how-to-remove-wheel-nuts-or-lug-nuts-using-a-pneumatic-impact-wrench

How to remove wheel nuts or lug nuts using a pneumatic impact
wrench

Shop for Sockets

Using an impact wrench and impact socket to remove a cars wheel nuts One of the most common uses for impact sockets is removing the wheel nuts or lug nuts from a car’s wheels.

Equipment you will need:

Air compressor unit is required to supply the compressed air to the pneumatic impact wrench

Air compressor

An air compressor is needed to provide the supply of compressed air to power the pneumatic (air powered) impact wrench.

Pneumatic impact wrenches require a large supply of compressed air, so you will need a compressor that is capable of delivering this.

Wonkee Donkee says: "If you are working somewhere with more than one pneumatic tool used at a time, then the air compressor will have to be capable of supplying a sufficient air supply to each tool."
Air hose line is needed to connect the air compressor to the pneumatic impact wrench

Air hose line

You will need an air hose line to connect your pneumatic impact wrench to the air compressor.

Pneumatic impact wrench should only be used with impact sockets

Pneumatic impact wrench

A pneumatic impact wrench can provide the high torque required to easily remove car wheel nuts.

Air tool lubricating oil is needed to prevent wear to the bearings inside your impact wrench, and prolong it's useful lifespan.

Air tool lubricating oil

This is needed to prevent wear to the bearings inside your impact wrench, and prolong its useful lifespan. An in-line oiler can be added for this – either to the tool (between the tool and airline) or at the compressor.

Wonkee Donkee tip to prolong the life of pneumatic tools. To prolong the tool’s life – consider fitting an air filter with auto drain (to remove water) and an air lubricator. A pressure regulator should also be fitted, and some units will combine these features.
Impact sockets should be used with an impact wrench to prevent damage to the impact wrench and sockets from shattering

Impact sockets

You should only use impact sockets with your impact wrench. Using standard chrome sockets with an impact wrench can damage the impact wrench and can cause the sockets to shatter.

Use the pressure regulator on the air compressor to set the pressure within the operating range of the impact wrench

Step 1 – Set air compressor regulator

Adjust the regulator on the air compressor to match the required efficient operating range of the pneumatic impact wrench you intend to use. This can be found in the manual for your impact wrench and is usually in the range of 90-100 pounds per square inch (PSI).

Plug the compressor into the power supply Once you have set the regulator, plug the power cord from the compressor into the power supply.
Connect the air hose to the compressor outlet

Step 2 – Connect air hose

Connect the air hose to the outlet of the air compressor. Make sure there are no kinks or twists in the air hose line, just like with your garden hose, as this will restrict the flow. This could prevent your pneumatic impact wrench from operating properly.

Apply air tool lubricating oil to the air inlet connector on the impact wrench to prevent wear to the internal bearings

Step 3 – Apply lubricating oil

Air tools require lubrication, so if your compressor does not have an automatic oiler incorporated within it, you will need to apply a few drops of oil to the air inlet before you first use it, and at regular intervals. This is important to keep the bearings within the impact wrench well lubricated and prevent them failing.

Line the impact sockets drive socket up with the drive square on the impact wrench and push the two together

Step 4 – Connect impact socket to impact wrench

First, select the correct size impact socket for the wheel nuts you wish to remove.

Then, line the drive socket up with the drive square of the impact wrench, and push the two together. You should hear a ‘click’ when the impact socket is correctly located on the drive square.

Wonkee Donkee says: "If the socket and impact driver have holes for a retaining pin and ring, then these should be fitted. See further down the page for how to fit impact sockets with retaining rings and pins."
Connect the air hose to the air inlet of the pneumatic impact wrench

Step 5 – Connect air hose to impact wrench

Connect the air hose to the impact wrench by pushing the two together.

Check what direction the impact wrench is rotating the socket

Step 6 – Check rotation direction of impact wrench

Lightly pull the trigger of the impact wrench to see which way the socket spins. Remember, anti-clockwise will loosen the socket.

If the socket rotates in the wrong direction, switch the adjustment lever on the impact wrench (normally located just above the trigger) to the opposite position.

Line the impact socket up with the wheel nuts push it onto the wheel nuts then squeeze the trigger on the impact wrench to loosen them

Step 7 – Remove wheel nuts

Line the impact socket on the end of the impact wrench up with the wheel nut and push the socket onto the nut. Squeeze the trigger on the impact wrench until the wheel nut is removed.

Remove the air hose from the impact wrench pressing down the quick release fitting and pulling the two apart

Step 8 – Disconnect air hose

Disconnect the air hose from the impact wrench. How you do this will depend on what type of connection you have on your impact driver and air hose. The most common type is a quick release fitted to the end of the air hose. As you push down on the end of the air hose, it is released from the impact wrench. The connector on the hose automatically shuts off the air supply as this is done.

To separate the impact wrench from the impact socket pull the two apart.

Step 9 – Remove impact socket from impact wrench

To remove the impact socket from the impact wrench, first remove the retaining pin (if fitted), then simply pull the socket from the impact wrench drive square.

Why shouldn’t you tighten wheel nuts with an impact wrench and impact socket?

There are two main reasons why you should not use an impact wrench to tighten the wheel nuts on your car.

Firstly, it is difficult to control the torque from an impact wrench so they can damage alloy wheels by over tightening the wheel nuts.

Car at the side of the road with a punctured tyre Secondly, should you suffer a puncture or blow out of your tyre, you will need to remove the wheel to fit the spare. If you have used an impact wrench to fit the wheel nuts, they will have been fitted with an extremely high torque setting.
Having to fit a spare wheel at the side of the road with a manual wheel brace You will have to manually remove the wheel nuts, usually with the wheel brace provided with the spare wheel kit, which can sometimes be impossible if the wheel nuts have been over tightened by an impact wrench.
Torque wrenches should be used to tighten up the wheel nuts on your car not an impact wrench

What should you use to tighten wheel nuts?

To tighten the wheel nuts on your car you should use a torque wrench. You should be able to find the manufacturer’s recommended torque setting for wheel nuts in your car’s owners’ manual.

Using a torque wrench and tightening the wheel nuts on your car to the manufacturers recommended torque setting will prevent you from loosing a wheel and still enable you to remove the wheel nuts should you get a puncture Using a torque wrench to tighten the wheel nuts to this setting will ensure that the wheels of your car are firmly secured and yet allow the wheel nuts to be removed manually in the event of a puncture.

How to fit impact sockets with retaining rings and pins

Larger impact sockets will sometimes require a retaining ring and pin to secure them adequately to an impact wrench Larger impact sockets will sometimes require a retaining ring and pin to secure them adequately to an impact wrench.
Begin by stretching the retaining ring over the socket drive end

Step 1 – Stretch retaining ring over socket

Begin by stretching the retaining ring over the drive end of the impact socket you wish to use.

When lining the socket up with the impact wrench make sure the drive socket side hole lines up with the hole in the impact wrench’s drive square.

Step 2 – Line up socket

Line the impact socket up with the drive square on the impact wrench. Make sure that the drive socket side hole also lines up.

Once the two are lined up correctly, push the impact socket onto the drive square of the impact wrench.

Push the retaining pin through the drive socket side hole and hole in the drive square of the impact wrench.

Step 3 – Fit retaining pin

Push the retaining pin through the drive socket side hole and into the drive square of the impact wrench.

Socket secured to the drive square of an impact wrench with a retaining pin and retaining ring

Step 4 – Secure retaining pin

To secure the retaining pin in place, pull the retaining ring down the drive end of the socket until it locates into the groove on the outside of the socket’s drive end. At this point, the retaining ring should be covering over the drive socket side hole, thus preventing the retaining pin from falling out.