What Are The Advantages/Disadvantages of Wheel Brace vs Breaker Bar & Impact Sockets vs Impact Wrench

I currently have an old Camry & use a wheel brace to remove lug nuts/change tyre. I use Herschell Silicone Paste on the lug nuts to make wheel removal easy. I change a tyre maybe once per year.

I say this vid of 4WDs on Fraser Island & they were using an impact wrench for wheels, cant remember what for though.

I will be getting a used 4WD for my next car purchase & go to Fraser Island at some stage. Should I be looking at an impact wrench or breaker bar? I don't want to get Gear Acquisition Syndrome for no reason.


  • The problem is that the tyre places uses impact wrenches to tighten the lugs which is just lazy, so makes it impossible to remove by hand. I use a tyre breaker bar with extendable handle which makes life easy.

    Impact wrenches should only be used to loosen, never tighten. Having your own one makes removing faster but you still need to tighten them manually (breaker bar). When I used to go 4WDing I only carried a breaker bar as I'm never in that much of a hurry.

    • Why breaker bar vs wheel brace? I've never used a breaker bar.

      • Wheel braces are just something cheap that car manufacturers can throw in. Breaker bars can be used with other sized sockets, extensions etc, and you can use a steel pipe to extend it up get more leverage. If you're going remote areas then you should have a socket set anyhow.

        Either one is fine to leave in the car for random flats.

      • Breaker gives you more leverage but you need to carry around sockets. Also depending on how much effort & torque you feel like doing these can get pretty long. Wheel brace has many different sockets to suit different sizes and is likely to be more compact.

  • you need impact wrench if you fall into any of these categories:
    - frequent wheel chnage
    - lazy
    - too much spare money
    - you already have one cos of your job

    I have been 4WDing long time and never felt the need to use one. It is seldom a wheel need to be changed. Spend your money on a decent air compressor instead.

  • I use a breaker bar and deep 6 point impact socket.

    The dudes on Frazer Island were using an impact wrench because it was quicker and available.

  • Impact wrench is just convenience. Note that actual 4WDs have higher torque on the wheel nuts than a car so your typical small cross brace might be hard to get enough leverage to break free so carrying a breaker bar and correct size socket is a good idea and what I do. I do use an impact wrench at home though for any work on the vehicle plus a torque wrench for putting stuff back.

    Also, not sure any sort of lube is a good idea. Using something like that is going to change the torque applied so while they may come off easier, it's also likely you're over torquing them when putting them on and especially when the tyre shop rattle guns them on.

    • not sure any sort of lube is a good idea

      I'm quite sure that putting lube on your wheel lugs is a horrible idea.

  • Your average handheld 18V impact won't have more torque than a breaker bar with a steel pipe on it. It's just quicker, not stronger. Impacts used by tyre shops are much larger.

  • You don’t NEED more tools, but you need more tools! The brace in the tool kit is as little as the manufacturer can get away with. I prefer one of the cross shaped ones, easier to get a good grip. I do have a cordless impact wrench that I’ve used a few times when changing multiple tyres at home. Might carry it on the next 4wd trip though.

    Those that travel with a cordless impact likely also travel with other 18v items and a charger so carrying an impact wrench is a small imposition. The guys on the 4wd channels also get into some pretty serious stuff and would likely change tyres a lot more than average Joe. Last episode i saw I think they got 4 flats between their multiple vehicles and trailers. That makes it worth it IMO.

  • I have a 98 V6… just use the brace myself. Using a torque wrench is recommended as a final step to get the bolts even.

  • Wheel braces are cumbersome and annoying, and built with zero attention to detail.

  • It all depends on how good your rattle gun is & how much line pressure you have.
    Will it be enough to undo the wheel nut? If not, use a breaker bar & impact socket as it is less likely to break if you are using a normal socket; you should have a good set of sockets anyway, I bought my Metiwrench sockets in the 80's.
    If you don't have a rattle gun after you have broken the wheel nuts, use a wheel brace; it gets the nuts off quick once you get the hang of using it. Just get a good wheel brace, not a $5 cheap one; if you don't have one, keep using your breaker bar.
    For wheel nuts that are on too tight, I stand on the breaker bar, if that still does not work, use a pipe over the end of the breaker bar.
    After you rattle up or wheel brace the wheel nuts, always use a breaker bar to tighten the last bit; stand on it if you have to, even jump on it until you hear that final cracking sound (most times)