December 22, 2011
With a temperature drop and cold winter weather on the way, it was time to put the snow tires on my wife’s PT Cruiser. With a little effort of running the wrench forward and backwards I managed to get about 16 of the bolts off without too much effort. The other four nuts were on very tight, almost seized. This has always been a problem with this car and its wheel nuts, so out came the breaker bar. All was going well until the security nut decided not to come off. In pulling on the breaker bar, I stripped the special inset design that matched with the special security socket.
Mastercraft 3.5-amp impact wrench. Click image to enlarge
A quick trip to another auto supply store and I found a special half-inch socket that grips these security nuts (about 19 mm) and unbolts them. The instructions read that this special socket grips the security nut in a backwards motion, undoing it like you would any other bolt. The instructions also stated that an impact gun/wrench is needed to take full advantage of the special socket.
With some of the nuts on the car being on very tight, I wondered if the impact wrench would be able to loosen the security bolts off of the two wheels. To my surprise both security nuts came off with little effort (getting the nut out of the special socket was another story). According to the instructions, the impact wrench will deliver up to 220 lb-ft of torque. I would say that this wrench is a little shy of that torque number, but nonetheless it managed to twist off the security bolts, which is all I wanted.
During the whole wheel nut affair, the impact wrench managed to get soaked in wet snow, bounced around on the paved driveway and dropped on the semi-frozen grass. Never once did it fail to operate or perform poorly – it kept doing its job without complaints. I have to say it did save me a lot of time removing the bolts, including my mishap with the stuck security nuts.
At under $40, the Mastercraft 3KO 3.5-amp impact wrench is good value for what it is intended to do. At the $139 suggested retail price, however, I would be inclined to spend more money and get the more powerful 7.5 amp unit.