Best cordless impact wrench 2019

Heavy-duty car DIY jobs will know no bounds with our pick of eight torquey power tools

A good impact wrench takes the hard work out of almost any garage task, from simple wheel changes to heavier jobs such as brake and suspension repairs. 

Not long ago, using one required a bulky compressor, with its cable and awkward hose trailing around your garage. Now, the latest battery and motor tech means that the best cordless units are as good as their pneumatic counterparts, and with none of the previous clutter, they’re now much more convenient.

So which one takes the strain out of car DIY? We charged eight to reveal all.

How we tested them

An ideal wrench has plenty of torque but isn’t too large or heavy, so it’s a pleasure rather than a chore to use.

To test power and stamina, we drove and removed eight, 13mm hex 50mm head screws into a solid block of wood, noting the time taken. Then we removed eight wheel bolts and a hub nut, tightened to 90Nm and 175Nm respectively. We used black, shatterproof impact sockets for safety.

Accessories, torque settings, performance, battery size and number, and features like lights and battery-state indicators were balanced against prices from makers and online sources.

Verdict

It looks expensive on the face of things, but with 12Ah of battery power, a raft of features and great performance, the HiKOKI is a deserved winner for the second successive test. The similar Panasonic chased it hard, yet ultimately that high price held it back. Meanwhile, the new Draper acquitted itself well, just sneaking ahead of the Ryobi.

  • 1. HiKOKI WR 18DBDL2JX 18v Brushless Impact Wrench
  • 2. Panasonic EY75A8LJ2G 18v Brushless Impact Wrench Kit
  • 3. Draper Storm Force 20v 1/2in Impact Wrench 43785
  • Reviews HiKOKI WR 18DBDL2JX 18v Brushless Impact Wrench

    Price: £295
    Rating: 5/5
    Batteries: 2 x 6Ah
    Voltage: 18v

    With a new name, our previous test winner remains a great kit, including a case, charger and two hefty 6Ah batteries. At 145mm long and weighing just 1.8kg, it was light and wieldy, but packed a punch, spinning smoothly through its four torque settings, denoted by four LEDs. Rated to the IP56 standard against dust and moisture, it has a useful three-mode light that stayed on for 10 seconds after we released the trigger, although more than two battery-state indicators would be good. It produced the joint best hex head results and easily turned our large hub nut.

    Panasonic EY75A8LJ2G 18v Brushless Impact Wrench Kit

    Price: £359
    Rating: 4.5/5
    Batteries: 2 x 5Ah
    Voltage: 18v

    Had it not been all black, we might have confused the Panasonic with the Hikoki, so close were the dimensions. It’s exactly the same length and weight, although its two batteries are 5Ah. We liked the three LEDs around the nose, the three battery-state LEDs and the excellent choice of five torque modes. The spec shows that it runs a little slower than the Hikoki (2,500rpm as opposed to 2,900rpm), which lost it a few seconds on the hex test, but otherwise performance was identical. The final decision came down to price.

    Draper Storm Force 20v 1/2in Impact Wrench 43785

    Price: £125.94
    Rating: 4/5
    Batteries: 1 x 4Ah
    Voltage: 20v

    This stylish, well-priced new Draper was nice to use, with lots of protective rubberised sections. The 20v non-brushless motor had a healthy 400Nm of torque, so performance was strong, as long as you have room to work. It’s the heaviest wrench here, at 2.6kg, and at 215mm long it was a bit cumbersome in tight spaces. We liked the battery-state LEDs and impressive five torque settings, easily accessed from the base of the device. There was only one battery but, at 4Ah, it gave a good working time.

    Ryobi One+ 18v Cordless 3-Speed Impact Wrench R181W30

    Price: £178.94
    Rating: 4/5
    Batteries: 1 x 4Ah
    Voltage: 18v

    The brushless Ryobi came so very close to the Draper, and also had a single 4Ah battery with a claimed 400Nm of torque. It gained a little because it’s a touch lighter (2.3kg) and shorter, at 205mm, and the tri-beam light stayed on for a while. Three-speed settings, rather than five, were accessed from the top of the machine. While performance edged the Draper sadly, given its higher price, it comes as a bare unit with separate charger and battery, and no case or bag. 

    Clarke CIR18LIC 18v Brushless Impact Wrench

    Price: £137.99
    Rating: 3.5/5
    Batteries: 2 x 2Ah
    Voltage: 18v

    At a mere 1.5kg, the Clarke was the lightest 1/2-inch drive wrench we tried, thanks in part to its smaller batteries – two 2Ah cells supplied in the case (there’s a twin 4Ah version at £215). We’d have liked some kind of battery-state indicator, but at 180mm long t his was easy to use and the three LEDs around the nose were handy, although they went off with the trigger. It performed well with the hex screws but made harder work of the wheel bolts and even more so with the hub nut. Nevertheless, a great product for general use.

    GMC 18v Brushless Impact Driver GMBL18ID

    Price: £124.99
    Rating: 3/5
    Batteries: 1 x 4Ah
    Voltage: 18v

    We didn’t expect too much from this single-speed, 1/4-inch drive, brushless wrench, and so were surprised that it coped well with the hex screw and wheel nut tests, and even spun off the huge hub nut. A stunning performance for its quoted torque of 180Nm. It comes in a strong textile bag with four sockets and a driver bit. There are four battery LEDs and the single 4Ah battery provided plenty of work time, although this raised the weight to 1.7kg. It was nicely balanced and a great option if you don’t need masses of torque. 

    Wolf 18v Li-Ion Cordless Impact Wrench Kit

    Price: £129.95
    Rating: 3/5
    Batteries: 2 x 3Ah
    Voltage: 18v

    Wolf’s budget buy has got better value for money since our last test because its price now included two 3Ah batteries. It’s still rather old school; it’s the second heaviest wrench, at 2.4kg, the longest, at 24cm, and doesn’t have a brushless motor. It felt a bit clumsy next to some, and its no-load speed of 2,300rpm showed in the hex screws test. The wheel nut results were average and, equally, after a few seconds’ hard work, it turned our hub nut. Not a bad buy, but it was the only 1/2 –inch drive unit with just a single speed.

    Bosch GDR 18-LI Professional

    Price: £271.43
    Rating: 2/5
    Batteries: 2 x 1.5Ah
    Voltage: 18v

    Our second 1/4-inch drive machine also needed an adaptor to use 1/2-inch drive sockets. At 1.3kg, it’s the lightest wrench on test, and comes with two small batteries. The Bosch Professional is clearly not aimed at heavy work; with just a claimed 160Nm of torque on offer, it produced the worst hex screw test results by some margin. However, it did manage to remove the wheel bolts and, after some effort, the hub nut. It’s a neat little device and ideal for general automotive DIY, but it’s an irony that it’s really hammered by the price, especially compared with the GMC.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *