Impact Driver vs. Impact Wrench | The Ultimate Comparison

The Impact driver vs. Impact wrench is an old debate with no clear consensus on the better tool. But they have different uses, and it can be hard to tell the difference between them at a glance.

One way to understand them is to learn what each tool does and how they work differently. Impact drivers are great for small jobs and light-duty, while impact wrenches are better suited to heavy-duty applications.

Read the article below to understand more about Impact Driver vs. Impact Wrench. Whether a professional or an amateur handyman, discover which tool is best for your next work!

Defining an Impact Driver

DEWALT 20V Max Impact Driver Kit, 1/4-Inch (DCF885C1)An impact driver resembles a normal drill but has far greater power with its tremendous torque. It can drill lengthy screws with ease through wood, metal, and bricks, useful for a range of household tasks.

They’re also useful for removing screws that have grown rusted over time. Use one for slotted, Phillips, square, Torx, and other fasteners with a head that requires a driver bit to install.

Impact drivers have a 1/4-inch hex collet that takes bits with a 1/4-inch hex shank. Aside from the pistol grip, right-angle impact drivers reach small areas and a tiny pressure-driven palm variant.

If you need one, you can choose from a decent range of sizes and performance levels of corded impact drivers. The most popular voltages are 12V and 18V/20V Max, although there are several more options.

Impact drivers are often measured in inch-pounds (in-lbs). Anything with more than 1600 in-lbs (125 ft-lbs) is a reliable tool for professional usage.

They also have greater speeds, with the best impact drivers reaching 3600 RPM (rotations per minute) or higher. A decent cordless impact wrench will typically spin at less than 2000 RPM.

Typical Usage

An impact driver works on screws and bolts into the material. You can reverse the switch, and it is an excellent tool for removing screws and bolts.

Impact drivers are also used to drill holes into wood or metal materials. Please remember that there are better tools for drilling masonry, though you can use an impact driver.

Impact drivers are usually utilized for restorations and do-it-yourself projects and can complete the majority of jobs.

Pros

Aside from efficient drilling and loosening bolts, there are several advantages of utilizing an impact driver.

  • Compact and tiny, making them easily fit in tight spaces.
  • More lightweight than standard drills.
  • Simple to operate.
  • Depending on the brand, it can be reasonably priced.
  • Impact drivers decrease the danger of reactive torque, which occurs when your wrist twists due to the tool’s strength you’re using. Torque generally varies between 1500 and 1800 in. lb.

Cons

Impact drivers can be beneficial for home improvement tasks; they still have disadvantages. Here are the downsides of using an impact driver.

  • So strong that you may inadvertently push screws in too far.
  • When in use, it is rather loud, you should wear ear protection.
  • Lack of a clutch that prevents a tool from drilling once it reaches a specific torque level. It may also result in pushing the screw in deeper than desired.
  • You must buy specific bits for an impact driver; you cannot use the same bits from a regular drill.

Defining an Impact Wrench

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Impact Wrench Kit, Brushless, High Torque, Hog Ring Anvil, 1/2-Inch, Tool Only (DCF899HB) , Yellow

When it comes to tightening and loosening nuts and bolts, a smaller and stubbier yet far stronger impact wrench comes in handy. It’s also useful on longer, thicker fasteners like lumber screws.

Impact wrenches are available in both corded and cordless variants. Most tradespeople utilize cordless versions, which require batteries and are becoming more prevalent in car shops.

This power tool generally has a square drive to which you may attach a socket. It has a considerably wider range of performance levels and more specialized variants.

The smallest impact wrench has a 1/4-inch square drive, whereas compact models often have a 3/8-inch drive. A 1/2-inch impact wrench is arguably the most popular size, with every professional owning one.

When you require a lot of power, 3/4-inch and 1-inch drives are the way to go. These are mostly industrial-level and heavy-equipment instruments.

Impact wrenches are measured in foot-pounds (ft-lbs). A 200 ft-lbs of torque is enough to change the tires on a passenger vehicle, while a mid-torque 400 ft-lbs can handle most of a mechanic’s tasks.

Typical Usage

An impact wrench is a great instrument for driving lug nuts and other fasteners that require a lot of rotating power. They are more commonly employed for automobile repairs.

It operates similarly to an impact driver in that the operator merely squeezes a trigger to initiate rotating force. They’re rather hefty, considering the amount of power they emit.

An impact wrench will provide more force than you would normally require for your typical home improvement project, making it unsuitable. However, it is often used by construction workers on sites.

Pros

Impact wrenches make it easier to loosen and tighten nuts. Here are some more benefits of having one.

  • They are designed to alleviate wrist strain when in use. The tool does the work without you having to risk damage.
  • It works quickly.
  • Impact wrenches are powerful and heavy, allowing them to release even the most stubborn nuts and bolts.
  • Cordless impact wrenches are nearly always more compact and lighter than cordless impact drivers from the same brand.

Cons

However, impact wrenches still have a few drawbacks, which are listed below.

  • Not typically acceptable for usage at home.
  • Very noisy, you need to wear ear protection.
  • Though air impact wrenches are often less priced, you will also require a compressor and a hose. If you don’t have them, include them in your cost estimate.

Impact Driver vs. Impact Wrench: Know the Differences

Impact wrenches can remove any heavy-duty bolt, nut, and metal surface. It provides better torque which helps users get the job done faster since it allows more impacts per minute.

An impact driver is ideal for drilling holes and bolts that are flat. With its reverse switch, you can also drive or remove the bolt from the material.

Impact drivers are used by most people who work with simple construction projects. Meanwhile, impact wrenches are mainly being used by carpenters, plumbers, and mechanics.

Here is a video with a detailed breakdown of the comparison to help you decide which one you need.

Tips in Maintaining Your Impact Tools

After deciding on the best-suited tool for you, good maintenance will help to extend its life. When working with impact tools, you need to be very practical in taking care of them.

Impact drivers are very sensitive to the frequency of use and the type of work they do for you. Impact wrenches can also give you a hard time when it comes to maintaining their durability and strong power.

All impact tools must be kept in good working condition so that users are not endangered. Also, poorly maintained equipment can significantly increase noise and might cost you money if your tool breaks.

To avoid these things from happening, here are a few tips in maintaining your impact driver and impact wrench the right way:

How to Maintain Your Impact Driver?

Maintaining your impact driver is a hot topic among DIYers and professionals because they are popular for their high torque output and ease of use. Follow the maintenance tips to prolong the life of your tool.

  • Read the instruction manual of your impact driver. You must carefully go through the safety, security, and maintenance instructions before using them.
  • Use only the proper accessories and attachments, including numerous discs for varied motions. Using the incorrect disc may result in an accident.
  • Your impact driver should be well cleaned. Also, make sure the batteries are properly charged or, if you’re using a corded version, organize them, so they don’t get in the way of your job.
  • Maintain a clean workplace. There should be no unneeded objects present while working with your impact driver that can cause unpredicted mishaps.
  • Use your impact driver following the manufacturer’s instructions. Learn how to maintain a stronghold on the tool and determine which speed ratio is required for whatever operation.

In addition, here’s a video showing how to dismantle and lubricate your impact driver so that it’ll last as long as possible.

How to Maintain Your Impact Wrench?

Impact wrenches can generate more rotational power, about 5X higher than that of an ordinary wrench. To maximize your tool, read the tips on keeping your impact wrench in good working condition.

  • Don’t use the wrong sockets and bits. The parts are at risk of breaking if improper sockets are used, raising the likelihood of accidents and injury.
  • Check the cords regularly for signs of wear and tear, and avoid dragging them behind you. Never use a broken corded impact wrench; instead, fix the tool as soon as possible.
  • Inspect the parts regularly for indications of wear. For repairs and maintenance, always seek the service of a trained professional.
  • Clean the accessories and protect them against damp environments and extreme heat. Dirt buildup can cause misalignment of the components, which can harm the tool.
  • Only use manufacturer-recommended lubrication on all moving components of the impact wrench. Lubricate the equipment, valves, and other parts according to the instructions.
  • Don’t use excessive torque as it might harm the studs and sockets you’re working with.
  • After using, clean it and lube it in a well-ventilated environment. Pour tool oil into the intake and turn it on for a few minutes to guarantee that all moving components are lubricated.
  • Keep the tool in a dry, confined area.
  • The torque output must be routinely measured as part of its maintenance. It should provide the appropriate working torque; otherwise, it must be fixed by a skilled expert.

Check out this video to discover how to properly maintain your pneumatic impact wrench hammer mechanism to keep it functioning at optimal performance.

For further information, consult the product information manuals for your tool.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can an impact wrench be used as an impact driver?

Impact wrenches provide the same general function as impact drivers, which is to tighten and loosen tools. Their power, however, varies since the impact wrench creates more torque.

Their tool holders are also different; however, you can use adapters. Finally, you cannot use an impact wrench to drill holes.

Can you use impact drivers to remove lug nuts?

Yes, you can. To attach a lug nut socket to the tool, you’d need to utilize a hex shaft to square drive adapter.

On the other hand, an impact driver may not have enough power to loosen an overtightened lug nut. Still, an impact wrench is more suited for the job.

Can you use regular sockets on the impact wrench?

You should not use a regular socket on the impact wrench; instead, use impact sockets due to the material utilized.

The surface-hardening improves the ability of impact sockets to absorb rapid torque changes. While a regular socket may break if subjected to a high torque because of the fragile nature of the material.

Will impact wrench break bolts?

No, an impact wrench will not break bolts if used properly. Breaking the wrench’s drive will require less torque than loosening the nuts.

Final Thoughts

Generally, this one particular debate seems to have no clear consensus: the impact driver vs. the impact wrench. Yet, both tools have been designed to perform different tasks that they can complete with precision and speed.

There are pros and cons for currently available impact drivers and impact wrenches in the market. Thus, it depends on your specific needs as to which of them will be more suitable for you.

Just consider how much force an impact wrench can deliver versus the impact driver’s power. Also, look for their different uses or functions based on size, shape, style, weight, and material composition.