Last Updated on August 26, 2020
Air impact wrenches take the pain out of removing tires and loosening tight engine bolts. That makes them an essential tool for the aspiring home auto repair person. If you’re new to this market or haven’t bought an air impact wrench in a long time, you should know that there’s never been a better time to buy than now.
With the internet on your side, you can get a great deal, but there’s also a chance that you get something that doesn’t work well. Don’t let that happen to you! We’ve assembled these reviews of the best air impact wrenches of 2020, so that you can find a model that works great, and that you can get at a great price, too.
We’ve also created a buyer’s guide, so if you’ve never bought one of these tools before you can learn everything you need to know before you buy.
|Best Overall||AIRCAT 1150 1/2-Inch||
|Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX 1/2″||
|Best Value||Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV||
The AIRCAT 1150 1/2-Inch Air Impact Wrench is a great choice for someone who needs to deal with very difficult bolts or needs to loosen a lot of bolts in quick succession without slowing down. This air impact wrench comes with 1,295 foot-pounds of force, which is enough to loosen almost any bolt, no matter how tight it is stuck on. It also has 1,400 blows per minute, so it keeps steady pressure on the bolt while you work, which makes the job easier.
While no air impact wrench is quiet by the traditional sense of the world, this powerful model only produces 86 decibels, which is impressive for this type of tool. It’s not quiet, but it’s certainly not earsplitting. It also comes with an excellent 2-year warranty, which tells you that the manufacturer stands by their product, but also keeps you safe it something breaks prematurely. Unfortunately, this model is so powerful that it can have uncomfortable vibrations while you work. That’s a worthy tradeoff for most people, but it may not be something you want to deal with. Overall, this is one of the best 1/2-inch air impact wrenches on the market.
The Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX 1/2″ could easily be the top entry on our list if the previous model didn’t exist. This model comes with good torque at 1,300 foot-pounds and delivers 1,200 impacts per minute. Note that both values are slightly lower than the previous model, but still quite good. The “Q” in the model number means this is the “Quiet” version of the popular 2235, which begs comparison to the other tool. It’s quieter, only putting out 91.99 decibels of noise.
That means it’s not a quiet tool, but it’s certainly not the loudest air impact wrench, either. It does use less PSI than the previous model, 90 PSI to 150 PSI. If you have a smaller compressor or one with a lower maximum PSI, this model could be a good choice for you. However, the quiet 2235 doesn’t pack the same punch as the regular 2235, and that means that if you need the best power, you’re going to need to get the louder model. Overall, this is a good choice if you know that you like the 2235 already, and want a quieter variant, or if you’re someone with a low-power air compressor. This is also one of the best air impact wrenches for lug nuts.
The Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV is our pick as best for the money. You can get it for a fraction of the price of the first two models of our list, but you can still get reliable performance out of this model. Unlike the other models, you can set the speed to low, medium, or high with a selection dial, instead of adjusting the power by how hard you squeeze the trigger. This is great in situations where you want fine control over the process. It delivers 1,200 impacts per minute, so its almost as good as our first two entries in that category.
It’s also incredibly lightweight, weighing only 8 ounces, much less than the 10 pounds you could expect from some other models. If you’re going to be in situations where extra weight will make the job more difficult, then this model could be the one that you need. The one downside is that it’s not all that powerful, only providing 550 foot-pounds of torque. However, that’s still enough for most jobs, and that means this model provides some of the best value on the market, making a great buy for anyone
The DEWALT DWMT070773L is a very reliable, small air impact wrench. The best thing about this model is that it’s small enough to operate with one hand, and DEWALT has designed the controls so that they’re in easy reach of that one hand. This speeds up many operations as you can remove or place the bolts with one hand and tighten or loosen them using the other. Other air impact wrenches require you to use two hands while you tighten or loosen, which takes a little more time. This model is a good option if you have a smaller air compressor, as it operates at a lower CFM than most similar tools.
You do get good, but not great torque out of this model. You do get 650 foot-pounds of force, which is okay, but it’s not going to be enough for the most difficult bolts. This model also tends to attract dirt and grease, and due to its bright yellow case, it starts to look bad quickly. That might not matter to you, but it’s always nice when a tool works well and looks great, too. This won’t be the right model for everyone, but it’s a great one-handed model.
The Craftsman 9-16882 is a model that has some things going for it, but ultimately isn’t the best model on our list. The first thing you’re likely to notice about this model is its price. You can get this for even less than our “best value” pick on this list. That’s certainly a big selling point, but as with all cheap tools, you’re going to want to make sure that the quality meets your standards. It is a relatively-quiet air impact wrench, which makes it good for situations where you can’t make too much noise.
However, it has poor power, and it’s the only model on our list that will struggle with stuck or rusted bolts. Our entries tend not to struggle with this, so it’s a disappointing flaw. This model also has some quality control issues, which means that you may not get a long-lasting model on your first try. Even if it doesn’t break altogether, you’re probably going to have to deal with jams, which make a frustrating tool to use. If you need something cheap, this is worth a look, but if you want a frustration-free experience, look elsewhere.
If you’ve ever had the experience of having a rusted bolt that’s stuck in an area where you couldn’t reach it with your impact wrench, then you’ll appreciate the smaller form factor of the AIRCAT 1076-XL ⅜-inch compact impact wrench. With the small size comes a drawback, however. Its 550 foot-pounds of torque just can’t compete with the ½-inch drive wrenches that ranked higher on this list.
At just 2.5 pounds, this is a very comfortable wrench to hold. This is especially useful when you consider those tucked-away bolts in hard-to-reach places. Combined with the comfort grip, this was one of our favorite tools to use overall. What surprised us though was how quiet this wrench was during operation. This can be a real asset in a workshop that already has a loud compressor. Overall, we think this is one of the best 3/8″ air impact wrenches of 2020.
This air impact wrench from Ingersoll Rand is a powerful beast of a tool, with a size and weight to match. At 7.4 pounds, this behemoth isn’t going to be the most comfortable, and maneuvering it into hard to reach areas isn’t going to be much of a pleasure. That said, no bolt will stand up to the power of this wrench. With 1,350 foot-pounds of torque, this tool will make short work of even the most rusted and determined bolts.
The biggest problem with this impact wrench is a lack of longevity. Thankfully, a two-year warranty is included, because you’re most likely going to need it. Ours worked fine off the bat but eventually started blowing air from the housing. After looking around, we discovered that this is a pretty common problem with this tool. At this price-point, we hoped to see a much longer lifespan. Despite these problems, the great power earns it a spot on this list, though not near the top.
What makes the Diesel impact wrench from TZTool so attractive to many consumers is the included deep-well impact sockets and extension bars. Buying a new impact wrench can get very expensive when you factor in the additional expense of sockets, extensions, a compressor, etc. This wrench helps take some of the headache out of the experience by including most of what you need to start using it right away. For what you get, the price is very affordable.
Although this wrench seems like quite a deal for the price, it suffers in a few key areas. First, quality control is not up to par. In the package we received, one of the sockets was missing, instead being filled by a duplicate of another size. The next downfall of this wrench is that it’s underpowered. With a maximum torque in reverse of 875 foot-pounds, this wrench had some problems getting the most rusted bolts loose. In our opinion, better wrenches with more power are available for a lower price, leaving money for purchasing sockets.
Priced affordably for most DIYers, this air impact wrench from Neiko will allow you to do the basic work of removing and installing bolts. However, with a meager max power of 600 foot-pounds, this wrench had a tough time with bolts that were only moderately corroded. It’s far from a powerhouse and failed to remove several bolts that were really rusted in place. This was the biggest downfall of this particular wrench. No matter how affordable it is, it’s just not powerful enough to take out the hardest bolts. On the bright side, it’s pretty lightweight coming in around six pounds. Its form factor is also pretty compact, making it much easier to get into tighter spaces.
The ACDelco ANI405 Twin Hammer air impact wrench claims to by heavy-duty, though with only 500 foot-pounds of torque, it’s a questionable claim at best. In our testing, it was underwhelming, to say the least. Heavy-duty probably aren’t the words that we would choose to describe this tool. It may be rugged thanks to the aluminum housing, but it’s very weak, having problems with any bolts that show more than just a minimum level of rust and corrosion.
At just below six pounds, the ACDelco isn’t too heavy. It’s also pretty compact overall. It features several different speed levels that are selectable by a dial, though we prefer a variable speed trigger. It’s also sitting pretty low on the price spectrum, which honestly, is exactly where it should be. Overall though, it’s a decent wrench that’s handicapped by a lack of power.
Hopefully, our reviews have already started teaching you about what you should be looking for when you shop for air impact wrenches. If you’re looking to learn more about these tools or want a quick refresher before you go to buy, be sure to check out this buyer’s guide. We designed it with the beginner in mind so that they can know everything they need to know to make a great choice, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a great refresher course for an expert.
Torque is easily the most important feature of an air impact wrench. The more torque you have, the easier each job gets, and they get a bit faster, too. If you’re going to be dealing with a lot of rusted or otherwise stuck bolts, then you can’t go wrong with an air impact wrench with a lot of torque. Of course, it’s not always clear from product descriptions as to how much torque is enough to get the job done.
A good rule of thumb is that any air impact wrench with more than 1000 foot-pounds of torque will do a good job loosening rusted and stuck bolts. Once you dip under that, it’s less of a sure thing, but there’s still a chance, depending on the model, the compressor you’re using, and how stuck those bolts are.
For more general tasks where you’re not going to be dealing with stuck bolts, 500 foot-pounds of torque or more is generally enough. Air impact wrenches with less than 500 foot-pounds of torque may not have the punch you need to change tires, so it’s generally not a good idea to buy a model that cheap.
The size of your air impact wrench also makes a huge difference in the kind of use that you get out of it. Larger models tend to have more torque, though that isn’t always the case. Occasionally, you can find a smaller model that packs a good punch, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.
That means that if you’re looking for a tool that has professional-like qualities, you’re probably going to need a bigger model. However, if you want something for use at home or are looking for a model that will make the job feel easier, a smaller air impact wrench may be the way to go.
They’re smaller, so they weigh less, which puts less stress on your wrists and shoulders and makes them easier to control. That also means they’re more maneuverable, which makes it easier to get them into tight spaces in your engine or other places where space is at a premium.
You should also keep the tool’s balance in mind. The best tools have an even balance over the center of the barrel. That means when you hold it up, you don’t feel it pulling to the left or the right, nor do you feel it tilting forward or backward.
You’re going to attach a heavy air hose to this device, so you want to it be as balanced as possible. Otherwise, it gets unwieldy fast. Maybe that’s not something that you think you care about, but well-balanced tools can be a pleasure to use, while unbalanced tools wear you out faster.
The other upside to a smaller model is that you can get higher torques with less compressed air. These smaller air impact wrenches have a lower CFM, or Cubic Feet per Minute, which is a measure of how much-compressed air the device needs to function. Because they’re smaller, they can use a smaller amount of air to achieve the same torque. If you have a small compressor or one that refills slowly, a smaller air impact wrench can be a lifesaver.
Of course, if you want the top-end torque, and especially if you’re looking to find a model that can remove rusted bolts, then you’re probably going to have to buy a larger model. Keep that in mind while you shop.
There are two primary ways in which air impact wrenches change the amount of torque that you’re applying.
Counterintuitively, lower-end models tend to be the ones that use an adjustable dial to change the torque. Most of these models feature a large dial on the back of the unit, and they typically have just three options: low, medium, and high. Other models feature a dial near the trigger, which makes them easy to operate with one hand.
More expensive models use a system where they increase the torque as you increasingly pull down on the trigger. If you have steady hands, this can give you a fine degree of control. A common complaint about some models that use this system is that they don’t always smoothly increase the torque as you pull down. Some people even report that on some models the torque seems the same no matter how much you pull down the trigger, which is a disappointing flaw.
No model is going to be the right one for all people. There are a lot of things to consider when you’re shopping for an air impact wrench, but there are a few things you should focus on. The amount of torque you’re going to need is very important. There’s a good chance you know what kinds of bolts you’re going to be dealing with, so make sure that you get a tool that’s up to the task.
Portability also makes a huge difference. It’ll change whether you feel like you’re dragging it around or if it moves with you. One of those experiences is far better than the other.
Our other posts about impact wrenches:
The AIRCAT 1150 1/2-Inch Air Impact Wrench is our favorite model, and it comes with massive torque, a good warranty, and even runs quietly. The Ingersoll Rand 2235QTiMAX 1/2″ is the runner up on our list, coming with good torque and quiet operation, but missing out on the top spot due to its underwhelming power. You can get the Campbell Hausfeld TL140200AV for a great price, and it comes in a lightweight frame and has multiple speed selections. The DEWALT DWMT070773L is a good choice for people who need a one-handed air impact wrench but doesn’t have the power to rise higher than fourth on our list. The Craftsman 9-16882 is very cheap, but lacks power and quality, dropping it to last on our list.
We hope that our reviews and our buyer’s guide have helped you learn what you should be looking for when you shop for an air impact wrench. Armed with this information, you should be able to find a model that you’ll love using.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!