I understand that lug nuts should not be tightened with an impact wrench because of the risk of over-torquing. Could a lug nut be tightened most of the way with a powered non-impact driver and then finished off with a torque wrench?

Specifically, is this a reasonable and/or common approach, and are there any caveats?

  • The only "powered" drivers I've ever scene for this type of operation is an impact driver. Can you please let me know exactly what you're talking about? – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 27 '16 at 0:19
  • My understanding is that a typical cordless driver/drill is not an impact driver, but I acknowledge that I could be totally confused. For example, amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00ET5VMTU – amcnabb Nov 27 '16 at 0:41
  • A "typical cordless driver/drill" would not be used for this operation. They don't develop enough torque to do the job. Only an impact driver would have enough force to break a lug free. There are cordless impacts which can be used. In fact, Dewalt makes a 1/2" drive impact which can produce up to 700 lb-ft of torque. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 27 '16 at 0:51
  • @Paulster2, I know that an ordinary cordless driver is inappropriate for loosening a lug nut, but I'm asking about tightening it. – amcnabb Nov 27 '16 at 15:47
  • You've asked if it is a "reasonable and/or common approach" ... the answer to this is no. Doesn't mean you cannot use one. It just means most mechanics (even back yard mechanics) wouldn't. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 27 '16 at 15:50

tl dr: No. Not a driver/drill as you've described.

Usually, hand tools are used for the tightening of lugs, then followed with a torque wrench to ensure accuracy in getting the wheels onto a vehicle. This is not only the preferred method, but how it should be done.

There is one caveat ... if you use torque sticks, you can use an impact gun. A torque stick is a device which, when the lug gets to the specific torque needed, will give enough to not tighten any more. They are magic, but work perfectly. You'll see tire shops use these because it saves a lot of time.


Here is a link to the Torque-Stick site. I'm only including it for reference to what I'm talking about.

  • Everything I've seen online says to tighten by hand--I haven't seen any mention of using non-impact drivers. – amcnabb Nov 26 '16 at 21:28
  • @amcnabb - Did you mean to say "impact" and not "non-impact" drivers? I've updated the question with the product mentioned. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 26 '16 at 21:33
  • I think amcnabb means "by hand" as opposed to a non-impact "powered driver". The OP mentions use of a "non-impact driver", which could be either hand tools only or a powered driver without an impact feature... so, the question would be: Is it OK to use a non-impact powered driver then finish up with a torque wrench, or should this job be completed using hand-powered tools only?" – Jimmy Fix-it Nov 26 '16 at 21:47
  • I have not seen any shop in our area not follow up the torque stick with a torque wrench for final set. – spicetraders Nov 26 '16 at 22:49
  • @Paulster2, yes, that is what I meant. I'll edit my question accordingly to clarify. Thanks. – amcnabb Nov 26 '16 at 23:07

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