How to Use an Impact Wrench

By Richard S. Clark | Last Updated: February 18, 2022

There are several types of impact wrenches, and their uses also vary with the variety. Often, you will find such kind of tools at the construction sites or even at the garage. However, its range of uses is unlimited, and hence you can find it across many industries.

Before handling this tool, you must first understand the way to use it and how the wrench functions because it can prove to be dangerous to the user if they don’t handle it correctly.

In this article, I will take you through various steps of using an impact wrench. You will also get to know the difference between different types of these tools.

What is an impact wrench?

How to Use an Impact Wrench

It is a socket wrench tool that delivers a high amount of torque output with minimum compression by the user. The wrench stores energy in a rotating hammer that it then drains to the output shaft.

What are the various types of these tools?

There are two types, namely:

  1. The electric impact wrench.
  2. Air impact wrench.
  1. The electric impact wrench.

As the name suggests, this wrench runs on electric energy. Typically, they are for loosening and removing nuts as well as bolts that are difficult for manual tools. They are useful for removing the bolts and nuts, rather than driving them into surfaces!

It is a cordless tool. That means it is easily portable and can use even where there is no source of power. For short-term use, you can charge it since it can store energy. Alternatively, you can operate it while connected to a source of power.

When shopping for one, be careful not to confuse it with impact drivers!

How to use an electric wrench

  1. Reading through the manual

It will help you understand ways to use the wrench, what to do, and what to avoid. You will also get to know the specific steps of how to operate the model that you own. Besides, you will learn how to set the wrench and the best practices for its operation.

  • Wearing safety gear

You will need to protect your hands and your eyes before you start using the wrench. Sometimes, the tool might slip off your hands while you are using it. Alternatively, small pieces of metal may break away due to impact and cause harm.

You should also consider wearing headphones since impact wrenches can be too noisy!

Finally, remember to wear an apron to protect the entire body from when using the wrench.

  • Selecting the socket

An impact wrench has several sockets to cater to various sizes of bolts and nuts. You should, therefore, select one that suits your nut. The tool can either come with the sockets, but if it does not, then you may need to purchase them separately.

Select one that does not fit the bolt perfectly. It should not give space for any room to wiggle, and neither should it be tight. That is because it can destroy the bolt, or even one might get stuck in it!

  • Loosening the bolt and the nut

The wrench should be in reverse. It has a power switch to handle this functionality. If you are not sure of the same, then refer to the user manual.

Put the socket on the bolt or nut while keeping a firm grip on the wrench. Proceed to pull the trigger slowly but consistently. It will cause the torque to form in the tool, and the nut will loosen!

  • Taking out the bolt and the nut

Once it is loose, separate it from the bolt. Continue maintaining a steady pressure on the power trigger. It will cause the torque to build up and rotate the nut in an anticlockwise direction.

  • Tightening the nut and the bolt

When you turn the setting to the forward motion, it will tighten the nut on the bolt. Use the right socket for the same. Again, use the trigger to form torque. It will allow the socket to spin in a clockwise direction and hence tightening the bolt.

  • Air impact wrench.

They are mostly in car repair shops or garages. Mostly, they are bigger and heavier than the electric impact wrench. However, they also deliver more torque!

Owing to these qualities, they handle tough jobs such as removing bolts on car wheels when changing tires. They use compressed air instead of electric power to power it. The compressed air delivers powerful and quick hammering motions that loosen bolts. Such kind of movement makes the bolt lose with little or no resistance at all!

When using such tools, then you should be cautious because it can cause injuries if it falls off.

How to use an air impact wrench

Just like the previous one, you will also go through the user manual.  You will then put on the safety gear. It is a standard practice that one must follow when dealing with tools and other mechanical items.

  1. Assembling and checking your tool

You will need to assemble it before use. First, connect the air hose to the compressor function. Tighten the ends properly to allow for the buildup of pressure to provide energy to the device.

Check on the pressure to ensure that it is functioning well. Finally, pull the trigger to ascertain if it has energy. If it starts to rotate, then you are good to go.

  • Selecting the speed

Select the speed depending on the project that you need to undertake. You can always use the tool’s dial to adjust the speed.

  • Loosening the nut

The procedure here is similar to that of loosening using an electric impact wrench.

  • Removing both the nut and the bolt

Since it is now loose, you can take it off using your hands.

  • Tightening the nut

Put the wrench on a forward setting. Get the correct socket and tighten the bolt to the nut.

Switch it off and store

Whether you are using an air impact wrench or an electric one, it is advisable to switch it off after use and store it for future use. The power should not flow through when it is not in use. Store it in a dry and clean place free of dust, water, and moisture.


Both air impact wrench and electric impact wrench work using the same principle. However, the weight and the target might be somewhat different. Before using any of the tools, make sure that you read through the manual and put on some protective gear. When you finish the work, do not forget to switch off, dismantle and store it appropriately!

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