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How to Properly Use an Air Impact Wrench


If your average power cost is about $0.10 per kilowatt hour, air tools can save your shop about 1,900 kWh per year. That translates into $109 per year in savings for each tool your shop uses.


An air impact wrench is one of the top workhorses in many shops. Keep reading to find out how to use an air impact wrench properly.

What Is an Air Impact Wrench?

You’ll often hear the buzz of an air wrench in an auto shop. Still, other industries use air wrenches, such as machine shops and other companies that work with nuts and bolts routinely.


An air impact wrench differs from its electric-powered equivalent. It requires an air compressor that consistently supplies about 90 pounds per square inch (PSI) of air.


Compared to its electric cousins, you’ll enjoy several advantages with an air impact wrench. For example, it has a higher power-to-weight ratio than an electric impact wrench.


An air impact wrench and an electric impact wrench weigh about the same. However, an air impact wrench delivers more power. Battery capacity limits electric impact wrenches.

Electric vs. Air Tools

Over the last decade, manufacturers have developed electric impact wrenches with significantly increased power and torque. Still, they can’t match the power of air impact wrenches.


An air impact wrench also has a high duty cycle rating. In other words, it can last much longer compared to an electric impact wrench.


A premium impact wrench, for example, might last 25,000 duty cycles. That’s the equivalent of removing 25,000 nuts and bolts.


Furthermore, it’s easier to refurbish an air impact wrench. As a result, air tools are a viable, cost-effective option for professional use and serious DIYers.

Which Air Wrench Is Right for My Shop?

When investing in an air impact wrench, the type of fasteners you work with is the most vital trait to consider. You must also consider the torque range needed to secure or remove those fasteners. The nut size will determine the torque you need.


For instance, a three-quarter-inch or half-inch drive is suitable for most light-duty or DIY applications. These applications might include:


  • Changing tires
  • Repairing or maintaining lawn and garden equipment
  • Replacing brakes
  • Servicing shocks and struts
  • Small lug nuts


No matter your torque requirements, you’d use an impact wrench to snug-tighten nuts and bolts. You can then use a torque wrench to tighten the fastener to specification.

Understanding Your Needs

You should also consider the build of an air wrench. For instance, you may need to access small, tight spaces. In that case, you should choose a small wrench size that is easy to maneuver.


You must also think about how often you’ll use the air wrench. For instance, a heavy air wrench can cause fatigue if technicians use it every day for hours at a time.

Powering Your Air Wrench

You’ll also need a compressor to power your air wrench. It must deliver adequate airflow and power for your impact wrench.


The tools needed for your application will determine the air compressor you need for your shop.


Investing in an air compressor that can maintain the correct PSI for your tools is essential.


You must also buy an air compressor that provides sufficient cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air. For instance, you’ll need a 20 to 30 CFM compressor if you work with a 3/8 inch or 1/2 air wrench. A compressor with this rating will enable you to run your air wrench at peak power continuously.

Using an Air Wrench

You should always check your air wrench setup before each use. First, plug in the unit. Air pressure should build until it reaches the high-pressure limit.


Usually, the factory sets this limit. On average, manufacturers set the high-pressure limit between 125 and 150 PSI.

Checking the Pressure

Now, pull the release on the pressure regulator. Let the pressure drop until it reaches 90 PSI. You can close the release when it does, and your air wrench is ready for testing.

Checking Air Wrench Function

You should also run a few simple checks before putting your air wrench into service.


You can begin by pulling the trigger of the air wrench. You want to observe how the wrench moves.


Now, release the trigger and then vary the speed of the impact wrench. You can do this by adjusting the air pressure flow switch.


Once again, pull the air wrench trigger. If the rate of movement has changed, the air wrench is working as expected. You should also change the direction of the air wrench to ensure this feature works.

Finding the Right Speed

You can use the controls on your air wrench to dial in at the right speed. Your speed adjustment will vary depending on your project.


Install the proper sized socket once you’re convinced you’ve adjusted the air wrench to the correct speed. Now, slip the socket onto the fastener.


You can now activate your air wrench by pulling the trigger. It should loosen any nuts or bolts easily.

Air Wrench Safety

You should also consider your safety when working with an air wrench. For instance, never operate an air tool when you’re:


  • Tired
  • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Under the influence of prescription medication


Always wear eye protection. Also, keep your hair and clothes away from moving parts, so they don’t become tangled in your air wrench.


Likewise, avoid starting your air wrench accidentally. Make sure the trigger is off before connecting the air supply.


Finally, never carry air tools with your finger on the trigger. Also, you should never connect an air tool to the air supply while activating the trigger. Make sure the trigger is off beforehand.

Save Time and Money with Professional Air Tools

You now know more about how to use an air impact wrench. If you’re searching for the best air tools, Hand Tools International has you covered.


We’ve been a global supplier of commercial-grade tools for over 30 years. We’re one of the leading distributors in the field.


We know just what you need to get the job done. We build our premium tools based on customer feedback. Also, we can source any tool and even create custom tools if needed.


Browse our line of commercial-grade air tools today.


Air Impact Wrench, Torque Wrench, Small Wrench, Air Compressor, Air Tools