Milwaukee M18 Fuel Half-Inch Impact Wrench Review

Timothy

Getting after it with the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Half-Inch Impact Wrench

  • Good: POWAAA! Adaptability, customization, and just sheer grunt.
  • Bad: It’s expensive, heavy, and the battery isn’t included, which starts at $100 without the battery charger.
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Earlier this year, my family bought and moved into a house in northern Utah. At the time, there was a considerable amount of snow on the ground, so snow tires were a must. We slapped a set of Vredestein Wintrac Pros on our Volvo, and I haven’t had an issue since. That said, it was time for a tire rotation to prevent any uneven wear. 

One of the coolest features about this particular impact wrench is the option for multiple driver modes, which enable you to precisely control the wrench’s torque. There are three standard drive modes, each with its own set of specific controls. There’s Custom Drive Control, which allows you to control the impact’s maximum speed, bolt-removal speed, Precision mode, and Trigger Ramp Up. There’s Screw-In Concrete Anchor, which has the ability to set the size and length of the bolt, anchor depth, and Trigger Ramp Up. And my favorite, Lug Nut Control, which lets you select between 80-130 foot-pounds and 130-180 foot-pounds, depending on the job. It also has bolt-removal speed functionality, as well as Trigger Ramp Up speed controls, and a Star pattern infographic for help bolting a tire back on. Mjölnir doesn’t have those types of settings.

With the need to rotate my tires, I set to work. My Volvo XC90’s required torque rating is 100 foot-pounds, so I queued up the super-easy-to-use app, selected the first mode slot, clicked the 80-130 foot-pounds rating, and clicked the trigger to accept the change. Once the SUV was lifted enough to hold the wheel still but off the ground enough to loosen the bolts, I popped off the lug caps and unbolted the lugs. The Milwaukee didn’t shed a bead of sweat, and the rest of the wheels and tires came off without a hitch. 

One trick I wasn’t able to test is a great hack for anyone with an impact wrench and an old-school scissor jack. With those tools, you can remove the jack arm and use the impact’s rotational force to easily lift your car. My Volvo has one that’s integrated into the mechanism, so without a hacksaw or bolt cutters, it wasn’t coming off.

Bolting the wheels and tires back in place was a similarly easy process. I did the same for my father-in-law as well. He hadn’t rotated his tires in almost a year. It was time for other projects.

Since we’re still somewhat moving into our home, there are a lot of jobs to do. One that sprung up on me was the addition of a children’s play set in our backyard for our three kids. In three boxes that seemed to be filled with 150,000 parts, a sea of nuts and screws and bolts and anchors were offered up in the most diabolical Lego set imaginable. All of it was meant to be put together via a flimsy wrench, an allen key, and some nearly indecipherable instructions. 

Thankfully, I had the Milwaukee and the ability to set the impact’s rpm so it wouldn’t punch a hole straight through the wood. The play-set manufacturer said that it would take 10 to 15 hours to put the play set together with the provided tools. With my wife’s help and the Milwaukee set to Custom Drive Control, I cut that down to just six and a half hours. Likewise, one of the M18 18-volt batteries is all I needed for all three jobs over the course of two weeks. 

Milwaukee says the M18 XC 5.0 lithium-ion battery is good for five amp-hours of run time. “Each battery pack is durably built for heavy-duty use, runs cooler, and performs in climates below 0 F/-18 C,” it states. “This protection routes water away from the electronics and out of the battery pack, extends your battery’s run time and life by minimizing heat, and prevents pack failures from vibration or drops.” The battery is also interchangeable with the rest of Milwaukee’s M18 lineup of power tools. (I may be looking at Milwaukee’s M18 chainsaw at the moment.)

I can attest to the drop point. While I was working on the swing set, I dropped the Milwaukee a few times, and it kept chugging along. I even tossed it onto the garage floor when I was removing the wheels and tires, but that wasn’t a big concern, either. This is a beast of a tool. 

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