Cordless power tools are becoming increasingly popular for shop use, primarily due to the convenience offered (no air hoses or power cords to drag around). This offering from ACDelco is one beefy cordless workhorse. Like many techs, I’ve been through my fair share of cordless tools over the years, some good, some bad, some great and some a downright waste of money.
The new 90-degree angle 3/8-inch drive cordless impact wrench from ACDelco is definitely in the “wow” category. When you run across a tool that does what it’s supposed to do and you fall in love with it at the same time, it’s a pleasure to recommend it to others.
The ARI2044 is not a cheesy battery-powered toy designed for the occasional-use DIY market. This is professional grade.
The kit (housed in a heavy-duty plastic case) includes the wrench, two rechargeable lithium ion batteries and a battery charger.
The cool factors include an LED light that illuminates the socket area whenever the trigger is depressed, a very tactile and secure grip surface, a variable speed trigger that’s conveniently long for no-fumble access, a digital clutch system (with LCD screen display) that allows you to easily reduce or increase operating torque within six settings, a thoughtfully installed rubber bumper surround at the anvil head, and handy indicator lights that inform you of battery life and of achieved torque.
Torque value stages
A torque control adjustment is featured at the left of the LCD screen, featuring a + and a – button that allow you to scroll to the desired clutch stage. The lab-tested values are as follows:
Stage 1: Average 14.8 ft.-lbs.
Stage 2: Average 22.1 ft.-lbs.
Stage 3: Average 33.2 ft.-lbs.
Stage 4: Average 40.6 ft.-lbs.
Stage 5: Average 51.7 ft.-lbs.
Max: 60 ft.-lbs.
When the selected torque is reached, the tool de-clutches and a green indicator light illuminates. When battery charge drops below 14.4V, power cuts off and a red indicator light illuminates, while the screen displays “LV” (low voltage). In addition to the low-power cut-off and warning, if tool operating temperature reaches over 140 degrees Fahrenheit, power shuts down, the red light illuminates and a screen message “OT” (over temperature) is displayed. In other words, this is an “intelligent” cordless wrench.
As if these features weren’t enough to whet your appetite, check out the battery charger. This isn’t just a plug-in box that allows you to recharge a battery. The “Intelligent Charger with AFCS” monitors battery charge from standby to charging and charged status, and indicates high/low battery temperature, and diagnoses battery condition (with a notification if the battery is defective). By the way, I don’t have a clue about what “AFCS” stands for (my guess is Advanced Fuel Cell System). At any rate, it’s a darned cool charger.
The cool electronic features aside, the main concern for any tool is performance. After all, regardless of how many bells and whistles any tool contains, if it can’t handle the workload, it’s not worth the materials from which it was made.
Putting it to the test
With that in mind, we put the tool to the test in our shop.
Granted, the wrench is on the “long” side, measuring a total length of 14.5 inches. However, given the grip position, it’s extremely well balanced (not “battery-end” heavy). As soon as I began using the wrench, one design feature became very evident. The anvil head housing is radiused, with no abrupt edge protrusions to snag on nearby surfaces when engaging the socket to a fastener. This is a very much-appreciated feature.
Grip-wise, I tried the tool in a variety of situations including clean bare hand and clean/dry grip, greasy hand on dry grip, greasy hand on greasy grip and latex gloved hand on both dry and greasy grip. Even in the worst scenario (everything slimy), I never lost control of the tool. Naturally, any tool should be wiped clean before using, but the tactile grip area definitely does its job.
I put the tool through its paces in each torque range. Each time, tightening stopped when the selected range was achieved. In dark undercar or underhood areas, the mini spotlight proved to be very handy, illuminating the immediate work area.
The only feature I wasn’t thrilled about is the length of the head (about 2.341 inches from rear of the head to the anvil tip). This takes up a bit more space than a conventional style air ratchet, but keep in mind that this is a beefy wrench capable of spitting out 60 ft.-lbs., so it isn’t limited to simply running a bolt or nut once loosened, or running a bolt or nut down prior to final tightening. This little puppy has some honest oomph.
In order to try out the durability factor, not only in terms of mechanical function but to test the electronics (controls and display), I then began to abuse the little guy by dropping it onto my shop’s concrete floor six times from a height of about four to five feet. After each hit, I tried it out without one single flaw. As a final “test,” I threw the tool across the shop at a distance of about 20 feet, allowing it to bounce off of the floor before hitting my tire changer. Once again, she just kept on ticking.
While I naturally don’t advise treating any tool in this manner, I was impressed by the construction during this abuse. Naturally, I’m not about to think that this tool (or any battery powered tool) would never break under abusive conditions, but my initial impression was that this impact wrench was designed well beyond the occasional-user level.
Battery life was excellent. Four guys in my shop used the tool, on and off, for an entire nine-hour day and she never drained down. ●
MODEL: ARI12044 angle impact wrench with digital clutch
Voltage 18 V
Drive 3/8-inch square
Weight 3.92 pounds
Max reverse torque 95 ft.-lbs.
Max tightening torque 60 ft.-lbs.
No-load speed 0-2,000 rpm
Impacts per minute 0-3,000 rpm
Control torque range 14.8 - 51.7 ft.-lbs.