Smash the Peppermint Pig

Smash the Peppermint Pig

What’s the best tool an auto technician can own? Is it really possible to say?

What’s the best tool an auto technician can own? Is it really possible to say? Maybe not, but if I had to take a stab at it, I’d say a hammer. After all, what’s one of our favorite sayings? “Get a bigger hammer!”

Sometimes it’s used in context, and translates to “use a more powerful tool,” but most of the time we simply need to get a bigger hammer. Of course, not every job requires the biggest one, sometimes we need the smallest hammer we own. The advantage to a hammer is the force it transfers to other tools or objects, but it needs to be proportionate to the amount of force you need.

Hammers are also a mechanic’s stress reliever. We all know it and you can’t deny it. Plus, it’s kind of like a mood ring. The other techs in the shop can always tell by the sound and intensity of our hammering if we’re having a good day, or if we’re about to snap for some reason, especially when there’s the occasional string of descriptive words timed to each blow. If you can relate to what I’m talking about, then you’re officially an experienced technician. If not, give it time, you will be.

So, we love hammers, and rarely do any tools get a spot in the limelight outside the profession they’re used in, but I stumbled across a rare notoriety for this very tool. Evidently this is more popular in New York, and I’m not too far away in Ohio, but for some reason I’ve never heard of a peppermint pig until now. And they come with a small hammer! Here’s the low-down.

Sometime in the late 1800s, a New York candy maker began the tradition of making peppermint candies shaped like pigs during the holiday season, spawned by the fact that in Victorian culture, the pig represented health, happiness and prosperity.

As the tradition goes, the pig was broken into small pieces after the holiday meal (smashed with the hammer), and everyone would eat a piece of it, in hopes it would promote good fortune for the upcoming year. The peppermint pigs not only come with a small hammer, but with a velvet bag to break the pig inside.

Is the automotive repair industry going to need some extra good fortune in 2023? In my opinion, auto repair is here to stay for a long time to come. All the changes in technology don’t matter. They are still cars, and they will always need to be repaired. What does matter is equipping your shop with the technology required to work on them. That alone will be the single most important factor for success in the future.

And the peppermint pig? The tradition still holds today, but I have yet to see them for sale in my neck of the woods. You can find them online however, and whether they would actually have an effect I can’t say, but at least we get to use one of our favorite tools. Happy New Year!

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Open Up Your Scan Tool Options

Buying a scan tool can be difficult.

In today’s competitive world of business, considering the coverage of a scan tool is an important decision that directly affects the productivity of technicians, but can also open opportunities for your shop. Buying a scan tool is difficult. In the past, we had more concerns over operation and operating systems, as the technology wasn’t up to par.Today’s scan tools leave that concern behind, with computer technology rarely in question, but now it’s important to shift our focus on what we can ultimately do with our scan tool. Initially, we ask, is the coverage adequate for the cars we work on? But, we also need to consider the additional benefits a scan tool can offer to a technician, such as technical data, repair information, repair times, technical service bulletins, recalls and troubleshooting procedures.Features such as this hold considerable value at the fingertips of a technician. But, there’s still more to consider. What direction will your shop, or you take in the future? As mechanics, we always knew we could fix anything. If need be, we’d work on a lawnmower, motorcycle, boat or tractor.Our mechanical skillset hasn’t changed, but multiple industries have faced the same challenges and advancements as automotive. And, while it’s probably out-of-sight, out-of-mind, if you decide to work on anything outside your normal repertoire, you’ll find it’s equipped with just about the same technology. Except one thing, the protocol.When you buy a scan tool, will it have options for motorcycle, marine and offroad vehicles? What about heavy trucks? They’re all valid ways to make money. They’re broken, and you can fix them. That is if your scan tool supports the protocol.Protocol is nothing more than an electronic language; the way in which a scan tool can communicate with different types and makes of vehicles. While all automobiles sold in the US since 2008 follow a standard CAN protocol, there are still different aspects of it depending on vehicle manufacturer, and there were multiple protocols pre-2008. Motorcycles, commercial trucks, off-highway vehicles, and marine all utilize a common type of CAN network which we are familiar with, but again with different protocols.When considering a scan tool, your primary concern is automotive diagnostics. But what else is it capable of? Can it open other options for service opportunities? Does the scan tool manufacturer support additional protocols and is this scan tool compatible with other equipment to capitalize on these other industries? Depending on your vision for the future, these are all important questions to answer.Another important factor is Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) service and calibration. This is the hot topic in the industry, and the expanded need for service will be coming quickly. Your scan tool will need to not only perform the diagnostics on these systems, but will it need to have compatibility with ADAS calibration equipment. Technology isn’t slowing down, and you can’t afford to buy two scan tools. Make sure your next purchase has the options you need now and in the future. TS

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