Best cordless impact wrench 2018

These battery-powered cordless impact wrenches take the strain out of car DIY

A good impact wrench is a great addition to any workshop, taking virtually all of the strain out of wheel changing. Modern battery and motor technology means the best cordless electric wrenches are as good as their compressor-powered predecessors, and are much more convenient because they have no hoses to contend with.

The latest designs are also light and compact, which makes them good for use in general maintenance jobs, such as brake and suspension work. So which is the one to take the strain out of your DIY car maintenance work? We tried nine to find out.

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How we tested them

We drove four 13mm hex head screws into a block of wood, then removed them, noting how long it took with each product. Then we removed four wheel bolts that had been tightened to 90Nm, and a hub nut at 175Nm.

We also factored in the weight and length of the tools, as well as impact control (important to avoid shearing bolts), batteries supplied, voltage indicator and any accessories.

All our impact wrenches were supplied with a charger and could be powered up in about an hour. Finally, we checked the prices from a range of online sources.

Verdict

It’s isn’t the cheapest here, but a reduction in the previous asking price of £400 has meant the Hitachi top of the pile. It is an impeccable brushless tool covering all the bases, and is the ultimate choice in our test. 

  • 1. Hitachi WR 18DBDL2JX
  • ReviewsHitachi WR 18DBDL2JX

    Price: Around £263
    Battery/voltage: Li-ion/18
    Rating: 5.0

    One of our favourite bits about Hitachi’s wrench (on top of its IP56 rating for protection against dust and moisture) is the fact it has a sweet high-revving (2,900rpm) brushless motor. Also, sitting alongside some of the competition, such as the Sealey CP2612, the whole package seemed shrunk in the wash, tipping the scales at a mere 1.8kg and measuring just 145mm long. 

    Its impressive performance belied its looks as it produced perfect results in all tests, with those physical attributes making it so easy to handle. Although only 18V, the two batteries were rated at 6Ah. And there were other neat touches: the LED light under the chuck stays on for 10 seconds after the tool has stopped and there are four torque options to help prevent you damaging fasteners. 

    Priced at £263, the WR 18DBDL2JX can hardly be considered an impulse buy, but at nearly £150 cheaper than last year, this device would be a worthwhile investment for the keen DIY motorist.

    Buy it from Amazon here

    Sealey CP2612 Cordless Impact wrench

    Price: £280
    Voltage: 26
    Rating: 4.0

    Big numbers from Sealey, with 680Nm of torque supplied via a 26V battery. Unsurprisingly, its performance was top notch, with wheel bolts and the wheel hub nut whizzing out. It was better at punching large screws into wood than its predecessor (the CP2400MH below), but still lost out here to the Hitachi. This was mostly down to the new Sealey’s Achilles’ heel: its sheer size and weight. At 3.2kg, it’s hefty and it was tiring to use after a while. 

    And at 250mm, it’s almost 100mm longer than its Hitachi rival, which makes it rather unwieldy, especially in confined spaces. The Sealey also loses points for having only one battery, and you’ll certainly build muscle using it. But its score has resulted in a podium finish here. 

    Wolf 18v Li-Ion Cordless Impact Wrench Kit

    Price: Around £115  
    Battery/voltage: Li-ion/18
    Rating: 4.0

    We’ve come to expect value for money from Wolf and this was no exception. Although there was just one battery, it was a useful 3Ah. The wrench came with a light, four impact sockets and 150mm extension. It wasn’t lightweight at 2.4kg and the brushed motor felt and sounded a bit rough, but it stepped up to the mark in the tests. A 41-second time for the hex screws was good and waiting just three secs to get the hub nut moving was third best on test – impressive. 

    Buy it from Amazon here

    Draper Expert 18v 1/2in drive Cordless Impact Wrench 83689

    Price: Around £135
    Battery/voltage: Li-ion/18
    Rating: 4.0

    Despite its lack of battery-condition LEDs and impact control, this Draper looked and felt modern. It was easy to feel at home with the lightweight (1.5kg) and well-balanced wrench, and it was hard to believe the free-spinning motor wasn’t brushless.

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    The single battery was just 1.5Ah, which was no hindrance on the hex screws test at 42 seconds but while the wheel nuts spun off quickly, we had to wait eight seconds for hub nut movement. Good, but just edged by the Wolf. 

    Buy it from Amazon here

    Panasonic EY75A7PN2G

    Price: Around £350 
    Battery/voltage: Li-ion/18
    Rating: 3.0

    This was startlingly compact, at just 115mm and 1.45kg, coming in a case complete with a charger and two 3Ah batteries. The brushless machine’s specification was excellent, with belt hook, multi-mode LED light, battery-life LEDs and three-stage impact control including a self-tapping mode. It needed an adaptor in the 1/4in, auto chuck. The time of 34 seconds on the hex screws was great, although it took a couple of seconds to get the wheel bolts moving and six seconds to shift the hub nut, which wasn’t quick enough for a podium place. 

    Buy it from PowerToolWorld here

    Draper Expert 19.2V Cordless 1/2in drive Impact Wrench 13507

    Price: Around £250 
    Battery/voltage: Ni-Mh/19.2
    Rating: 3.0

    Visually, this model looked rather old school compared with some rivals here and even its 18v sibling. Its battery was Ni-mh as opposed to Li-ion, so it was around a kilo heavier, 50mm longer and £100 more expensive than its sister wrench, but that cost included two batteries. Although not that wieldy, the extra grunt of the 19.2v, 2Ah battery showed, because it was quicker by five seconds on the hex screws and it moved the hub nut six seconds quicker. Still, its age is showing, because it had little in the way of ‘extras’ – not even an LED light. 

    Buy it from Amazon here

    Sealey Cordless 24v Impact Wrench CP2400MH

    Price: Around £175 
    Battery/voltage: Ni-Mh/24
    Rating: 3.0

    The Sealey was all about big numbers, weighing in at a hefty 3.2kg and being the longest wrench on test by far, at 280mm, which led to aching muscles after a while. The single battery was 24V, from which we expected top performance, but the hex screws took a tardy 51 secs and although the wheel nuts spun off easily, it was 10 secs before the hub nut moved. While the Sealey wasn’t overpriced, we were surprised at the shortage of grunt and expected a better specification; there was no impact control or battery-life indicator. 

    Buy it from Amazon here

    Silverline 18V Impact Driver 268895

    Price: Around £65
    Battery/voltage: Li-ion/18
    Rating: 2.0

    At just 1.2kg, this was the lightest wrench we tried and the single battery supplied was the lowest rated, at 1.3Ah. As such, it was no hardship to use and it did manage to complete our hex screws test, albeit in a lengthy 68 seconds. However, it couldn’t cope with even the wheel bolts. Its overall performance was very similar to that of the Bosch, but it gains a place for its price which, for domestic use where its low torque isn’t a problem, makes it a bargain.

    Buy it from Amazon here

    Bosch GDR 18-LI Professional

    Price: Around £300
    Battery/voltage: Li-ion/18
    Rating: 2.0

    Bosch’s brushless entry was the third here (with the Silverline and Panasonic) to need a quarter-inch adaptor to take our sockets. It looked the part – lightweight at 1.3kg and supplied in a case with charger and two batteries, but without impact speed control, battery-condition indicator or a belt clip. With just a 1.5Ah battery, it was short of clout and clocked the longest time on the hex screws, at 71 secs. Worse still, it was unable to shift either of the fasteners on the car. 

    Buy it from Amazon here

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