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.
Electric impacts are convenient, they're powerful, and they're everywhere, but air impact wrenches have their place. The power-to-weight ratio is still hard to match, the simplicity of maintenance is as good as it gets, and they're known to last. If you've already got a decent air compressor, you could use a good air impact wrench — and a collection of killer pneumatic tools, for that matter. What makes a good impact, though? I’m happy to help you find out. I am also happy to give you the rundown on some of my favorite air impact wrenches. By the time we're done, all you'll need to worry about is finding some tires that need busting off.
Learning pneumatic tools is a right of passage. If you're going to work on cars, you're going to know a little bit about them. That's true even if you don't intend to use them. Much of my knowledge on air impacts comes from personal experience and industry exposure. I also made sure to do my research. That research included finding out what professionals and DIYers like in terms of brands and features, then comparing anything I considered for this list to ensure the best of what I came across.
Best Air Impact Reviews & Recommendations
It's not often a pro-level tool makes our list, but the Ingersoll Rand Half-Inch Impact Wrench is the clear choice if you're after the best from air impacts. If you just want something to learn with or need to save that money for other tools, the Husky Half-Inch Impact Wrench is a great way to go.
When I start shopping for tools and products, I never overlook the secondhand market. In fact, it’s usually the first place I look. Whether you’re scrolling through Amazon’s Renewed section, eBay for car parts or tools, or flipping through the pages of Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you have hundreds of thousands of used tools, parts, and gear ready to be shipped to your doorstep. Refurbished to like-new status, they’ll be willing to give you many more years of faithful service all while saving you money.
If those options above don’t have what you need, your local salvage yard is great for car parts, while swap meets are a great resource you should absolutely tap. Just Google either and head on down.
To make your secondhand search easier, here are two tips to finding the best deals and making sure your new-to-you stuff wasn’t destroyed by the previous owner.
- Hit automotive swap meets, flea markets, and the local classifieds. Decent air impact wrenches and other great pneumatic tools can be found being sold by almost any retired mechanic/seasoned gearhead.
- Rebuild kits are widely available and cheap, and repairing air impact wrenches is very simple. You can score pro-level tools and rebuild them to like-new condition for a fraction of the cost of what they would cost from a dealer.
What to Consider When Buying Air Impact Wrenches
Don't like our top picks? That's all right. I am happy to fill you in on what details you want to keep an eye on.
The primary benefit of using air impacts is the torque-to-weight ratio. Even so, you can't assume you're getting some high-powered tool because you run an air hose to it. Torque output refers to how much force the tool can apply to fasteners and is one of the first things manufacturers are going to tell you. You don't need to work hard to find this detail and use it as a way to compare options.
Air impacts place demands on the compressor, and you need to verify that what is required is matched by your setup. Most air impacts require around 90 psi and only around 2.5-10 cubic feet per minute to operate. If you don't want to wind up with a return or fancy paperweight, you should verify these details.
More power often means a bigger tool. And though that's a dated concept with modern designs, it still holds true in many situations. It's important that you can feasibly use an impact on your project. Otherwise, all that power really isn't doing you any good.
Air impact wrenches can come in many shapes and sizes. They can come with different drive types, handle designs, and power outputs. This all factors into what you pay, and air impact wrenches can run anywhere from $50 to $500 and more. Obviously, professional-grade tools are going to sit in the higher range of $250 to $500, while consumer-grade tools populate the lower half.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.