Automotive Education/Info Tool Review

DeWalt 20V Max Versus Milwaukee M18 Fuel

Milwaukee M18 Fuel System Versus DeWalt 20V Max

Two of the most popular power tool lineups for auto technicians right now are the Milwaukee M18 Fuel and DeWalt 20V Max. Depending who you ask, you might hear that the DeWalt 20V Max battery system is better than the M18 Fuel line. Or you may hear the opposite. How are you to know which power tool battery system to buy and which one of those systems is going to work well with the tools you own or want to buy in the future.

In this post, I’m going to take an in-depth look at the Milwaukee M18 Fuel and the DeWalt 20V Max to see if I can answer your question. I want to use features, ratings, reviews and hands-on experience to find out if the 20V Max is better or if the lesser voltage Milwaukee M18 Fuel is the best power tool battery system.

What’s the Difference Between 20V Max and the M18 Fuel?

Below is a picture of the newest version of DeWalt’s 20V Max battery. It’s decently priced at around $60 on Amazon. For more info, click on the picture.

Next is a picture of the newest Milwaukee M18 Fuel battery pack. Similar to the 20V DeWalt battery, you can buy these M18 for around $60 online and on Amazon- which is my preferred option when buying power tool batteries and tool-only kits.


Similar Batteries, But How do the Tools Compare?

Battery options is undoubtedly a huge factor when deciding to buy Milwaukee battery power tools or DeWalt 20V Max tools. Without question though, it is not the most important reason to make an educated choice and pick the battery tool lineup that makes the most sense for you as an auto technician.

Comparing which tools Milwaukee and DeWalt offer on each company’s respective tool lineup is maybe the most important thing to consider when making the choice. Since M18 and 20V Max batteries are not cross compatible (without a bulky adapter at least), it’s important that we pick the brand that offers the tools we want to buy.

Use a Milwaukee battery with DeWalt tool adapter reviews bulky
It will require this adapter to use a Milwaukee battery with a 20v DeWalt tool.
Adapter to use a DeWalt 20V battery with a Milwaukee M18 volt Fuel tool
On the other hand, you will need this adapter to use a DeWalt 20V with a Milwaukee tool.

It’s handy to have options to use a Milwaukee battery with a DeWalt tool and a 20V Max battery with an M18 Fuel tool, but it certainly isn’t optimal. Dealing with a somewhat bulky adapter just to make your tools work isn’t the idea of efficiency. It also means choosing the battery tool line that’s compatible with the tools you use every day is that much more important.

Milwaukee M18 Tool Options

On its website, Milwaukee claims to have 175 working power tools on its M18 Fuel line. This includes everything from small 3/8” ratchet wrenches, 1/2” giant 700ft pound impact wrenches to portable air compressor tools, grinders and saws of all different types. Here are some examples of the tools on Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel line.

After we take a look at several of the most popular M18 tools from Milwaukee, we will do the same comparisons with DeWalt 20V Max tools of the same type. Keeping in mind that more information means a better informed decision when buying.

M18 3/8” Right Angle Ratchet Wrench
M18 right angle 3/8 drive ratchet wrench 2668-20
Here’s a picture of the M18 3/8” right angle ratchet wrench from Milwaukee Fuel.

One of the best selling M18 tools since it was released has been the 3/8” drive right angle ratchet wrench. For good reason too. This battery powered ratchet is in no uncertain terms a beast and turns engine work, transmission work and body work into a display of efficiency.

The 2668-20 is a nicely designed tool that offers 60 ft-lb of torque and a speed variable motor. One disadvantage in my opinion to the M18 right angle ratchet is the battery mounting which makes the tool awkward in the hand with larger batteries.

Aside from that, the tool is a beautiful creation and as per usual with Milwaukee they offer a 5 year warranty on the tool and 2 year standard on the batteries.

Milwaukee 4 1/2” M18 Grinder 2980-20
Milwaukee M18 2980-20 4-1/2 to 6 inch grinder tool only no battery
Here’s a picture of the M18 2980-20 4 1/2 to 6 inch locking grinder.

One of the most used tools in any maintenance garage is a grinder. Whether it be for grinding or cut-off tools, it’s one of those tools a mechanic can’t go without. Milwaukee makes one of the best grinders that I’ve ever used with the 4 1/2” grinder and the version listed here is even newer.

With all of the power needed for grinding welds, cutting exhaust and preparing body work or any other project you need a grinder for, the M18 4 1/2 inch Milwaukee grinder is a solid choice for which battery operated grinder to buy.

Since it’s a power braking tool, the 2980-20 stops all accessories in less than 3 seconds even while operating at 9,000 RPM and generating as much power as a 13A corded grinder.

M18 Milwaukee Reciprocating Saw
M18 Milwaukee Reciprocating Sawzall 2821-20
Here you see a picture of the 2821-20 M18 Sawzall or “reciprocating saw”

Another tool that every auto technician needs to have is a Sawzall of some sort. For years it was of the corded variety, but now that battery operated reciprocating saws are so cheap they are the popular choice.

Milwaukee’s version is the 2821-20 on the M18 Fuel line and it’s a very powerful and lightweight saw compared to some others out there. Weighing in at just under 7 pounds and featuring an LED backlight (lighting is always an issue in the repair shop), the M18 Sawzall is a solid option for any maintenance repair shop looking for a battery powered reciprocating saw.

Online reviews on the Gen-2 2821-20 are also solid almost everywhere you look.

M18 High-Torque Impact Wrench
M18 high torque 1/2 inch impact wrench
Perhaps the most formidable M18 power tool- the M18 1/2” impact.

Possibly the most important and most commonly used tool in any maintenance shop is the 1/2” impact gun. When it comes to this tool, Milwaukee went ahead and made a name for itself by releasing the most powerful battery impact wrench of its time and selling it at a deep discount to the competitors.

It’s my opinion and that of many who have reviewed the 2967-20 that this particular 1/2” impact made by Milwaukee on the M18 Fuel line was the first real shot at competing against Snap-On in the battery operated power tool market.

M18 Mid-Torque Impact Wrench
Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1/2” 2962-20 mid torque one key impact wrench ratchet
Here is the M18 Mid-Torque 2962-20 1/2” impact from Milwaukee tools.

Even though I also talked about the high-torque Milwaukee M18 impact, my personal experience with the mid-torque working in a light duty repair shop compelled me to at least give the medium torque Milwaukee Fuel 1/2” impact an honorable mention.

It is far and away my favorite battery operated power tool in the shop. It’s light weight and powerful breakaway torque make it the best possible option for everything from tire and engine work to transmission and body work.

Some Other Milwaukee Power Tools You Should Know About

Milwaukee M18 1/2” Hammer Drill 

Another one of the best Milwaukee M18 battery tools is the 1/2” hammer drill. With the perfect balance of torque, RPM’s and lightweight- the 2804-20 or any other version would be a good choice for a battery hammer drill.

M18 Power Tool Starter Set 2695-24
Milwaukee M18 starter set kit drill impact flashlight battery charger carrying case
Starting out with this set from Milwaukee would be ideal for any auto technician or other maintenance mechanic.

If you don’t want to buy individual Milwaukee tools to get started, a good way to buy battery power tools is in starter sets like this M18 kit with a carrying case, tools and a battery with the charger.

DeWalt 20V Max Power Tool Options

Now that we have taken a look at the most popular Milwaukee power tools (but not by any stretch all of them), it’s time to explore what’s good about DeWalt and it’s newest 20V Max lineup of tools. We will get started with one of the most used tools by auto technicians and maintenance mechanics.

DeWalt Atomic 3/8” 20V Max Impact Ratchet
DeWalt Atomic 20V Max 3/8 ratchet tool only
Click the image for more info, reviews and where to buy the 3/8 inch Atomic 20V DeWalt.

Above you see the 3/8 inch DeWalt 20V Atomic ratchet wrench tool only with no battery. One of the first things that stands out about it is how the battery mounts on the DeWalt 3/8 ratchet. Instead of mounting to the bottom like the way Milwaukee’s 3/8 ratchet does, the Atomic 20V instead mounts to the side.

The advantage to this is noticeable right away, especially for a seasoned auto technician that knows space is limited on most engine work, transmission and even body work. Being able to slide the tool further into the engine bay is a huge plus versus the Milwaukee version of this same tool.

DeWalt 20V Atomic Max XR 1/2 inch Hammer Drill

As you can see, DeWalt has not slacked in its attempt to compete with an ever growing Milwaukee Tool Nation and growing fan base among construction workers and more recently automotive technicians and mechanics.

The 1/2” DeWalt hammer drill (DCD709B) puts out 2000 RPM’s at 20 volts while also giving you a 3 mode LED backlight and spotlight mode which allows for extended run time in dark and confined spaces. The Atomic Hammer Drill also weighs just 2.5 pounds.

DeWalt 1/2” High Torque Impact Wrench
DeWalt 20V Atomic 1/2 inch High Torque Impact Wrench tool kit with carrying bag case battery charger
Click the image for reviews, info and how to buy the DeWalt 1/2” High Torque Impact online.

As noted before, the tool that made Milwaukee as popular as it is was the M18 High Torque impact wrench when it was released a few years ago. For that reason, DeWalt had to come out with a battery powered impact that could compete versus the Milwaukee.

Is the DeWalt 1/2 inch high torque impact as good as the Milwaukee Fuel high torque? Well, it depends who you ask. There are mixed reviews and the DeWalt versus Milwaukee argument can be found easily if you go looking. In my opinion, the Milwaukee is a better tool and it’s advantages of higher torque, cheaper price and better battery options makes it the winner. But as I said, that’s highly debatable.

Both DeWalt and Milwaukee Sell Hundreds of Power Tools

What we took a look at today are the tools that auto techs and mechanics would typically use. Aside from these though, both DeWalt and Milwaukee offer everything from job site fans and audio systems to lighting, safety, PPE, lawn care tools and all the way up to 1-inch battery powered impact tools and beyond.

Whether it’s the construction industry, auto repair, commercial carpentry, plumbing, residential tools, DIY tools for at home– DeWalt and Milwaukee will both have a tool capable of the job. It’s up to us as the tool consumer to decide whether to buy Milwaukee or buy DeWalt. Here’s to hoping this post can help guide you in the direction of which battery power tool line is best for you.



If you purchase through my website, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. All posts are well researched and meant to find you better tools at a cheaper price.

By John Green

I’m John Green. I’m a 33 year old auto technician from Upstate New York. I have 18 years of experience as an automotive light duty and heavy duty truck mechanic. Cars, trucks and anything with moving parts are my passion in my professional life.

Aside from my life as a technician, I am also a seasoned investor and consider myself very financially literate. I use this other passion combined with my passion for cars, trucks and tools to look for ways to save money for my technician friends.

Raising my three girls and teaching them the proper way of life is my personal passion in life. If you want to know more, just ask! I’m on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as well!