Air Ratchet vs Impact Wrench: Key Differences Explained

An air ratchet and impact wrench are well-known tools in the automotive industry; you will see these tools in almost any professional mechanic’s toolbox. Basically, these two tools are used to tighten or remove nuts, bolts, and tighten from any place. The functions of these tools are almost similar, due to which there is more confusion among the newbies about their main differences.

However, to eliminate this confusion, our air ratchet vs impact wrench comparison guide has been formed. We have revealed the advantages, disadvantages, and differences of both tools part by part, which will help you understand exactly which wrench should be used in which field and which one is the most perfect option for your work. So let’s first familiarize with both tools.

What is An Air Ratchet

Air Ratchet vs Impact Wrench
Air Ratchet

An air ratchet is a hand-powered ratchet wrench that has a motor attached to turn the socket drive. Another name of air ratchet is a pneumatic ratchet wrench; it generates power from an air compressor. However, it is not as powerful as the impact wrench; it is capable of generating power up to 30 ft-lbs to 80 ft-lbs.

Advantage of Air Ratchet

  • Convenient in size
  • Lightweight design easy to control
  • Variety different sizes option
  • Relatively quieter operation
  • It comes with great accuracy
  • Accept any kinds of sockets
  • Great selection for small and precise work

Disadvantage of Air Ratchet

  • Provide less torque
  • Not good for rusty nuts and bolts
  • Not good for large projects

What is An Impact Wrench

Air Ratchet vs Impact Wrench
Impact Wrench

An impact wrench is a high-powered socket wrench tool that provides maximum higher torque output using minimal exertion, easily tightening loosening the screws, bolts, and fasteners. An impact wrench is a heavy power generating machine that can generate more than 1800 ft-lbs of torque in minimal effort.

Advantage of Impact Wrench

  • Straight orientation
  • Variety torque settings
  • Great selection for heavy-duty work
  • Efficiently generate higher torque
  • It is capable of removing any kinds of nuts, bolts
  • The main power sources are air compressor and batteries
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Disadvantage of Impact Wrench

  • Less accuracy
  • A little bit noisier
  • Only accept the impact sockets
  • A little bit heavier and bulkier

Air Ratchet vs Impact Wrench: Key Differences

FeaturesAn Air RatchetAn Impact Wrench
Power SourceThe main power source of air ratchet is an air compressor. Though many manufacturers are currently designing electric air ratchets and cordless air ratchets.Impact wrenches are corded, cordless and air compressors powered.
Weight and DimensionsLightweight design, variety of different sizes.A little bit heavier and bulkier.
UsageGreat for work in hard to reach space.Great selection for fastening rusty nut and bolts also heavy-duty work.
AccuracyGreat selection for small and precise work.Less accuracy than air ratchet.
Torque and NoiseProvide less torque and relatively quieter operation.Efficiently generate higher torque, and a little bit noisier.

Impact Wrench Vs Air Ratchet: Detailed Guide

In this section, we will explain the key differences between an impact wrench and an air ratchet and try to explain everything in depth; let’s see.

Power Source

Impact wrenches do not usually generate power using only a power source. Instead, it gets power from mass rotation; most impact wrenches are battery-powered also run with the help of many corded and air compressors. Also, it is convertible to an impact driver. The great thing about an impact wrench is it can generate heavy energy for tightening and loosening work.

On the other hand, the main power source of the air ratchet is the air compressor, which generates the actual power from it, but its power is comparatively several times less than the impact wrench. Therefore, many manufacturers are currently designing electric air ratchets, and cordless air ratchets for user convenience.

Weight and Dimensions

Air ratchet is the best option in terms of size; it is a very compact and lightweight option for any mechanic. Basically, if you are planning to fasten the nuts, bolts, screws of hard to reach space, then undoubtedly, an air ratchet is one of the great options for you.

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Another great advantage is that because of the air ratchet’s lightweight features, it can be easily handled for a long time, perfect for long-time work.

On the other hand, the impact wrench size is a bit bigger, but not extra big. Besides, most impact wrenches do not have the capabilities to go too tight to reach space. So air ratchet is better than an impact wrench in terms of weight and dimension.


As we mentioned earlier, Air ratchet is mainly used in the field of lightly fastening tight to reach spaces. Also, an air ratchet set is a necessary tool for the automotive industry and garage work. Mini air ratchet is also used for fastening small nuts, bolts and screws.

An impact wrench is mainly used for heavy-duty tasks. It is used in the field of automotive as well as other professional work. Overall aspects, there are very few alternatives to impact wrench.


Central pneumatic air ratchet is several times ahead in terms of accuracy and orientation compared to impact driver. There are many reasons for this, but one of the reasons is that the air ratchet usually has a lot of lower torque, which gives users the opportunity to control in detail. The air wrench also has a right-angle orientation, which increases the body along with the head while running and provides better control.

An air impact wrench comes with a straight orientation. Also, since it has a higher torque speed, it cannot be strictly controlled like an air wrench.

Torque and Noise

When comparing torque between impact driver vs air ratchet, undoubtedly, an impact wrench is the winner in this race. Because the impact wrench can easily generate torque power up to 1800 ft-lbs or more, its noise is relatively high because of the extra torque.

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On the other hand, the air ratchet can generate up to 30 ft-lbs to 80 ft-lbs of torque, which is much less than an impact wrench. Its torque speed is much lower, so its noise much quieter than the impact wrench.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Is An Air Ratchet An Impact Wrench?

In most cases, beginners make these mistakes; mainly, the air ratchet and impact wrench have a fairly similar look; that’s why newbies think that both are the same. But the real thing is that an air ratchet is not an impact wrench.

Is An Air Ratchet Less Powerful Than An Impact Wrench?

The short answer is “Yes.” The air ratchet is less powerful than an impact wrench. Basically, an air ratchet can generate a maximum of 80 ft/lbs torque power, whereas an impact wrench has the highest torque power of 1500 ft/lbs or more.

Are Air Impact Wrenches Better?

It depends entirely on your work. If you are looking for small or personal work, mainly for low and medium torque nuts, bolts, tightening and loosening, then air ratchet is probably a great option; otherwise, for professional heavy and rusted nuts, bolts torque work, an impact wrench is the best.!

Final Verdict: Which One is Great for You?

If you are not a professional mechanic, then you will not need both air ratchet and impact wrench. Basically, if you want a better torque tool for working nuts, bolts, screws of regular small vehicles and better accuracy are required, and you do not need high power and versatility, then a pneumatic air ratchet wrench will be the most acceptable possibility for you.

Otherwise, if you are looking for professional heavy-duty work, such as rusted harder nuts, bolts, and fastening, then an impact wrench is a great option. Hopefully, our air ratchet vs impact wrench comparison guide has helped you to understand the difference between these two tools in detail. As well as helping you find the desired tool that is suitable for your job.

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