Cordless torque, or impact wrenches are becoming extremely popular. Easy to use, and now more powerful than ever, these tools are replacing pneumatic equivalents in shops and factories. These versatile power tools are also a great alternative to a conventional lug wrench for changing tires. In our 2020 review of the best cordless torque wrenches, you will certainly find the right tool for your requirements and budget.
A cordless torque wrench is commonly referred to as an impact wrench. This is because the wrench delivers an impact, knocking the nut or bolt, as you would with a hammer. This helps loosen bolts that have been overtightened, or simply become too tight to loosen normally over time. Nuts and bolts can become rusted and this jams the thread, making it impossible to loosen them just by turning alone. The low tech solution is to knock on the back of the wrench as you loosen the bolt. Something that is not at always easy if you’re working alone.
A more traditional impact / torque wrench would be pneumatic tools that use pressurized air. While these tools are relatively inexpensive, very durable, and can have a lot more powerful than a cordless torque wrench, you need an air compressor. Not only are compressors expensive, you won’t always have one readily available. Furthermore, you need a pipe trailing everywhere you go, this can be annoying as it restricts your movement and the pipe can be easily caught or snagged on obstacles.
Cordless electric torque wrenches are a fantastic solution. This is especially true for changing tires. You don’t have an air compressor powerful enough to supply a torque wrench in the trunk of your car. With batteries now more powerful than ever, and advanced digital brushless DC electric motors, the cordless electric torque wrenches available in 2020 are better equipped for heavy-duty work than in years gone by. Read this review to see what your options are when buying a cordless electric torque wrench. From the really cheap ACDelco cordless impact wrench, suitable for occasional light-duty work, like changing tires on a compact sedan, to the very best, most powerful model from Milwaukee, we’ve got it covered.
Cordless Electric Torque Wrenches Featured in this Review
- Makita XWT08Z LXT 18V ½” Impact Wrench: An incredibly tough wrench, from one of the top names in cordless tools.
- DeWalt DCF899B 20V MAX ½” Impact Wrench: One of the most popular choices, DeWalt 20V MAX cordless tools are legendary.
- ACDelco Cordless Ratchet Wrench ³⁄₈” 12V MAX: Best cheap electric torque wrench and extremely versatile.
- Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1” High-Torque Impact Wrench: The ultimate electric torque wrench. Best power, battery time, and well-made.
Makita XWT08Z LXT 18V ½” Impact Wrench
There are several reasons why I consider Makita to be one of the top brands for cordless power tools. For one thing, they’ve been doing it for the longest. Experience counts for a lot when it comes to superior engineering. Makita pioneered battery-powered cordless tools back in the 1970’s and has always been one of the leaders in battery technology. The LXT18V battery range and rapid chargers have been around for a long time and are still amongst the best there is. This also means that you have huge variety of tools that share the same battery platform. Only the DeWalt 20V MAX tool lineup offers more variety than Makita. Finally, Makita tools are amongst the most indestructible I’ve ever used.
The Makita XWT08Z is an amazing cordless electric torque wrench. If you’re already a fan of Makita LXT cordless tools, you’ll have the 18V LXT batteries and charger. This should make the XWT08Z impact wrench an obvious first choice. If you’re new to cordless tools, trust me, you can’t go wrong with Makita. Since it’s always a good idea to stick with one brand when buying cordless tools, because they all use the same battery, Makita and DeWalt will always be my number one suggestion. Purely because you have the best selection of tools from these two brands.
At a normal retail price coming close to $450, this no cheap electric torque wrench. However, when researching this review, I found the Makita XWT08Z listed on Amazon at under $250. If you’re lucky enough to be reading this while the special offer still exists, I’d recommend clicking add to cart without a moment’s hesitation. Compared to any similar model from a high-end brand, this price is an absolute steal. You can be sure your Makita cordless torque wrench is going to be with you for a very long time, they just go on and on without any hassles. Making this a worthwhile investment.
Power is up there with the best of them, though no electric torque wrench can match the formidable top of the range Milwaukee M18, in terms of maximum torque. None the less, the Makita XWT08Z delivers a pretty impressive 1,180 Ft. LBS of nut-busting (breaking) torque and 740 Ft. LBS maximum tightening torque. A 3-speed selector switch allows you to choose between slow speed (0 – 900 RPM & 0 – 1,800 IPM); mid-speed (0 – 1,000 RPM & (0 – 2,000 IPM); Maximum speed (0 – 1,800 RPM & 0 – 2,200 IPM). If you’re new to electric torque wrenches, and don’t fully understand the specs, IPM stands for Impacts per Minute. This is the amount of blows, or knocks the tool will achieve in a minute, helping to break loose nuts and bolts that are extraordinarily tight.
The Makita XWT08Z is, as with all Makita power tools, superbly designed, offering the best in durability as well as usability. Lightweight and compact, the tool weighs a mere 7.9 LBS and is only 9” in length. A comfortable handle with rubber grip won’t go amiss either. It’s super easy to change from forward to reverse with a switch right at your thumb. It has a handy hook, to securely stow the wrench when not in use. I like the bright LED light that makes working in dark corners a cinch. An electric brake and quick release slip ring do a lot to improve productivity.
I’ve rambled on a bit on how great Makita is for durability, but this is a genuinely honest opinion, I love these tools. The Makita XWT08Z has all the traits that has made the brand such a success. Star Protection for the battery and motor, along with an incredibly efficient BL brushless motor are some of the benefits that come with buying this cordless torque wrench. Makita service and warranty also deserve a mention as being tops. This tool has 3-year warranty, and 30-day money back guarantee.
DeWalt DCF899B 20V MAX ½” Impact Wrench
The DeWalt 20V Max electric torque wrench is very reasonably priced, considering the DeWalt reputation for quality, service, and one of the best warranty agreements in the power tool business. Furthermore, the 20V MAX cordless tool range comprises the most comprehensive collection of versatile offerings. Well over 100 cordless tools, and other battery-powered devices, all using the same the battery. Another engineering marvel, making DeWalt cordless tools more desirable, is the FlexVolt battery. This 20V/60V MAX battery can be used to power any of their numerous 20V MAX tools, as well as the ultimately powerful 60V and 120V cordless tools. It is a unique battery design, clearly displaying the type of DeWalt innovation and engineering that we’ve all come to admire.
For a better understanding of batteries, voltage, and how the DeWalt FlexVolt system works, you should check out this earlier post on our site: DeWalt 20V MAX Chainsaw vs FlexVolt 60V MAX ǀ We Compare the Old with the New. The linked article not only reviews DeWalt chainsaws. If scroll past the reviews, you’ll find a detailed discussion on batteries for power tools, including DeWalt FlexVolt.
Right, let’s get back to the point, reviewing the DeWalt DCF899B 20V MAX ½” impact wrench. With 700 Ft. LBS maximum torque, and 1,200 Ft. LBS nut-busting torque, this little bomb ranks amongst the most powerful of its kind. Despite being incredibly powerful, the DeWalt DCF899B is deceivingly lightweight and compact. At 5.8-pounds, and a length of 8.8-inches, it has just about the best power to weight ratio, when compared to any other electric torque wrench.
All DeWalt impact tools have a wonderfully robust gearbox, which is vital for long term durability. The 3-speed DCF899B is yet another example of this extraordinary engineering, providing either 400, 1,200, or 1,900 maximum RPM, and a maximum 2,400 IPM (Impacts per Minute).
You have the option of a regular ½” anvil with indent pin, or a hog ring. Other cool features include an LED work light (with 20-second delay), and a battery level indicator.
You just need to hold this little impact wrench in your hand to tell it’s built DeWalt tough. Quality plastics and a metal gearbox housing are clear indications that the DeWalt DCB899B 20V MAX impact wrench is not only going to do a superior job; but keep doing so for a long time to come. Even more peace of mind comes from knowing that you will always find replacement batteries for 20V MAX tools. The same can be said for DeWalt service, probably the largest dealership network in North America. For that matter, the world. DeWalt tool buyers are all aware of the outstanding 3-year warranty, 90-day money back guarantee, and 1-year free service plan that make buying a DeWalt tool a worry-free investment. This would probably be my first choice of all the electric torque wrenches I’m reviewing here. I say this because the price is a good deal lower than any of the other high-end tool brands, without any compromise on quality, and the DeWalt promise of excellent customer service. Something I’ve come to rely on over the years.
ACDelco Cordless Ratchet Wrench ³⁄₈” 12V MAX
If I’m to be brutally honest, this would not be the type of wrench I’d buy. I’m just not that into cheap tools. On the other hand, not all power tool buyers are the same. People looking for a cheap, extremely versatile electric torque wrench, should seriously consider the ACDelco 12V electric torque wrench as one of their best options. For a cheap wrench, it displays an unexpected level of quality.
Let’s start with what I don’t like. While the important components are made from decent metal, the handle is not of the highest grade plastic. It should hold up to careful use, but not for the hardworking shop, where tools can take a beating. I’m also not too impressed with the electric torque 45 Ft. LBS, at a maximum 170 RPM. This is barely enough power to loosen a wheel lug on a compact sedan with small wheels.
Now for the stuff I appreciate. While electric torque isn’t the best, and the 12V battery probably won’t go for too long before recharging, the ACDelco electric wrench also functions as a conventional torque wrench. This means, with a little elbow grease, you can still tighten nuts and bolts up to 100 Ft. LBS. I like this dual operation versatility.
I’m also highly impressed with the extremely compact and lightweight design. The ACDelco wrench weighs only 2.3 LBS and is 10” long. This length gives you good leverage when using the wrench manually, making it quite easy to exert more force. At the same time, the tubular design gives you a comfortable and easy grip, also allowing for tight spaces where bulky cordless tools can be a hassle.
So this is not a heavy-duty wrench and the ACDelco is not all that powerful either. However, it is remarkable cheap, without feeling too much like a cheap tool. The ratchet and tool head are solid and will work well for tightening nuts and bolts up 100 Ft. LBS. At this price, a 1-year warranty is in line with my expectations.
Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1” High-Torque Impact Wrench
Many in the know will say I’ve left the best for last. Of course, anyone looking for a cheap electric torque wrench, will run a mile when looking at how much the Milwaukee (2867-20) M18 costs. This is the most expensive cordless impact wrench and, most certainly, the very best that money can buy. I know contractors will find this price to be worth it. Not only is this the most powerful electric torque wrench, it is packed with technology and is designed for the industrious tradesman.
From the moment you hold the Milwaukee M18 Fuel impact wrench in your hand, you’ll notice that this is no ordinary cordless tool. The hefty 10½-pound weight immediately tells you that this is one solid piece of machinery. High-grade metals, and the incredible 4-mode drive control, set this tool apart from the crowd. As does the immense power. The Milwaukee 2867-20 M18 cordless impact wrench has a whopping 1,800 Ft. LBS nut-busting torque and an equally impressive 1,500 LBS maximum fastening torque. Making this the most powerful cordless impact wrench on the market.
Practicality is tops, with a solid metal hanging ring and a side handle which rotates 360°, requiring no tools. The handle is great, and the 4-mode gearbox offers the greatest versatility for speed and impact options. Milwaukee POWERSTATE brushless motor technology means the best, fade-free power. While REDLINK PLUS intelligence optimizes the, already extraordinary M18 lithium ion battery platform. Milwaukee cordless tools generally offer the best battery working times, and their batteries tend to last longer than most others.
Yet another advanced technological feature is the unique One-Key smart device interactive system. One of the great advantages of this technology is the geofencing app, which allows you to track your Milwaukee cordless tool. You know where it is at all times and can easily find it when lost or stolen. The One-Key system also offers hassle-free inventory, with bar-code recognition. Definitely a plus for contractors. There are a bunch more useful features included in the One-Key platform and you can find out more by clicking on this link to the Milwaukee website.
For those rare individuals who understand the value in paying top dollar for top power tools, the Milwaukee M18 (2867-20) cordless electric torque wrench is the ultimate in quality and performance. The brand is recognized by most contractors to be the best there is. The industry-leading 5-year warranty is clear evidence that Milwaukee is a brand in a million.