Have you ever tried to do simple repair works at your garage? You can do all the procedures manually but why? There are a lot of helping tools. A ratchet is a mechanical device that assembles or loses some fixing details (bolts, nuts, etc.). This is a vivid part of an average home tool kit. The main difference from the classic wrench is ergonomic and speed. These qualities of the best cordless ratchet guarantee you good instrumental steel and powerful engines. So, you probably need to know the fittest instrument for your needs.
There is no difference, what kind of work you need to do. Ratchets always work great in tight places. Also, they are helpful. You don’t need to have strong hands to do some basic operations. This instrument saves your time and allows you to master your mechanical crafts. Let’s see the specific details about the most popular and decent.
How I tested the cordless ratchets
The test car for these instruments was the Jeep Wrangler TJ 97-06 with a replaced radiator, water pump, and thermostat (I installed brand new ones). Also, I worked with a set of Mac “Powered by Dewalt” 12V Max 3/8″ ratchet (BRS038-S2) bits, and they were very robust and comfortable. The most challenging exercise was to change ten fixing bolts from the radiator and the fan shroud. There is a lack of space in the engine bay, and the bolts were pretty rusty at the old Wranglers. I placed them at the time of assembling, and since these times hadn’t been loosened at all.
What I paid attention to when picked a cordless ratchet
Choose your instrument wisely. Ratchet is a small and practical tool at an affordable price. It is a common thing in every car and mechanic workshop. But you need to check the characteristics of the tool. Every single disassembling wrench is a long-term investment. When I choose a tool – it shouldn’t lay on the shelf permanently. And when you have a dire need to lose some bolts – this device should be ready. So, I started with the characteristics. The decent ratchet should be lightweight, powerful, and easy to pack in the car.
Torque and speed
Let’s see some basic things about an assembly. When you start to work with wrenches – you should know the effort needed for every action. Torque in physics is a power that the ratchet user applies to bolts, nuts, etc. When you are buying tools for the USA, this parameter measures in ft-lbs. Why is it important? Just look in the mechanic’s manual. Every action should be done with the proper torque. No more, no less. The overpowered tool can spoil the bolt’s thread. And the weak ratchet just can’t tighten the fixing parts with needed power.
The speed of the cordless electric ratchet is about the same. It measures in rotations per minute (hundreds of RPM). The characteristics here are pretty linear: more RPM means the device with a more powerful engine. Of course, the high-priced devices often have more speed changing options.
When you are purchasing a gadget – you want maximum possibilities. Modern multi-tools are about a lot of working nozzles. It is very comfortable. You can have one good ratchet for almost all assembling goals. For cars, the choice is obvious. The non-standard heads are rare and sometimes can be bought separately.
Size and weight
As we told you above, the cordless ratchets work within tight spaces. Modern cars have small and inhabited engine bays. The less time you will spend with these operations – the better quality of assembling will be. Ratchets can automatize many small actions. That is why you need a compact device with a decent motor inside.
Weight is also a major issue. All the little automatic wrench tools are made for one-handed operations. Try to lift a couple of pounds and stay still with it. You can’t do this for a long time. Human muscles are doing great with dynamic tension, not static. The lightweight models are your choice for precise actions. The radiator on my Wrangler was pretty heavy but the small ratchet did work great, and I wasn’t tired at all.
All the modern power tools should have a decent comfort level. Ratchets are for quick operations, but their ergonomics are vivid. The grip of the handle helps the user to work precisely without being extra weary. That’s why you should measure every tool in the hands. People are different, so their palms and fingers are. Also, mind the material. Good grips are made of thick and solid rubber. Today ratchets have strong motors that shake very hard, especially in high-performance mode. And the user needs steady hands for a good build. An intensive squeeze of the metal or plastic means that things went completely wrong.
Another important feature is flexibility. This means that you can use the gadget in difficult situations without losing control. The body of the perfect ratchet is pretty short and massive, but the head and handle must be narrow and long for extremely distant spaces. Every action with the tool should be precise. You will need some room to move the handle. Without it, the sockets and bolts never will stand in proper positions. Also, the trigger finger should always be free to control the spinning speed.
Another needed thing is a forward-reverse switch. This little button allows you to change the move direction from assembling to disassembling. For a tight engine bay, this may be the only option to fix some problems quickly.
The best battery powered ratchet has lithium or Li-Pol cells. They are the safest and have a compromise between capacity, life cycle, and weight. Of course, there are some limits. Lithium cells are very vulnerable to heat, and they can’t live long after regular freezing. Also, you should charge them with proper devices with a strong power supply.
The autonomous battery life is measured by amperes (A) or milliamperes (mA) per hour. Just like your smartphone does. Of course, every power cell loses its charge through the time of still life. An average lithium battery with an Ampere-per-hour (Ah) rating between 0.5 Ah and 2.5 Ah has about 10 thousand full cycles of recharging. In other terms, your lithium-ion ratchet will be fine for about 5-7 years of active duty.
The main feature of every power tool is safety. Every rotating part is dangerous. The manufacturers made a lot of indicators, switches, and other things for safety concerns. Even a rookie can use a modern wrench with a motor. But the best electric ratchet always has a manual with a description of proper work and typical mechanical faults. The safety devices can be numerous, but the user should always think while working.
The main features in this category are:
- Safety trigger locks. They prevent your palms and fingers from an accident engine start. You can see the same locks at the wired tools. The high-class cordless ratchets have powerful engines, so these safety devices help not overtight fasteners.
- A battery indicator shows you the real power mode of the ratchet. It is not safety stuff but can help you with the needed torque for every action.
- The forward-reverse switch is not only ergonomic. It also backs off a fastener without overtightening.
- An electric brake is an immediate automatic stopper. Release the trigger – and the tool won’t work. Of course, always mind the ratchet’s momentum.
Battery-Powered Ratchets Comparison Table
|Cordless ratchets||Torque||Versatility||Speed||Variable speed||Review|
|Makita RW01R1best overall||35 ft-lbs||3/8″, 1/4″||0 – 800 RPM||yes||Review|
|Kimo 3302best budget||40 ft-lbs||3/8″||0 – 400 RPM||yes||Review|
|Milwaukee 2457-21||35 ft-lbs||3/8″||0 – 250 RPM||yes||Review|
Best Cordless Ratchet Reviews
Makita RW01R1 – best overall
Why do I choose the 800 RPM Makita ratchet? My history of local handwork with various mechanic tools is pretty long. And guess what? The speed of work always matters. Once I have experienced multiple issues with large bolts at the engine bay.
My previous ratchets weren’t good for quick assembly. Then I tested Makita RW01R1. With this tool, I saved a lot of time. Also, I like a sprag clutch type of mechanism. You can work successfully without the battery. It is not an impact tool, but it works great with manual tuning. I use it for loosening and tightening the last turn. And the torque is very accurate, every time.
Maybe, RW01R1 is a little bit overpriced, but Makita always holds the line of quality. I like purchase options too. You can buy a bare tool, a cordless ratchet kit, and a branded battery separately. The universal Makita charger and square drive anvil adapter included.
Among the models of this class, we can find ACDelco ARW1201. This ratchet is lighter and has higher torque, but the fidelity and the general service terms are a little bit worse.
The main reasons to choose Makita RW01R1 are speed and durability – it is the best battery powered ratchet overall on the market. I tested it successfully, this model has no rivals. Are you tired from the heavy and clumsy tool? This ratchet is very ergonomic and has a high-performing motor. My fingers are pretty thick, but this ratchet is very handy for tight spaces. I highly recommend this model for all the garage works.
- Versatility, inch: 3/8″, 1/4″
- Torque, ft-lbs: 35
- Speed, RPM: 0 – 800
- Variable speed: yes
- Two main modes – for 3/8″ and 1/4″ anvils, quickly interchangeable
- The powerful motor – up to 800 RPM. The speed controller is also here
- A summary torque of 35-foot pounds
- The tool needs a standard 12V AC
- The weight is about 5 pounds with a battery
- The engine power is a little bit overloaded for your daily routine
Sometimes you can’t obtain the most powerful tool with all the features. So, I decided to test something different for my workshop and your better knowledge. Let’s take a look at the middle-ranged devices.
Compared to Makita RW01R1, Milwaukee 2457-21 has a lesser rotation speed and shipped without some features (sometimes the manufacturer delivers the kit with). For home use and this price, this is good power. To tighten the bolt or to make some minor disassembling? There is no problem with Milwaukee.
Also, this tool shows good endurance during a lot of mechanical work with rusty farmer mechanical equipment for 3/8″ anvils which is the most popular standard.
Milwaukee 2457-21 shows great potential. It is light and has refined steel on the working head, which gives you numerous hours of assemble and disassemble even with tight details.
- Versatility, inch: 3/8″
- Torque, ft-lbs: 35
- Speed, RPM: 0 – 250 RPM
- Variable speed: yes
- Torque is the standard 35-foot pounds. It is a balanced engine.
- Suitable for 3/8″ anvils, the most popular standard.
- A kit with a half-hour AC-DC adapter, standard battery, and an adapter to 1/4”.
- The dual powertrain includes a 12V battery and pneumatic power. It works both in corded and wired mode.
- It has a pretty limited rotation speed – only 250 RPM.
Kimo 3302 – best budget
I recommend the Kimo 3302 for an easy routine and even for some serious repair work. The motor isn’t the strongest, though. Sometimes you just need to tighten a bolt or lose a nut without bells and whistles. Kimo 3302 has some limitations but is very practical.
If you are a beginner – this is the device for your first practice. Unlike the senior Makita’s and Milwaukee’s models, it weighs less than two pounds and has a basic set of features.
Kimo 3302 gives you a comfortable assembly with the proper torque. Also, it works great with pretty standard batteries, saving energy through all the assembling cycles. As you can see, the even modest ratchet can tame the rusty bolts easily.
This model is the best budget ratchet tool and has no rivals in its class. The device is compact, and you can tame it even with small and not very strong hands.
- Versatility, inch: 3/8″
- Torque, ft-lbs: 40
- Speed, RPM: 0 – 400 RPM
- Variable speed: yes
- Very light – less than two pounds.
- The engine here is up to 400 RPM and 40 foot-pounds.
- The kit has two 20V 2A batteries with a service term of about 1000 cycles. Also, there is an hour fast charge station, 7 X sockets, and an adapter to 1/4”.
- The kit batteries are not a great choice for a long distance. They lose charge too quickly (you can easily replace them with more capable elements, though).
Difference between cordless ratchet wrench and cordless impact wrench
A cordless ratchet wrench is a very versatile device for assembling. It is the mechanic’s first draft pick. Of course, you can do all these actions manually. But why? Hand wrenches are slow and always need to use strong fingers. The impact wrench is not good for a tight engine bay and other small spaces. It is bulky and can’t help with distant nuts and bolts.
A battery-powered drive ratchet wrench is universal. It works great when you need to make a small operation quickly. Also, it is a battery-powered autonomous tool. You can fix your car right on the road without wasting time and searching for workshops nearby. These tools work with ¼, 3/8, ½ or ¾ inch drive sizes. They do the work gently. When you know how to act with the ratchet, you will never spoil a tread, bolt, or nut.