How to Use an Impact Wrench Correctly : The DIYer’s Guide

Impact wrenches are powerful tools that are most commonly found in the tool chests of construction workers or auto mechanics everywhere.

These power tools are designed to withstand most high-torque situations, such as tightening or loosening lug nuts, large bolts, and rusted or frozen fasteners.

Impact wrenches provide a higher rotational toque than regular power drivers, and are mostly the tools to turn to when other wrenches aren’t working.

What’s The Difference between an Impact Wrench and an Impact Driver? 

You shouldn’t confuse an impact driver for an impact wrench. An impact driver has a ¼-nch hex opening, while a standard wrench accommodates ½-inch sockets of varying sizes, not excluding those that fit a wheel lug.

An impact wrench aids in situations involving changing of car and truck tires as well as rebuilding of a car engine. This handheld pneumatic tool uses an internal hammering mechanism whereby the kinetic energy is transmitted onto the output shaft.

Unlike using a manual socket wrench, this one hinders you from getting fatigued no matter the hours of operation. The 18V Impact wrenches are the most common options these days, and are powerful enough to loosen lug nuts that are tightened at approximately 100 feet torque.

Today, we shall discuss how to use an impact wrench. Let’s cut to the chase!

How to Use an Impact Wrench: A Step By Step Guide 

An impact wrench is an essential tool for home improvement projects. This pistol-shape device delivers a high power output via an output shaft.

It is this high torque level that assists you in accomplishing heavy-duty tasks with great efficiency. To be able to use this tool correctly, however, a bit of learning curve is involved.

This guide delves on how to use an impact wrench to loosen or tighten lug nuts.

  • Read through the Manual

It’s imperative to read through the manual that came with your impact wrench before you get started. Often, the instructions manual carries accurate steps on how to use your specific impact wrench.

So, we recommend reading through the manual to get a hang of how the tool should be used. From the manual, you’ll get instructions on the device’s settings and best practices for operation.

  • Prep Up your Tools

An impact wrench is pretty much identical to an old-fashioned drill. The tool entails a silver body and a trigger release switch for exerting the correct amount and level of air and torque pressure.

To use an impact wrench, you must first prepare an air compressor, air hose, and air tool oil if necessary. Then, assemble your impact gun in line with the instructions that came with it.

  • Assemble

Usually, you need to start by plugging in the air compressor, and making sure it’s ready to run. Then, attach a long rubber hose to the pressure unit and connect it to the impact wrench for supply of air pressure. Make sure to attach the hose to the pressure unit first then to the impact wrench.

Also, ensure the air hose has no kinks or stoppages before attaching it to your impact wrench. Your air compressor should be set to a range between 90 and 100 PSI for it to be compatible with most models of impact wrenches.

Now, add 4-5 drops of your air tool oil to your impact wrench’s air inlet. Small bearings on either end of the rotary turbine help turn the wrench’s socket end.

These turbine bearings need to be lubricated properly using the air tool oil. Otherwise, they may fail to perform their intended duties.

  • Wear Safety Gear

You should protect your hands and eyes before you start using an impact wrench. Although it rarely happens, your impact wrench is possible to slip during use. Furthermore, pieces of metal shrapnel may break away and fly into your eyes.

Before powering on your impact wrench, make sure to put on protective gloves and safety glasses to safeguard your hands and eyes respectively. Check Health and safety in the woodworking industry.

Also, impact wrenches can be overly noisy. Therefore, wear a good pair of noise-suppressing headphones for your hearing protection.

Wearing snug-fitting clothing is also essential when using an impact wrench. This is to minimize the risk of getting caught in the impact wrench while using it.

  • Choose the Right Socket

You need to choose a proper socket size that fits the nut or bolt to be loosened. If your socket doesn’t fit snugly over the bolt, you may end up damaging the fastener heads.

Often, most impact wrenches come with their own set of sockets, but you can purchase them separately. Select the sockets that provide no room for wiggling, and that are not too tight to avoid getting stuck in the fastener heads.  

For safety purposes, ensure the wrench is disconnected from the power outlet before changing sockets. Once you’ve chosen the right socket, install the socket by pressing it firmly onto the torque gun’s square drive.

  • Fasten the Nut

To tighten the nut, manually install the bolt in the hole using your hands, making sure it’s not cross threaded. Choose the right socket that fits the nut to be fastened, and place the socket over the nut head.

Firmly press the socket onto the square drive of the wrench and change the switch to the “forward setting”. Hold your wrench steadily and pull its trigger gently until the nut is tightened.

You can gently modulate your finger on the trigger to control the spindle speed. Maintain the action until the nut is fastened, then proceed to the other nuts in the same manner.

  • Loosen the Nut

Select the right socket for the nut you need to loosen by testing out the set that accompanied your wrench. Make sure to pick a socket that fits snugly over the nut or bolt to be loosened.

Choose a socket that’s neither too loose nor too tight to avoid damaging the nut or getting stuck on it. Grip the wrench firmly using your hands. Then, pull the rocker switch and put the socket over the fastener and turn the setting onto reverse.

While still retaining the wrench over the nut, allow a few seconds for the torque to build up. Finally, pull the trigger and hold it in position in order for the torque action to gradually loosen the nut.

  • Turn off the Machine

After completing your work, you need to turn off the machine and store it in a secure location. Unplug the machine from the main power supply so that no power flows through.

Then, disconnect the hose from the wrench and air compressor, and also remove the sockets used. Store your impact wrench in a clean area free from moisture or water.

The Do’s and Dont’s of Using an Impact Wrench 

  • Do keep children and pets away when using an impact wrench. Kids and pets may distract you, leading to accidents.
  • Don’t use an impact wrench during a stormy weather or in a damp environment. Wet conditions increase the risk of electrical shock.
  • Do disconnect the wrench when changing sockets or when making other adjustments. This minimizes the chance of accidentally firing the device.

Wrapping Up

An impact wrench requires some learning to be able to use it correctly. Hopefully, this guide on how to use an impact wrench has helped you understand how to use this tool safely.

You should now be in a position to complete a variety of projects using your impact wrench. Always wear your safety gear before operating the wrench, and refer to the owner’s instructions manual when you get stuck.

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