When Should You Not Use an Impact Wrench? 6 Situations

If you’re new to mechanic stuff, congrats! You’ve just got into a zone of massive confusion. Take the impact wrench, for example. It’s a very basic tool mechanics tend to use, and they love using it. But most of them use the wrench in situations they shouldn’t use it.

You could be one of them too. Maybe you’ve been using the impact wrench for projects that weren’t its cup of tea at all. That’s what we’re going to find out and surprise you with.

We’re discussing when not to use an impact wrench even though people use it in those situations as well.

A Few Practical Situations

As you already know, you actually CAN make the mistake of misusing an impact wrench. I mean, just because you love the tool doesn’t mean you can use it whenever you want.

So here are a few practical situations during which you shouldn’t be using any impact wrenches.

1. During Tightening

A lot of people look at the word “wrench” on the tool and automatically assume that they can tighten things with it. But you’ve got to be careful as impact wrenches aren’t meant for tightening.

Some of you might confuse torque wrenches with impact wrenches. While torque wrenches are great for their tightening abilities, impact wrenches are more famous for their loosening prowess.

That’s right; you can use the impact wrenches for removing bolts and nuts too. If you attempt to tighten nuts with an impact wrench, you will undoubtedly end up overtightening.

2. Using Incompatible Drill Bits

It’s normal for beginners, due to a lack of experience, to use an incompatible socket or drill bits with impact wrenches. If you do go ahead and use the regular socket anyway, you will end up with a worn-off impact wrench.

They will also tend to become looser with constant use. So be careful while choosing drill or socket bits for your impact wrench. Try using the heavy duty socket bits, and you’ll see a huge difference while using the impact wrench.

3. The Occasional Cross-Threading

We’ve all made the mistake of cross-threading in our lives, right? Whether we are dealing with nuts, bolts, or screws, the issueof cross-threading exists. Keeping the nuts flat while threading with an impact wrench is essential.

If you happen to cross-thread with an impact wrench, the outcome might not be too sweet for your wrench.

Always try to maintain a central position while using the wrench. Even the threads of the product you’re trying to work with might get damaged with the force of the impact wrench.

So you should maintain the balance at a center point while wrenching in. That’s because some damages are truly irreparable. Threading nuts and bolts manually is a pretty safe job, and you should avoid trying it with an impact wrench.

4. Not Using the Right Wrench

Even impact wrenches come in different shapes and sizes. And if you’re using the wrong one for your professional or personal project, you can mess up big time. So, how do you choose the right one?

There are quite a few recommended impact wrenches that can do it all. So if you’re willing to invest in it for the long run, you can check out something fabulous like the Gen5x from Ridgid.

5. Using a Worn Out Wrench

Impact wrenches can very well lose their “impact” over the years. If you’re a professional who’s working in the mechanical field, you’ve probably lived through the lives of several impact wrenches.

All tools have a specific working time, and if an impact wrench did wear out due to constant use, you shouldn’t use it any further. We all tend to squeeze the last bit of life left in our tools after torturing them for years.

But sometimes, it’s better just to let them go and move on. So, make sure you’re not using an almost-dead impact wrench, especially for high-priority projects.

6. Using a Bad Grease or Cleaner

Like all tools, impact wrenches need maintenance too. And if you’re enthusiastic about tools, you should probably already know that the greases you find in the market have different qualities.

If you’re invested in using your beloved impact wrench and want it to last for a longer period, don’t use it after applying a low-quality cleaner. Like all high-quality tools, impact wrenches need the best grease too.

And if you’re using an air-compressed impact wrench, you should always try to maintain the constant airflow. Check out for leaks, too, while you’re at it. If your wrench is damaged, don’t even think about using it again.

Final Words

The invention of impact wrenches was fantastic. They could do so much in so little time that you couldn’t even imagine it twenty years ago. But you should know when not to use an impact wrench.

Lots of individuals are using it where they shouldn’t use it. Unfortunately, most of them don’t even know that impact wrenches aren’t meant for this work. But now you do!



Shawkat is a passionate home and auto mechanic who enjoys sharing his knowledge with others. He has been working on cars and homes for over 9 years and has a wealth of experience to share. From indoor tools to outdoors, crafting to automotive, you will see his passion for tools. And he is not alone here, either. He collaborates with other users to give you the best possible tool experience. As the founder of Geartoolsbuddy, Shakat is always happy to help people with their queries and doubts about power and hand tools.