Informational Guide

How To Use An Impact Wrench

Learn how to use an impact wrench with our complete guide. Beginners can master the use of this popular and versatile tool by following our steps.

Impact wrenches are among some of the most popular power tools in the household arsenal. Before you get started with your new tool, you want to know how to use an impact wrench correctly.

Our guide is ideal for any beginner impact wrench user. We look at what the wrench is good for, the features it offers, and how to use it safely.

How does the impact wrench work? The impact wrench uses either an electric or air motor that produces a sudden and intense twisting motion. This power is applied in shorter bursts, making it easier to twist off stubborn fasteners.

Impact wrenches are useful in automotive applications, such as changing tires or for assembling and disassembling projects.

Typical Features of an Impact Wrench

The housing of the impact wrench is what you hold during the operation. It contains all of the other parts that are shown in the above diagram. While all of the parts of an impact wrench are the same, the features it contains might be different.

Some of the top features you must consider when choosing an impact wrench are whether to buy a corded or cordless wrench and how much torque it applies. You need something that provides enough power to get off the stuck-on nuts and bolts. 

feature of impact wrench

How To Safely Use an Impact Wrench

On Lug Nuts or Changing Tires

To learn how to use an impact wrench to change tires, start by positioning your power tool level with the lug nuts. Apply the appropriate amount of pressure to remove the nut. When you are putting the new tires on, make sure you don’t apply too much torque, or you might not be able to remove the lug nuts later.

As a Drill

Do you know how to use an impact wrench as a drill? While you can do it, this isn’t often recommended because you maintain less control and precision over the job. However, in a pinch, or if you only need to drill a general hole, the impact wrench might work. Just make sure you use the right drill bits to stay safe.

child holding drill

Impact Wrench Operating Precautions

Before you use an impact wrench, consider these safety precautions.

  • Read the owner’s manual thoroughly.
  • Put on protective gear, including gloves and safety goggles.
  • Prepare your area.
  • Use the proper socket.
  • Inspect the power tool before use.
  • Remove the power source from the tool when you aren’t using it.
  • Put your tool away in a secure location when the job is complete.

Brush up on the proper operation of an impact wrench with this YouTube video.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How do I determine the size impact wrench that I will need?

Standard ½-inch wrenches are mainly used in the automotive sector and work well with wheels. If you are working on heavy-duty machinery, you might require a ¾-inch impact wrench instead.

What size impact wrench do I need to remove lug nuts?

Generally, you want to use a ½-inch impact wrench to remove lug nuts. However, a handful of vehicles might require something larger.

Who should invest in a quality impact wrench?

While it’s usually possible to get lug nuts off without an impact wrench, this power tool makes the job much easier. It can be indispensable in automotive shops and for home mechanics that regularly work with wheels.

How much torque do you need for an impact wrench?

For many people, an impact wrench with 450 ft-lb of torque would work best for automotive work. However, if you are working with heavy equipment, you will need something more powerful. In most cases, you cannot adjust the power coming from your impact wrench.

How do you calibrate an impact wrench?

If you choose to use a manual torque wrench, you can calibrate it, but the process takes some time. To maintain accuracy, calibrate the torque wrench often.

What is the difference between Air vs hydraulic models?

Pneumatic impact wrenches use an airline, while the hydraulic wrench needs a specialized pump. The latter is more powerful but also incredibly more expensive and only needed when working on heavy machinery.

Do cordless models provide enough power?

For common household automotive work, the cordless impact wrench should be sufficient. However, you wouldn’t want to rely on a cordless impact wrench in a professional shop.


While having an impact wrench handy can make any job easier, you don’t want to use it improperly. Instead, brush up on the proper impact wrench instructions and proceed with caution. Removing stubborn lug nuts and bolts can be done faster than ever before with a little knowledge.