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Tech Tools of the Trade
A MODERN DAY ARMS RACE FOR TECH SUPERIORITY
Cars and trucks are becoming increasingly high tech. So much so, that now when you ask an independent repair facility technician what tools they depend on most, you’re likely to hear names that sound like they came from a sci-fi move instead of a mechanic’s service bay.
Long gone are the days of coveting the click type torque wrenches and fancy air pressure gauges. Because today, scanners, diagnostic programs and web-based service platforms rule the shop floor.
All of which make it more than intimidating for independent shops to keep up. Those who fail to join the tech race risk being left in the dust. But on the positive side for those who do, leveraging productivity tools offers a clear competitive advantage.
The trick is finding the tech tools that are best suited to the brands most popular among a repair shop’s customer base. The use of scan tools to identify and reset fault codes, look up known issues, and test individual components is becoming increasingly prevalent. More modern scan tools allow service managers to look up service history and maintenance records, schedule follow ups and provide a more extensive palette of customer service aids in a flash.
“It’s typical for our industry to have as many as five different scan tools to make everything work for the variety of brands we service,” says Vince Rolio, service manager at Kniesel’s Auto Service, his shop in Citrus Heights, California, that services domestic, European and Asian brands. “For us, the breadth is there, so now we’re looking to dig deeper (into the vehicle subsystems). The more tools we have, the deeper we can go.”
The SnapOn SOLUS Ultra is enjoying a growing consensus among service shop technicians as a versatile system that can scan for codes as well as perform a variety of diagnostic tests on specific components. The wiTECH® system, which replaced the DRB III® scanners for FCA US LLC brand vehicles, utilizes the same MicroPod platform that FCA US dealers use and is currently releasing a V 2.0 to provide fault codes for non-FCA US vehicles as well.
Body Shops Need Tech Too
While most industry observers might believe digital diagnostic tools were strictly the domain of general service and powertrain technicians, in today’s increasingly complex vehicle body structures, with advanced materials and embedded safety technologies, scanners and the race for factory intelligence is just as important for success among body shops as it is for general mechanics.
For the techs at Certified Collision Services in Matthews, N.C., keeping up with the factory technology is a daily activity, accomplished either through ongoing training or accessing technical data via online tools. “Today, there’s so much you need to know: bonding agents, cutting highstrength metals, frame measurement specifications,” said Mark Tantillo, president of Certified Collision Services. “There’s so many factors you need to stay on top of.” Tantillo’s shop uses I-CAR (the Inter-industry Conference on Auto Collision epair) for technical training and ALLDATA Collision repair data for estimates and technical repair data.
More often, auto body technicians need to be as versatile on the scan tools as general mechanics are. That includes ensuring cars pass safety and technical inspections prior to delivery, pairing new service parts, and troubleshooting defective systems such as HVAC and body control systems damaged in accidents.
“The days of stretching a frame to get a fender to fit are long gone,” Tantillo said. “I honestly do not see how you could properly fix a car unless you have the data and information from the factory. I applaud the efforts from manufacturers and I-CAR.”
Mopar® Essential Tools
Ever wonder where to go for the factory tools dealer techs use? Look no further than Mopar Essential Tools and Service Equipment. That’s where you’ll find the latest heavy duty service equipment such as alignment racks, brake lathes and specialized storage units, and FCA US LLC approved tools from engine, transmission, brake and body tools.
Call 855-298-2687 for tool inquiries and to order, or go online at mopar.snapon.com to search tools and place orders.
Mopar ED-18 Battery System Analyzer
Now, you can accurately diagnose and evaluate battery condition and life with the Mopar ED-18 Battery System Analyzer. Complete with laser barcode reader and temperature scanner, WiFi connectivity and built-in printer, you can evaluate vehicle batteries faster, more accurately and instantly connect with onboard/dealer diagnostics systems for turnkey operation. The results: More accurate battery diagnosis, improved customer care and battery sales.
wiTECH® Scan Tool
Now in its V 2.0 release, the wiTECH® scan tool utilizes the same MicroPod diagnostic platform as O.E. scan tools use. The V 2.0 release includes expanded vehicle codes and complete revamps of the StarMOBILE Desktop Client Application and devices. With the new wiTECH VCI Pod and Desktop Diagnostic Application, technicians will appreciate improved WiFi connectivity and more intuitive graphical diagnostic menus. Installed on a touch screen laptop or tablet, the improved connectivity and data access makes this one of the must-have tech tools for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram and FIAT® service techs.