Impact wrenches stand out over their manual cousin’s thanks to two distinctions. First, they are motorized, allowing them to turn bolts longer and faster than a person could ever manage.
Second, the impact wrench does not turn a bolt in a single motion, but rather by repeated strokes of the torque socket against the angle of the bolt. These rapid and repeated shocks can serve to power through corrosion, dirt, and other blockages on bolt threads instead of binding the bolt tighter against them as a manual wrench might.
These two things combined put the impact wrench well above and beyond any manual competition. Although there exist a number of different types of impact wrenches, we’ll be focusing on pneumatic ones.
Here are five of the best air impact wrenches to help with your next car repair.
Related Article: Best Cordless Impact Wrench in 2020 [Our Reviews & Comparisons]
Best Air Impact Wrench – Comparison Table
|1. AIRCAT 1150||Check Price|
|2. Ingersoll Rand 231C||Check Price|
|3. Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV||Check Price|
|4. NitroCat 1200-K||Check Price|
|5. DEWALT DWMT70773L||Check Price|
Our Best Air Impact Wrench Reviews and Comparisons
This wrench uses a larger rotor than usual on top of a powerful engine to create an impressive amount of turning power.
- 1295 ft-lbs torque
- 1400 blows per minute
- Four and a half pounds
- 85 dB
What We Like About AIRCAT 1150
The turning power in this tool puts it squarely at the top of the range, and the relatively quiet operation is a huge plus.
What We Don’t Like About AIRCAT 1150
The socket can wobble hard when at full speed, especially when used in reverse.
- Good price for performance
- Exceptional torque
- Quieter than the competition
- Compact build
- FSocket wobbles in reverse
- Extremely sensitive trigger does not allow for modulation
2. Ingersoll Rand 231C
A no-frills wrench that delivers reliable performance for one job after another.
- 600 ft-lbs
- Twin-hammer design
- Internal power regulator
- Weighs less than six pounds
What We Like About Ingersoll Rand 231C
This tool uses a classic design and ergonomic grips to deliver power and comfort in equal measure.
What We Don’t Like About Ingersoll Rand 231C
600ft-lbs is less powerful than some similar wrenches deliver.
- Arrives lubricated and assembled
- Pressure-feed lubrication
- Internal power regulator
- Ergonomic grip design
- Easy to disassemble and service
- Relatively low torque
- Grip and trigger fittings are unreliable
3. Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV
This wrench cuts weight and price at once, while still delivering remarkable performance.
- 8oz shipping weight
- 550ft-lbs torque
- 3-speed regulator
- One-year manufacturer warranty
What We Like About Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV
This gun is among the cheapest air wrenches out there
What We Don’t Like About Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV
The components in this gun cannot be used with larger compressor tanks – ruptures and breakages have been reported as a result.
- Onboard regulator
- Grip cushion
- Reported to fail at higher pressures
- Relatively low torque
4. NitroCat 1200-K
This model uses a Kevlar housing to make their tool both lightweight and bulletproof-tough while still delivering top-shelf torque.
- Weighs 4.5lbs
- 86 dB running volume
- Kevlar housing
What We Like About NitroCat 1200-K
This wrench carries a number of innovations, including a comfortable forward/reverse switch, the Kevlar housing, and a double-clutch to break through even the toughest bolts.
What We Don’t Like About NitroCat 1200-K
The kevlar housing does not withstand vibrations as well as traditional construction and can leak after some usage.
- Gratifyingly light
- Good torque output
- Tough construction
- Comfortable reverse switch position
- Good exhaust placement
- Seal can leak after prolonged use
- Reports of manufacturer specifications being exaggerated
5. DEWALT DWMT70773L
DeWalt is a household name for any and all power tools, and this gun is here to offer the same storied success yet again.
- 650 ft-lbs torque
- Weighs 4.63lbs
- 7500 rpm
- 1100 blows per minute
What We Like About DEWALT DWMT70773L
As usual for DeWalt tools, this gun will deliver a mix of long term reliability and immediate comfort and performance that leaves users satisfied every time.
What We Don’t Like About DEWALT DWMT70773L
At over 4.5 lbs, this wrench is on the heavy side, making it harder to hold for long periods at work.
- Reliable manufacturer
- Ergonomic grips and bumper
- Adjustable power regulato
- Bottom handle exhaust
- Reverse switch positioned for one-handed operation
- Lower torque than other wrenches
- Heavier than many guns with the same torque
These are five of the most highly acclaimed air wrenches on the market today, each one with the potential to be a highly functional addition to your auto shop. Pick one inside your budget and meets your needs, and you should have no trouble integrating it flawlessly into everyday tasks.
As these wrenches are most often used to tighten bolts, it is worth reminding an aspiring mechanics that they are also a tool to tighten them. Tightening a bolt requires infinitely more caution than loosening it. Bolts must be tight enough to bear the usual and unusual forces put upon them, but should still be removable by an ordinary user.
Whatever model of air wrench you pick, always read manufacturer specifications as thoroughly as possible to make sure you know what size and pressure of tank are needed. Using the wrong tanks or hoses can lead to breakage in the wrench and a potentially lethal explosion of the air delivery system.
If you happen to notice your wrench starting to skip while working on a particular bolt, don’t keep trying and hope for the best. This sort of behavior will generally result in stripped lugs and very difficult work to get them off.
You may want to add a torque rod to prevent further damage on such an occasion. Another option is to switch to manual. Breaker bars may be old fashioned and hard to use, but there’s no denying the will get the job done.
Using construction tools can be dangerous. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep yourself safe while operating an air impact wrench:
- Always power the air impact wrench at the recommended air pressure. This varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, however is always around 90 PSI.
- Ensure long hair is tied back and out of the way. If you have broken down and are using the wrench to fix something on your car, remove neckties or long jewelry that might become entangled in the wrench.
- Wear hearing protectors every time you operate the wrench.
- Immediately stop using the tool if your hands become numb or start to tingle.
- When installing and adjusting the wrench, the air hose must be disconnected.
- Become familiar with the tool before using it. If you haven’t used an air impact wrench before, read the instructions carefully and seek guidance if something is unclear.
Buying Guide: What to Look For
When searching for the best air impact wrench to loosen and tighten lug nuts or perform other DIY tasks, there are a lot of features to consider. Not only does the torque gun need to be effective at doing its job, but it must also have adequate safety features to prevent accidents from happening.
Having such a vast choice of air impact wrenches on the market can make choosing the best one for you challenging. Because of this, we have compiled a buying guide that should help you make an informed and confident purchase.
Air Impact Or Cordless?
Impact wrenches can be cordless or corded. Both have their own benefits and choosing which is better for you depends on your personal preference.
Here is an overview of some of the features and benefits of using an air impact wrench and a cordless impact wrench for your comparison:
Cordless Impact Wrench
Cordless impact wrenches are battery-powered. The user usually has better control of the wrench because there aren’t any wires in the way. Cordless wrenches can be taken anywhere and used in areas without an electricity supply, i.e. on the road’s side.
It is essential to know that cordless impact wrenches have a tendency to overheat and are more suitable for small jobs such as home improvement, DIY and tire changes. Their accurate speed control makes them a very handy tool to have in your kit.
Air Impact Wrench
Air impact wrenches are powered by compressed air. They aren’t prone to overheating, making them perfect for prolonged use.
These particular wrenches are lightweight in comparison to cordless wrenches and are also far more powerful. The only downside to using air impact wrenches is that they can not operate without an air compressor, and they are far less portable than cordless wrenches.
Every air impact wrenches have a different airflow. Airflow can depend on the type of air impact wrench you have and the air compressor you use.
The compressors blow per minute in an important feature. Most air impact wrenches have 1,300 blows per minute, so opting for an air impact wrench that has 1,300 blows per minute or more is wise.
High-torque air impact wrenches have the ability to act as a general screwdriver when operated at a low speed. The only issue with a high-torque impact wrench is that it will likely need an adapter for hard metal fastenings.
The more torque an air impact wrench has, the more jobs it is capable of tackling. Heavy fastenings require more torque power, and high torque tools can break 2500 in-lbs of fastenings.
There is however an issue with having too much torque. Wrenches with high-torque go through adapters at an extraordinary speed. Adapters are not high ticket items; however, over time, the price of replacements adds up.
Air impact wrenches are generally lighter than cordless impact wrenches. A wrenches weight affects how easy and comfortable it is to use.
Lightweight air impact wrenches tend to be less stable, therefore affecting the amount of control you have. If you are not used to using an impact wrench, we recommend going for a slightly more massive air impact wrench until you are familiar with controlling the tool.
Air impact wrenches are available in every standard drive size. Before choosing the size of the wrench, you must consider the job it will be performing.
Do you need the air impact wrench for auto work? Or, do you need a wrench for heavy-duty construction? For fixing up your vehicle, you will probably only need a ½ inch impact wrench.
Air impact wrenches have a higher maximum speed than battery-powered wrenches. Air wrenches can reach 7000 rpm speeds, whereas battery-powered wrenches have an average maximum speed of 3000 rpm.
Air impact wrenches with a twin hammer mechanism, and an adjustable power regulator are great for completing jobs one-handed. Power tools with adjustable speeds and strengths are safer than tools that aren’t adjustable.
Air impact wrenches require a minimum of 90 PSI to work well. Look for a much higher shut-off pressure to allow for pressure loss.
Power tools must have an ergonomic design. Power tools may complete tasks on job sites faster, but they can leave you with serious issues such as numbness and nerve issues. On the other hand, manual tools are time-consuming and require more energy from the worker.
When it comes to air impact wrenches, it is crucial to find a wrench with ergonomic handles to prevent injury. Some power tools are banned from work sites, so ensure the wrench you purchase is safety approved.
Regardless of the electric appliance you are looking to buy; a reliable warranty is a must. Power tools are not items you should be repurchasing yearly, so invest in a tool from a company with a good warranty and a helpful customer service team.
Are you looking for an air impact wrench for your business or for home use? Wrenches that are intended for professional use must be ‘industrial grade.’
Best Air Impact Wrench FAQ
There is no such thing as a silly question when it comes to power tools. In order to work ‘smart’, you must know your tool inside out.
Any questions you may have surrounding air impact wrenches have probably circulated in the minds of many others that are curious about the tool. Because of this, we have put together a frequently asked questions section to help you out.
Q: What is the highest torque air impact wrench?
A: the Ingersoll Rand 2235TiMAX drive has a reliable maximum torque of 930 ft/lbs and a brilliant reverse torque of 1350 ft/lbs.
Q: How much PSI is needed for an impact wrench?
A: An impact wrench requires a minimum PSI of 90. Make sure you take into account pressure loss when calculating PSI.
Q: Are electric impact wrenches as good as air?
A: When it comes to power, air impact wrenches are far better than electric impact wrenches. Electric wrenches, however, will save you money in the long run.
Q: What is the strongest impact wrench?
A: The M18 FUEL™ 1″ High Torque Impact Wrench w/ ONE-KEY™ is extremely strong with a whopping 1,800 ft-lb torque power. It is a cordless battery power wrench that weighs less than 13 lbs.
Q: How powerful of an impact wrench do I need?
A: That all depends on the job you wish to complete. Generally speaking, tools with high torque and high RPM are good for professional use.
Q: How do you maintain an air impact wrench?
A: Lubricating the air impact wrench on a regular basis is very important. The frequency will vary depending on how often you use the tool, but oiling it up is absolutely necessary nonetheless.
Q: Why does my wrench run slowly sometimes?
A: Dirt and grime quickly build up within the impact wrench, and if the tool is not cleaned properly, it will not work properly. To prevent this from happening, oil the wrench regularly and treat it with a gum solvent.
Q: Do impact wrenches ever wear out?
A: Yes. Impact wrenches, just like any construction tool, must be inspected on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter how well you look after your air impact wrench; it will wear out and become either useless or dangerous.