Mechanics everywhere have impact wrenches lying somewhere inside their toolboxes. If they lack this tool then they should really get one. With that said, before using an impact wrench, you should be aware of what type of wrench you're using. There are two types of impact wrench—the electric (cordless or corded) and pneumatic (air compressor) impact wrench. Both serve as essential power tools for the sake of home improvement. They're also pistol-shaped devices with a high power output delivered though an output shaft by storing energy in a rotating mass. They differ mainly by what powers them up.

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Steps on How to Use an Impact Wrench

Impact wrenches are mostly associated with lug nut removal from trucks and cars. However, any high-torque situation will definitely benefit from using this wrench. You can use your impact wrench in order to remove or put back the lug nuts from your car as well as tighten up various fasteners for automobile repair, construction work, or product assembly.

With that said, here's how you should go about using this power tool in a step-by-step manner.

  1. Select The Type of Impact Wrench: Before using an impact wrench, you should know which type you have. An electrical wrench doesn't have as high a torque cap as a pneumatic wrench, but the latter requires you to turn on an air compressor before connecting them together in order to work. Some wrenches even have a hammering function on top of the forward and reverse rotational action that comes in short bursts that's handy in fastening bolts, nuts, and screws.
  1. Select The Correct Socket: Select the right socket size for the fastener to be used or loosened. Incorrect socket size for your lug nut, screw, or bolt will only damage or strip the fastener head. If you have a corded wrench connected to the power outlet or an air compressor you have to run, you have to disconnect the wrench first before changing sockets. Make sure that your wrench is absolutely turned off when changing sockets.

  1. Loosening Nuts: Press the socket firmly unto the impact wrench's square drive for good measure. Grip your impact wrench with your hands. Place the socket over the fastener then pull the rocker switch. Have the torque build-up while keeping the wrench head over the nut. As the torque action builds up further and further, the nut will eventually be loosened.

  1. Dislodging Nuts: First off, adjust your switch to the reverse setting. Grab the wrench with both hands to give it stability as it works its torque over the nut. Place the socket onto the nut head and pull the trigger to the furthest extent. Keep your finger on the trigger while keeping the socket on the head of the nut. Its torque should loosen the nut over time. Once the nut is dislodged then you can release the trigger. You have to release the trigger because excessive torque might damage the nut or the workpiece.

  1. Nipping Up Nuts: Put the nut back into place with your hands. Double-check to make sure it's not cross-threaded. Otherwise, get a new nut that's not damaged.  Select the right socket to be used for the wrench as instructed above. Press the new socket into the square drive of the wrench while making sure it's turned off. Adjust the switch to the forward setting, grip the wrench firmly, place it on the nut head, and gently pull the trigger. Don't tighten the nut all the way through just yet.
  1. Tightening Nuts: Regulate the spindle speed by pulling and releasing the trigger since the torque comes in short bursts anyway. Do this until the nut is nipped up. Proceed to work on the other nuts in this way. After all the nuts have been initially put on their screws then you can proceed to tighten them all the way through according to torque specifications. Avoid over-tightening them because it can damage both the nuts and the workpiece itself.

  1. Finishing Up: After you've completed your work, make sure the machine is turned off. Unplug it from the power outlet or air compressor. Turn off the air compressor for good measure. Switch it off if it is battery-powered. Make absolutely sure that when your machine isn't in use that it's turned off even to the point of removing the battery. It's better to be safe than to be sorry.


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The nut-busting torque power of impact wrenches came about because drills with socket attachments aren't powerful enough to do high-torque lug nut removal and tightening. From there, impact drivers were born to do lower-torque fastener work where impact wrenches are overkill. On that note, the impact wrench shouldn't be confused with the impact driver, which uses a ¼-inch hex opening and has a much lower torque cap. Your standard-issue impact wrench can accommodate ½-inch sockets of varying sizes, including those that can fit a lug nut of a wheel.