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Tools and Equipment to Enhance Shop Efficiency

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Tools and Equipment to Enhance Shop Efficiency

There are tools that allow you get the job done, and there are tools that allow you get the job done quicker and/or more efficiently. In this brief article, we cherry-picked a few examples of items that help to make shop life easier, with less effort and that help to maximize labor profit.

This is by no means a complete list of all currently available tools that fall into this state-of-the-art category, but there’s enough listed here to whet your appetite.

Clean wheels = happy customers

Rather than spending time trying to hand-clean a wheel or wheel/tire combo, an automatic wheel washer is now available from Martins Industries Inc., capable of handling up to a 35-inch tire outer diameter and up to 13-3/4-inch tire width. It is suitable for all wheel types and finishes.

 Select the washing cycle (80 or 120 seconds) and the washer goes through three working phases — pre-wash to remove course dirt from the wheel, softening action for the detergent that dissolves dirt, and deep cleaning through rotating nozzles operated by a high pressure pump at 110 psi.

Hose clamp hero

Mayhew Steel Products Inc. recently released its  new 90-degree locking hose clamp pliers, P/N 28620, for dealing with automotive and heavy-duty spring clamps. Included is a spring-loaded ratcheting locking position feature with multiple stops, double-hinged locking mechanism for added leverage and a fine-tune adjustment locking feature to prevent damage to plastic clamps. 

This makes quick work of dealing with spring-type hose clamp removal or installation, with a no-slip positive-grip retention on the clamps. Overall length is 8 inches. The tool handles spring clamps from 3/4-inch to 2-3/4-inch.

Power Lifter

Installing or removing a heavy wheel/tire assembly on a vehicle that’s on a lift can be a chore, especially for larger and heavier applications on trucks and SUVs. Load capacity for the Martins Industries Power Lifter is rated at 187 lbs. Instead of breaking your back, a battery powered power lifter from Martins Industries is just the ticket. The roll-around unit is powered by two 12-volt rechargeable batteries and includes an impact wrench holder and hardware tray for wheel fasteners. It is designed for use with maximum tire width of 11 inches.

An automatic three-speed acceleration lift raises the wheel/tire combo in less than 13 seconds. A single battery charge can handle up to 500 wheel/tire assemblies. A safety strap prevents the wheel/tire from accidentally falling from the lift. Four swivel caster wheels provide easy maneuvering, especially handy when aligning the wheel to the hub centerline during installation.

Impact Boom

No, we’re not talking about the sound of a noisy air wrench. When using a monster-sized impact wrench during heavy-duty truck wheel service, slinging around a heavy and unwieldy impact wrench can really put a strain on even the most robust technician.

Martins Industries’ Impact Boom is a roll-around boom crane that supports the weight of the tool, allowing you to easily locate the impact at the correct height for your situation, supporting the weight of the tool while you service the wheel fasteners. Load capacity is 50 lbs.

The Mobile Impact Wrench Support Stand is equipped with a steel bracket and a strong gas cylinder. An included tray allows securing the impact gun and provides storage for wheel nuts, hub covers and more.

Multi-function scanners 

As we all know, diagnostic scanner tools have really come of age, featuring much more than the ability to merely detect trouble codes. Three examples are listed here, including models from Autel and Bosch. 


Autel offers several state-of-the-art scanner tools in their MaxSYS series. As but one example, the MaxiCHECK MX808 features AutoVIN 2006+, the ability to auto-scan all modules in all systems, 17 service functions and allows generating printable diagnostic reports. The tool covers domestic, Asian and European vehicle manufacturers (1996+) . One year of  free updates are included.

Additional features include a 7-inch touchscreen, 1.5GHz Quad-Core processor, 32GB memory, 2GB RAM, Android 4.4.4 /WiFi software updates, I/M readiness/emissions testing, the ability to reset diesel emissions on select light- and medium-duty vehicles, DPF regeneration, setting inspection 1&2 service intervals, and is designed to support OBD II protocols and all 10 test modes, enhanced Mode 6 diagnostics, viewing live and freeze frame data, relearning TPMS Sensor ID (activation tool required), and allows graphing, recording and playback of live data. 

Included are MaxiSYS System Suite applications for the shop manager, software and one-year warranty, eligibility for extended TCP coverage, an  OBD II cord,  5,000 mAh Lithium-polymer battery and an 8 MP camera with LED light. The unit also allows file saving with a Micro SD Card (32G maximum, not included).

The MaxiSYS MS908SP, Autel’s “Powerful Complete Diagnostic System,” features Auto-VIN 2006+  and  AutoSCAN for all modules in all systems, 21 service functions, bidirectional control to perform active tests, J2534 MaxiFlash Elite Pass-Thru Programming Device, a massive 10-inch touchscreen, 1.3GHz+1.7GHz processor/64GB memory and 2GB RAM, one year free software and one year warranty (eligible for extended TCP coverage), Android 4.4.2/ WiFi software updates/eligible for ADAS software upgrade, advanced coding and adaptations, key programming for domestic and Asian 2001+ and the ability to reset diesel emissions on select light- and medium-duty vehicles  and DPF regeneration.

The unit covers domestic, Asian and European vehicle manufacturers (1996+) including supercars. MS908SP also generates printable diagnostic reports and handles enhanced Mode 6 Diagnostics (all 10 test modes). The tool allows you to access all repair records and to view live and freeze frame data, and to relearn TPMS sensor ID (activation tool required). Like the MX808, the MS908SP also includes the MaxiSYS suite application for shop managers, and the ability to save files to a Micro SD card. The tool also features an 8MP camera with LED light and an 11,000 mAh Lithium-polymer battery. It also includes an OBD II connector kit and carry case.

Bosch ADS 625

The Bosch ADS 625 automotive diagnostic scan tool offers everything technicians need to diagnose, research and repair vehicles in one solution including Bosch’s new Repair-Source database. Repair-Source includes OE service and repair information on the diagnostic tool, instead of a separate computer, included with the annual diagnostics subscription. The exclusive database also gives technicians wiring diagrams, component locations, DTC troubleshooting work flows, repair procedures, maintenance schedules, TSBs, labor times and more.

Bosch’s new diagnostic tool performs system scans, displays data streams, special tests, bidirectional controls and displays repair information, data streams and more. The tool is designed and tested by technicians, with technicians in mind, to diagnose the most complex vehicle issues for passenger cars and trucks.

The ADS 625 can quickly Auto ID CAN vehicles, read/clear all DTC types from controllers, view data PIDS, perform bidirectional controls, calibrations, resets and relearns. The easy-to-use software and diagnostic workflow allow for fast navigation and diagnosis for optimal efficiency.

CarMD remote scan

As technology continues to advance, we now have the option of performing vehicle computer module scans without a dedicated scanner. Using a plug-in to the DLC and an app via a smart phone, laptop or tablet, data can be retrieved along with a variety of diagnostic functions.

An example is the CarMD Pro Scan which allows you to use the company’s app in conjunction with the plug-in hardware device in order to scan the vehicle, obtaining all data from their remote location directly to your smart phone, laptop  or tablet. The system quickly performs a full network scan including all of the modules featured in a specific vehicle. The CarMD mobile app syncs to transfer data that can be transferred to any location. Obtaining the application requires using a smart phone, laptop or tablet to go to the app store and obtain the CarMD ProScan app.

In basic terms, you plug the CarMD Pro Scan device into the vehicle’s DLC, and use your Bluetooth-enabled device (smart phone, tablet, etc.) to both view and manage data retrieval and diagnostics.  A smart phone (or other device) allows Pro Scan to communicate with CarMD’s data base.

Currently, the system is applicable to model years 1996 through 2017. As compatibility with 2018 and newer models becomes available, Pro Scan can be easily updated.

Once an account has been set up, log in to the site using your registered email address and password, and gain full access to menus that provide freeze frame data, relevant TSBs, and more.

The CarMD Pro Scan transfers data to the Car MD repair shop portal, delivering real-time data including freeze frame data, inspection/maintenance monitor status, maintenance service intervals, vehicle mileage, network scan of OBD II codes, pending DTCs, possible causes, upcoming maintenance and predicted diagnostics

Also included are unique marketing prospects with the use of predicted diagnosis and customizable coupons, allowing you to connect directly to your customers regarding upcoming promotions, updates on current repair jobs, etc.

Battery testers/chargers

Bosch BAT wireless

The Bosch BAT 120 Wireless Battery and Starter/Charger System Tester allows technicians to perform faster battery system tests and receive full alternator health reports. The tester is designed to wirelessly transmit data via Bluetooth connectivity to a pre-installed app on the Bosch ADS 325 and ADS 625 diagnostic tools, saving time and putting more vehicle diagnostic information on the scan tool.

The BAT 120 works on 6- and 12-volt automotive batteries, including regular flooded, enhanced flooded, absorbent glass mat (AGM), EV and start-stop, as well as batteries with as little as 1.5 volts. It also conducts 12- and 24-volt charger/starter systems tests and tests a vehicle’s battery charging system to gauge alternator health and troubleshoot charging issues.

Clore Pro-Logix

We all know that whenever a module requires reprogramming that the vehicle battery needs to be held at specified levels. Clore Automotive’s new Pro-Logix PL6100 is a new 12-volt 100A flashing power supply and 60/40/10A battery charger from Solar. The PL6100 is designed to provide stable power, on demand up to 100A, to a vehicle’s electrical system to support reprogramming in addition to providing full service battery charging capabilities from 10 to 60 amp.

In power supply mode, the Pro=Logix PL6100 provides power to maintain voltage at a preset level, increasing output in response to system load increases to maintain a stable environment for reprogramming. It features a voltage output range of 13.1 – 14.9 volts, adjustable in 0.1V increments. This allows the operator to dial in the output exactly s specified by the vehicle manufacturer during service. It also delivers massive power with minimal voltage ripple, providing a clean flow of power without risk of programming interference.

In charging mode, the PL6100 utilizes advanced microprocessor-controlled logic to precisely deliver a fully automatic charging routing to a wide variety of lead acid type batteries including conventional, AGM, spiral wound, start-stop, deep cycle and marine batteries.

Compact bolt cutter

Knipex Tools has introduced its CoBolt S compact bolt cutter in a new, 6 1/4-inch length. Despite its smaller size, the CoBolt S provides extremely high cutting power, easily cutting bolts, nails and rivets up to 11/64-inch in diameter. In addition to its compact design, the cutter has a slim head designed for better access to confined areas. The CoBolt S has a strong lever action mechanism that allows the user to exert less effort when using the cutter. Below the joint is a gripping surface for pulling wires with a diameter from 3/64-inch.

Other features include laser-cut edges on the blades, which prevent material being cut from slipping. Forged and multi-staged oil-hardened from German, chrome vanadium heavy-duty steel, the CoBolt S has induction-hardened cutting edges with a hardness of approximately 64 HRC for cutting thin hard wire, screws and springs. 

“The CoBolt S has all the power and exceptional cutting that make the CoBolt series popular, but in a compact size that easily fits in your pocket,” said Peter Grable, product manager, Knipex Tools. “Perfect for small hands or for working in hard-to-reach areas, this cutter offers exceptional power with less required hand force than other cutters of its size.”

Cordless popularity

Cordless electric power tools have come of age, with improved battery performance (re: torque) and vastly superior battery life.

Common applications include impact guns, ratchets, cut-off tools, drivers for socket wrenches and screw bits. Major benefits include elimination of dragging compressed air hoses around the shop, and less demand on your air compressor, allowing the compressor to concentrate on your needs for tire changers, tire inflation, blow-gun use, and more. 

High power, longer life lithium battery technology has improved enormously over recent years, with cordless power tools ranging from 12 to 20 volts, in drives from 1/2-inch to 1/4-inch. Applications include impact wrenches, power drivers, cut-off wheels and more.

For applications where you’d prefer not to drag around air hoses, or if you simply don’t have ready access to air, or when faced with cramped access in engine bays or under dash, today’s cordless power tools are a viable alternative to pneumatic tools. While pneumatic tools are essential for any shop, adding a selection of cordless tools can improve shop efficiency.

Cooling system tester

The OTC Universal Cooling System Pressure Test Kit (#6977) is designed to eliminate the search for the right coolant cap adapter and provide technicians with a faster, more efficient approach to pressure testing cooling systems. The tester features four adapters (1/4-, 5/16-, 1/2- and 5/8-inch) with Schrader valves to prevent coolant spray when disconnecting, while the hand pump includes an easy to read integrated pressure gauge and padded base to prevent vehicle surface scratches.

The kit also comes with a dedicated 36-inch pressure hose with a quick-connect coupler mated to the adapters and a radiator cap adapter for older vehicles. Stored in a convenient blow molded case, the OTC Cooling System Pressure Test Kit covers virtually any make and model vehicle and is covered by a lifetime warranty.

Digital torque wrench

Beam type and micrometer type torque wrenches continue to suit the needs of tightening thread fasteners to a specified torque value, but digital torque wrenches can offer more in terms of both accuracy, ease of use and providing added information.

While digital torque wrenches are available in drives of 1/4-, 3/8- and 1/2-inch, as an example, the OTC Digital Torque Wrench (#7380-E150) is designed to show torque in real time and at the point of release through the tool’s digital display.

The 1/4-inch drive wrench features a smooth operating 36-tooth ratchet head with measured torque ranging from 1.5 ft.-lbs. to 150 ft.-lbs., while sensitive enough to measure bearing preload torque values. Clockwise or counterclockwise, the wrench is accurate to within +/- 1% from 10% to 100% of full scale.

The five-digit alphanumeric LCD clearly displays torque and measurement settings and is controlled by four buttons. The 7380-E150 also features green, yellow and red LED light indicators, an audible buzzer and vibration to help technicians avoid over-torquing.

Refrigerant analyzer

The Robinair R-ID Refrigerant Analyzer (#16990) and R-ID Plus Refrigerant Analyzer (#16995) are designed to meet the service needs of technicians working on vehicles equipped with either R-134a or the newer R-1234yf refrigerant. The hand-held devices analyze refrigerant in a vehicle’s A/C system to quickly and accurately determine purity, which is a requirement of R-1234yf service. Both tools feature a large color display and USB port to easily connect to any SAE J2843 or J3030 A/C service machine not equipped with a refrigerant analyzer.

The analyzers are designed to display the amount of R-1234yf, R-134a, R-12, R-22 and hydrocarbons, as well as percent air in pure R-1234yf and R-134a, allowing the technician to determine their next step.

The Robinair R-ID Refrigerant Analyzer Plus includes all of the features of the 16990 but also comes with an internal printer to print final test results.    ■

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