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Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Air Impact Wrenches

As opposed to an electric motor, an air impact wrench is powered by compressed air so requires an air compressor. For this reason, it’s a much more substantial piece of kit. Here are the main advantages and disadvantages of using air impact wrenches over the other forms of impact wrench.

Air impact wrench advantages:

  • Smaller Wrench Unit: Because there is no motor, it means the actual wrench unit can be smaller and easier to handle. Obviously, as mentioned above, an air compressor unit is required, resulting in an overall pretty substantial piece of equipment, but the actual wrench unit itself is smaller.
  • Easy to Maintain: An air impact wrench is usually easier to clean and generally maintain, due to less moving parts and things that can go wrong. This is definitely worth bearing in mind and another key reason why this form of impact wrench is the one used by professionals.
  • Most Powerful: Air impact wrenches are generally the most powerful form of wrench. If you’re dealing with large sockets and need a large amount of force, then using a compressed air wrench will be the most suitable for you.

However, choosing an air impact wrench certainly has its disadvantages:

  • More Expensive: Due to them generally being the more substantial and powerful form of impact wrench, they can be the most expensive to buy. You’d want to ensure that you definitely require more than an electric impact wrench, as the initial investment will likely be considerably more.
  • Space Intensive: As mentioned above, although the actual wrench unit is smaller on an air powered wrench, the large air compressor that is required results in the whole piece of equipment being very substantial.
  • Not Mobile: Unlike a cordless impact wrench, an air impact wrench is definitely not portable. If you need an impact wrench for emergencies on the go, then an air powered one is not for you.

As you can see, air impact wrenches certainly have their advantages and limitations:

Much like any device, and whether they’re right for you will largely depend on your specific situation. If you’re a professional or at least will be getting a lot of use out of the impact wrench, and you have the budget and space to accommodate one, then an air impact wrench will likely be your best option. If, however, that’s not the case, then you’d probably be better off looking into the alternatives.


Whatever you decide, when it comes to actually buying one, don’t base your decision on price alone. A good air impact wrench should be seen as an investment and getting a good quality one will result in it lasting you for years.

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