Do tire shops actually use a torque wrench to tighten lug nuts or just tighten them with their air impact driver? Do they make a air impact driver where you can set it to torque your lug nuts to a certain amount?
The good shops will use a torque wrench to tighten lug nuts.
Some shops will use torque sticks.
These work like torsion springs where no matter how much torque is applied to the fastener, the torque stick twists to limit the torque applied.
I myself? I prefer the torque wrench.
Does it matter if I get a 1/4 or 1/2 inch impact driver?
If you want to remove lugnuts you want 1/2 " .
1/2" is recommended for common lug nuts, 1/4" is for small screws.
I was thinking of getting this http://www.harborfreight.com/12-in-heavy-duty-electric-impact-wrench-68099.html is it strong enough to take off brakes?
230 ft.lb is enough to break off bolts and wheel studs if you are tightening when you should be loosening by mistake. The rating may be exaggerated but even 150 ft.lb should be enough for wheels and brakes.
Will it work with torque sticks?
Sure, torque sticks work on any 1/2" impact. A few years ago a co-worker exchanged a broken torque stick for a replacement with the tool dealer so I guess there is a limit but you should have no problem with an impact like that.
@oldtimer 11 has indicated he has one of these HF Impact Wrenches. I too have had one for several years. I paid 40 bucks for mine on sale.
I works great for removing and installing lug nuts (I snug them and finish with a torque wrench when installing them.).
It’s heavy, long, and lacks some control features, but it’s inexpensive and works. It has forward (righty-tighty) and reverse (lefty-loosey), but its full ON or full OFF, no speed control.
I like it for rusted, stuck fasteners. I have used it successfully for brake and suspension fasteners, but as I said, it’s fairly long and attack angles can be challenging.
Consider buying the impact wobble socket extensions and/or impact universals sets (HF inexpensive) if used for other than lug nuts. You should be using impact sockets and accessories with an impact wrench.
@galant Just leave the battery on the charger all the time. Modern battery chargers won’t just sit there continually cooking the battery and shortening its life. They’ll charge it to full, and then let it drop down a bit before maintenance charging. I have 2 chargers for my 3 Li-Ion batteries. 2 are on the charger all the time while the other sits on the tool. I’m never without power.
@oldtimer How much would you say that HF impact wrench weights?
I have a 1/2 inch Rockwell 120volt and it does not have the torque to loosen lug nuts.
I always had to break them loose with a breaker bar first.
I rarely use it anymore.
But if you just wanted to speed things up it would do after breaking them loose.
A friend has a 3/8 cordless that works with about the same torque.
I bought a Kobalt 1/2 inch drive corded impact wrench at Lowes and then a set of torque sticks from Amazon. I change snow tires for 6 cars. That’s 12 tire changes per year. I have a high quality, quick rise, hydraulic jack and tire change overs a snap. I used to use a cheap jack and did all the turning of lug nuts by hand but, having the right tools to save time is awesome. I wish I had bought them sooner.
I’d say it weighs no more than 7.6 #.
Is that supposed to be 7.6lb? Seems pretty heavy for an impact wrench.
It says shipping weight. That includes packaging. I think 6 lb to 6.5 lb is a reasonable estimate. For the impact wrench alone.
the HF website said that thing has max 250 ft-lbs of torque
I know for a fact that thing wouldn’t cut it for me, for my typical brake and suspension work. Never mind the tool is physically way too long and that would actually be a problem
Oh, and in case anybody’s wondering. These fasteners I’m thinking of were NOT overtightened by some eager beaver. They are just that tight, from the factory. That tool would probably burn up and start smoking, if I tried to use it for my purposes
I think that tool might be okay for diy use, but realistically only for lug nuts
Anything more than that is a bonus
The obsessive compulsives among us – me for example – tighten wheel lug nuts in 3 stages, first, in the recommended sequence pattern, to 1/3 the final value, then 2/3, then to full specified torque. I don’t think shops typically do that tho.