Impact Sockets vs. Regular Sockets

Socket Set Advice

Impact Sockets vs Regular Sockets

When repairing or maintaining a vehicle or motor, you will always need a comprehensive and complete set of sockets and wrenches. Now, there are different types of sockets and each type has a corresponding fastener or turning tool.

Having said this, there shouldn’t be a debate between having an impact socket set vs. a regular socket set because both of them have their respective uses and advantages.

The best way to know which of them is essential to your line of work is to know what type of fasteners you are dealing with.

However, professional mechanics often settle onto buying both types to make sure that they have every tool they need for any automotive project.

To further understand the difference and best applications of the two, this article will tackle everything you need to know about impact socket sets vs. regular socket sets.

What is a regular socket set?

A regular socket is also called a hex socket because it has 6 sides. This socket is the most common type used for many cars throughout the world. A regular socket set usually contains different sizes of hex sockets, either SAE or Metric.

It may also include some wrenches, which are essential for turning or removing bolts of all kinds. The good thing about a regular socket set is that it can be used to any kind of vehicle, old or new.

If you need to loosen a hard to reach fastener, you only have to attach a universal joint and you are done. That is why this type of socket is a basic tool in every mechanic’s tool box whether they are a professional or a DIY enthusiast.

Another thing that you should know about regular sockets is that they can either have 6 points or 12 points. If you want greater torque, a 6-point socket is what you need because it is more precise.

Notice how most bolts have a hexagonal shape? For this reason, a 6-point socket fits better and more snugly onto bolts. Thus, it protects the bolt from rounding or wearing.

On the other hand, a 12-point socket is more flexible. You can fit it onto the bolt at any position. However, because it has more room for wiggle, the risk of damaging the bolt is really high.

What is an impact socket set?

An impact socket set is different from a regular socket set in usage and appearance. It is black because of the oxide coating (also called as the industrial surface finish). In other words, it is not shiny like any other type of socket. This coating prevents corrosion and wear. The impact socket is noticeably softer than a regular socket, yet tougher and more durable. Aside from this, impact socket sets also have thicker walls. And they are either made of chrome-molybdenum or chrome-vanadium alloy steel which are both known for their strength and durability.

Larger impact sockets have a grooved ring around the outside. They have locking pins that fit through the side hole of the socket as well as a ratchet end for the impact wrench.

Like a regular socket set, this type can either be 6 points or 12 points, as well as shallow or deep. Meanwhile, impact sockets are powered pneumatically by compressed air, electrically, or hydraulically.

What is an impact wrench?

Using an impact wrench for a regular socket is not advisable because a regular socket cannot manage the vibration and power of this tool. Likewise, you cannot use a regular ratchet with an impact socket.

Therefore, impact wrenches are just for impact sockets. This combination ensures greater torque that a regular wrench and socket cannot provide. You can use them when you have to remove seized nuts and bolts from the vehicle.

How does it work? The torque is multiplied as the impact wrench stores kinetic energy in a rotating hammer. There will be a short burst because of the force in the form of vibration. The tightest bolt or fastener will be loosened without damaging either the socket or the wrench.

As mentioned earlier, there shouldn’t be a debate between having an impact socket set vs. a regular socket set since both are useful for specific automotive applications. It’s just that regular sockets are generally cheap while impact sockets are expensive.

Impact socket sets are more of an investment since you may not need it for every project. However, you can include both of them in your garage workshop and find them handy in the future.

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