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Can the most powerful electric impact wrenches really loosen a rusted axle nut?


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04-19-16, 03:44 PM   #1  
Can the most powerful electric impact wrenches really loosen a rusted axle nut?

I've wanted to get more involved in performing work on my truck to save on labor costs. I've been told that an impact wrench and an air compressor can open up a lot more independence in doing your own car repairs.

I've read there are a few powerful all electric impact wrenches, that some claimed were able to loosen the most troublesome auto hardware such as axle nuts and more. I saw a model that was rated at 600-700 ft. pounds of loosening torque.

Anyone have experience with electric impact wrenches for auto repair? How much can you do with these? I would be willing to shell out the money for a powerful one, to avoid buying a compressor if it will loosen any auto hardware. Thanks.

 
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04-19-16, 03:55 PM   #2  
Wouldn't have an electric impact myself. Buy the air compressor and a good air impact! If you are planning on doing more of your own repairs you will find a greater need for compressed air than you think. You won't be sorry going with air!

 
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04-19-16, 04:12 PM   #3  
I've noticed some of the "import" electric impact wrenches claim high torque rates.... it's just that... a claim. Nothing beats an air impact gun (or two). Having compressed air opens a lot of different possibilities up.

A single stage 20gallon compressor is adequate for most home uses.

I had a small mobile electronics shop. I had two HD air impact guns, 1/2", 3/8" and 1/4" air ratchets, an air nibbler, a rotary cut off tool, 1/4" die grinder, a small sand blasting cabinet, an air chuck with gauge for tire fillups and a few air nozzles. Most of the air tools, with the exception of good impact wrenches, are relatively inexpensive.


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04-19-16, 04:15 PM   #4  
I'm going to reply tomorrow with a few more questions if that's ok.

 
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04-19-16, 04:16 PM   #5  
That's definitely ok.... ask away.


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04-19-16, 04:26 PM   #6  
I like my air equipment, but when you are on a jobsite with limited air volume, and electric impact wrench can really make a difference in running lags, carriage nuts and other larger items home when needed. Now, whether they will put out 700 ft lbs, doubtful on any of them. I picked up a Black and Decker industrial wrench the other day as a replacement from a pawn shop ($45) and it packs a whollop.

 
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04-19-16, 04:35 PM   #7  
That's from when Black and Decker built tools.... not like now where they put their name on junk.


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04-19-16, 06:13 PM   #8  
That's from when Black and Decker built tools.... not like now where they put their name on junk.
Can't argue with that statement.

Some fifty years ago I remember seeing an electric impact wrench that was used in a service station for changing tires. (They had a compressor so why an electric I'll never know.) This thing was HUGE, about the size of a large 1/2 inch capacity electric drill motor, and compared to a little Ingersoll-Rand pneumatic wrench a gutless wonder.

I'm old enough to remember that home shops simply did not have pneumatic tools, most home shops didn't even have an air compressor or if they did it was more often a home-made compressor using an ancient belt-driven refrigeration compressor. Back then ALL pneumatic tools were of industrial quality, made to be used an entire shift and often three shifts a day. They were powerful and lasted forever. They also had pretty hefty price tags on them. The pneumatic tools made today for home shops have little resemblance to industrial tools other than both using compressed air for the power source. If you want an industrial tool you STILL will pay a pretty penny for it.

Some manufacturers are making both industrial and home shop models and you can tell the difference in the price. Ingersoll-Rand (IR) makes both and so does Chicago Pneumatic (CP) while Sioux (as far as I know) is still making only industrial tools. Dotco is another industrial-only manufacturer, mostly of grinding tools. Trust me, when you see the price of a Dotco die grinder and compare it to a Harbor Freight model you will think the Dotco has solid gold internal parts. I have an IR die grinder and also a "no-name" die grinder and the difference between them is about the same as the difference between a candle and a prison yard searchlight.

Lots I can tell you about compressors as well if you ask. I'll say this now, gallon size is all but meaningless and horsepower ratings are vastly inflated.

 
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04-19-16, 07:26 PM   #9  
I run a service truck working on small engines. Almost all my bolts are done and undone with a rechargeable Milwaukee 3/8" impact gun. I use it changing blades, even on the big zero turns and tractor finish mowers with 15/16" nuts. It takes flywheel nuts loose and even the lugnuts on my diesel truck. I do have a honda-powered compressor on the truck and I have a Ingersoll Rand and a Matco impact gun for the times when the little rechargeable doesn't have enough oopmh, but that's rare. I mostly use the compressor for tire pumps and blowing dust or for using the impact chisel. Milwaukee makes a 1/2" rechargeable that is very strong.

A few years ago I never would have believed it, but these tools are not weak like they used to be. Lithium Ion batteries and tightly wound fields and armatures in these little tools produce a very surprising amount of torque.


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04-19-16, 10:44 PM   #10  
What kind of electronics shop ? I used to have a stationary 2 way shop for police radios and CB's for truckers and did well with it !!

 
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04-19-16, 11:23 PM   #11  
Electronics shop?
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04-20-16, 05:54 AM   #12  
Almost all my bolts are done and undone with a rechargeable Milwaukee 3/8" impact gun
A mechanic buddy of mine has a cordless impact wrench, I couldn't believe how easy it was removing the lug nuts on my Tundra. I'm seriously thinking about getting one.

 
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04-20-16, 06:20 AM   #13  
Saving my pennies for the Dewalt 1/2" 20 Volt LIon brushless impact driver. My buddy has one and if it can't loosen a lug nut, it will spin the car


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04-20-16, 06:54 AM   #14  
My first impact wrench was electric and it has a lot of torque. I don't use it much now since I have a compressor but the electric never failed to get the job done when I was using it.

 
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04-20-16, 09:10 AM   #15  
What size, specs, horsepower, PSI, and foot/lbs should I get for the impact wrench and compressor? Do I get 3/8, 1/2 impact wrench or other? I'm mainly interested in how this will perform with the most stubborn rusted or frozen automotive nuts.

What's wrong with buying a cheaper 5 or 7 gallon compressor? It just means I would have to fill it up with fuel more frequently....correct?

I still might do the electric impact wrench option. That would be cool if I could test it first.

 
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04-20-16, 09:27 AM   #16  
Air tools have a cfm requirement, the higher the cfm the more compressor is needed. Tools can be run on a compressor that doesn't produce enough cfm but only until the reserve in the tank runs out. The bigger the tank the more efficient it will be. A small compressor normally works ok for most tools other than sanding/grinding and painting.


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04-20-16, 10:10 AM   #17  
Not only do you need enough CFM, but you need CFM at operating pressure. A lot of small compressors can't deliver enough CFM at the higher pressures needed for a big impact wrench. If you're really taking big jobs, you will need to run the wrench at the upper end of it's pressure range, say 110 or 120 PSI. Little compressors can deliver very little air at those pressures and have little tanks, so you take off one nut and then have to wait for the compressor to build pressure back up.

If you're talking about heavy frozen hardware, you'll want a 1/2" drive wrench. Generally they are beefier, more powerful, and can take larger impact sockets.


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04-20-16, 10:52 AM   #18  
I have a 1/2" impact wrench and a 3/8" air ratchet.

 
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04-20-16, 12:07 PM   #19  
If these new battery-operated impact wrenches will remove any nut or bolt regardless of size and condition then the manufacturers of the pneumatic tools will have to go out of business.

TRUTH is, while the battery-operated tools MAY do anything a backyard mechanic may ask they will NOT replace the larger tools...ever!


A 1/2 inch pneumatic impact wrench will be rated at about 4 cubic feet per minute (CFM) air usage BUT that is computed over the course of a full minute while the tool is only used for about 15 seconds. That makes the TRUE air flow more like 16 CFM, not the advertised 4 CFM. Most pneumatic tools are designed to use 90 psi AT THE TOOL and raising the pressure does nothing but waste air and cause the tool to wear faster. Using excessive lengths of hose or using too small a diameter of hose WILL reduce the pressure and flow rate at the tool. Same is true if using cheap (or too many) quick couplers or if using a too small of a pressure regulator. You should never use anything less than a 3/8 inch I.D. hose although it can have 1/4 inch connections.

 
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04-20-16, 03:15 PM   #20  
PJ mentioned in post # 3 he had a Electronics shop.

 
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04-20-16, 03:48 PM   #21  
Oh, lol... your post came right after mine and the way I read it I was thinking you replied to me. Brain flatulence on my part.


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04-20-16, 11:00 PM   #22  
Mobile electronics.... CB, car stereo, nav systems, many autostarts.


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04-20-16, 11:07 PM   #23  
I have a senior moment at times also

 
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04-20-16, 11:17 PM   #24  
Furd the air tool companies don't have nothing to worry about.

The battery operating drill impacts are for mobile small shops to get a customer out of a bind.

Example I loaned my truck jack to a friend and my wifes car had a flat. Our local shop came out and took the lug nuts off with a cordless and brought it to the shop to patc. Same thing when he came back with the cordless.

They are handy but never will replace a shop impact because air tools don't need batteries and those are pricey ~!~!

 
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04-21-16, 12:01 AM   #25  
Yeah, nobody is claiming that the electric ones are better or stronger or will replace the air ones... Just answering "yes" to the original question, "Can the most powerful electric impact wrenches really loosen a rusted axle nut?"


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04-21-16, 07:26 AM   #26  
Thanks for educating me on this. We have a Harbor Freight store locally. I'm going to check it out.

 
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04-21-16, 08:50 PM   #27  
Oh no....

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04-22-16, 04:14 AM   #28  
While HF does have some cheap junk, many of their tools are decent especially for a diyer. I'm still using the impact I bought from them over 30 yrs ago. The only thing I don't like about my impact is it only has 250 lbs of torque ...... but I think it only cost $12 back them


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04-22-16, 07:22 AM   #29  
HF can be a good source of tools for a homeowner but some of their stuff is below that level. Shop carefully.

 
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04-23-16, 04:19 PM   #30  
Electric Impact wrenches

I have an old Rodac 1/2 " air gun that has been my best friend until someone tightened the lug nuts on my wife's Chrysler so tight that it just wouldn't budge them. I have a friend at a golf course across the road who had an electric impact that took the lug nuts off easily. I don't remember the brand but I remember that it was expensive. I would own one. your post reminded me to check back with him.

 
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04-23-16, 05:57 PM   #31  
I used to have a 1/2 inch Rodac. My I-R 231 made the Rodac look like a toy.

 
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04-23-16, 07:22 PM   #32  
Rodac made some awesome air ratchets back decades ago. I don't know about impacts but the ratchets held up great... I still have 3 of them that are probably 40 years old or more.

IR makes some of the best air tools though. I have IR, Snap-on, Matco, CP, Blue Point, and a few off brands around the shop. IR is the best of them in my opinion.

I dont know who makes good electric impacts because the only one I use is the Milwaukee but it has been good enough that every time I wear one out, I get another just like it. I have replaced brushes and armatures and use the tool until the anvil is worn out, then put it on the shelf for parts or a spare and buy another. I find myself using it around the shop too, even when the air hose is laying right there by me.


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04-25-16, 09:56 AM   #33  
Yeah, the Milwaukee electric one is quite expensive, rated at over 1000 ft/lbs loosening torque. Even if exaggerated, still powerful

 
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04-26-16, 02:31 PM   #34  
What size impact wrench will work with a wider variety of nut sizes.........3/8" or 1/2"

Will 1/2" still work with smaller sized nuts?

 
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04-26-16, 04:10 PM   #35  
A 3/8" air ratchet, 1/2" will tend to be over powered on the small stuff.

 
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04-26-16, 04:24 PM   #36  
The 1/2 inch wrenched normally have more torque, but with adapters you can use either for any size nut. The bigger nuts usually take more torque, so if you're soing to be using it on stuff above 9/19" or so, I'd go with a 1/2". If it will be 9/16 and under, I'd say a 3/8" will do most anything you need done. Those aren't limits of any kind, as I use my 3/8" gun to loosen 1 1/8" flyuwheel nuts but a 1/2" gun would do it much better. using the bigger gun on small fasteners might net you some broken bolts and stripped threads if you aren't careful.


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04-27-16, 02:41 AM   #37  
A lot depends on the impact gun itself. How much torque the gun has determines how effective it will be. Generally a 3/8" gun will have a smaller physical size than the 1/2"


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04-27-16, 06:47 AM   #38  
Very good to know. Thanks.

 
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07-04-16, 10:02 AM   #39  
Hi, I ordered the Aircat 1150 1/2 inch pneumatic wrench online. I decided against an electric model. I'll decide on an air compressor soon.

 
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11-17-17, 01:07 PM   #40  
having serviced Pneumatic for 40 years now theres much to consider with the new mad wave of electric
i also am agent in new zealand for the paoli air tool manufacturer of Italy makers of speed wrenches in Formula 1 and other car race series
the vast majority of electric or battery impacts is they cause untold wrist damage as do lightweight air tools and badly designed hammer mechanisms.
The trend to have lightness is unwise in many ways.
Your wrist, arm, and elbow then take up the flex not the tool.
Another problem with many impacts of electric is the current reluctance by makers to have ease of service if only by the owner

 
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