At one time, it would have been unthinkable to call out a breakdown service to change a wheel. Now, many motorists do, as their rims have been secured by powerful air tools.
However, you can release the nuts using an impact wrench, powered either by your car’s 12V socket or a battery pack. These products do the same job as a tyre depot’s air tools. But which is best? We put seven through their paces.
On a test rig, we used the products to free nuts tightened from 90lb/ft to 150lb/ft – the settings for most car wheels. Cordless units scored points for a spare power source, a fast charger and a range of sockets. Battery life, comfort and bulkiness were also evaluated. With the 12V tools, we considered lead length, adaptors for connecting to a car battery, the range of sockets and a case.
Clarke: 01992 565300, www.clarkeinternational.com
DeWalt: 01753 567055, www.dewalt.co.uk
Draper: 023 8026 6355, www.draper.co.uk
Hamilton Classic: 0870 204 8080, www.hamiltonclassic.co.uk
Laser: 01926 815000, www.lasertools.co.uk
Sealey: 01284 757500, www.sealey.co.uk
For cheap and effective results, Laser’s 12V plug-in 3778 is hard to beat. But if you prefer to go cordless, the Clarke CIR24 offers great performance for the money – it’s cheap enough to be bought solely for wheel swaps. The Hamilton Classic Wheel Nut Gun is a genuine air tool rival, and costs far less than similarly strong battery-powered wrenches.