I recently got a 20v driver and impact driver set. Never had an impact driver before but I cannot imagine life without it. It makes it really hard to split wood by over driving and I love that.

But I have noticed that on occasion it stops before my screw is fully driven. I, at the time, had 3 inch deck screws that were not self tapping. I ended up putting my weight into the drill to get the screw flush. In the process I would be "fighting" against the drills nature to stop. There is lots of clicking and knocking which is normal as that is how the tool works but is too much a bad thing.

Is this just how I am supposed to be using this? It felt wrong to be doing it and I do not want to ruin the driver. Once I am done with these screws I plan on owning more self tappers which might help.

  • drill a better pilot hole? Jul 2, 2015 at 12:12
  • @ratchetfreak For this exact scenario that is the right answer but I know that for some of my hardwood wood my screws still have a tough time even when the pilot hole is longer than the screw.
    – Matt
    Jul 2, 2015 at 12:22
  • I suppose this could be reworded to "How to effectively use an Impact Driver" if you guys think its better.
    – Matt
    Jul 2, 2015 at 12:41
  • I've actually wondered the same thing, especially after using it particularly hard, it has a smell too. I just assume I'm wearing it out faster when I do that.
    – bowlturner
    Jul 2, 2015 at 12:46
  • 1
    @Matt, Ahh I understand. Not enough caffeine in my system yet. I would think that using the tool for it's designed purpose isn't going to prematurely wear it out.
    – TX Turner
    Jul 2, 2015 at 13:31

2 Answers 2


Yes, it's possible to wear out an impact driver, but what you're describing sounds normal.

The driver will act as a normal drill until it exceeds its "normal driving" capacity, then the internal hammers will engage and you'll hear a whacking/clicking/grinding sound. The sound is similar to that of the clutch when you're using the clutch.

Some impact drivers' hammers engage sooner, others later. My Bosch 12v impact driver starts whacking away almost immediately when I drive a screw. But if the impact mode seems to be engaging sooner than usual, it means your battery is probably low on charge.

Remember, when your screw displaces wood fibers, those fibers have to go somewhere. If you don't predrill or use self-tapping screws, you end up compressing them into the surrounding fibers, and this is what sometimes causes wood to split. Predrilling or using self-tapping screws will reduce the amount of compression necessary, relieving some of the resistance as you drive the screw and, in turn, will increase your battery life.

  • 3
    +1 for "But if the impact mode seems to be engaging sooner than usual, it means your battery is probably low on charge." I just noticed this exact behavior on my Hitachi impact driver.
    – Jeremy
    Jul 5, 2015 at 1:34

You could need new brushes for the electric motor if it's been used a lot. Depending on the model, you can usually replace them yourself relatively easy.

This YouTube video shows an example of doing such.

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