Education: Specialized Tools

Education: Specialized Tools
Specialized tools like this Combi Wedge from K-Tool can save a great deal of time and effort for removing items like trim, dash pads and interior door panels. (Photo: K-Tool)

Many factors need to be considered when making specialized equipment purchases.

Bigger, Faster, Stronger has always been in our minds as children growing up and watching the people that surround us. Often we are in awe of how they can achieve great feats in everyday life.

Vehicles are no longer conceived to be the biggest, fastest and strongest unless you reside in Alberta. Joking aside, today we see vehicles and their manufacturers more inclined to create a smarter, faster, lighter, and more efficient automobile, one that also seems to be increasingly autonomous.

With this change in direction also come changes in the service bay. Today you’ll find more electronic readers, diagnostic scan tools, and specialty repair tools than ever before. These specialty tools we talk about range from wheel bearing pullers/ installers, to differential flange holders and A/C splice/repair kits. The list is endless and driven by increasingly advanced and complex vehicles.

With more advanced vehicles comes a direct correlation in the repair bay, namely that technicians must sharpen their skills and ability to repair these modern machines.

Labour surplus

As a result, it’s now common practice to have specific tools for assisting or aiding in the removal of certain parts as they have, like the vehicles themselves, become more complex. Not only do these tools help the technician complete the job but they create an efficiency and surplus of labour hours.

Working in the service department of a modern dealership is a little different from an independent automotive repair shop since dealership technicians are more likely to work on specific marque vehicles. Special tools are readily available through the dealership and since the same repairs and servicing are done frequently, brand specific tools are an obvious investment given the potential to create and aid in the surplus of labour hours.

On the other hand, for independent service providers in the aftermarket, investing in such tools can make less sense, since the product may only be used a handful of times. It therefore boils down to a cost-effective analysis where shop owners must ask themselves if purchasing a particular tool will actually create revenue, which in most cases it will.

Revenue generation is not the only surplus created with specialty tools. Another is job satisfaction among technicians. Even though there are days where technicians still wish they had four arms and four hands, specialty tools help create this lack of physical support and more importantly, create a confidence in repair where there is no worry of damaging other parts on the vehicle that may not need replacing.

Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is key in the repair bay because in the end this is where the revenue is mostly generated.

An abundance of useful tools helps create peace of mind among your service shop staff, since they know they will be able to competently complete certain repairs without having to worry about them losing labour hours or damaging other parts during the procedure.

Perhaps the hardest part about these tools is locating where you can purchase them. Many have been designed specifically for vehicles manufactured by a particular OEM, so it can sometimes be hard to get the right tools and the right information, especially if your shop deals in all makes and models. A simple Internet search can lead you in the right direction, yet when you’re considering purchasing an OEM specialty tool versus an aftermarket one, quality and usability should determine the purchase decision more than price.

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