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The Difference Between Clutched Type Tools and Oil Pulse Tools

What is the difference between clutched type tools and Oil Pulse Tools? Why would I want to use one over the other?

There are several major differences that one must be aware of when choosing between these 2 different types of tools. The most important factor is the torque range of the assembly job. Other factors include the tool RPM, torque accuracy, maintenance and cost.

Torque Range:

Most clutched assembly tools have a torque range for .07 – 400 in-lbs (33 ft-lbs). When using these tools at the lower end of their torque range, say below 80 in-lbs, the operator can hold the tool in his or her hands without much twist on the operator’s wrist. When using the clutched assembly tools above 80 in-lbs, most assembly applications require the tool to be put in a torque arm to reduce the twist on the operator’s wrist.

Oil Pulse tools uses quick rapid pulses that allow for much higher torque values with little to no twist on the operator’s wrist reducing fatigue on the operator. Our Oil Pulse tools have a low torque range of 4 ft –lbs to a high torque range of 118 ft-lbs. Even at the high-end torque the operator will not feel twist on his/her wrist and there is no need for torque arms or anything else to assist the operator.

As a general rule oil pulse tools go to higher torque ranges with less twist on the operator’s wrist when compared to clutched tools.

RPM Range:

Oil pulse tools have a much higher RPM then clutched type tools. Oil pulse tools typically have RPM’s in the 5000 range while clutched tools typically have ranges from 250 – 2200 rpm. The higher the torque range on a clutched tool the lower the RPM will be.

As a general rule oil pulse tools when get the job done quicker.

Torque Accuracy:

Clutched assembly tools have a higher torque accuracy than oil pulse tools. Most clutched tools have an accuracy of +-3% of the set torque value while oil pulse tools have an accuracy of +-10% of the set torque value. In many case assembly applications spec is +-3% in which case oil pulse tools are ruled out.

Clutched assembly tools are more accurate than oil pulse tools.


There is very little maintenance with clutched assembly tools. These tools just need to be oiled daily and the tool should run for years.

Oil Pulse tools need the oil to be changed out every 6 months by a certified oil pulse tool specialist. In most cases, the tool will need to be sent out for service 2 times a year and may be out of service of up to a week.

As a general rule oil pulse tools require more maintenance.


Clutched type assembly tools, in general, are half the cost of an oil pulse tools covering the same torque ranges. The yearly maintenance cost is also less on a clutched tool.

The oil changing process on the oil pulse tool can cost up to $300 a year.


The biggest draw backs on the oil pulse tools are upfront cost and yearly maintenance. For these 2 reasons we generally try to fit our customers into a clutched type tools when their assembly applications allows for it. Customers that have assembly applications requiring pulse tools are informed of the need for a yearly maintenance program. We work with them to make sure their tools are kept running in top condition.