Specialty Tools Save Techs Time & Money

Specialty Tools Save Techs Time & Money

Specialty hand tools have the potential to save a technician a significant amount of time, and the customer a good deal of money.

Specialty tools such as the disconnect pliers from Lisle Corp. (top) and this oxygen sensor wrench from Schley Products (below) can save you a great deal of time in the bay.


Almost every technician is likely to have known an occasion when he (or she) wished he had had a certain tool that could make a job quicker or easier by providing just that little bit of help he needed to complete the task. Perhaps he had to reach deep into a very tight spot or access a component down in the heart of the engine compartment.

Specialty hand tools do just that: they help technicians accomplish those repair tasks that seem obviously very simple, but could cost much in terms of time, money and aggravation. Specialty hand tools have the potential to save a technician a significant amount of time, and the customer, a good deal of money.

specialty-tool-sp-tool-honda-wrench-67750-aThese tools are fast becoming necessary items in the shop environment as vehicle systems and components are getting more advanced and complex and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are offering consumers an increasing number of features. As a result of this trend in the industry, “real estate” under the hood is getting restricted and technicians today – more than ever before – are more likely to find it hard to access, install or remove certain hard-to-reach parts and components with their regular shop tools. Today, there are vehicle-specific and application-specific tools and which of these are more in number in your toolbox will depend on the kind of work you do and the vehicles you service.

“It saves a shop time and money to have the right tool at hand for a job,” said Patrick Cloutier, co-owner, Golden Rule Auto Care, Rowlett, TX. “A well-designed specialty tool allows technicians to complete a job in an efficient manner and helps them move to the next job quickly. That, in turn, allows the shop to make more revenue. Using improper tools can cause stripped bolts, damage to other components and extra time.”

Furthermore, if a technician damages a component or gets injured, for example, when trying to tighten a bolt or remove a nut that is stuck, in addition to the frustration, repair time can sometimes spill over into “downtime.” At this juncture, a ratcheting breaker bar can be a technician’s best friend. Essentially, a long extension for sockets, a ratcheting breaker bar can help loosen stuck fasteners and bolts by applying that extra torque needed for the job.

According to Cloutier’s service manager, Colin Watson, “Some of the most useful specialty hand tools around the shop are suspension tools (i.e. ball joint separators, bearing separators), pullers (pitman arm, harmonic balancer) and long swivel ratcheting wrenches.”

Specialty tools are available for practically every area of automotive service – brakes, batteries, suspension system, diagnostics, engine system and others. There are also tools for specific tasks – general pullers, disconnect tools, pick-up tools, inspection mirrors, thread repair kits, pliers, wrenches and many more.

When buying a specialty tool for your toolbox, it’s important to consider a couple of things – quality, price, warranty and usefulness to the kind of jobs you do most often. Some technicians include serviceability in the mix as well. Different technicians may list the first two items (quality and price) in the reverse order depending on their budget and requirement. Modern day specialty tools are being designed based on comfort and ergonomics. Makers of specialty tools are realizing that it is important for these tools to not just do the job, but to make it easy to hold them while working without causing fatigue or injuries.

One resourceful technician mentioned that when he is not able to see a part and its details very well while performing a complex repair job, he simply uses his phone’s camera as a “tool” to take pictures, which he later enlarges before he works on the repair. This helps him better understand the work needed.

Some vehicle manufacturers support the aftermarket very well, specifying a list of specialty tools that may be used to perform certain jobs on their various models. Oftentimes, this information is available only on a technical service site, which may or may not be subscription-based.

Innovation is not only the forte of vehicle manufacturers’ research labs or of the engineering departments at the tool manufacturers. Individual technicians have also spotted a need and contributed a unique idea for the development of a tool.

It is not surprising, therefore, that many of the manufacturers of specialty tools have a location on their website that calls for innovative ideas and suggestions that techs can submit for these companies to develop new tools.

One manufacturer even lists on its website those of its tools that were invented by technicians. It also offers an award or royalty agreement for the submission of ideas. For who else can know better than a technician what it actually takes to get a job completed satisfactorily and within the stipulated amount
of time?


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