Best cordless impact wrenches (& reviews)

When working on cars, particularly for changing tires, or completing various DIY projects in your home garage, abounding challenges may be encountered. You may find it hard to figure out how to drive a fastener in outlying areas, break loose lodged bolts, secure lug screws, or stubborn nuts. But, thanks to the best cordless impact wrenches, everything is now as simple as it has ever been. The tool speeds up and simplifies your automotive work.

They are engineered to provide adequate torque in any given application. It enables you to easily apply high torque levels on tightly screwed rusty nuts, screws, and bolts.

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automotive worker using a wrench

What you need to know

A cordless impact wrench is a battery-operated tool that is used to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts. Because of advancements in battery technology, they have become a viable alternative to corded and pneumatic options. In fact, many professional vehicle mechanics are already using cordless technology as their leading tool platform.

They are available in a variety of styles. One of which is characterized by its two major design categories: cordless inline ratchet and pistol-grip. While the inline ratchet is more like a screwdriver, it is tool-belt portable and has a low-profile head design for working in tight areas like engine bays. It is reinforced with steel housing for optimum control in any application. A pistol-grip design is shaped like a handgun. Some pistol grips are also intended to be compact to provide better access in small spaces. However, they are often heavy-duty, with plastic and steel housing and a rubber inlay for a firm grip while in operation. But generally, they have a hefty build to support larger socket sizes.

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Battery power is another factor. Their power is measured in volts since they are powered by batteries. Their standard voltage ranges from 18 to 20 volts. The higher the voltage figure, the larger the power it influences, making a 20-volt device better since it has more power. On the other hand, some top-brand of a specific 18-volt options could outperform low-quality 20-volt units.

Torque, the twisting force that allows it to perform its function, is another aspect to consider. It varies depending on the size of the tool. A 12-inch option has an average torque of 300 pound-feet, whereas a 34-inch one has 1,200 pound-feet. But the amount you need depends on your application. For example, if you spend a lot of time doing for automotive work, a 500 pound-feet or more is ideal. And for lighter jobs, a 200-250 pound-feet is more than appropriate.

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3 Types

cordless impact wrench being used

1. Air (pneumatic)

Accordingly, pneumatic models were the industry standard in automotive shops and businesses. However, because they require a connection to air compressors, the tools aren’t often used for home or DIY projects. Because the pneumatic air is used to power, the tool can be significantly more powerful than standard options, but they are less convenient because they require a compressor-hose connection. Common examples are Aircat pneumatic tools.

2. Corded

Corded impact wrenches are another forceful type. It may provide consistent power, which removes the need to monitor battery levels throughout operations. The only disadvantage is that you must be close to electrical outlets.

Besides this, a common question we get to ask is; what AWG size do I need for my project?

3. Cordless

These are battery-powered tools. They are significantly lighter than air tools, making them more portable for overhead usage or confined areas. When compared to its counterparts, the advantages of utilizing a cordless device include:

  • Not being reliant on an electrical cord.
  • Being free of a hose and air supply.
  • Requiring less maintenance.
  • Gives you a wider range to work.
  • You can move around your vehicle freely.

They are becoming increasingly popular for most home-garage applications. Although they are less powerful than corded, they are favored because of their portability.

Battery ones give more twisting force (torque). The chuck holds the nut, bolt, or screw while you hold it steady and spins a quick, rapid burst. And, like any cordless tool, they use internal rechargeable batteries.

Moreover, you may find the SAE to metric conversion size chart here.

What to look for

In general, not all models are the same, there are a few factors to analyze when choosing the right one for you.

  • Socket sizes

These tools are available in a range of socket sizes for inline or pistol-grip uses. They are available in 14-inch, 38-inch, 12-inch, 34-inch, 1-inch, and even 2-inch impact-rated sockets.

For those who frequently change socket sizes, the friction ring design provides excellent socket retention while making socket changes easy without using additional tools.

  • Torque

The twisting force is referred to as torque. A twist with a higher winding force is not always considered the best option. It always depends on the job you are doing. Don’t instantly assume that you need the most. Too much torque might cause your fastener to snap. A lower option guarantees that the bolts do not become overtightened. Indeed, some of the most recent models include customizable settings, giving you advanced functionality and allowing you to choose the appropriate power for a specific job.

Tighten the bolt to the appropriate tightness. The optimal tightening torque for nuts and bolts varies according to material and size. Excessive tightening on a small bolt might cause it to strain or break. Tightening increases in direct proportion to operating time. Use the appropriate bolt operating time.

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  • Motor

A motor determines the power—the stronger it is, the more effective the tool. RPM (revolutions per minute) and IPM (impacts per minute) indicate how many times the twist spins the socket and how many impacts the tool makes.

Brushless motors are used in the majority of the most recent versions. They are somewhat more expensive, but they make maintenance easier because there are only fewer components.

  • Brand

If you already have a collection of cordless tools, using the same brand of a cordless impact wrench may provide you with additional benefits. Aside from having various tools with the same brand look nice, having the same battery packs and charger may be pretty helpful.

  • Weight

A lightweight and small model relieves strain on the hand, wrist, and arm, making it simpler to operate. It is also highly portable as it could fit in tight spaces.

mechanic using a wrench

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What is the best one for auto repair?

We did some research to find the best impact wrench for auto repairs. Here are our top picks.

Milwaukee 2762-20, high torque for automotive

Both pro and hobbyist automotive mechanics favored the Milwaukee 2762-20 based on reviews and scores.

The Milwaukee 2762-20 handles rusty bolts efficiently since it has a motor that provides 1000lb of bolt fastening torque. And a 1400lb bolt remover that is powerful enough to extract lug bolts and wheel nuts. Furthermore, its compact design offers outstanding convenience since it can easily reach tight areas. It is also lightweight, which reduces muscle fatigue and strain, and features LED light to illuminates the work area.

When it is set to bolt removal mode, it slows down to 750 RMP for a smooth finish. Its friction ring design allows for quick and easy socket changes. It is built of high-quality materials and has a sturdy construction that runs from the inside out, beginning with its RED lithium battery.

Milwaukee fuel ½” 

Another great option is the Milwaukee M18 fuel 12″ with a friction ring. With 1000 ft-lbs of fastening torque and 1400 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque, the friction ring is for quick and easy socket changes. It eliminates the need for a pneumatic tool for difficult and corroded nuts. With its 2X faster speed, you can do your tasks more quickly while still offering a lot of power, making you more productive the entire day.

Furthermore, the compact (8.38” length) cordless high torque beast enables easier access in small areas. In the event of overloading or overheating, REDLINK PLUS intelligence alerts the user. It also has a quality rubber over-mold that protects against corrosive elements and adds comfort when in use.

Impressive torque helps tighten wheel lug nuts while rotating tires or working on large tractors and construction equipment, among other things. It has yet to indeed struggle with removing difficult bolts/nuts. It has a lot of power to be only an 18v pistol and is a must-have tool for car technicians or people operating with big machines.

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Milwaukee ⅜”

The M18 gasoline 3/8” is the smallest in its category, almost a full inch shorter than the previous generation. It can still provide maximum efficiency with up to 250 ft-lbs of nut-busting torque. It is pretty small, measuring only 4.8” in length, allowing for optimum access in tight areas and visibility in the workstation. Its brushless motor has plenty of torque to remove rusted and difficult fasteners. The nice thing about this tool is that it has an auto shut-off control that prevents overtightening and REDLINK PLUS intelligence for optimal performance and protection from overheating, overloading, and overcharging.

The tool is suitable for lug nut operations in nearly all automotive repairs and projects. Its strength easily outperforms some of the automotive tools, hands down.

Dewalt ⅜” cordless, 20v

The Dewalt 38″, which works on a 20v max battery power, is another best-in-class tool. It is lightweight and ergonomic, making it ideal for confined spaces. It has three LED lights for visibility in low-light situations. Aside from increased efficiency and service life, its brushless motor provides a maximum torque of 150 ft-lbs for a wide range of fastening applications.

It’s a must-have tool with various triggers that allow you to control the speed of tightening or loosening bolts/nuts, preventing overtightening and runoffs. It is very dependable for completing minor projects requiring 150-200 ft-lbs of torque. You know you have the right tool to get the job done while making your work more enjoyable. The handiest battery-powered model to own.

Milwaukee 2767 vs 2763

Without question, Milwaukee products perform well when tightening bolts or loosening difficult and rusted nuts. However, the Milwaukee 2767 and Milwaukee 2763 models still have more than enough power to do the majority of the jobs in your garage.

I’ll go through each of the two power tools’ specific features and qualities to help you decide which one is best for you.

The Milwaukee 2767 is an upgraded model of the Milwaukee 2763. It has a tightening force of 1000 ft-lbs and a nut-busting force of 1400 ft-lbs. It also features four distinct speed settings, enabling you to choose the best speed for each application.

The Milwaukee 2767 is the most powerful 12″ Milwaukee option on the market; thus, you expect it to be more expensive. The higher-end Milwaukee options may now be synced and controlled via your smartphone in the latest versions.

On the other hand, the Milwaukee 2763 is still quite powerful with 700 ft-lbs of tightening force and 1100 ft-lbs of nut-busting power. However, it has only two-speed settings but yet delivers excellent outputs without runoffs. You will only pay somewhat less for this version than for its equivalent. In terms of weight, both models (2767 and 2763) are light and powerful, and they are powered by M18 batteries.

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The table below lists the main differences between the 2767 and 2763 models from Milwaukee:

Milwaukee 2767 Milwaukee 2763
Pounds of torque (ft-lbs) 1000 ft-lbs tightening, 1400 ft-lbs nut-busting 700 ft-lbs tightening, 1100 ft-lbs nut-busting
Model design Upgraded version Standard version
Battery M18 M18
Drive settings 4 drive settings 2 drive settings
Motor Brushless but a bit more powerful Brushless
Key features The new version features a torque setting that pairs with a smartphone to track the location of the device. Everything that typical older models can give.
Force Stronger force to pull semi-truck bolts and other heavy-duty fasteners. Sometimes struggles to loosen heavy-duty bolts

Something to catch your attention: Single phase vs three-phase power. Read our review here.

What is the most powerful ⅜” cordless impact wrench option?

Mechanics value cordless impact wrenches for their superior nut-busting strength, time savings, and mobility. You get the versatility of cordless equipment without the inconveniences of extension cables or air compressors. That is what a 38″ option is all about. They walk the line between brute force and precision power control.

Each kind of 3/8″ has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. As with the prior evaluations and comparisons we performed between each brand. Among other things, the Milwaukee Fuel 38″ stands out. Exceptionally strong and yet very comfortable, with absolute power and a significant torque quantity.

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