Lost and found: The many tools of the trade

Lost and found: The many tools of the trade

”I appeal to you that find stray tools … please return or notify us of what you have found.”

I appeal to you that find stray tools in your vehicle after a visit to your mechanic. Please return or notify us of what you have found. We would greatly appreciate your kindness. I speak from experience.

It is no secret that repairing and maintaining vehicles requires skill, knowledge and tools. More than ever your shop’s selection of hand and diagnostic tools is growing constantly. In the hustle and bustle of the shop environment an organized comprehensive set of tools is a must.

Each technician or apprentice will have his or her own set of hand tools and diagnostic tools all strategically organized (wishful thinking on the boss’ part) in a big red tool box. Not so much red anymore though. Thankfully colors have flourished in the tool trucks.

Yes, the tool store comes to us. You may have seen the Snap-On and Mac tool trucks circling the Kootenays.

The auto repair shop itself will also have its own tools, again, hopefully, very organized with each and every one strategically placed. The shop tools will be bigger ticket items that might be referred to as equipment. There will also be specialty tools that enable any particular shop to perform repairs that not just anyone can do.

Hoists for lifting vehicles, hydraulic jacks, tire mounting and balancing machines, brake rotor and drum lathes, welding and cutting equipment are pieces of equipment in almost every shop.

Then there are the specialty maintenance machines for cleaning fuel injection systems, flushing cooling systems or changing transmission fluid. These machines either speed up common jobs or perform jobs not easily performed without them.

Another subset of shop tools are diagnostic tools. Again some of these tools speed up procedures or allow your mechanic to diagnose a problem or perform a procedure that simply cannot be done without them.

So yes, more than any other trade, mechanics work with a bunch of tools. As any of you who have lifted the hood on a modern day vehicle know there is not a lot of room in there. Just the selection of different pliers that your mechanic owns would amaze.

Fixing cars is time sensitive. The shop atmosphere can seem to exude hustle and bustle. As the saying goes ‘time is money’ and you want your mechanic to have the right tools for the job. In the hustle and bustle of fixing cars it is easy to misplace and or forget a tool.

There are basic jobs that can have your mechanic working under the hood, under the vehicle, and inside the vehicle all to perform one diagnosis and repair. In each place different tools were probably deployed. The collection of all the tools at the end of the job can easily result in a stray tool.

If you happen to find one of those strays, believe me, your mechanic will be very happy to get that tool back, probably happier than getting a box of Timbits or even a six pack.

Trail’s Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician and graduate of mechanical engineering from UBC. E-mail: nutechauto@telus.net