The simplest tools can solve the minor problems of automobile repair technicians. Thexton Manufacturing’s Universal Hood/Tailgate Prop Part, for instance, props up hoods with worn cylinders. On the other hand, Lisle Corp’s alligator clips with strong ceramic magnets are ideal for putting down fender covers and hanging drop lights. Everco Industries Inc’s Total Test refrigerant tester allows technicians to determine whether their customers’ air conditioning units need maintenance.
When I was a kid, I used to pore over the Sear Roebuck catalog filling up my wish list for Christmas. Now that I am an adult — and an automobile repair technician — I read over the new tool catalogs and publicity blurbs with the same fervor.
But instead of spying an item and hoping desperately for it, I now find myself saying things like, “Well, it’s about time,” or “That’s good idea,” or “Why didn’t I think of that?”
And usually it’s not the high-tech computerized diagnostic tools that fascinate me.
Some of the neatest tools are those that provide simple solutions to the small problem that technicians have to deal with every day.
Some of the more ambitious techs will devise their own makeshift tools to deal with a variety of situations.
And surprisingly often, these ideas are picked up by tool manufacturers and transformed into a marketable product.
Many of the following are neat little gadgets that may fit that mold.
They can make your technician’s life a little easier — and your back shop a little more profitable.
How many times have you opened a hood that refused to stay up because the assist cylinders were worn-out?
So you look for a stick or something else to prop it open.
From Thexton manufacturing comes the Universal Hood/Tailgate Prop Part #430. (Yes, it also works on upward opening tailgates.)
A simple clamp-type device attaches to the existing cylinder’s operating rod with a twist of the knob and the hood stays up while you do some under-hood service — such as replacing those defective cylinders!
Don’t forget to take it out before you slam the hood or you might earn an unwanted, huge repair bill for yourself.
Now that the hood is open, you are ready to put down fender covers or hang a drop light — except that the holes for the light are never in the right place and the fender covers keep slipping off.
Lisle Corp. has an alligator clip with a strong ceramic magnet you can attach under hood.
It’ll grab that light or hold the fender covers in place.
It’ll also hold service orders or manuals to your toolbox or any other metal surface. For a pair, ask for part #32200.
By the way, if your tech has come up with a clever gadget, Lisle is always looking for new tools to produce and sell and you might want to see what they think of your bright idea.
It little late in the season for air conditioning work in many places, but you still might consider this question for A/C checkups.
How much moisture an/or acid is too much?
Up till now there was no easy way to check.
Everco has an “it’s about time” unit that simply attaches to the service port and samples the refrigerant.
Ten minutes later, you compare the sample to a color chart that can safely and accurately advise your customer if any maintenance is needed.
Ask for Everco’s “Total Test” (part #A5930).
As long as we’re talking about A/C, MATCO Tools has a new state-of-the-art portable Freon recycle and charging that does it all.
Using a single-pass distillation system for recovery, it can evacuate, add oil or dye and charge a system quickly.
It comes complete with six-foot charging hoses and a filter that can handle 1,000 pounds of R-12 before it needs to be changed.
It also has a warning light that tells you when you need a new filter.
The unit can charge both the high ad low sides of the system simultaneously without the engine running.
It’s about the size of a large carry-around tool box and weighs only 72 pounds. So it be stored on a shelf during slack seasons.
Still under the hood, let’s look at a slick cooling system tool that has been a long time coming.
Waekon Industries markets a base unit that attaches to the radiator filler neck like most cooling system pressurizers.
However, this one permits the use of separate temperature or pressure probes.
Either of these can be inserted without removing the base unit or losing coolant.
Simply pull the test unit out of the self-sealing opening and push the new probe in.
Operating temperatures of thermostats and cooling fan switches as well as the vehicle’s on-board sensors can be verified.
Pull the temperature probe out and the pressure probe can be pushed in to use the shop air supply and check for leaks.
A regulator is provided to dial in a pressure that will remain constant while you are searching for leaks — so no more constant pumping as you search for the tell-tale drip of coolant.
The last new tool I found unique takes us under the dash as we look for a 12-volt power source.
Or maybe we need a good ground to check for continuity. Or maybe it’s battery change time.
If we disconnect the vehicle power source, many times the memory for the power seats and radio are gone, too, causing a customer all sorts of headaches.
What’s the answer to either of these little problems? Why, the cigarette lighter receptacle of course!
But only if you have an adaptor to get into it without causing a short, blown fuse or a fire.
Waekon’s “Cockpit Tester” (part CPT-01) provides just such access.
It is a universal cigarette lighter plug with a pointed end.
By plugging in the “Cockpit Tester” and connecting it to an external battery, you will avoid the memory loss problem by continuing to supply power while the regular service battery is disconnected for changing.
Now why didn’t I think of that?
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