Lets talk impact guns

Pedalsteel

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2018
Location
United States
TDI
Unicorn
What impact guns are you using? There are a myriad of choices for cordless battery powered impacts... I'm wondering where the sweet spot is for ft-lbs of torque/price/features/battery life/kits... anyone use the harbor freight brands like Bauer? I've been told that the batteries are the fail point of these...I have been getting by using my dad's air compressor and associated tools and I'm on the fence as to whether to buy a cordless gun or just go all in with a compressor and tools... that's my leaning... tons of noise though... and if you want to maybe paint a fender or roof I'm told a 5hp is the thing to look for but that's really pricey brand new...i found an older craftsman with a 5hp 25 gallon that I think would be good but it's used and I'm skeptical of the reason it's being sold...
 

Zak99b5

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2021
Location
Albany NY
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI
I got a Ryobi impact that I am very happy with. It’s model PBLIW01. 1/2” drive. Takes off lug bolts and axle nuts with ease. I don’t think there’s a fastener on any car it wouldn’t have the power to remove. Battery lasts plenty long, and there’s a meter on it to let you know SOC.

Only ”issue” is that it’s pretty big. I'd like to supplement it with a Bauer 3/8” compact gun for tight areas. I do have a Harbor Freight electric ratchet, but it doesn’t have enough power to loosen many fasteners. It is handy, though, and you can manually break loose nuts & bolts with it then pull the trigger.
 

Bradm

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2019
Location
Wisconsin
TDI
02,03,05, Jetta 99.5 Golf
Milwaukee is the way to go.
stick to battery power so you can use it anywhere and take it with you if need
No one wants to deal with dragging air hose around
 

JDSwan87

Black Swamp Thing
Joined
Feb 9, 2014
Location
Michigan near Toledo
TDI
2001 Jetta TDI, 5 speed Lagoon Blue Metallic(sold); 2005 Jetta TDI Wagon auto
I still like to use the 1/2" Chicago Pneumatics air impact I dug out of a garbage can, unstuck the vanes, polished them and reassembled.... 15 years later and she still hammers away just fine.

I have a myriad of DeWalt cordless but still reach for the air in the garage...
 

J_dude

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2020
Location
SK Canada
TDI
2003 1.9l “Jedi”
With the cordless tech out there's these days I wouldnt bother with a pneumatic. Pick a name brand battery platform and stick with it, none of those cheap parts store brands are worth it.
I'm personally a Makita guy, partly by accident and I feel their overall build quality is a bit better, but everyone has their opinion, Milwaukee and Dewalt are also good. Milwaukee seems to be leading in popularity currently by building everything under the sun.

Yes you might pay a bit more up front for one of the big three but when you inevitably expand the lineup later on you won't have to switch brands, or end up with seventeen different battery platforms.
Some people like Ryobi or Rigid, but the Big Three have more options for other tools that will use the same battery system.

Yes I'm a big fan of cordless power tools 😄
 

T1MMBOJONES

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2020
Location
Milwaukee
TDI
03 ALH 01M wagon
i keep a 3 speed M18 Milwaukee Fuel 1/2" in my van and a prototype single speed M18 Milwaukee Brushless 1/2" in the wagon. both work fine even on my 8 lug. i like the ability to change speeds and the torque limiting feature on the fuel which is why i purchased it. im fortunate enough to have a good relationship testing product, mostly saws and batteries, for mikwaukee and that is how i aquired the prototype. while being brushless it is still in a tier below the fuel line and geared more towards diyers vs pros you could say, hitting a lower pricepoint. i think it is available for purchase now and likely similarily priced to ryobi or even maybe hercules (Harbor Freight) and such. i would recommend it as a good alternative for the average user but it probably would hold up to more regular use aswell. no i am not affiliated with Mikwaukee in any way. they came on my jobsite and saw (no pun intended) that i run a Blade Left/wormdrive style saw as opposed to a pos sidewinder like 99% of the midwest uses. been getting free saws ever since, eventually they take them but its always replaced by its sucessor, if anyone has noticed the new and improved ergonomics such as a more rounded switch, you are welcome....
 
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CanadianALH

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2023
Location
Canada
TDI
2002 Jetta 5spd 2006 Jetta DSG (wifes)
I don’t have any impacts yet but I have used Dewalt, Makita and Milwaukee. Milwaukee is the one I would spend my money on and will when I have the funds. The 1/2 impact is a beast and there is pretty much nothing it can’t snap. It does have the variable speed as well. My dad used it to walk off a couple of exhaust manifold studs on a LS works great. Overall an awesome tool. I do actually have a master craft corded impact and works well for lugs. I did also once use it to remove some rusted studs on an exhaust worked well too.
 

Brett San Diego

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Location
San Diego
TDI
02 Jetta wagon manual
Both especially if you're thinking about painting. Electric is good to have if you hit the salvage yard (almost necessary if you want to remove lug bolts and axle nuts/bolts). But, it's nice to have the air compressor in the garage for things that electric can't do (or at least not as well). For example, having a full tank of air on tap for quickly checking tire pressures and for blowing air with an air gun. And, there are some specialty air tools like a suction cup/slide hammer dent puller if you might be doing some body work. Also, mini rotary and dual-action air sanders/polishers, again for automotive paint and body work.

For electric, I have the biggest Harbor Freight Hercules 1/2 in impact. It works is all I can say. I've only used it at the salvage yard, so it doesn't get used a lot. Only about a year old. Can't comment on longevity. I bought on impulse one day only because it was an open box clearance item, and I talked them down another 20%. Personally, I would not pay full price for a Harbor Freight electric impact. I also have a Dewalt Atomic 3/8 drive electric. Again, it works, and mostly used at the salvage yard. Really good breakaway torque for the small size, though.

If you decide to go all-in electric, it certainly makes sense to pick one brand and stick with it so you have battery compatibility. With air, you're not locked into any one brand for all your tools, and you have some broader uses that electric can't offer.

For single panel or spot automotive paint work, you can get away with a 25 gal or so compressor. Any more than that, I'd want a bigger tank and higher flow compressor.

Brett
 
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2003VW

Member
Joined
May 11, 2011
Location
Darlington, MD
TDI
2003 Jetta
I bought a Makita impact tool because I had several other Makita tools and they all use the same battery. Spare batteries seem to be when the cost is. I also have an Ingersoll Rand air impact wrench which definitely has more power for tough to remove items.
 

Rrusse11

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2014
Location
PA Deutsch Country
TDI
2002 Golf, 5spd; 05 Jeep CRD
@Pedalsteel,

I use the Bauer tools. Buy 'em on sale, and IMO they're a bargain. As good as Dewalt or Milwaukee, nah, but
over the years I've snagged big amp hrs batteries off Ebay, and I've had pretty good luck.
Are they "pro" quality? nope, but my 3/8" impact gets used a couple times a year and will ez pull off the
lug bolts for tire rotation. My guru eyed it off the first time I used it in his shop, and said, "That'll never
get those bolts off." Bingo!, lol, he went out and bought one, though he complained bitterly about the fact
that a charger and battery did NOT come with the tool.

For casual intermittent use, they work for me, power plane is nice, grinder is handy, 5" sander works good, etc.
Works for me and my budget. The wrenches and sockets et al are good enuff for my purposes, and it sure is
nice not dragging cords or hoses around.

For spraying, yeah, you need some volume and pressure, but the nail guns work fine on the smaller HF pumps.
A small suction old school gun will work with 4 CFM, with the occassional pause to let the compressor catch up.
It'll ez do a door or hood, MUCH better than a damn rattle can.

Cheers!
 

STDOUBT

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2007
Location
Portland, effing Oregon
TDI
dos jettas
I have a run of the mill:
Makita 3.5 Amp 1/2 in. Corded Impact Wrench with Tool Case (TW0350)
I only use it for lug nuts.
A lot of the fasteners around the engine like for mounts, brackets and even some suspension fasteners,
I have read here that you don't necessarily want to shock them free with an impact. Stuff can break.
I'm sure there are a lot of smaller fasteners where it's not a problem though.
I would love air tools though, damn!
As far as battery tools, a guy I know in construction swears by Makita FWIW.
 

Nuje

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Location
Island near Vancouver
TDI
2015 Sportwagen; Golf GLS 2002 (swap from 2L gas); 2016 A3 e-tron
Big fan of Milwaukee stuff here. Biggest upsides for me are the following:
  • Whatever type of power tool you want/need, they probably have it - and at a couple+ different price / power / battery-size options
  • They handle much use (bordering on abuse) extremely well. I've worn the rubber grip off the compact-head ⅜" ratchet probably 5yrs ago, put some bicycle handlebar tape around it....and the thing just keeps working. Dropped and/or accidentally left others in the rain (well, someone in our two-person household did) more than once - and the things just keep on going.
  • Rebuild parts!! Was disappointed when that ratchet started slipping. Did some Googling - found there was a rebuild kit for the head....$40 or so. And they have exploded parts diagrams for EVERYTHING with part numbers on all of the parts, so you can hunt down whatever failed.
    • I've replaced brushes on my starter-set ¼" impact (this is from way before everything went brushless).
  • Two types of batteries - M18, M12 - and those are the only two you have to think about. The only other battery option is size/price.
  • Tools feel great in the hand. My dinky little M18 ¼" impact feels perfectly balanced whether I'm using the little 2.0Ahr starter battery, or the massive 8.0 High Output.
Not cheap. But value to me is in how much quality use I get per dollar. And in that regard, they've delivered.
 

Tdijarhead

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 10, 2013
Location
Lawrenceville PA
TDI
2003 TDI Jetta Daughters Car, 2001 TDI Beetle, Wife’s car, 2005 Golf TDI Mine, all 5 spds
I have a small Milwaukee 3/8 cordless ratchet. I’ll loosen fasteners with my hand 3/8 ratchet and spin them off with the Milwaukee , saves a lot of time, on the flip side I’ll finger start a faster and run it in with the ratchet, final tightening is usually by hand.

For lug nut and bigger fasteners I have a 1/2 cordless Dewalt and a 1/2 Mac air gun. I find the Dewalt is good for most jobs and easier to use than starting the compressor for the Mac, but the Mac will take almost any fastener loose.
 

Mozambiquer

Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
Mar 21, 2015
Location
Versailles Missouri
TDI
2004 VW Touareg V10 TDI, 2012 Audi Q7 V6 TDI, 1998 VW Jetta TDI. 1982 VW Rabbit pickup, 2001 VW Jetta TDI, 2005 VW Passat wagon TDI X3, 2001 VW golf TDI, 1980 VW rabbit pickup,
I've got Milwaukee as well. I have the m12 stubby 3/8" which is my most used one, a m18 3/8 stubby, which works fine, but is more bulky, a m18 1/2 old one which isn't the big boy, and the m18 1/2 1400 ft/lb one.
If I were to go back and pick just two I'd go with the big boy and the m12 stubby..I also have a couple of the m12 ratchets and a bunch of other Milwaukee tools.
 

J_dude

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2020
Location
SK Canada
TDI
2003 1.9l “Jedi”
Big fan of Milwaukee stuff here. Biggest upsides for me are the following:
  • Whatever type of power tool you want/need, they probably have it - and at a couple+ different price / power / battery-size options
  • They handle much use (bordering on abuse) extremely well. I've worn the rubber grip off the compact-head ⅜" ratchet probably 5yrs ago, put some bicycle handlebar tape around it....and the thing just keeps working. Dropped and/or accidentally left others in the rain (well, someone in our two-person household did) more than once - and the things just keep on going.
  • Rebuild parts!! Was disappointed when that ratchet started slipping. Did some Googling - found there was a rebuild kit for the head....$40 or so. And they have exploded parts diagrams for EVERYTHING with part numbers on all of the parts, so you can hunt down whatever failed.
    • I've replaced brushes on my starter-set ¼" impact (this is from way before everything went brushless).
  • Two types of batteries - M18, M12 - and those are the only two you have to think about. The only other battery option is size/price.
  • Tools feel great in the hand. My dinky little M18 ¼" impact feels perfectly balanced whether I'm using the little 2.0Ahr starter battery, or the massive 8.0 High Output.
Not cheap. But value to me is in how much quality use I get per dollar. And in that regard, they've delivered.
I don't want to make this a power tool war, since I recognize they all have their strong suits, but I just have to say for the record, the only item on your list that is unique to Milwaukee is the first point. They do make nearly anything you can imagine. 🙂
But Makita also has 18 and 12 volt (not sure on dewalt), all the big three have rebuild kits/parts, and they all handle abuse quite well (though I do know from friends in the auto wrecking industry that the Milwaukee impacts were preferable over the Dewalt guns.)
How they feel is entirely personal preference, everyone is different.
I personally don't like how Milwaukee's battery connection fits, especially after some abuse it becomes very finicky to release both buttons, but they have some very impressive compact impacts. (And, everything else under the sun lol)
 

T1MMBOJONES

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2020
Location
Milwaukee
TDI
03 ALH 01M wagon
I don't want to make this a power tool war, since I recognize they all have their strong suits, but I just have to say for the record, the only item on your list that is unique to Milwaukee is the first point. They do make nearly anything you can imagine. 🙂
But Makita also has 18 and 12 volt (not sure on dewalt), all the big three have rebuild kits/parts, and they all handle abuse quite well (though I do know from friends in the auto wrecking industry that the Milwaukee impacts were preferable over the Dewalt guns.)
How they feel is entirely personal preference, everyone is different.
I personally don't like how Milwaukee's battery connection fits, especially after some abuse it becomes very finicky to release both buttons, but they have some very impressive compact impacts. (And, everything else under the sun lol)
on the prototype batteries i currently have they resolved that by adding more surface to the release tabs. its also got less matterial removed from the back side so they are more rigid and responsive. but like you said milwaukee isnt the only one making good stuff.
 

PakProtector

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2014
Location
AnnArbor, MI
TDI
Mk.4's and the Cummins
1400 ft-lb Milwaukee M18 half inch drive, -A model, not the short-lived -B( they are back to the -A now ). If you go used, check in detail that it is not the B... :) It will likely come to pass I build my own pack out of premium cells at some point...

Douglas
 

KrashDH

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Dec 22, 2013
Location
Washington
TDI
2002 Golf
1400 ft-lb Milwaukee M18 half inch drive, -A model, not the short-lived -B( they are back to the -A now ). If you go used, check in detail that it is not the B... :) It will likely come to pass I build my own pack out of premium cells at some point...

Douglas
I definitely researched and found out about the recalled version and made sure the good one was in the set I bought.

But Milwaukee just recently released their newest version of the 1/2" and they claim up to 1600 ft-lb with their new Forge batteries. I treated myself to that impact so I have both versions. Haven't even used the previous version it's still NIB
 

ts888

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2023
Location
PNW US
TDI
03 ALH
I'm the dinosaur at the shop, I still use air. My 1/4 and 3/8 are Matco, 1/2 is a Snappy that will loosen anything, all are at least 7 years old. They get oiled every day. The juniors have a bunch of battery Matco, Snappy, and Milwaukee stuff. The tool truck boys talk them into upgrades about every quarter.

I picked up a DeWalt 1/2 impact for home because I have other DeWalt tools. I can't remember using it yet.
 

Pedalsteel

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2018
Location
United States
TDI
Unicorn
I'm wondering what ft lbs of breakaway torque is enough to do any repair on our cars? I watched the YouTube video shootout of the Hercules vs Milwaukee and was impressed...I wonder if HF has a rebuild kit available? Right now I'm doing every repair with a long shaft 3/8 for leverage and an assortment of 1/2 3/8 and 1/4 ratchets and basic wrenches...I need to do the entire front suspension and don't want to do it without some mustard! In the past I've used ryobi tools and they lasted longer than I thought they would...I have an 83 mercedes 240d I wrench on also and plan on shooting some clear on it at some point and painting the front bumper cover on my wagon bc the paint is rubbing off I'm thinking from all the car washes! Haha...I'm surprised tools aren't like phones where we pay a subscription and when the new models come out, we trade them back in for the new ones and you could go in and get a deal on the older models
 

snakeye

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2009
Location
Montreal, Canada
TDI
2003 Jetta and Wagon, GLS 5sp
I have a Dewalt DCF899 with a max 1,200 ft/lb breakaway torque that I bought a few years back. I'm really happy with it; there's only been a couple times it didn't loosen bolts, which I'm sure were ridiculously over torqued. Maybe a little persistence with the gun would've done it, but I also have a 3ft breaker bar and well trained legs, so why abuse the tool?

Dewalt has since then released a same sized impact wrench with even more power. Would I get that if I didn't already have one? For sure! Am I looking to upgrade my current tool? Absolutely not.

I'd suggest get something between 1,200 and 1,500 ft/lb breakaway torque.
 

jimbote

Certified Volkswagen Nut
Joined
Jul 10, 2006
Location
spiral arm, milky way (aka central NC)
TDI
Tacoma 4x4 converted to TDI
I've used kobalt 24v 3/8 and 1/2 (full size) impacts for years now and they've been great. The 3/8 is ridiculously strong for it's size. Will actually loosen lug nuts if i push it.. The 1/2 usually does lugs and high torque fasteners like axle nuts and flywheel bolts. Batteries are also cheap.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis, MO
TDI
There are just too many to list....
I cannot imagine having access to shop air and still using cordless electric for anything beyond a 3/8" drive.

On the 3/8" drive impacts, I've used Snap-On, Makita, DeWalt, and Milwaukee.

The Snap-On has easily outlasted them all, and I still use it today, daily, a LOT. It's a CT8810A, it's the second one I bought, the first with Lithium Ion batteries.... I'm currently on my fourth pair of batteries. It's strong, but most importantly it is TOUGH. It's been dropped, run over, got just about any fluid you can think of splashed on it, and it still works perfectly. I don't remember when I got it , but it was before 2015 because that's when we moved to the new building and I remember moving the charger then. So probably 12+ years of daily use.

Makita was a dainty POS. I broke two of them, then decided the rigors of automotive work is just too tough for them. I limited it to very light duty clean work (like dash work) but I broke it anyway. I still have the drill that came in the kit and still occasionally use that but the batteries don't have much mojo anymore.

DeWalt was fine, except it required the larger Ah batteries, and those literally shook to pieces. When I went to the DeWalt store to ask for replacements under warranty (both were broken within 6 months), the dumb broad at the counter asked me if they were subjected to any "impacts". I told her the word "impact" was literally in the name of the tool, so, yes, yes they were subjected to very many repeated impacts. They gave me two new ones. Those were both broken within a year. Come to find out, it is a pretty common problem, and you can buy aftermarket replacement battery cases for them (DeWalt doesn't sell just the cases). So I did that, recased them, and took them home to use in all my other DeWalt stuff that uses that same battery form factor... stuff like the leave blower, weed wacker, radio, flashlight, drill, planer, saw, etc. all work fine. Shame because I still have the tool, but can't reliably use it. Recently got a cordless grease gun that also use those batteries... a necessity for servicing the new Bobcat as it takes nearly a whole tube worth of grease every 10-15 hours.

Milwaukee is pretty decent. Not as tough as the Snap-On, but pretty close. And like DeWalt, they have a plethora of tools that use the batteries. The Fuel line is the better commercial grade stuff.

But for 1/2" drive or greater... man, my 20+ year old IH Composite impact gun will handily take care of all that stuff. And on the couple items it cannot (Honda crank bolts, some VAG product axle bolts), I pull out it's big brother, a 3/4" inch monster (it's the biggest one that doesn't require the second handle), and in one or two 'dugga-duggas' anything is cracked loose. It doesn't even notice, LOL.

The thing with cordless is, the batteries are an ongoing cost. If you use them a lot, they wear out. If you don't use them enough, they die. And those really end up being the most expensive thing with most of the tools. The tool itself may only be $100, but the battery might be $200! That's why if you have a bunch of tools that use the same battery, you will get more use out of them. They need to be used somewhat regularly. This is why I'm scratching my head at the cordless electric lawn mowers... my brother tried that, and every season the battery pack is unable to hold a charge like it did the season prior, so he has to go buy a new battery... which is nuts expensive. You could literally buy a new cheapo gas lawnmower every year, a whole season's worth of gas to cut his little yard, and it would cost less money.
 
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Brett San Diego

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Location
San Diego
TDI
02 Jetta wagon manual
Honda crank bolts, some VAG product axle bolts
My Ingersoll Rand 1/2 in Titanium Max (1350 lb ft torque) air impact wouldn't budge a Honda crank bolt. I bought a set of the heavyweight crank bolt sockets despite being very skeptical, but damn if the bolt didn't come off like buttah with the special socket.

Brett
 
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