Walk into any garage or automotive repair shop and you’ll see mechanics using a range of air powered tools, one of the most popular being the impact gun. Air impact guns or impact wrenches as they are otherwise known are powerful tools used primarily for removing extremely tight nuts or bolts. An impact gun works by storing energy in a heavy internal flywheel and compressed spring and then releasing it all at once in a series of small impacts. These impacts provide a huge amount of torque in very short bursts which is ideal for removing things such as wheel studs or crank pulley bolts. Impact guns can be used on any type of bolt or fastener, not just ones that are extremely tight and they make for an excellent time-saving tool, having virtually any nut or bolt undone or tightened in a matter of seconds.

The vast majority of DIYer’s and home mechanics don’t own a compressor and are unlikely to invest in one (although there are some excellent value home compressors now available) and that’s where cordless electric impact guns come in.  In the last few years, particularly with the advancements in Lithium-ion battery technology you can now get a cordless electric impact wrench that packs the same punch as its air powered cousins.

The product we’re testing today is the Draper Expert 18v Li 1/2″ drive cordless impact wrench:

What is it?

The Draper Expert 18v Li is a powerful Lithium Ion cordless impact wrench delivering the punch normally expected from a pneumatic wrench. Supplied with a quick one hour charger and battery. Extra durability is provided from the heavy-duty metal gears and housing. Fitted with anti-slip soft grip handle, forward/reverse facility, side handle and LED work light.

 

The stand-out features of this impact gun are its diminutive size and weight, making it much easier to use than its larger, heavier competitors. The compact dimensions also allow the wrench to get into much tighter spaces, making it ideal for use in confined engine bays and around suspension components. We tested the wrench on a number of fasteners on our Golf Gti project car as the ability to function in other areas than just the wheel bolts is clearly an important consideration for the DIYers. Around the car the Draper wrench performed faultlessly dealing with all small and mid-size bolts with ease. We also tried the wrench on some of the larger bolts underneath the car which are subject to corrosion, such as the large rear trailing arm bolts and shock absorber top mounts. These were also handled with ease.

When we were performing this test we also had our own, much more expensive and more powerful 24v 530Nm Makita impact gun on hand as a benchmark and interestingly everything we asked of the Makita, the Draper handled as well. Now we’re not trying to say that the Draper wrench is as powerful as the Makita, it’s not at all. The Draper unit has a max torque of 250Nm to the Makita’s 530Nm but on that day, on that car the Draper unit handled everything we needed to.

Will it Undo Wheel Nuts?

Yes and no. We tried both the Draper and Makita which is twice as powerful on the Golf’s wheel studs and both failed to undo them. Despite us having torqued them to 120nm a few months ago they are extremely corroded and as you can see from the video we had to use a 1 metre long breaker bar and an abnormal amount of force to get them undone, so perhaps this was an unfair test. We then tried both guns on a selection of cars in the car park.

The Makita worked on 4 out of the 5 cars we tested and the Draper worked on 2 of the 5. It’s worth pointing out that when the wheel studs are torqued to the correct setting of 120nm on the cars we tested the Draper unit handled them with ease. So if you’re looking for the most powerful unit that will deal the tightest of wheel studs then this is not it. Expect to have to ‘crack’ the wheel bolts at least some of the time with a breaker bar if you’re using this gun. Even with that in mind we certainly wouldn’t discount the little 18v Draper unit as it’s small size and weight make it much more usable in other areas.

Summary:

If you spend most of your time changing wheels on customers cars then this is not the impact wrench for you. However, if you’re a DIYer or home mechanic and want a small, powerful, lightweight impact gun that packs a huge punch for its size and can be used all around the car and workshop then the Draper Expert 18v Li 1/2″ drive cordless impact wrench certainly gets our vote!

Video Review:

Specifications:
1/2″ Drive
Maximum torque … 250Nm
Impacts per minute … 3200 max
Speed (no load) … 0-2400r/min
Weight (inc. battery pack) … 1.45kg
2 Year manufacturers warranty

Where to buy:

The Draper Expert 18v Li 1/2″ drive cordless impact wrench is available to buy online from Micksgarage.com