Two of the most useful automotive tools I’ve ever purchased are an air compressor and an impact wrench. Admittedly, I spent years working on various BMW projects with nothing more than a few breaker bars-and in those really tough situations- extra help from a strong friend. Maybe that was out of stubbornness to spend the money on such expensive tools.
About a year ago I decided to finally invest in my own half-inch drive impact wrench, and set out to research the available options. Generally speaking there are three main brackets for such a purchase: entry level, mid-range, and professional.
The Entry Level Impact Wrench
You can find most entry level impacts at around $100 or less, such as the classic Ingersoll Rand 231C. This is the old style metal workhorse with a basic on/off throttle button and is also power adjustable just like the mid-range and professional options. The major downside for the entry level wrench is its heavy weight and lack of a precise throttle.
Mid-range Impact Wrench
The Ingersoll Rand 2130 delivers 550 lb/ft of torque with a precise full stroke tease throttle which is essential for speeding up your automotive work flow. This feature is worth the price premium alone because it allows you to carefully thread and unthread nuts and bolts with the wrench at a slow speed. The 231C essentially offers all-or-nothing power and cannot be used in this fashion.
Comfort and weight are the next two considerations when making this purchase decision. The 2130 weighs only 4.7 lbs vs. the 6.46 lbs of the entry level 231C. It may not seem like much, but over the course of a day the light weight combined with its ergonomic grip reduces fatigue.
Professional Grade Impact Wrench
Choosing the top of the line Ingersoll Rand 2235 TiMax is another huge upgrade. This model offers an astonishing 1350 lb/ft of torque, which is enough to tackle any job – including working on heavy equipment. It is also made with a titanium hammer case which is essentially one of the strongest materials known to man. Personally, I thought these features and torque specs were over the top for a home mechanic. Additionally, this professional model is about $100 more than the mid-range 2130!
Taking all of these factors into consideration, I ultimately decided to purchase the mid-range 2130. It provides the best balance of power, performance and precision while coming in at roughly $160 USD. These are known to last for many years in professional daily use environments as long as they are oiled and maintained. The max power of the impact is enough for most automotive requirements as long as it’s used with a strong and capable air compressor. Overall I’m very happy with the decision.
To see a video of this wrench in action, I posted one here: Ingersoll Rand 2130 Review.