Anyone who has ever struggled with the removal of lug nuts and bolts knows how frustrating the process can be, and not to mention, time-consuming.
But anyone who has attempted it using an impact wrench knows that it doesn’t have to be an annoying and long process!
First appearing about 80 years ago, impact wrenches are now preferred by car mechanics everywhere. And it makes sense why, as an impact wrench can dramatically cut short the time required to remove a lug nut or bolt.
However, the process can be a little confusing for a first-time user, so here we’ve detailed how to use impact wrench on lug nuts.
So let’s find out how it’s done!
What is an Impact Wrench?
An impact wrench is a power tool meant to be used as a socket wrench. It is characterized by its ability to deliver a high torque output, which it does by storing force in a rotating mass. This allows the impact wrench to be used on lug nuts, bolts, and fasteners. The best thing about it is that it allows you to deliver high torque without exerting too much pressure.
An impact wrench is powered pneumatically or electronically with the help of a motor. The motor facilitates a fast and sudden twisting motion to a stubborn lug nut in intervals of about every 5 seconds. These short bursts of power are what enable the impact wrench to loosen or tighten a bolt or lug nut, no matter how stubborn it might be.
How to Use Impact Wrench on Lug Nuts
So if you have everything you need, let’s get down to business. Here are the steps to follow if you’re attempting to remove a lug nut using an impact wrench.
Step 1: Set up your air compressor
If your impact wrench is pneumatically powered, you’ll (obviously) have to use an air compressor to be able to operate it.
Doing so requires you to adjust the air compressor regulator such that it aligns with the required operating range of your impact wrench. This usually tends to be between 90 and 100 pounds, but remember to check the manual to be sure.
And if you’re using an electrically powered impact wrench, then make sure that the batteries are in working order and that you have back-ups in case the existing ones fail.
Step 2: Connect the air hose
Next, you’ll have to hook up the air hose to the compressor. While doing so, you’ll have to ensure that there aren’t any twists or bumpy kinks in the hose so as to let the air flow smoothly and uninterrupted.
Step 3: Apply tool oil
Depending on the duration of the task at hand, you might have to re-apply oil repeatedly at regular intervals. By lubricating, you’re ensuring that the bearings inside the impact wrench are kept in working order.
Step 4: Connect the impact wrench and impact socket
To do this, you first have to take into consideration the size of the nuts or lugs that you’ll be operating on with the impact wrench. Your impact socket ha to be matched for size with the nut/lug/fastener.
Now, align the drive socket with the impact wrench’s drive square. Bring the two together. If the socket and square are properly connected, you should hear a “click” sound.
Step 5: Connect the air hose
Now you must connect the air hose to the impact wrench. A pretty easy process with the insertion point clearly demarcated.
Step 6: Ascertain the rotation direction
This is the process of determining the direction in which you need the impact wrench to rotate. Anti-clockwise rotations will have the effect of loosening the nut/bolt/fastener, while clockwise rotations will tighten it.
If you pull on the impact wrench’s trigger, you’ll be able to see which way the socket is spinning. If it’s going in the wrong direction, use the adjustment lever to switch it to the opposite direction. (You’ll usually find the lever above the trigger of the impact wrench.)
Step 7: Get to work
Now it’s time to get those lug nuts out (preferably with a 1/2 Impact Wrench). Line up your impact wrench’s impact socket with the nut/lug/fastener you’re working on, and push the socket down on it. Keep squeezing the trigger until you’ve succeeded in nut removal.
Step 8: Disconnect the air hose
Now that you’re done, you must remove the air hose from the impact wrench. You can usually do this using a quick-release mechanism that comes fitted to the ends of the majority of air hoses.
Step 9: Take out the impact socket
Once you’ve disconnected the air supply, you’ll have to remove the impact socket attached to your impact wrench. Sometimes you’ll have to do this by taking out the retaining pin. Then, just pull out the socket from the drive square.
And voila! You’re done. That was pretty easy, wasn’t it? Thank God for power tools.
A Word of Caution
Before we go, we’d like to leave you with a word of caution. While impact wrenches can be used to tighten lug nuts, it’s usually not recommended because there’s always the possibility of using too much torque. The result can be stripped or stretched threads.
Plus, because the torque of an impact wrench can be difficult to control or manipulate, you run the risk of causing damage to alloy wheels if the nuts end up being over-tightened.
The best way to tighten wheel nuts, bolts, or fasteners is to use a torque wrench and do it manually, which gives you greater control over the torque setting.
Impact wrenches are undoubtedly one of the most useful creations to come out of the power tools industry. Hopefully, the next time you’re struggling with a stubborn lug nut or bolt, it’ll be easier for you to deal with the situation using an impact wrench. Good luck!