Impact Wrench for Lug Nuts

Impact Wrench for Lug Nuts

Compared to an impact driver, an impact wrench is more powerful and able to remove lug nuts with remarkable ease. Depending on the model you choose, it could generate as much as 220lb-ft of torque. This level of power is adequate for removing even over-tightened, frozen, rusty, and stubborn nuts.

So, how much torque does an impact wrench need to remove lug nuts?

If you are used to using manual breaker bars or lug nut wrenches, getting confused about the level of rotating force needed when using a pneumatic or electric impact wrench.

Luckily for you, we sought to drive into the details and provided a conclusive answer in this post.

Dive right in!

Types of Impact Wrenches

There are three main types of impact wrenches that are classified according to their power source. Let’s analyze them in more detail.

Electric Impact Wrenches

Electric ones can be battery-powered, or they could get their power directly from an electrical outlet. They are the closest competitors of pneumatic wrenches and offer the added benefit of being more portable and user-friendly.

1. Corded Electric Impact Wrench

best corded impact wrench

As the name suggests, you need to get corded units plugged into an outlet. Such machines feature an electric motor that transfers its motion to the power output shaft.

Highlight Features

  • Enhanced control over speed and torque
  • Easier to carry around than a pneumatic impact wrench
  • Lightweight compared to cordless units
  • An excellent option for DIY enthusiasts
  • Expensive and more prone to damage caused by overheating.

Choosing the highest torque corded impact wrench, here are more.

2. Cordless Impact Wrench

Best Cordless Impact Wrench for Changing Tires The beauty of cordless electric impact wrenches is in their portability. Just place the tool in your car and use it to change your tires if you get a puncture when in route.

Highlight Features

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Ideal for working around tight spots
  • Reliable control over speed and torque
  • Convenient to use during roadside emergencies
  • It may not support continuous productivity if the battery gets drained out.

Furthermore, it is easier to work around tight spaces using a cordless unit because it has neither a cord nor an air pipe.

The main downside is that the battery needs to be charged when it gets drained out. This can pose challenges when handling large-scope projects that require continuous productivity.

Read our reviews intently to learn how the cordless impact wrench can benefit you for changing vehicles’ tires.

3. Pneumatic Impact Wrench

best 1/2 inch air impact wrench

Highlight Features

  • Relatively inexpensive when compared to electric impact wrenches
  • Not prone to overheating because the compressed air cools all moving parts
  • Durable
  • No electrical components mean lesser maintenance is required
  • Delivers more torque/power than electrical impact wrenches
  • Limited control over torque and speed
  • An uninterrupted flow of compressed air is needed to operate the tool.

Air or pneumatic impact wrenches are powered by compressed air. They are ideal for heavy-duty use and are hence a familiar scene in automotive assembly lines, automobile repair shops, and other industrial settings.

Such units feature a simple engineering design, which makes them relatively inexpensive compared to electric impact wrenches. Since they don’t use electricity, they have no electrical parts and have a reduced risk of developing malfunctions.

One of the highlights of pneumatic impact wrenches is that they don’t overheat. The circulating compressed air automatically cools down the moving parts, extending both the runtime and the machine’s longevity.

On the downside, the units need a continuous supply of compressed air to operate. This makes them more ideal for auto body shops and manufacturing plants that have large air compressor units.

For getting buying decision we reviewed top-rated ½-inch air impact wrenches.

How Much Torque Does an Impact Wrench Need to Remove Lug Nuts?

Typically, vehicle wheel lug nuts can be fastened and unfastened using 80-100ft-lbs of torque. This ensures the nuts are not too tight to be removed by an impact wrench and ascertain that they are firm enough to prevent the wheel from coming off.

To be on the safe side, tighten your tire bolts until your wrench stops. After this, use a standard lug wrench to impart extra torque and ensure they are firmly in place.

Different vehicle manufacturers have different lug nut torque requirements. For instance, a BMW passenger car should have its wheel nuts torqued between 80 and 105ft-lbs. On the other hand, a Ford heavy-duty truck would need to have its lug nuts fastened to 165ft-lbs.

It remains imperative to check your vehicle’s manual for accurate information.

Take-Out Tips

  • Don’t underestimate the need to use just the right amounts of torque.
  • You must not over-torque or under-torque the nuts because this could have adverse effects on your on-road safety.
  • In case you are not sure about the amount of torque needed, search for wheel torque charts online.
  • Use an impact wrench to make your automotive work more comfortable, and later use a standard torque wrench to re-torque.
  • Adhere to the recommended safety precautions and wear protective gear such as safety glasses to prevent unwarranted accidents when using your impact wrench.

Risk of Using Too Little or Too Much Torque

The wheel’s lug nuts play an integral role in ensuring your car’s safety. Though they are tiny, they contribute to the fastening system’s overall integrity and keep the wheels firmly attached to the hub.

When lug nuts are loose, the wheel is at risk of coming out. This may end up causing a lot of damage to the car or even the driver.

Overly tight lug nuts can also put the whole wheel installation process at risk. Although these nuts have some level of elasticity that allows safe and secure preloading of the wheel to the hub, they are not immune damage.

Over-torqueing Can Cause:

  • Bolt thread over-stretching
  • Cracking
  • Warping
  • Unintended slacking of the nuts

So, how do you ensure you use just the right clamping load?

It’s easy. Start by using your impact wrench and then do some handy work with your good old manual torque wrench. As long as it’s well-calibrated, it will complete the job to the recommended standards.

electric impact wrench vs air
Issue of DifferentiationAir Impact WrenchElectric Impact Wrench
1. Source of PowerAir CompressorBattery
2. Functioning PrincipleImpact force functions in a rotational direction. Spring force functions in the axial direction.Hammer functions in rotational direction.
3. PortabilityLess portable due to additional-weight of air compressor.Highly portable
4. Controlling OptionSpeed can be only minimally controlled due to air flow.Speed can be accurately controlled.
5. PowerMore powerfulLess powerful
6. Sound SystemMore noisyLess noisy
6. Heating SystemNo overheatingOften gets over-heated
7. FlexibilityGreater flexibilityLesser flexibility
8. ApplicationsNail guns, assembly lines, air ratchets, auto repair, maintenance of heavy equipment, etc.DIY, constructions, home improvement, car tire generation.
9. Set-Up ProcedureQuite complicated, due to attachment of compressor.Hassle-free.

Let’s face it; manual wrenches have their unique corners in our tool arsenals. Even as technology advances to give rise to power tools that save both time and energy, manual impact wrenches are here to stay.

The tricky part is choosing whether to invest in an electric or air-powered impact wrench.

Are our electric units better? Is it more convenient to purchase a pneumatic machine?


Here is our take; both electric and air impact wrenches have distinctive sets of pros and cons. It is better to choose a pneumatic wrench if you are an auto nut (no pun intended). After all, it is ultra-powerful, inexpensive, and durable.

Then again, it’s convenient for auto shops to have powerful air compressor units. Depending on the nature of your applications, having an electric impact wrench would also be ideal. Such a machine will help you work on those tight spots more comfortably.

On the other hand, consider investing in an electric impact wrench if you are a DIY enthusiast. Whether to choose a corded or cordless unit will highly depend on the level of portability you need. Such tools are user-friendly and super convenient, especially during emergencies.

Additional Information/FAQs

What is the best impact wrench for occasional use on cars?

Car wheel lug nuts can be loosened or tightened using 80-100ft-lbs. Any impact wrench that can provide at least 220 ft-lb is hence up for the task.

Are there any cordless impact wrenches that allow you to remove lug nuts from cars reliably?

One of the best models for changing car tires is the NoCry 20V Cordless Impact Wrench Kit. It features a ½” detent anvil ideal for changing tires and delivers 300ft-lb loosening torque and 260 ft-lb torque for tightening lug nuts. Moreover, this machine brags of a maximum of 2200 RPM and 2700 IPM.

Electric vs. air impact wrench, which one is better?

Both options are great, although the ideal type of machine for you will highly depend on your needs. For professional mechanics, the pneumatic impact wrench is the better option. DIY enthusiasts may prefer electric impact wrenches because they are portable and easier to use.

How do you control torque when using cordless impact wrenches?

A decent number of cordless impact wrenches are designed for ease of use. They have a range of features that enhance their user-friendliness, including variable speed triggers that give you full control over the machine’s speed and torque.

Can you use a cordless impact driver to remove lug nuts?

Yes, using the cordless impact driver you can, although your chances of success will highly depend on whether the lug nuts in question are tightened to the appropriate amount of torque (80 to 100lb-ft). If they are, they will come loose as long as your impact driver’s output torque is more than 100 ft-lb.

However, it’s highly unlikely for the lug nuts to break free if they are over-torqued, rusty, or frozen. In this case, it will be imperative to use a corded impact wrench.

Remove Lug Nuts with Impact Driver

Final Words

Irrespective of the type of impact wrench you choose, these tools get their powerful torque from a hammering mechanism that delivers strong and fast concussive blows. This provides dependable twisting action for removing or fastening lug nuts.

If you want to remove a flat tire, it is perfectly okay to use a standard lug wrench. However, when you need to get the job done quickly and conveniently, using an impact wrench is more convenient.

How much torque does an impact wrench need to remove lug nuts?

We hope this post answers the question satisfactorily. Be sure to give special attention to our take-out tips, and feel free to refer back to them at a later date.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *