Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench – What’s the Difference?

No more confusion between the impact wrench and impact driver!

An impact driver and an impact wrench are two tools that benefit our daily lives dramatically. Based purely on their names, it is easy to conclude that they are the same tool.

These two tools may have some similar characteristics but they are also two very different machines meant to handle fastening jobs in significantly different ways.

A continuous rotational blow is used in both impact wrenches and impact drivers to maximize the generated torque. In general, an impact wrench differs from an impact driver mainly in the way it is used.

Table of Content

Overview

Growing numbers of people are turning to DIY home repairs and home improvement projects. These tools are used consistently by individuals who employ Impact Drivers.

A power drill, first just available to contractors, has become a handy tool for everyday DIYers due to its portability and power. While Impact Wrenches are the tools of choice for pit crews, as they receive pole position by using them.

Difference between Impact Driver and Impact Wrench

Despite having similar principles in operation, impact wrenches and impact drivers serve completely different purposes. Below are some differences between Impact Drivers and Impact Wrench. 

  • Impact wrenches have much higher torque than impact drivers. They are widely used throughout the construction and automotive industry and could be found on heavy equipment.
  • The most common application of impact wrenches for homeowners and DIYers would be in the garage when you need to work on an expensive automobile more seriously.
  • The use of impact drivers has become increasingly common for DIY and home improvement projects. Although they are not as versatile as a cordless drill, they are great for building decks, drilling screws faster, and making smaller repairs around the house. Even lug nuts that will not budge can be removed if you so choose.
  • This distinction between an impact driver and an impact wrench reflects the difference between a driver and a wrench: One is designed to drive fasteners and screws, whereas the other is designed to tighten or loosen fasteners and bolts.
  • It is highly unlikely that the average homeowner will have many home projects requiring an impact wrench. With an impact driver, it is usually perfectly adequate for most automotive tasks. It is also a great tool to have around the house since it can be used for tightening and releasing lug nuts and other simple tasks.
  • Furthermore, impact wrenches are a standard tool used by mechanics and metal fabricators, who require hundreds of pounds more torque delivered at high speed.

Impact Driver

Despite the fact that an impact driver looks similar to a cordless drill and looks nearly the same as an impact wrench, it is very different in functionality.

The Bit Size:

The impact driver is an electrical tool that comes with high torque and/or rotational force. In contrast to constant forward force, it exerts a rotational hammering force rather than a constant impact. It is designed specifically for increased speed and power when driving and fastening.

Bits for impact drivers have a 1/4-inch hex socket, designed specially to handle the added stresses placed on a bit by an impact driver.

Considerations When Buying

Just remember that you will be somewhat limited in terms of the things you are able to drill when using an impact driver. If you’re looking for more than just driving screws and tightening bolts, a cordless drill is the best way to go.

Moreover, the extra power and torque of an impact driver are not necessary to drive screws, but the extra torque and larger square drive will get the job done to remove the prevailing torque nut on a motor’s foot mount.

Purpose of the Impact Driver

Typically, cordless impact drivers are used like studs and sheet metal to drive screws into heavier-duty materials. In addition to being smaller and less versatile than cordless drills, impact drivers also deliver a lot of torque, which you need to drive screws into tough materials rapidly, with less effort by the user.

Used for Drilling Purposes

With a 1/4-inch hexagonal shank and a drill bit that matches, you can use an impact driver for drilling holes as well. It should be easy to drill a few holes into wood, plastic, or aluminum if you’re drilling relatively few holes.

You may need bits that are specifically rated for impact drivers for drills larger than 1/4-inch by using adapters and drilling into hardwood or metal.

Impact Wrench

The impact wrench is an effective tool that produces high torque while requiring minimum effort from the person using it. This is accomplished by storing energy in a rotating mass and releasing it rapidly to the output shaft to deliver the high torque.

The Power Source:

A compressed air source is the most commonly used power source for impact wrenches, but other power sources are also available, including battery-operated cordless impact wrenches. It is easy to tighten, remove, and tighten bolts, screws and other fasteners using impact wrenches.

Mechanics Utilize this Tool:

Mechanics rely on them for a variety of functions. Removal or tightening of lug nuts is the most common task we come across every day when changing the tires of our car. 

A pneumatic impact wrench is what you’re looking at if you are in a car repair shop and the mechanic approaches your car with a tool to change the tires.

High Torque Tool:

The impact wrench should have the correct speed set on the dial or switch and the correct size socket attached whenever you use it. Once that’s done, you just have to push the trigger. A torque wrench is the same as an impact driver and is also a high-torque tool. 

Moreover, an impact wrench has a square drive and delivers a force that is percussive within a circular motion.

In Case When Sockets Fail to Work:

When your standard socket wrench does not work, you may need to attach the wrench to the bolt, then apply percussive torque with a hammer, so that the bolt will loosen. 

A torque wrench performs precisely this functionality, as it impacts against the output shaft to produce tremendous amounts of torque.

Purpose of the Impact Wrench

The purpose of an impact wrench is to press a huge amount of force to tighten or loosen sockets rather than to drive screws or other fasteners. 

The socket/bolt combination is so powerful that it’s linked to heavy-duty automotive and construction equipment work with very large, tight bolts and sockets which are very hard to loosen and tighten correctly. 

It is easiest to visualize how an impact wrench can be used if you think about a tough bolt that needs to be undone.

Achieves Great Power:

An impact driver can be used for tightening or loosening bolts, but an impact wrench is specifically designed to accomplish this task and possesses much greater torque and power

The average torque output of impact drivers is approximately 110 ft-lbs, whereas the typical impact wrench outputs approximately 700 ft-lbs. 

So the output of the  Impact Wrench is greater than the Impact Driver. An impact driver and impact wrench have different torque ratings, and the degree to which they defy gravity depends on their practical application.

Features when Buying an Impact Driver or an Impact Wrench

These tools have several key features that you should look out for when purchasing:

The Tool's Quality:

Brands with high quality tend to produce great tools, offer good customer service, and offer good warranties. Buy reputable brands, even if they cost more, they are usually worth the extra money.

Security Features:

Some models of Impact Driver or Impact Wrench are equipped with greater safety mechanisms than others. For example, they may automatically shut down when the battery power runs low, or they might shut off the charger when the power runs out, respectively.

A number of these devices are designed to prevent dust from entering the mechanism, which will help them last longer.

The Tool Kit:

You can sometimes buy great kits that contain everything you need, but if not, make sure you consider the overall cost of having to buy additional accessories along with it.

Advanced Technology:

Some brands are now utilizing cutting-edge technology when creating new products. One example is the LED lighting system that most impact drivers come with that guides you through the drilling process in poor lighting conditions.

The Battery Timing:

The charging time of a cordless model should be measured to assure that it will last you long enough. You should also verify that there is a battery included in the box ideally, two should come with the device so that you can have one ‘on the go’ and another charging for next time.

Weight of the Tool:

Especially if you plan on using your new power tool often, this is an extremely important thing to check how much it weighs. The lighter the product, the easier it will be to work with it over time. If you find lifting heavy objects difficult or you get very tired very easily, it might be better to opt for a lighter option.

When to use the tools - Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench

  • Many homeowners and DIYers, and even mechanics, will find an impact wrench unnecessary for many housekeeping tasks, and light automotive work (removing oil pan bolts, lug nuts, etc.) as well as general maintenance.
  • A full-sized impact wrench is far too large to be practical and practical for everyday use for most DIYers. A cordless impact driver, on the other hand, can deliver more torque and is way smaller and more flexible.
  • Additionally, most impact drivers nowadays have enough torque to remove lug nuts from cars. All you need is the adaptor bit with the 1 4” square drive to the 1 2” hex drive.

Tips for Safety

When working with power tools, especially ones with such strength as impact drivers or impact wrenches, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings and the tools and products you have available. Here are a few tips to keep you safe from harm when you work:

1. Maintaining your Tools:

Keep your tools clean and organized by checking for damage, cleaning them, and storing them properly. That will also help them last longer and reduce the chances of mishaps. 

An impact wrench can require more maintenance than others. It needs to be lubricated regularly to keep it in working order.

2. Be Aware of the Tools:

Use of the wrong accessories with your power tool can be dangerous, especially when it comes to tools such as impact wrenches. Such powerful tools can shatter accessories if they are not designed for them.

3. Instructions Must be Followed:

You should always familiarise yourself with the instructions that come with your power tool in order to make sure you remain safe.

4. Protection of the Eyes:

The best way to protect your eyes is to cover them with eye protection whenever flying debris or dust flies past. The safety glasses you wear while working will protect your eyesight.

5. Protection of Ears:

Ear protection is also important, along with eye protection. You need to ensure that your hearing is protected by wearing earplugs or ear protectors so as to avoid long-term damage.

People Might Ask

The impact wrench you purchased should last you a few years if you care for it properly and keep up with its upkeep.

There is a chance of an impact driver wearing out when it’s used incorrectly. However, they are pretty tough tools and should not do significant damage as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Impact wrenches are exceptionally powerful tools for driving fasteners that demand a very high rotation force. Likewise, an impact wrench serves the same function as a driver in terms of removing or tightening screws, bolts, and fasteners.

What Makes Impact Drivers Different from Impact Wrench is that Impact drivers can be used to drive long screws into wood or metal. On the other hand, impact wrenches can be used to loosen or tighten bolts or nuts. Although Impact Drivers are easier to handle, Impact wrenches are somewhat powerful and heavier.

Torque wrenches are not explicitly needed; spare jacks and tire irons that each car has under the hood are enough to change a tire in normal cases. Purchasing a car with a flat tire will require that the car manufacturer include a torque wrench in the event of a flat tire.

It is technically true that a lug nut socket would have to be attached to the tool using a hex shaft to square drive adapter. Although an impact driver can be used to break open over tightened or rusted lug nuts, it may not be powerful enough to perform the task.

Conclusion

Almost all power tools are designed to carry out specific tasks, such as an impact wrench or an impact driver, and are used in an array of situations.

After finding out the differences between impact drivers vs impact wrenches, along with the most common household applications of each type of power tool, you can make a more confident decision on which tool is best suited for your needs, and which is worth the investment as well. 

Additionally, although it is possible to just get one tool if you need it only occasionally, you might get a better deal by getting both tools if you are a professional contractor.

You should go for an impact driver for most household projects. However, for specific tasks such as drilling or driving that require a great deal of torque, you may want to opt for an impact wrench.

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