00:00 00:00

Podcast

6 Tools Every Repair Shop Needs

Learn about the tools every repair shop needs to have in increase efficiency, and to better serve their customers.

Episode 259: Recently we attended the Technology and Maintenance Council’s Annual Meeting in Orlando Florida, which gave us the opportunity to talk with some subject matter experts about tools that your repair shop needs.

Recently we attended the Technology and Maintenance Council’s Annual Meeting in Orlando Florida, which gave us the opportunity to talk with some subject matter experts about the tools that your repair shop needs.

Watch the Video Version

Disclaimer: This content and description may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, The Heavy-Duty Parts Report may receive a small commission.

Sponsors of this Episode:

  1. Want to look up parts but don’t have a part number or the VIN? Download Diesel Parts for free on Desktop or on your Apple or Android device.
  2. Looking for high-quality fuel injection for heavy-duty applications? Buy now from AMBACInternational.com/Aftermarket
  3. Looking for suspension, steering, and 5th wheel parts? Buy now from SAMPA.com
  4. Looking for OEM genuine parts? Buy now from AlliantPower.com

Buy Parts:

Are you looking to purchase heavy-duty parts and get your commercial vehicle repaired? Get access to one of HDA Truck Pride’s 750 locations across the United States and Canada. Visit HeavyDutyPartsReport.com/BuyParts.

Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You are listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and this is the show where you get expert advice about heavy-duty parts that keeps trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost per mile.

In this episode, we’re going to talk about tools every repair shop needs. I recently attended the Technology and Maintenance Council’s Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, which gave me the opportunity to talk to some subject matter experts about tools that your repair shop needs. First, I stopped at the Diesel Laptop’s booth to talk to Dustin Carnes about their Diesel Decoder. Listen in to my conversation with Dustin Carnes. And if you’re quick, you’ll be able to take advantage of a special that ran in the month of March 2023. So if you’re listening to this episode, the day it dropped, you’ve still got a few days to take advantage of their special offer. Listen in to my conversation with Dustin Carnes from Diesel Laptops.

Dustin Carnes:

Hi, my name is Dustin Carnes. I am the Product Manager for Diesel Laptops for our Decoder and Diesel Explorer Software.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re at TMC at the annual meeting in Orlando, Florida. Dustin, how you doing?

Dustin Carnes:

Good, good. How are you?

Jamie Irvine:

Good. Thanks for having me here. We’re at the Diesel Laptops booth. The conversation today that we’re having is the tools that technicians need to be successful in repair and maintenance of vehicles, and I wanted to talk to you specifically about Diesel Decoder. This is a product that diesel laptops is offering to the marketplace, but for those who don’t know, first of all, what is the product and how does it work?

Dustin Carnes:

So the Diesel Decoder is a small Bluetooth dongle that will connect to an iOS or an Android device, and it hooks up to a commercial vehicle, whether it’s the nine pin or the OB2 vehicles, and it pulls diagnostic data directly to either your phone or a tablet or whatever Android or iOS device you have. So you can pull live data, you can pull fault codes, you can pull trip information, all of the data that’s currently housed in the modules in the vehicles, you can pull that back and be able to do diagnostic triage with it. You know, could tell whether you need to go in and get your vehicle fixed. You need to know whether you can actually put parts on it directly. We have links to different repair information directly in the app. So you can pull a fault code from your vehicle, you can click on a button and it’ll take you directly to repair information to tell you what parts to fix, what steps to go through to actually repair the vehicle.

Jamie Irvine:

So let me ask you something, Dustin. Obviously at Diesel Laptops you want to sell diagnostic tools like the full laptop to be able to provide technicians with that tool. Where or why would a technician also want to have Diesel Decoder with them in their toolbox?

Dustin Carnes:

So most shops are going to have a very high end diagnostic tool. They’re going to have the Cojali, any of those, right? But the space for a Diesel Decoder, and the really good benefit of this is it’s very portable and it’s a great backup tool for your high-end diagnostic tool. You can have it, the technician can have it in their toolbox. Most of the time technicians are not only working on one truck, they’re working on multiple trucks and you know, can be diagnosed a vehicle here, but maybe you need to run a regen on a vehicle or maybe you need to just go check codes in this vehicle real quick. You’ve got your phone in your pocket, you can run out to the vehicle, hook it up within 10 seconds. You can pull fault codes from the vehicle and then you have an idea of maybe you need to go tell your service, Hey, this is what we need to do with this vehicle, or whatever the case. So it’s a great tool, mainly because it’s mobile. No, you know, can just keep it in your pocket with you all the time and you just need to connect real quick.

Jamie Irvine:

As you said though, immediately what came to mind was running out to the yard. You got several trucks that you want to fix, which is the next truck that should go into the shop. What about the one after that? So with having that mobile, you could run out and kind of figure that out before doing a deep level diagnostic and kind of triage the vehicles that are in the yard. That would increase efficiency?

Dustin Carnes:

Exactly right. I used to be a dealers technician, worked at a international dealership and we had roughly 13 to 15 technicians. Usually we had two or three laptops. A lot of times those laptops were being used because there’s a lot of electronics and system problems nowadays. To have that in your pocket real quick, I don’t need to go try to find the laptop, oh, this one’s dead. I got to charge it up. All of those things if I can just go out real quickly, hook up, get fault codes, or now we’re in introducing bidirectional commands into it. So not only will it pull data, we could actually do bidirectional commands such as regenerations, and we’re going to be working on after treatment resets as well. So where you can do some of those a little bit more higher end diagnostic commands in just a super portable device, it makes the technician a lot more efficient that way.

Jamie Irvine:

So technicians in a repair shop, mobile technicians of course, because they’re mobile, right? I’m also thinking this would be a great item for do-it-yourself, owner operators, anybody who has that need to get that first layer of diagnostic information. This is going to save time and money.

Dustin Carnes:

Exactly. Yeah. Owner operators, nowadays there’s a wealth of information out there, but there’s not a lot of tools in that space where an owner operator can have it in their bunk and say their check engine light comes on, they want to hook it up, they just want to see what they need to do with their vehicle. They may not repair it themselves and some are savvy enough to put parts on and do diagnostics, but at least they can hook it up to their vehicle and know, okay, I’ve got this fault code I can keep driving my truck. Or hey, this is a severe fault code, I need to stop and get it it towed, or whatever the case. It gives them a lot of insight into what they can do with their vehicle. So there, there’s a ton of different use cases in that scenario. Anybody that needs to know the health of a vehicle and get that really quickly, that’s a good use case for this tool.

Jamie Irvine:

So this is one of those tools everybody should have in their toolbox. There’s also an opportunity if you’re thinking about buying this tool to take advantage of some promotions. So what’s going on in March of 2023 that will make it a little bit easier to get one of these added to your toolbox.

Dustin Carnes:

So in March when you buy a Diesel Decoders diagnostic tool, we are including some of our repair information for free as well as a training class. So diesel laptops offers training courses in not only our diagnostic software, but actual technician courses to be able to fix vehicles. So you’ll be able to get one of those free with a Decoder purchase.

Jamie Irvine:

If you’re interested in buying one of them, go over to diesel laptops.com will have links in the show notes so that people can click directly through the show notes to the Diesel Decoder and make their purchase. Thank you so much, Dustin. Thank you. I hope you have a great show.

Dustin Carnes:

Appreciate it. You too.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re going to take a quick break to hear from our sponsors. We’ll be right back. Don’t have a heavy-duty part number and need to look up a part? Go to parts.diesellaptops.com or download the app on Apple or Android to create your free account. Looking for high-quality fuel injection for heavy-duty applications? Having one supplier for fuel injection allows you to better serve customers by providing them with a complete line which increases your sales and profitability. Learn more at ambacinternational.com/aftermarket. Parts availability and quality have a big influence on fleets and owner operators’ total cost of operation. If they can’t find a part, it means more downtime. If they install a low quality part and it fails, it means even more costs like tow bills, hotels, meals for the driver and lost revenue. That’s why we recommend Sampa. They manufacture a wide range of advanced parts for commercial vehicles.

Their website has an intelligent product search engine and broad coverage of suspension, steering and fifth wheel components. Expect More. Expect Sampa. Visit sampa.com. Today we’re back from the break. Before the break we were talking to Dustin Carnes from Diesel Laptops and we were talking about the Diesel Decoder. Definitely that’s a tool you should have at every repair shop, but I wanted to talk to someone who’s involved in fleet services and maintenance and repair on an ongoing basis to get an idea of some of the best tools and how they use those tools to make their customers the fleets and owner operators more safe and more efficient and to lower their cost of operation. So where else better to go than COX Automotive Fleet Services, which now because they bought Dickinson, has a heavy-duty fleet services division. So listening my conversation with the folks at COX Automotive Fleet Services where we started our conversation talking about how to prevent wheel offs.

Terry Rivers:

I’m Terry Rivers from Cox Automotive Mobility Fleet Services and I’m VP of Maintenance of the Fleet Tech Academy.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re at TMCs Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida and I’m very happy to be here at the COX Automotive booth. We’re talking about fleet services, we’re talking about tools, and it’s really a great opportunity to talk to you, Terry, because I know you’ve got a lot of experience in this area. Let’s talk for a moment about some of the critical tools like every mechanic should have that they should be using. It’s one thing to have the tool, it’s another thing to use it. So let’s talk about preventing wheel offs. What are the tools and how should they be using them?

Terry Rivers:

That’s a great question. One of the tools we ought to be using all the time, every time is a torque wrench. There’s saying in the industry that we are all one wheel off from unemployment. It’ll put the best, the biggest company out of business. So we don’t want that to happen. We want to be safe out there. And on a commercial truck, that lug nut is torque to 500 or 550 foot pounds and it’s exhausting. So at any rate, a torque wrench, a lot of times it gets just gummed on and it caused it to be overtight. Most wheel offs are because that lug nut is overtight not under tight.

Jamie Irvine:

That’s a counterintuitive thing, but it’s so true. I know we were talking to the manufacturers at Alcoa wheels and they were talking about that too, in addition to making sure those lug nuts are torque properly using a torque wrench. What about tire pressure?

Terry Rivers:

Yeah, that’s a great question too. So you see a lot of tread laying alongside the roads, right? So soft tire pressure will cause a retread to pull off. It also causes zipper on steel belts in the side wall, the tire, which causes a really hard pull when that happens because it’s not a slow leak, it’s instant and scares the driver. So other things can happen because of that. So it’ll damage a brand new tire just as quick as it’ll damage a retread. And the proper tire pressure is a way to prevent that, but it also helps get the most fuel economy you can get out of a vehicle. So tire pressure gauge and a good quality tire pressure gauge from a major tool manufacturer as well as periodic calibration of that tire pressure gauge to stay safe.

Jamie Irvine:

All right, so we got our torque wrench, we’ve got our air pressure gauge, a high quality one that’s calibrated correctly. Tell me about airlift. What is it? Why is it not used very often? Maybe some of the people listening won’t even know.

Terry Rivers:

So airlift or vacuum fill is another name for it. It is a tool that draws a vacuum of about 29 inches of mercury to a cooling system so that there can’t be any atmosphere left in there. And then you have the hose in the five gallon bucket of coolant, and when you open the valve, it draws the coolant in because there’s a vacuum. So it’s impossible for there to be trapped air in there. Because of that, if you still top fill, you’re still air trapped in there, which creates bubbles and air pockets, which causes EGR coolers to crack. You have 2000 degree exhaust going through an EGR cooler that has an air bubble in it. And even though it’s stainless steel, nothing’s going to withstand that. Most always have required the use of airless when filling cooling systems forever, probably 20 years. Every electric vehicle manufacturer is also requiring it as well. Okay. So it’s a strong policy of ours to do that. And again, it’s absolute, once you fill it with a vacuum fill, there can’t be bubbles in it. I mean there is a purging process, but the vehicle is still hot and EGR flow is still happening while it’s purging and you could still damage a cooler or other components in the after treatment system

Jamie Irvine:

If you’re working on a light duty pickup truck with a diesel engine or a medium duty like cargo truck or maybe a class. Is there any differences in the way you use that tool?

Terry Rivers:

A great question. There is no difference in the way you use it. The other really handy thing is if you’re working on other vehicles, like you’re talking about, say school buses, you have to fill the whole body of the vehicle too, and that’s really, really difficult. Without a vacuum fill, you can block one side off, put a vacuum on the other side and put that hose in the coolant bucket and it’ll literally pull it all the way through that school bus, every hose, every heat exchanger, all the way back to the vacuum fill tool, not a single bubble in the system.

Jamie Irvine:

Terry, when we heard the news that COX Automotive had purchased Dickinson Fleet Service, we knew that you were going to get this nationwide view of heavy-duty repair. And also with all of your experience, the pandemic has brought some unique challenges to the industry and now that we’ve come out or in the process of coming out of it, I guess is one way of saying it, heavy-duty repair is facing some unique things. And I’d like you to talk a little bit about some of the trends that you’re seeing, especially how it relates to two categories, preventative maintenance and emergency repair. So let’s talk about preventative maintenance first.

Terry Rivers:

All right, so some of the trends I’ve seen, we talked about the pandemic and how people stopped acquiring new vehicles in the average commercial vehicle age in America is ticking up slowly. And then toward the end of the pandemic, the electric revolution started to happen and still fleet owners were a little unsure about acquiring new equipment. So they’ve hung onto it for a while, and now the average commercial vehicle age in America is 14 up from 12 years. And so preventive maintenance comes in really, really important here. The older the vehicle gets, the more important it is. It’s always important, but it’s even more important when it’s older. And as far as that goes, not a lot has changed in that aspect. Still, like we talked about earlier, the right tire pressure gauges, torque wrenches, all the same things we currently do, even on electric vehicles, there are a few differences, but preventive maintenance, it remains pretty close to the same, to stay safe and lower that cost of ownership.

Jamie Irvine:

Exactly. And we know when there is an emergency repair, they’re not completely avoidable. Having the right tools is really important if you’re the technician. Have you seen any trends in emergency repair? How is that impacting the industry? If these vehicles are older? Is it happening more often?

Terry Rivers:

Yeah, so emergency repair is growing and it’s necessary and some unique things are. So we do mainly preventive maintenance and then the follow up repairs of the defects we find during that. But what emergency repair is a truck will be backed up to a dock, the load will be unloaded and it goes to pull away from the dock and something’s wrong, maybe an electric lift, a hydraulic lift gate or something. And now there are other trucks waiting on this truck to move away from the dock so they can to drop their load. So emergency maintenance comes in extremely important right there. The most important thing at the moment is to get that truck away from the dock so it’s not holding enough progress and everybody else can move on and then we can diagnose it and fix it right there on the lot rather than taking it to a shop, having it towed.

Jamie Irvine:

That makes a lot of sense. Terry, thank you so much for taking some time to talk with me. I really appreciate it.

Terry Rivers:

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Jamie Irvine:

It was getting towards the end of the day, and I still had two more stops where I wanted to talk to a couple people who offer specialty tools that maybe you’ve never thought of that were needed in your repair shop business. So first of all, I stopped at United Axle where I got to talk to Todd Carroll about a specialty tool that maybe you haven’t thought of before as being a tool you should have at your repair shop. Listen in as we talk about axle repair and the tool that they use to measure whether or not an axle spindle is damaged and needs to be repaired.

Todd Carroll:

Hi, I’m Todd Carroll. I’m President of United Axle.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re at TMC in Orlando. It’s the Annual Meeting and right now we’re talking about the subject of what tools technicians should have. So we’ve had a chance to talk to a few people. I wanted to specifically come by your booth and talk to you about axle repair. Why is that often something that’s overlooked by technicians?

Dustin Carnes:

Probably the biggest reason a lot of the technicians coming on don’t realize the majority of the time of the bearing journal and trying to find out and educate about that is one of our biggest goals. The majority of the damage is usually always on the bottom of the spindle just because of the weight of the truck is riding on those bearings. So therefore it puts the wear on the bottom. But it’s a big issue and we’re trying to get that message out there and trying to get it more so in the technician field where they understand what’s going on with it.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. Well, we want to make sure that people are educated and have the right tools in the toolbox. Yes. So you got a tool in your hand there. What is it? How is it used? Why should technicians have this in their toolbox?

Dustin Carnes:

So this is what we call our Go – No Go Gauge tells us what spindle in or outer bearings. It’s Go No Go. One size of it is the same size of the bearing journal. The opposite side is 6,000 smaller, so anything less six thousandths a factory is deemed bad as far as on a bearing journal. And that’s what helps technicians discover whether it’s good or bad or not.

Jamie Irvine:

So if a technician is using this and they discover they’ve got an axle that’s bad, before the only option was complete replacement, correct. But that’s no longer the case. So tell us about United Axle’s Service and how that will change the game for technicians who have this tool.

Dustin Carnes:

Well, as far as spindle replacements, ours is a threaded spindle replacement. So if you have one that has gone down where it’s tore up the axle spindle, we can come out, you can call us up, we can come out, we can cut that spindle off, we can retrofit our patented process onto that, and when it’s all finished, essentially it is threaded so therefore it can be removed again. So it’s easily serviced. First time takes about two and a half hours, and if it’s ever needed it, again, you’re looking about 45 minutes to an hour.

Jamie Irvine:

One thing I love about this solution is that once the repair is done, so let’s say the first time the repair was needed because of excessive wear over a long period of time, if you were to replace the entire axle, and then let’s say three days later you do something, you hit something and you damage that, now you have to replace the whole thing again, with this serviceable spindle. Now that’s not the case. So this is something that I think will lower cost of operation for fleets. Wouldn’t you agree?

Dustin Carnes:

Oh, by all means. Well, we’ve had cases where we have replaced a spindle before and in a short amount of time where it needed to be replaced again for one reason or another, right? And it’s not uncommon. So many people will, how many times will you remove that spindle? Why does it need to be serviceable? Usually a spindle only lasts one time on an axle and its trucks usually done, quite frankly, we’ve replaced ’em several times. It depends on how they’re running those trucks and what they’re going through.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, exactly. Todd, thank you so much for taking some time showing us your gauge, and anybody who wants to learn more, head over to unitedaxle.com. Links will be in the show notes. It was a long day at the TMC’s annual meetings exhibition, and I got to talk to a lot of people. A few people we were talking specifically about tools you should have at your repair shop, and I’m so happy that I got a chance to share these interviews with you today. One of the booths that I was trying to get to, and we just ran out of time, they actually shut down the exhibition and so I wasn’t able to get an interview, was to talk to the folks over at Kingpin Specialists to talk about their kingpin gauge. Now they specialize on repairing kingpins on trailers and they have a gauge that they sell that you can use as a repair technician to properly measure the kingpin to find out if it’s worn, if it needs to be repaired, or if it needs to be replaced.

And that is a product that I think you should check out. Now, you can go over to Kingpin Specialist website. We’ll put links in the show notes, and you can go to their website, kingpinspecialist.com, right in the top menu. You’ll see Gauge click on that and you’ll be able to learn more about their gage and you can buy it directly from them through their eBay link. But that’s definitely a specialty tool that not maybe everybody has or they don’t have the one that Kingpin makes, which is much more sturdy and gives you a much better measurement. Definitely one tool I think you should have and you should check it out. Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. I hope that you took some benefit from it. We appreciate your ongoing support. If you’d like to follow The Heavy-Duty Parts Report, go over to heavydutypartsreport.com. Sign up to our email. That way you’ll never miss out on any content that we produce. Or you can follow us for free by subscribing on our YouTube channel or anywhere you get your podcasts. Also, take a minute, check out our sponsors. They make this show possible and they’ve got some great products to offer you. So head over to the show notes, click the links and support our sponsors. Thank you again for listening to today’s episode, and as always, I want to encourage you to Be Heavy-Duty.

Share this:
Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn
Email
Related:

FOLLOW THE PODCAST

Receive a weekly email with links to the latest episodes.

You Won’t Believe How Much You Will Save.

Your Complete Shop Efficiency Partner.

Provide Your Customers with Complete Parts Visibility.

The Heart of the Independent Parts and Service Channel.

Your Ultimate Destination for Heavy-Duty Parts.

Search