Corrosion is, in all likelihood, one of the inevitable forces working against humankind. This means that regardless of how well someone has taken care of their car, corrosion will get a hold of it eventually.
Give a round of applause here for the impact wrench. When you are about to throw in the towel over that rusty bolt that simply refuses to budge, an impact wrench can save the day.
There are two kinds of impact wrenches; electric (mainly battery-powered but a few use a cord) and air powered. The truth of the matter is that air-powered impact wrenches are far more powerful than electric ones, but require a substantial air compressor to adequately power. In this article, we will be looking at both.
Both are common in automotive work it simply depends on your needs and preferences.
If this isn’t your first impact wrench, chances are that you first tried your hand with a 3/8 drive model. There is nothing wrong with this. In many instances, a 3/8 drive is more than enough to tackle everyday jobs, but we are going to look at the more powerful ½ inch drive tools.
The good news here is that there have been recent advances made with the design of impact wrenches, making them lighter while giving them more power. Today’s ½ inch impact wrench has all the power of a ¾ inch drive wrench made 15 years ago.
If you are looking for a ½ inch drive pneumatic impact wrench, we are going to give you the pros and cons of what we believe are the top 5 choices available today.
Top Pneumatic (Air) ½ Inch Drive Impact Wrenches
|AIRCAT 1150 "Killer Torque" 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench, Medium, Black
|Ingersoll Rand 231C Super-Duty Air Impact Wrench, 1/2 Inch,Silver/ Black,3.4 x 8.2 x 8.8 inches
|ACDelco ANI404 1/2-inch Composite Impact Wrench, 650 ft-lbs, TWIN HAMMER
|1/2 in. Ultra Compact Xtreme Torque Stubby Air Impact Wrench
|Campbell Hausfeld XT002000 Air Impact Wrench Twin Hammer Impact Driver with Composite Body and Comfort Grip, 1/2"
- Max Torque: 900-foot pounds
- Sound Level: 86 Decibels
- CFM: 8
One thing everyone recognizes about impact wrenches is that they are VERY LOUD! You will often see professional mechanics wearing ear protectors to help prevent hearing loss. One factor with the AIRCAT 1150 is that it puts out about as much noise as your kitchen blender. That makes this impact wrench relatively quiet. It is also lightweight and comfortable, something everyone will appreciate. Make sure that you follow the setup instructions and that your compressor puts out at least 8CFM, otherwise this little mid-priced unit won’t work as it should. Comes with a sweet 2- year parts and labor warranty.
- Reasonably priced
- Low noise levels
- Decent torque levels for the price
- Must follow setup instructions to get max torque
- No case- only a cheap, nylon bag
- Some reports state that there is a vibration at higher speeds
- Max Torque: 600 Foot Pounds
- Sound Level: 99 Decibels
- CFM: 4.2
This is a sweet impact wrench you might fall in love with. While it doesn’t put out as much torque as others, most people find that 600 ft pounds is more than enough. It might also use a bit more air (CFM) but it is well worth it. Ingersoll Rand has been in the tool industry for decades, so you know this product is quality-made. It’s easy to hold, and really does the job. You should wear ear protection, however, since this model is a bit louder than others. Super smooth operation and powerful enough for whatever you have in mind. Decent 1-year parts and labor warranty.
- Ingersoll Rand is a brand name you can trust
- Powerful twin hammer mechanism
- Easy to adjust power regulator
- A bit louder than some other models
- Can break cheaper quality sockets
- No case, just a cardboard box
- Max Torque: 650 Foot Pounds
- Sound Level: 109
- CFM: 5.3
If you are in the market for a ½ inch drive impact wrench, the ACDelco is a real bargain right now. Everyone knows the ACDelco name, but you must question an impact wrench that is this inexpensive. There is a limited 1-year warranty, however. This impact wrench fits well in your hand and has some weight to it, so you feel confident using it, but be forewarned- this tool is very loud! 109 decibels is like being at a heavy metal rock concert! Wear ear protection! You can’t beat the price, however, so for the price, it seems worth it.
- Bargain priced
- Plenty of torque
- Well known, quality brand name
- Must pay extra for twin hammer operation
- Extremely loud
- May not stand up to commercial, everyday use
4. Earthquake XT Extreme Torque
- Max Torque: 1,000 Foot Pounds
- Sound Level: 86 Decibels
- CFM: 6
This is one of the higher-priced impact wrench models we looked at. The Earthquake XT is designed for serious users or commercial use. It requires 90 working PSI and high flow fittings, but for the professional, this is the one you want. A whopping 1,000 foot-pounds with a CFM of 6. All that power and this impact wrench only has a decibel level of 86, which is about the same as your kitchen blender! The only thing we questioned about this powerful beauty is why the manufacturer only warranties it for 90 days! Otherwise, this is the work horse of impact wrenches.
- Incredible power
- Twin Hammer operation prevents vibration
- Exhaust through handle makes it very quiet
- Requires higher PSI fittings
- Premium pricing might make it unaffordable for some
- Limited 90-day warranty
- Max Torque: 750 Foot Pounds
- Sound Level: 97.6 Decibels
- CFM: 3.4
This is another bargain-priced ½ inch drive impact wrench, but don’t let the price scare you off. At 750-foot pounds, this tool by Cambell Hausfeld should remove anything you encounter! For this to work properly, this unit will need a compressor with 90PSI and an 8-gallon tank to work the way it should. If you have a 4- or 6-gallon tank, you can still use this, but you will need to wait a bit in between jobs. The Campbell Hausfeld is also a bit noisier than some other models, but with some ear protectors, you will be ready to go. For the price, you simply cannot beat this impact wrench!
- 2-Year limited warranty
- Powerful tool for the money
- Very affordable
- A larger 8-gallon compressor tank is recommended
- Rather noisy, which can cause hearing damage if no protection is used
- Necessary to use a torque wrench just to change settings
Here comes the most difficult part- deciding which would be the best. Impact wrenches vary so much in price and torque that it can be hard to nail it down.
So, here is our final decision when it comes to pneumatic air wrenches:
If price is your biggest concern- go with the Campbell Hausfeld XT002000.
Otherwise, we would have to choose the Ingersoll Rand 231C. This well-known company knows what consumer want and this impact wrench does everything you will need without buying special hoses or more expensive sockets. You simply can’t go wrong with this beauty!
Top Electric ½ Inch Drive Impact Wrenches
As we stated earlier, there is no doubt that pneumatic wrenches are more powerful, it you mostly perform those DIY tasks around the house or on your car or truck, an electric impact wrench might be all you need.
Electric wrenches can refer to battery powered units or those that run on AC current (using a cord that plugs into an electrical socket in your home).
We will show you some of the top models to save you time and trouble when choosing a ½ inch drive electrical impact wrench.
|Makita XWT08Z LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless High Torque Square Drive Impact Wrench, 18V/1/2"
|PORTER-CABLE Impact Wrench, 7.5-Amp, 1/2-Inch (PCE211)
|DEWALT (DCF899HB) 20V MAX XR Impact Wrench Kit, Brushless, High Torque, Hog Ring Anvil, 1/2-Inch, Tool Only
|NoCry 20V Cordless Impact Wrench Kit - 300 ft-lb (400 N.m) Torque, 1/2 inch Detent Anvil, 2700 Max IPM, 2200 Max RPM, Belt Clip; 4.0 Ah Battery, Fast Charger & Carrying Case Included
|Milwaukee 2767-20 M18 Fuel High Torque 1/2-Inch Impact Wrench with Friction Ring
- Motor: 3.3 Amp
- Max Torque: 740-foot pounds
- Number of Speeds: 3
If you love the comfort of top brand names and you demand premium tools to get the job done right, this battery-powered impact wrench by Makita is for you. The battery charges in 45 minutes, so you don’t have to wait all day to finish the job. This tool feels so good in your hands, if you have strong hands, that is! This tool is so powerful, it feels just as strong as some pneumatic impact wrenches. A Makita is money well spent!
- Has a built-in LED battery charge indicator to monitor use
- Three- year parts and labor warranty
- Brushless motor so it runs cooler
- Price might be out of range for some people
- The battery makes this unit heavier than others on the market
- Some users complained of early battery failure or burnout
2. Porter-Cable PCE211
- Motor: 7.5 Amp
- Max Torque: 450 Foot Pounds
- Speeds: 2
You never have to worry about stopping in the middle of a job to recharge or change batteries with the Porter-Cable impact wrench. This unit uses AC power that will plug into any outlet you can find. Two speeds offer you power that you can rely on. Porter-Cable might not be the biggest name, but it has a solid reputation and the price can’t be beat!
- Quieter than many other impact wrenches
- More than adequate performance for most household jobs
- Bargain price makes it very attractive!
- Unlike battery operated units, this tool cannot be used anywhere
- Tool can heat up if used continuously for long periods of time
- 3 -year limited warranty
- Motor: 7.5 Amps
- Max Torque: 700 Foot pounds
- Speeds: 3
DeWalt is another well-known brand name when it comes to tools. Like the Makita, this impact wrench is one of the pricier units, but for those of you who insist on brand name quality you can rely on, this battery-powered DeWalt impact wrench is one of the best. The brushless motor means no more replacing worn out brushes, which equals a longer life. This DeWalt impact driver is the top of the line and there is one thing we can tell you about this tool: it ain’t playin’ around!
- 3-Year Warranty that covers defects
- Powerful enough for commercial use
- LED light helps you see in dark places
- Battery and charging station sold separately
- 86 decibels mean this is like having a lawn mower next to your ear
- Switch to change power levels is on the bottom, which might cause users to forget to change the power level up or down
4. Avid Power Masterworks MCIW326
Editors Note: This wrench is no longer available on Amazon.
- Motor: 7.5 Amps
- Max Torque: 180 Foot Pounds
- Speeds: Variable Speed Trigger
At first glance, this unit doesn’t seem like it could hold a candle to some of the other tools listed here but underestimating this little battery-powered beauty would be a mistake. This battery-powered impact wrench not only has all the power that the average homeowner will ever need for auto work, it comes complete with the battery, charger, four ½ inch impact sockets, and a cool little tool bag for storage. Let’s not forget the US-based customer support and full 24- month warranty against defects. At this price, you will want to buy two!
- The lightweight, compact size makes it fit nearly everywhere
- LED light helps you see in dark spots
- Battery level indicator is a plus
- May not be powerful enough for commercial or frequent heavy-duty use
- Some report that the battery lost charge quickly
- Battery is not interchangeable
- Motor: 7.0 Amps
- Max Torque: 1400 Foot Pounds
- Speeds: 3 Speeds
When a rusty bolt seems impossible to take off, the Milwaukee high torque impact wrench is the impact wrench you want to have in your toolbox. It seems as if there is nothing this battery-operated jewel cannot handle! The 4-mode drive control helps to give you more control over what you are doing. The best feature must be the REDLINK PLUS, which prevents damage to the tool or battery due to overload or overheating. You can’t go wrong with any tool that has the Milwaukee name on it.
- 5 Year Limited Warranty
- Plastic case can be purchased separately if desired
- Can be used with other Milwaukee batteries or chargers
- If you need to purchase a battery and charger, it can be quite costly
- Must use a minimum 5- amp battery
- The forward/reverse button is in an easy to hit with your thumb location
We loved these cordless impact wrenches and were honestly shocked by how much power they could produce! One thing you gotta love about cordless- you can use them anywhere.
Now for the big finale! Who was the winner? This was another difficult choice, but we would have to pick the Milwaukee 2767-20. With a 5-year warranty and more power than you can shake a cheater bar at, we simply loved it!