The new age of high-powered cordless tools must be killing the non-professional air-compressor industry. No pounding noise of pressurizing a tank, no tangle of unyielding hoses and no ear-piercing shriek echoing through the house and across the neighborhood.
Cordless wrenches simply do their job with a relatively quiet pull of the trigger. And if you've shunned these electric marvels because they lacked power, torque and have a long "user-time," be assured, that has all changed.
For the auto enthusiast who ventures to the track for a weekend of competition, the cordless tool has become a necessity. There is hardly a pit that doesn't have one of these gems holding a prominent post atop the toolbox. Most, it's true, are high-twisting, 18v, 2-in.-drive impact guns aimed at blasting lug nuts onto wheel studs with more than 200 ft-lb of torque. They have certainly brought automation and convenience to the amateur racer who has refrained from the fully enclosed, double-axle trailer and its accompanying generator and compressor.
To complement its bigger, cordless impact wrenches, Snap-on has introduced a new lightweight, 12v, cordless impact wrench with a 3/8-in. drive. The new kit (CT3110) comes complete with a wrench, battery pack, charger and carrying case.
Although it possesses a torque rating of just 75 ft-lb, the wrench's compact size and less-than 4-lb weight makes it better suited for reaching the most isolated nuts and bolts. Its high-capacity battery gives a 45-min. charge time, which proved to be more than adequate for a day at the track.
Unlike the 2-in.-drive wrenches, the 3/8-in. size allows the wrench to not only utilize standard sockets, but also other socketed tools. A sliding switch controls forward/reverse, giving the user one-handed control. This is an important aspect when pressing the wrench into tight recesses. The variable speed trigger provides superior control.
Making sure the battery was fully charged in the morning, I tested the new tool during a recent Sunday slalom event. Luckily, I had little need for a toolbox that day, but the racers surrounding our pit area were not so fortunate. Along with an array of other tools, the cordless wrench disappeared and reappeared a number of times.
While the wrench's torque strength isn't up to the task of thoroughly tightening steel lug nuts, I found it adequate to spin them into place. From there, the lug nuts were secured with a properly set torque wrench. A final step that should be done regardless of what tool you use to fit the wheels.
At the end of the day, and somewhat to my chagrin, the Snap-on impact wrench was returned to my toolbox in less than pristine condition. It was in perfect working order, though the rechargeable battery was on its last gasps, but the high-impact glass-filled nylon body exhibited the scraps and scratches of harsh use.
What I thought would be a disadvantage-the wrench's lower torque rating-turned out to be a benefit. Compared to its more powerful brethren, the 12v cordless wrench is far more versatile. In hindsight, coming back weathered and scarred was the best testimony for the wrench and proved there was certainly a niche for it to fill, both at the track and in the garage.