let’s say that you have decided to pick up an impact wrench to use for changing your tires. You may be curious as to what features you should prioritize or keep an eye out for. While we wouldn’t follow this list religiously, this is a rough idea of what features you should prioritize when shopping around.
By far the most important thing to keep your eyes peeled for when shopping is the power output or torque of the impact wrench. This is what determines how easy it is for you to loosen or tighten bolts, as well as complete other maintenance jobs.
The lug nuts of cars are tightened at 80 to 100lb-ft (foot-pound). That means you should buy an impact wrench that offers more than 100lb-ft; preferably 150lb-ft or more to remove the lug nuts.
You never want to get caught in a situation where you need to do something, but your impact wrench isn’t powerful enough to actually get the job done.
Another important consideration is the size of the impact wrench. You can find sizes ranging from ¼ inch to 1-inch in the market.
So what size impact wrench do you need for changing car tires?
Both 3/8 inch and ½ inch impact wrenches work fine. If you have 3/8 inch sockets lying around, you might want to buy the corresponding size.
I would recommend you to go for ½ inch impact wrench since they are the most common.
Assuming you are keeping your impact wrench in the car for emergency repairs or assuming that you are a mobile mechanic of some sort, then you are going to want to make sure that you invest in an impact wrench with a long battery life (it goes without saying that in this particular instance we are talking about cordless impact wrenches). This will prevent the impact wrench from dying when you need it the most.
Hopefully, this article has made it crystal clear for you exactly what kind of impact wrench that you need to pick if you want to do basic car maintenance. Please make sure that you get the correct size impact socket and not use the ordinary chrome socket with your impact tool.
Remember, as much as this guide can help you, ultimately, you have to determine what type of impact wrench for car that you need.