Repair Shop Climate Equipment & Happy Techs

Keeping Comfortable in the Bays — Shop Climate & Happy Techs

Keeping the shop comfortable throughout the year isn’t easy. Here's what you can do to make the job, well, more comfortable.

Here in the Midwest region of the country, we are in the middle of the short spring season where the temperature always seems to be just right. The bay doors are open, and everyone is happy. It’s not too hot or too cold in the shop.


But as we always say in Ohio, give it an hour and the weather will change — bringing along with it the age-old quandary of bay doors open or bay doors closed. Most shop owners relinquish the decision to the techs in the shop (which can be a battle on its own), with the one simple rule: doors open, climate control off.


Hearing the term climate control in reference to the shop just might get a chuckle out of some, since the term climate control normally indicates the ability to heat or cool, and, as most of us know, air conditioning is not usually an option. In the winter we get heat, in the summer, we get the ambient temperature and maybe some fans, but that’s the extent of it.


Shop owners, don’t fret, we’re not criticizing. We understand it’s not realistic to air condition a shop in most cases, but in case you were wondering why the A/C jobs always get such a long test drive… Seriously though, there are some air conditioned shops out there and if you’re lucky enough to work at one, hang on to that gig!


There are two sides to keeping the shop comfortable throughout the year: one that falls on the shop owner and one that falls on the technician. On the shop side, the minimum you expect is heat in the winter, and it’s a common topic in the automotive industry. Why? The oil change. Since we create an almost endless supply of free fuel that we can use for heating, why not take advantage of it?


I’ve worked in shops with waste oil heaters and forced air heat both, and also the occasional add-on bay that doesn’t benefit from either, with a kerosene heater to keep it livable (cough, cough). No thanks.


I’ve heard a lot of positive opinions for waste oil heaters and some negatives as well, but all of the negatives generally stem from older systems that typically didn’t burn efficiently, emitting unpleasant odors and creating a lot of soot. This had a tendency to clog up the various workings of the unit and frequent cleaning was required.


Modern day waste oil heaters are increasingly becoming more and more popular. They no longer have the same problems with higher maintenance and lower efficiency, but instead they are very environmentally friendly thanks to burner and combustion technology that has been refined over the years. They burn clean and efficient.


Instead of paying to have your waste oil picked up, use it to your benefit.



Though the initial investment can seem costly, over time, the savings will add up. Instead of paying to have your waste oil picked up, use it to your benefit. Most companies that sell waste oil burners have savings calculators that incorporate what you are paying now for heating fuel or gas, factor in the cost of the unit and lay out a timeline for return on investment.


The only additional factor to consider is how much oil will you need to heat your shop for a winter, and do you have the ability to store it and supply it to the oil burner when needed. The benefits of waste oil heat can lose their luster in single-digit temperatures when you have all your oil stored in outside tanks and need to transfer it inside. Think this part out first.


Since you probably didn’t receive this copy of TechShop until June, if it’s not hot enough already, reading about heat probably has you sweating at just the thought of it, so let’s switch over to keeping cool.


Generally speaking, shop owners appreciate what their technicians do in the shop and when the temperature starts to rise, it’s not uncommon for them to provide a number of fans around the shop, which helps immensely. On the days when the temperatures really start to boil, the “coolest” of shop owners will see to it that there are plenty of ice-filled coolers with water and sometimes extras such as Gatorade. This not only makes a big difference in keeping technicians cool and productive, but it’s also a big morale booster.


One of my favorite features of newer toolboxes is the fact that many of them come with built-in power strips and outlets.



As a lot of technicians are making the shift to owning their own electronic equipment and scanners, their own personal climate control equipment is also finding its place in the toolbox.


One of my favorite features of newer toolboxes is the fact that many of them come with built-in power strips and outlets. Not only do these offer spots for charging cordless tools and plugging in computers, but now there’s a spot for your mini fridge too. Some shops may not have adequate refrigerator space, and as a technician we rely on our tools to get the job done. Why not rely on your own cold beverages?


Tool companies have been selling blower styles of fans for years, which have proven very popular with technicians. Whether you want it on the floor or on top of your box, you can get a high volume of air coming your way. And in the winter, there are optional heater attachments for some of them as well.


Smaller personal-style fans are also popular from tool dealers that are designed for the work center or work hutch on your toolbox … yet another good use for the power strip. And keeping consistent with modern-day electronics, many of them are low-voltage designs that plug into a USB port. Some of them also feature time and temperature LED displays. Talk about cool on top of cool.


Staying comfortable is a matter of climate, and with a little planning, most Of it is within your control.



What else can a technician do for personal climate control? Take a closer look at the gloves the next time your tool dealer stops by. Some gloves are better for winter, but some are made with specific materials that are made to keep your hands dry and cool. Of course, we all love to bug our favorite tool dealer for ball caps or beanies for winter as well.


The bottom line? Staying comfortable is a matter of climate, and with a little planning, most of it is within your control. If you have any suggestions for technicians to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer, drop us a line and give us your tips!

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Scan Tool Tech

While systems can and will differ, here’s a look at common ADAS features, their general configurations and calibration requirements.

scan tool tech

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) require the use of a scan tool for diagnostics, and the majority of the time, it’s required for post-repair calibration. ADAS, like any other system, requires a diagnostic routine, which begins with a base knowledge of the system. Knowing ADAS will help understand fault symptoms and scan tool data for the most efficient diagnosis.While systems can and will differ, here’s a look at common ADAS features, their general configurations and calibration requirements.Parking assist sensors, of which there can be more than one, are generally located in the front and rear bumpers. They are the inputs that affect active parking assist and parking collision warnings. Any time they are disturbed in any manner, a static calibration must be performed with a scan tool.Side object sensors, sometimes called collision avoidance sensors, are commonly located in the rear bumper. These sensors provide input for blind spot warnings, lane change alerts and rear cross traffic warnings. Static calibration with a scan tool is required when these are removed or replaced.Rear vision cameras will be located in the rear decklid, liftgate or tailgate, and act as either a backup camera alone, or part of a surround view system if the vehicle is so equipped. These cameras generally require a dynamic calibration, and no scan tool is required.A forward-looking camera is sometimes located behind the grille, and usually part of a surround view system. These too do not require a scan tool, but a dynamic calibration must be performed when they are removed or replaced.Different ADAS features may have dedicated control modules which can be located in various areas, often behind interior panels. As with most control modules, these require scan tool programming when replaced and, depending on the system, both static and dynamic calibrations may be required.The Haptic Seat Motor creates the vibration to provide a safety alert for blind spot, forward collision, lane departure, lane keep assist, parking collision and rear cross traffic warnings. These motors, sometimes called seat warning actuators, generally require no type of calibration.Cameras located in a sideview mirror are part of surround view systems. These require calibration when removed or replaced, but most of them dynamic, and no scan tool is required.The steering angle sensor located in the steering column is an input for lane keep assistance, and a static calibration is required with a scan tool any time it is removed or replaced, or any time a wheel alignment is performed.Last, but not least, is the front view, or forward-looking camera located in the windshield area. This camera is a vital part of adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beam headlights, forward collision and lane departure warnings, and lane keeping assistance. A scan tool and static and dynamic calibration are required after removal and replacement, but also after windshield removal or replacement, or any service that affects the ride height of the vehicle. TS

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