Best Air Impact Wrenches: Remove Tight Bolts With Ease

Change lug nuts quickly and efficiently with these top air impact wrenches

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There are some jobs that are really hard to do unless you have the right tool. If you need to loosen engine bolts or remove your vehicle's tires, an air impact wrench will make the task much easier. Our buying guide below will help you find the best air impact wrenches available.

  • Best Overall
    Ingersoll Rand 1/2" Quiet Titanium Air Impact Wrench
    Summary
    Summary
    This tool features quiet technology to reduce sound. It weighs 4.7 pounds and is built with a titanium hammer case, steel-wear plate, and composite housing that protect the tool from harsh environments.
    Pros
    Pros
    It has more than enough power to do most jobs, and it's lightweight. The trigger is very smooth, and it's easy to modulate for removing plastic lug nut covers.
    Cons
    Cons
    The ergonomics could be a little better on the handle, and in reverse, the button may dig into your hand. It can feel noticeably front-heavy without sockets on it.
  • Best Value
    AIRCAT Killer Torque 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench
    Summary
    Summary
    This wrench provides 1,400 blows per minute and a maximum torque of 900-foot pounds. Its 15-percent larger rotor creates extra power, and it comes with a two-year warranty.
    Pros
    Pros
    It is relatively quiet, comfortable, and lightweight. It easily removes lug nuts without knocking or jerking. Also, the trigger response is similar to that of a variable speed drill.
    Cons
    Cons
    It may lose power after a year of heavy use, and it may not provide the power that it advertises. Also, the forward/reverse lever may occasionally stick.
  • Honorable Mention
    Milwaukee Mid-Torque Impact Wrench
    Summary
    Summary
    It is up to two inches shorter and 1.5 pounds lighter than its competitors. It delivers 450-foot pounds fastening torque and 600-foot pounds nut-busting torque.
    Pros
    Pros
    It has plenty of torque, it's strong, and it has great battery life. It is also a bit stubbier than some other high-torque guns so it will fit in more places.
    Cons
    Cons
    It won't handle tough jobs such as certain suspension work, and it isn't as powerful as the high-torque product made by Milwaukee.

Tips

  • Look for an air impact wrench with a lot of torque. Tools with more torque are easier and faster to use, particularly if the bolts are rusty and solidly stuck.
  • The average DIYer can use a smaller air impact wrench versus a professional-grade model. It doesn’t weigh as much and is easier to maneuver in tight spaces. You can also use it with a smaller compressor. 
  • You will need other tools in addition to an air impact wrench when you work on your vehicle, including impact sockets, an air compressor, and a retractable air hose.

FAQs

Q: What is an air impact wrench? 

A: An air impact wrench is also called a rattle gun or torque gun. It's a high-powered socket wrench that uses compressed air to loosen and tighten nuts, so you often hear the sound of hissing air when it's being used.

Q: How do I use an air impact wrench?

A: Attach the hose and wrench to the air compressor. Check the PSI, which should be between 90 and 100, and make sure the hose isn't kinked. Set the correct speed using the dial or switch on the wrench, and attach the correct socket to the bit on the wrench. Slip the bit onto the wheel nut, and press the trigger.

Q: What does “impacts per minute” mean, and why is it important?

A: The more blows or impacts per minute, the faster the air impact wrench will tighten screws or loosen nuts and bolts. Traditionally, impact per minute refers to the number of times a hammer strikes an anvil within 60 seconds.

Final Thoughts

Our pick for the best air impact wrench is the Ingersoll Rand 1/2" Quiet Titanium Air Impact Wrench. It's relatively quiet, lightweight, and powerful enough to work on most jobs.

For a more budget-friendly option, consider the AIRCAT Killer Torque 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench.