Best Cordless Impact Wrenches: Speed Up Routine Automotive Maintenance
Cordless impact wrenches that will make your automotive maintenance routines quick and painless
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Automotive maintenance can be a serious muscular workout. Even routine work can potentially fatigue your arms when dealing with tightening and loosening multiple fasteners over a long period of time. This is where cordless impact wrenches come in handy. Taking the power of an impact motor, combining it with the mobility of battery power, and putting it all together in an ergonomic body means more capability and less fatigue for you. Like a cordless drill for general tool sets, cordless impact wrenches make a great upgrade to any automotive toolset. To find out which ones you should be looking at for your next tool purchase, continue on for our handy guide.
- Best OverallMilwaukee 2767-20 M18SummarySummaryOne of the best single tool purchases you can make when looking for a cordless impact wrench. Comes with a high torque range and plenty of life from the battery.ProsProsAn intelligent design that is ergonomically shaped to fit the hand naturally in the grip area. The onboard drive controls make it easy to use while protecting the tool from overloading and overheating.ConsConsQuite expensive for a singular tool. Not the best option if you are looking to purchase your first cordless wrench unless you do a lot of automotive work already.
- Best ValueDeWalt DC820BSummarySummaryA great budget option that offers more power and performance than other inexpensive models.ProsProsThe heavy-duty construction and ergonomic handle design offer more value than the price tag suggests. The design is compact enough, with a weight of only 2.2 pounds, to be used in tight spaces around the garage or your vehicle.ConsConsEconomic savings are easily undone since you have to purchase a battery and charger separately.
- Honorable MentionDeWalt's DCF880HM2SummarySummaryOne of the best complete impact wrench kits that comes with the cordless wrench, multiple batteries, charging base, and case.ProsProsAlthough heavy, the compact design makes it easy to use the tool in tight locations. There is enough power in the motor for typical automotive uses, especially when it comes to removing small nuts and bolts.ConsConsAverage accessories included. The case, in particular, is too flimsy and flexible to rely on for heavy-duty protection if you tend to abuse your power tools.
Why Buy a Cordless Impact Wrench
- Torque down almost anything. Finding the right tool for automotive work can be difficult since different parts and fasteners may require different tools and bits. It's not uncommon to have several sets of torque wrenches in a toolbox for various uses. You may even have the same kind of wrench in different sizes for different amounts of torque. With a cordless impact wrench and a good brushless motor, however, you can slim down the number of hand tools you have given the greater capabilities most cordless wrenches offer. This means you can toss out the short, medium, and long 1/2-inch drive torque wrenches for a single cordless model.
- Loosen fasteners. One challenge with most torque wrenches is the fact that they can get damaged when unfastening nuts and bolts. This is because the wrench itself is generally too weak, especially if there is a ratchet mechanism, to handle the greater forces involved. Cordless impact wrenches tend to be more durable and reliable for loosening and tightening fasteners. This means you can work with a single tool regardless of where you are in the automotive maintenance process.
- Keep things organized. Another benefit to upgrading and simplifying your automotive toolset is a better organization. With a single bare tool like a cordless impact wrench, you have less to store and organize in the garage or toolbox. It is also easier to keep the tools you need right at your side or on your toolbelt when working in the nooks and crannies of a vehicle.
Top Brands of Cordless Impact Wrenches
Started in 1922 by Raymond DeWalt, the company that bears his name is a globally recognized brand of high-quality power tools. Common around construction sites, the company's tools all bare the signature yellow and black stylings that make them instantly recognizable. Beyond the colors, however, is a history of durability that many prefer in professional settings. For automotive work, check out the DCF899B Wrench for a good impact wrench option.
PORTER-CABLE goes back for over a history in its experience with creating machines and tools for professionals. The company's modern lineup includes an assortment of drills, saws, sanders, and more. In the automotive area, tools such as the PCC740LA Wrench are sought after for their balance of power, durability, and comfort.
Getting started in 1922, Milwaukee Tool has always tried to position itself as an innovative company. Some home runs in this pursuit include the development of some of the first cordless power tool ecosystems and on-the-job power delivery systems. On a smaller scale, the company's 2767-20 M18 Torque Wrench is a great option to check out if you want an affordable, yet capable, impact wrench that works with the rest of Milwaukee's cordless charging systems.
Cordless Impact Wrench Pricing
- $100 and under: In the budget range of cordless impact wrenches are the simplistic, barebones options people looking to upgrade from simple hand tools generally consider. Don't let the budget moniker fool you, however, since many of these options are quite capable in terms of overall torque power and capability. The thing you have to sacrifice the most is power on the higher end of the torque range and helpful accessories.
- $100-$200: This price range is the start of cordless impact wrench kits that come with extra accessories to get the tool working. Many low-end kits come with basic impact wrenches that lack the power and durability of pricier models, so consider spending a little extra if you want more quality in the tool itself. You can usually find some great near-professional-grade wrenches at the upper end of this range.
- $200 and above: Beyond the $200 mark lies a number of high-quality kits and standalone options designed for professional use. If you want nothing but the best from a wrench or kit, this is definitely the range to consider. Most individual cordless impact wrenches have plenty of torquing capabilities for most, if not all, automotive applications.
Since a high-torque impact wrench is most often used to tighten fasteners down to a specific amount of torque, its overall torque range is an important measurement of its capabilities. In short, the higher the range, the better the performance for automotive use. Many automotive parts require higher amounts of torque to be fastened securely. If an impact wrench lacks the ability to reach these higher levels, it will be useless. In general, a wrench with a max torque range of 250 foot-pounds on the high end is required for most automotive maintenance.
Impacts per Minute (IPM)
This is the measurement of how quickly the motor works to fasten or loosen nuts and bolts. Since the motor "hammers" the fastener into place, the more impacts, the quicker it works. Generally, a higher IPM can drain the battery faster if used continuously or for longer periods of time.
No-Load Speed (NLS)
The fastest a variable-speed motor will run is when it's not under any load, meaning its not tightening or loosening a fastener. The no-load speed is a measurement of how fast the motor runs without a load. Faster speeds mean quicker performance, often at the expense of higher amounts of torque. In other words, if a high torque capacity is important to you, keep the NLS down for the best results.
- Design: Since a cordless impact wrench is still a hand tool, the size, shape, and overall comfort of the tool are important for long-term use. Since many automotive tasks can take several hours to complete, it's important to have something you can hold comfortably without your hand fatiguing. In general, comfort comes down to good ergonomics in the size and design of the grip. Find something that fits in your hands comfortably and that puts your fingers within reach of the variable speed trigger. Preferably, a rubber-coated grip is more beneficial.
- Torque Adjustment: The torque range of a cordless impact wrench is just the start of the tool's overall capabilities. To really get used out of the wrench, some kind of torque adjustment is required to control the amount of force the wrench applies on a fastener. Since over-tightening a bolt is always a risk, a torque adjustment can help limit the forces involved so you are less likely to damage parts, fasteners, or the vehicle itself.
- Drive Size: The size of the drive on an impact wrench will influence the types of attachments you can mount and how much torque it can deliver overall. The most common sizes include 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, and 3/4 inches. The larger the drive size, the greater amounts of torque it can produce in general. A 1/2-inch drive is typically big enough for most automotive applications but look at 3/4-inch drives if you want the maximum amount of capability from a single wrench.
Best Cordless Impact Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Cordless Impact Wrench Overall: Milwaukee 2767-20 M18
The Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 is an impact wrench that delivers one of the highest levels of durability and capability available to automotive enthusiasts and professionals alike. The specs alone make it apparent that this 1/2-inch cordless impact wrench isn't just an average, everyday hardware tool. Instead, the wrench comes with four modes of drive control for different applications like bolt removal, an intelligent control system that tries to prevent overheating and overloading the tool, and a sculpted, rubber grip that is built to withstand a lot of continuous use.
The 2767 impact wrench has an upper torque capacity of 1,000 foot-pounds for fastening nuts and bolts. The power and capabilities of the wrench are matched by the comfort the grip provides with the intelligently positioned trigger and overmolded handle. We found the wrench also does a good job of taking typical abuse (such as drops and knocks) without getting scratched or damaged every time.
The major drawback for this wrench, like so many other professional-grade options, is the price tag. If you are looking to buy or upgrade a wrench without too much cost, it's better to look elsewhere. There are plenty of options that offer a portion of 2767 without the costly expense. On the other hand, if you want the best a single impact wrench can offer, this is a good one to check out.
Best Value Cordless Impact Wrench: DeWalt DC820B
The DeWalt DC820B is a 1/2-inch cordless impact wrench that is almost half the price of other single near-professional-grade options. Despite the smaller price tag, you still get around 1,700 foot-pounds of torque in the upper range. The motor is also capable of up to 2,700 IPM, which is a good balance between high-speed fastening and higher torque capabilities.
Much like other DeWalt tools, the DC820B sports the classic yellow/black paint scheme with a dual-sided, molded grip along the front and back of the pistol handle. The grip is textured to prevent slippage as much as possible when tightening fasteners that require high amounts of torque. At just 2.2 pounds, the comfort is also aided by a lightweight design that's easy to carry around for long periods of time.
Unfortunately, since this impact wrench doesn't come as a kit, the money you save on its low price tag might be needed elsewhere, like the required battery. Thankfully, the battery works in the same electronic ecosystem as DeWalt's other offerings, meaning you can use the swappable batteries from other tools if you prefer.
Best Cordless Impact Wrench Honorable Mention: DeWalt's DCF880HM2
Sometimes, it isn't enough just to have the power tool itself for the money you are spending. In times like this, a kit like DeWalt's DCF880HM2 is a better investment. Not only do you get more for your money, but you can also start from scratch or upgrade your entire impact wrench set with one purchase. In this kit, for example, you get the 20-volt 1/2-inch impact wrench, two batteries, a charging base, and a carrying case.
The impact wrench itself is on par with other DeWalt wrench offerings. At 3.4 pounds, it's a bit heavier than some of its smaller siblings, but its compact design (5 inches front to back) makes it easy to store almost anywhere in the garage or in a toolbox. We found the motor to be powerful enough to handle basic automotive tasks like smaller lug nuts. Overall, the wrench does a good job of balancing a small form and enough power to work as an automotive tool.
The rest of the kit is average in terms of quality. The case, for example, has the same plastic, flexible build as most competitors. The quality is good enough to prevent minor marks and dings, but don't expect it to magically save the tool or batteries from major drops or damage. The batteries last a few hours of regular use, especially under lighter use that doesn't tax the motor too much.
- You can use an impact wrench to tighten down general nuts and bolts that don't require a lot of torque. In doing so, it's best to use the wrench for most of the tightening until the very end. Then, secure the fastener by hand the rest of the way.
- Take special care not to over-tighten a bolt when using an impact wrench. It is easy to miss the required torque specification of the part if you aren't paying attention or don't have/don't use the torque adjustment on the wrench.
- Buy a good LED work light when working on a vehicle with a cordless impact wrench. LED lights can help illuminate the dark places your wrench can reach.
- If you are unsure how much torque a part requires, look at the manufacturer’s specifications in the manual or online. Most companies will list how much torque is required in either foot-pounds or Newton-meters.
- Keep the lithium-ion battery of your cordless wrench charged between uses to improve battery life. Depending on the size and capacity of the battery, power can drain quickly. Battery packs make it very easy to swap out different batteries for continuous use.
Q. What's the difference between an impact wrench and an impact driver?
A. In general, impact wrenches are capable of higher amounts of torque that are necessary for some automotive parts. Drivers are better for general fasteners. Both use similar means to drive the fasteners.
Q. How long does the battery typically take to charge for a cordless impact wrench?
A. This all depends on the size and capacity of the battery itself. Most batteries take a few hours to fully charge, especially if they still have around 20 percent of their overall capacity left. Many impact wrench companies use the same batteries for all of their power tools. If you have power tools from the same manufacturer, you can swap out batteries while charging others.
Our top pick for the best impact wrench is the Milwaukee 2767-20 M18. As a single tool purchase, it offers some of the best power and capability available.
Save some money with the DeWalt DC820B if you want a budget option without losing capability.
Give us your thoughts in the comments below. What's your experience with cordless impact wrenches?