Kobalt High-Torque Impact Wrench Long-Term Review
After 2 Years of Professional Use, the Kobalt High-Torque Impact Wrench is Still Going Strong
After 2 years of use at an auto mechanic shop, I’m still using the Kobalt high-torque impact wrench. But how well has it held up over that time? Is it going to hold up in the hands of a Pro or is it just another DIY tool?
After 2 years of use in the professional automotive industry:
- Breaks any bolt that Snap-on or Cornwall can
- 4 Ah battery has a noticeable bump in performance over the 2 Ah
- There are scratches, but no overmold peeling, loose bolts, or rattling
- The trigger and rocker switch function as good as the day it arrived
- Plastic housing will absorb greases and darken the color but doesn’t affect performance
- No need for a warranty claim so far
This isn’t our first dance with Kobalt’s 24V Max 1/2″ Impact Wrench. We already reviewed it in terms of performance specs and where it falls in line with competitor models. But what I want to know is how it holds up after thousands of lug nuts and axle nut removals, head gasket jobs, engine/tranny swaps, oil spills, falling off the hood, being used as a hammer, and all sorts of abuse.
AT THE SHOP
This impact has some wear after 2 years. While in the shop, other techs would make fun of the 24V Max Kobalt lineup that I used, boasting that their Snap-on or Cornwell tools put them to shame.
This impact, quickly nicknamed “The Blue Beast,” changed everyone’s mind. Although The Blue Beast only claims 650 foot-pounds of torque, I haven’t come across a job it can’t handle that the other can.
When it did find a nut that it couldn’t break, the other techs would happily bring over their higher-torque (and more expensive) impacts, only to find that theirs didn’t break it either, and I’d have to grab a torch or 4-foot breaker bar.
There’s a noticeable difference in the power of the batteries. This ½-inch impact definitely seems stronger with a fully charged 4.0 Ah battery than it did with the smaller batteries.
With a fully charged 4.0 Ah battery, I was able to twist off an M12 wheel stud that had a cross-threaded lug nut. With that kind of power, I can retire my 1200 foot-pound Cornwell pneumatic impact. In fact, I haven’t used it since.
If you haven’t made the switch to cordless, the freedom of not being tied to a hose is a game changer. It’s one thing in the shop, but it’s even better on the go since air compressors are hard to take on a mobile call or to the junkyard.
With my use of this tool, the plastic and rubber materials have held up against all kinds roughhousing. I’ve dropped it, hit sway bars, and chattered it against the undercarriage and it hasn’t chipped, peeled, or cracked.
On other tools, the rubber overmold has separated, with soft rubber parts all but falling off. This model doesn’t have that kind of wear. Some scratches are the worst of it.
There are no loose case bolts or other general rattles either. The trigger is still as nice and smooth as the day I unboxed it, and the forward/reverse rocker switch still clicks over easily. I can say the same about the other tools I have from Kobalt’s 24V Max line.
The blue plastic does seem to absorb heavyweight greases, such as diff fluid or bearing grease. The blue darkens over time and doesn’t return to its original blue color even after some brake parts cleaner or engine degreaser.
However, blue and black are somewhat close, so it is less noticeable than something like Ryobi’s neon green or Milwaukee’s red getting dirty. The dirtiness of the case doesn’t affect the function, so it has never been an issue for me.
HANDLING AND HEFT
Although there are many highlights to the Kobalt high-torque impact wrench, nothing is without flaw. Due to the size of this impact, it’s not the best for every job. The length alone makes it difficult to get into tight areas, and it does its best work outside of the vehicle.
The girth of the tail end also can be difficult to maneuver inside the engine bay. Short sockets, wobble sockets, or extensions are your friend here.
Another issue is the heft of this tool. With the big battery, this tool weighs nearly 7.5 pounds. That can feel pretty heavy when you’re under a car, working up for a couple of hours.
However, it’s important to note that the Kobalt 24V Max high-torque impact wrench isn’t the only one of its kind with these drawbacks. Milwaukee’s 2767-20 High Torque impact comes in right around 9 inches, and Porter-Cable’s PCC740B Impact Wrench is right around 10 inches also.
If there is a nut that The Blue Beast cannot reach, then its little brother can surely get to it. There are 3/8-inch and ½-inch versions of the smaller impacts, which pack 150 and 200 foot-pounds of torque, respectively. These smaller impacts save precious inches when it matters and might save you from flipping a wrench.
Overall, the 24V Max Kobalt high-torque impact wrench stands the test of time and is proving to be a solid buy for the money. Despite constant use for heavy-duty jobs, drops, spills, using it beat stuck sockets, and general rough use, this tool is still giving all its got. The 5-year warranty from Lowe’s provides me with some peace of mind, even though I haven’t needed to use it.