As an auto tech student, or someone looking to work on vehicles, you’re probably considering a cordless impact driver. And if you aren’t, you definitely should be. During my time as an automotive student, I used my cordless driver every day. Sure, a screwdriver can do most of the tasks a cordless can, and at a much lower cost. That being said, what will take you several minutes with a screwdriver can be reduced to a few seconds with a cordless driver, which turns into saving you hours of time working on vehicles.
Starting off with the cordless driver that got me through auto tech school is Milwaukee’s “M18 Fuel” driver. You’ll see this driver everywhere, and for good reason. It’s very durable, relatively light-weight, and has a fantastic battery life. I typically only have to charge mine maybe once a week, but often less. My advice (and this goes for every entry on this list) is to purchase two batteries, so one can charge while you use the other. As mentioned, this is the driver I personally use and have never had an issue with it; my only real complaint would be that the handle is not the most comfortable I’ve ever used, but that is a small price to pay for such a great tool otherwise. Keep in mind, this is (by a small margin) the most expensive tool on this list. And while I don’t often recommend new or student mechanics purchase the most expensive tools right off the bat, this is one that is definitely worth the investment, as I personally use this almost every day on the job. So, if you want my “best choice” in driver for student mechanics, this would be my front runner.
Another solid choice for student mechanics is DeWalt’s cordless impact driver. Functionally this driver is very similar to Milwaukee’s driver, with a few small differences. As with most of DeWalt’s other tools, one of the hugest boons this driver has to offer is its three year warranty. That means you know you’ll always have an impact driver during a 2-year program, and then some! In my experience, this is one of the most popular options for both new mechanics and full-time professionals. It has an exceptionally short “head”, allowing you to get into tight spaces very easily. One of the more unique features of DeWalt’s driver is the replaceable brushes, to help with longevity, as it’s a lot better to be able to replace a part as opposed to replacing an entire driver. This driver produces 1,330 in-lbs of torque, which is much more than you will need for most applications. This impact driver is easy to control, being fairly light weight, a little less than three pounds, and an anti-slip grip and a body that is durable and well balanced. All these reasons are why if you’re in the market for a cordless driver, you should give this one a good look. You don’t have to take my word for it, over 700 Amazon reviews have given this driver a 5-star rating!
To end our trio of best picks for impact drivers is Ryobi’s One+ impact driver. You will notice the best thing about this driver right away- the price. That’s not to say that cheaper is always better, but this is definitely a solid inexpensive choice. And when it comes to young mechanics, we need to save all the money we can while paying for school! At less than fifty bucks, you definitely get a lot for the money. Ryobi’s driver comes with similar bells and whistles as more expensive drivers, like a tri-beam LED to help illuminate your work area. One of my favorite features is the attaches magnetic tray, which helps keep track of your bits. You don’t get any loss of power at this price either, as it pumps out 1,600 inch-pounds of torque, more than the previous two drivers! The drawback of this driver is that it is slightly larger than the previous two- and that definitely makes a difference in utility, as being able to fit these drivers in tight spaces is a huge asset. That being said, this driver makes a solid choice for those looking to save a little extra cash.