Looking for the best air impact wrench for lug nuts, or anything else for that matter? Great. You’ve come to the right place.
We’ve reviewed the 8 best-sellers. There’s a clear winner, although the others aren’t bad either.
You’ll find a full guide later on, but for now take a look at the reviews below to find out what’s available.
Choosing the right wrench for lug nuts can be tough because of the sheer variety of tools currently on the market.
There’s also a big difference between some wrenches, and only a few are worth your money. We’ve gathered those ones here for you to choose from.
Let’s kick things off with our top pick.
Rating: (4.5 / 5)
The Ingersoll 231C Air Impact Wrench comes with an extension bar and a classic design that you’re probably familiar with.
It comes from a brand that is known for performance and reliability, and this is one of the most durable and powerful impact wrenches on the market.
The twin Hammer mechanism delivers 600 foot-pounds of torque, and the adjustable power regulator means you can change the torque to suit the job in hand, making even the most stubborn lugs a breeze to remove.
The 231C is easy to use, with an ergonomic handle that fits nicely in the palm of your hand, even when applying pressure.
With a simple two-piece construction it’s easy to maintain, with reviewers praising its power and performance.
It comes fully lubricated and is ready to use straight out of the box.
Given the brand, the sheer volume of positive feedback
Rating: (4.2 / 5)
Our second choice option, and the product that we feel represents the best value for money, comes from ACDelco, another leading brand owned by General Motors.
This twin hammer mechanism provides up to 500 foot-pounds of torque, and with its tough aluminum alloy housing it’s built to last.
This is a durable and rugged tool that you can use in any environment.
It features a three speed power regulator and 7000 RPMs giving you all the power you need to grip and remove lug nuts with ease.
It has a built-in forward reverse switch, a comes with one-year warranty from a brand you can rely on.
It’s slightly less powerful than the Ingersoll, but is a great choice for regular use, especially for the price.
Rating: (4.5 / 5)
The Astro 1822 is the next product that we feel deserves a special mention.
While it may not be the very best out there for major jobs, it is more than capable of most regular lug nut removal and tightening.
But what really sets it apart is its size.
With dimensions of 3.9 x 2.4 x 7.5 inches, and weighing just 1.4 pounds, it is the most portable tool on our list.
This is thanks largely to the reduced profile, which allows you to get in to some very tight places that other wrenches might struggle with.
It features 450 foot-pounds of max torque and, according to the manufacturer, it’s the shortest 1/2″ mini impact wrench you can buy.
They do a 3/8″ model that offers the same power output too.
It has three speed settings as well as a forward and reverse and it uses a twin Hammer design that provides reliable results.
Rating: (4.7 / 5)
This tool is very unlucky not to make our top 3.
It just missed out due to a few mixed reviews from users who had trouble with vibration when removing lug nuts. That may just be down to human error, so we might bump it up again in time.
In any event AIRCAT is a terrific brand when it comes to power tools, and this, their leading half inch air impact wrench, is no exception.
The 1150 offers better torque with a higher output, and the dual Hammer design ensures that the wrench perform well every time.
With 900 foot-pounds of max torque and 1400 revs per minute, this is one of the most powerful options on our list – which is possibly why a few people have struggled with it.
It comes with several buying options including an extension bar, an adapter and a three eighths inch ratchet.
It also features a two year parts and labor warranty which you’ll probably never need, but its nice to know its there.
If you need a powerful tool you should give the AIRCAT serious consideration – it’s the best-selling wrench on our list, is priced very well, and also has the highest rating!
Rating: (4.7 / 5)
Ingersoll Rand has another excellent model in the 2235 Ti that comes with various buying options including an extended anvil, sound reduction, a lube kit and tool boot.
This is not for the fainthearted or those that need a lug nuts wrench for casual use. It’s noisy (without the sound reduction add on) which adds to the brutish feel of this tool.
You get four different positions on the power regulator with this wrench because the Max torque is 1350 foot-pounds.
That’s enough for the tightest lug nuts you’re likely to come across.
It features a twin hammer mechanism, an extremely rugged case, and housing that allows you to take it with you wherever you go.
For light to mid industrial use this is your best option. You’ll have to pay a little more for it, but if you need the extra power the money really is worth it.
Rating: (4.3 / 5)
Something a little bit different here at number 6.
This wrench is not strictly “air” operated, but we felt it important to include an electrical alternative for those who feel less confident using a mechanical tool.
This 8.5 amp wrench from VonHaus is the best of the bunch by far.
It’s a great choice for domestic jobs including changing tires, tire balancing, removing and tightening nuts and bolts in a home garage, and light lug nut work.
This is a compact and lightweight unit from a household brand that represents great value for money.
It features 260 foot-pounds of max torque – that may not be enough for the biggest jobs out there, but it will certainly work around the house.
It comes with four sockets in a durable carrying case.
Rating: (4.4 / 5)
Founded in 1836, Campbell Hausfeld have been manufacturing consumer, industrial, and commercial grade air tools for longer than most.
It should come as no surprise that their products make our list.
This listing is actually two listings in one as this air wrench comes in two different power levels – each of them sold separately.
You get to choose from either 550 foot-pounds or 750 foot-pounds of torque depending upon which you need.
In either case, with each wrench there is a three speed adjustable power regulator so that you use as much power as you need for the job in hand.
Other wrenches may not give you this much control as this one, which is praised highly by users for its ease of use.
By all accounts this tool will remove and tighten lug nuts in a flash, no matter the situation or job.
A very solid option.
Rating: (4.2 / 5)
Bringing up the rear – which is no mean feat given how high we’ve set the bar (we’ve left out way more wrenches than we’ve included) – is this half inch mode from PowRyte.
It’s another great choice that has the twin hammer impact mechanism.
You can rely on the high torque output that it provides, with two different positions to give you as little or as much power as you need.
It has a nice switch that makes it easier to change between forward and reverse modes than most of its rivals.
This wrench has 600 foot-pounds of max torque and runs at 7000 RPMs.
Whether you’re doing tire rotations in a garage or even out on the racetrack, this wrench can be relied upon to do its job.
At under 50 bucks it’s also a steal!
When it comes to choosing a power tool you have to decide what you want to use it for.
Not every wrench is going to be right for every job, and the most powerful on this list may actually hinder smaller jobs, while a couple of the budget options might not be suitable for all major tasks.
But all of them are quality choices.
If you pushed us we’d have to say that the Ingersoll 231C is the best all-round choice. It packs a decent level of power, has an excellent design and build quality, is easy to use and has been overwhelmingly praised by users.
For removing lug nuts in 95% of cases its our number 1 choice.
If you need extra power for super tight nuts and light industrial work go with the 2235 Ti Max, also from Ingersoll, or the AIRCAT. They’re both super powerful and should be all that you need.
If you’re on a budget the ACDelco is the best air impact wrench for the money. And if space saving and portability are your key criteria the Astro Nano is the right wrench for you.
So we’ve gone through your options, now lets take a look at how to actually use a lug nuts torque wrench.
Here’s an excellent clip from See Jane Drill to get us started.
Here’s the process summarised:
- First attach your hose to the air pressure unit
- Then attach the hose to your impact wrench
- Check the pressure setting on your unit is correct
- Check the wrench will turn in the right direction (forward or reverse)
- Do this by giving the trigger a quick squeeze
- Set the speed and torque that you want the wrench to work at
- Select the correct sized socket for the job
- Attach your socket to the front of the wrench
- Grip the lug nut with the socket
- Hold the wrench firmly, slightly pushing against the lug nut
- Press the trigger on the wrench again
- The nut should begin to loosen allowing you to remove it
- Use torque sticks in reverse mode to tighten
Voila – job done!
There are plenty of factors that can influence which air impact wrench to go for.
As we’ve seen the quality, size, price and power of each tool can vary considerably, so lets look at a few things that might influence your decision.
How much power do you need? In reality, it’s probably not anywhere near as much as you think you do.
As we saw in the clip above, to remove the lug nuts from a standard jeep you’d be looking at around 400 foot-pounds of torque to get the job done.
And that’s probably at the more extreme end of a typical lug nut removal job for most people.
So, with the exception of the one electric air impact wrench set on our list, all of the products that we reviewed would be more than capable in this scenario, and with plenty left in the tank.
But what if those lug nuts were seized or rusted on? Well, provided you could get a good grip on them you’d still be ok with these tools.
To give you a ball park figure, we’d say that anything providing 4,500 or more foot-pounds of torque will be sufficient for anyone looking to kit out their home garage.
For busier garages 5,000 to 6,000 should be just fine. And for light industrial use you might want to look for a lug nut torque wrench that can provide in excess of 1,000 foot-pounds of torque.
2. Type Of Use
That leads on nicely to what you intend to use it for.
The majority of lug nuts are not tightened with anywhere near as much torque as the example in the clip above. And of course lug nuts aren’t always used to secure tires.
They’re used to fix piping, or secure posts and other fixings, in which case you won’t need anywhere near as much power.
In fact most lug nuts are secured at nearer the 100 foot-pounds of torque mark, particularly lug nuts on standard car wheels.
That being the case the electric impact wrench from VonHaus would be more than up to the task.
As mentioned above, you’ll need more torque the more industrial your work gets.
There’s no getting around it; mechanics have a lot of gear, so saving a bit of space can be a real bonus if you’re not going to need a lug nut removal tool every day.
If that sounds like you, but you still want one to hand, grabbing a good deal on a mini impact wrench, like the Astro Nano that we looked at earlier.
Once you’ve gone through each of the three previous factors you’ll probably be left with a small pool of candidates.
It will then, most likely, come down to cash.
As with most things, if you want the best air powered lug nuts tool you’ll have to pay for it.
All of the products on our list are very well made, so if money is a factor go with the cheapest one that has the power to get the job done.
If it’s not spend a little more for the extra power, and slightly better build quality. If it’s for commercial use the extra spend will cover itself many times over.
It’s a great question isn’t it? We take their power for granted, but how does a lug nuts wrench actually work?
Compressed air is pumped in to the wrench and stored, briefly, as potential energy. That energy is essentially the motor.
When the trigger of the wrench is engaged the stored energy is rapidly released through the wrench via the internal anvil in to the hammer at the end.
The rotational force that is created grips the lug nut and twists it, in a pulsing motion, until the potential energy fades away.
In practice this happens very quickly and the compressed air is continuously pumped in to the gun so that the potential energy is always there to be called upon.
The hammer element of the wrench is not connected to the internal parts. Instead it rotates freely. That is why the person holding the handle of the lug nuts wrench feels very little torque in comparison to the amount that is being delivered to the lug nut via the hammer.
A bit, attached to the hammer, grips the lug nut and, via the rotational pulsing of the hammer, the bit removes or tightens the nut.
There are plenty of questions that arise in relation to impact wrench use and lug nut removal in general. We should know – we asked most of them ourselves when we first started out.
Below we’ve set out some answers to the most commonly asked questions in this area:
Q – Air Impact Wrench Vs Electric – Which One Should I Choose?
A – The air impact wrench vs electric argument will rattle on for years. The answer depends upon the job (or jobs) at hand. As we’ve discovered, most lug nuts are tightened to around 100 foot-pound torque, and so if you plan o using your tool for purely domestic or hobbyist jobs, you’ll probably be fine with an electric model.
If you plan on tackling bigger jobs (think heavier trucks, tractors, old and rusted nuts) you might want to think about and air powered wrench. If you need it for light industrial or commercial use an air powered lug nuts torque wrench is definitely recommended over its electric counterpart.
Q – Air Vs Battery Impact Wrench?
A – The same answer applies here. A battery powered tool will have even less power than a corded tool.
Q – Can You Over Tighten Lug Nuts?
A – Yes you can. And it can be dangerous. You need to check the torque specifications for the lugs that you are tightening. Over tightening can stretch a bolt passed the point at which it can properly grip, and compromise its overall strength (consider the force that a bolt may be subject to).
Q – How Tight Should Lug Nuts Be Torqued?
A – It depends on what we’re talking about. For wheel nuts you’ll need to check your vehicle’s owners manual, which will tell you all you need to know. The figure is likely to be somewhere between 85 and 105 foot-pounds, but do check!
Q – Lug Nuts Stuck – What To Do??
A – Lug nut loosening in this scenario depends whether they’re simply stuck, or stuck because they’re stripped. If you’ve got a stripped lug nut we’ve put together a full on guide for you here. If the lug nuts are rusted on try some WD40 or another rust penetrating lubricant to help loosen them.
But if your nuts are stuck simply because they’ve been tightened a bit of simple physics will help you.
Here’s a handy clip from Scotty Kilmer to explain:
Q – What’s the Best Air Impact Wrench Under 100 Dollars?
A – In our view it’s the ACDElco. And at the moment it’s quiet some way under 100 dollars! For nearer fifty bucks you get a whopping 500 feet-pounds of torque and up to 7,000 rpm in a handheld machine that is well made and easy to use. At the time of review the Nano had just crept under the bar too so that would be a great option if you’re looking for a compact pneumatic wrench.
Q – What’s The Best Air Impact Wrench For Changing Tyres?
A – All of the above! Yep, they’re all powerful enough to change tyres with ease. Unless you come up against a monster of a truck even the electric impact wrench from Vonhaus should have more than enough for a tyre change. As we’ve said though, if you need a lug nuts wrench for commercial use, you’ll need one of the more powerful options on our list.
Q – What’s The Best Air Impact Wrench For Home Use?
A – Again it depends. If it’s purely for home use then the Vonhaus is hard to beat (even though its not air powered – we presume you have electricity). It has ample torque, is easy to use and is priced very well. If you really want an air powered lug nuts torque wrench then go with the ACDelco. It represents incredible value for money.
Plenty of leading brands make a good air impact wrench kit, but a few deserve a special mention.
Ingersoll Rand has been producing market leading power tools to global commercial, industrial and residential clients for longer than they care to remember. The company was founded over 100 years ago and the quality of their products is second to none.
They have two entries in our list, both very deserving of their place and we’ve made it pretty clear that we think their 231C model is the best all round option on the market.
Aircat – “Killer Torque. Shocking Speed. Half The Noise.” Founded in 1998, Aircat’s pneumatic power tools line has developed some of the best quality tools the market has ever seen. We love them – the Aircat 1150 may soon get bumped up into our top 3… watch this space.
Campbell Hausfeld is another leader in this field and unlucky not to have more entries on our list. We looked at a few of their other products and will revisit them gain to keep this list up-to-date. Founded in 1836 this is a company and a brand that can be relied upon.
Hopefully the user guide and the air impact wrench reviews above have helped you to make a decision about which tool is best for you.
Have you used any of these? And if so how do you rate them? Did you have any problems with them? And are there any that we’ve left off of this list that you think should be included?
Let us have your thoughts below. We’d love to hear from you.
Well, to use an air powered tool you’re going to need a good air compressor, so why not take a look at our post on the best air compressors here. Or why not check out our posts on how to bleed brakes or how to bleed a clutch.
For a step by step guide on how to change a tire check out our recent post here.