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Battery Impact Guns

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We periodically distribute our employee handbook and shop practices manual to the whole staff and they are supposed to sign a receipt for each acknowledging that they have read and will comply. This time a relatively new tech told our admin person he would sign. Why not? Because under the section about wheels and tires it says "do not use battery operated impact tools to perform final installation of wheel attachment hardware." He had a big expensive half inch drive battery impact and thought he should be able to use it for everything. I was very proud of myself for not going out there and telling him to do what the hell I said. I calmed down and put the justification for the rule in writing.


Here it is:



Wheel installation is arguably the riskiest operation we perform in terms of the potential disastrous results possible if performed incorrectly. Engines and transmissions failing catastrophically pale in comparison when you consider the results of a wheel coming adrift at speed.


To minimize the risk and the corporation’s liability, we have established what we feel is the best and most reasonable approach. It is based on a standardized process, tools with known capabilities, and technician experience and training. Some companies require that all lugs be torqued manually to manufacturer’s specs. We have adopted a less stringent process, but one that is accepted practice in our industry and has minimal impact on technician productivity. Implementation of this process depends on the following:


  • A compressor with adequate pressure and volume to insure that it is capable in almost all circumstances of providing more torque than needed for the types of vehicles we service.


  • Half-inch drive air impact wrenches that are known to provide more torque than needed for the types of vehicles we service.


  • Torque sticks that limit the torque to approximately manufacturer’s spec.


Battery-operated tools have permeated our industry and in most cases they are easier to use and offer improved productivity. There are great performers and not-so-hot performers. There is no way for management to evaluate the performance of every impact gun that appears in the shop and there is no way to determine the continuing performance of those tools as their batteries discharge and deteriorate with age.


The standard process for wheel installation at First Landing Autocare incorporates the use of professional-grade half-inch air impact wrench connected to shop air supply with the correct torque stick for the application. Battery impact guns are not to be used for final tightening of wheel fasteners.



How does the group feel about this?


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