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We frequently get asked by our customers, “I’m starting my own auto shop and I don’t know what equipment I need”. There is no definitive list of garage equipment, because every shop is different and has different needs. And budget will always be a factor. But there are some basic essentials that should be part of any auto shop comprehensive lift of must-have tools and equipment. Below is part 1 of our suggested list of essentials –
Automotive Lift –
This is a no brainer of course. Every auto shop needs a lift. But what kind? Should you get a two post lift, a four post lift, or some other kind of automotive hoist? There are many factors that should influence your decision. Each type of lift has it’s benefits and shortcomings. No one type of lift is perfect for every application. Of course, if your budget allows for it, you get get several different lifts to allow you to meet any application.
A Two post Lift will give you the greatest ability to access the vehicle for servicing. They give you a full rise lift and allow you to get at every inch of the underside of the vehicle, along with the wheels as well.
But sometimes, you may prefer the stability and speed of a four post lift. You can just drive on and off quickly, for oil changes, plus you have more stability when performing major jobs like removing a transmission. And with rolling jacks, you’ll be able to access the wheels for tire rotations as well.
Then there are a variety of other types of lifts for specialty applications. Will you be performing alignments? There are four post alignment lifts and scissor alignment rack.
Maybe you’ll have a lube shop with a pit and you’ll need a pit lift. For brake shops or tire shops, you may want to get a low rise pad lift that allows you to remove wheels quickly.
If you are a larger garage with multiple bays, you may have the luxury of obtaining several types of lifts to meet every application. Just make sure you purchase a reliable lift from a major brand name manufacturer. There are many inferior quality auto lifts on the market today and we’ve heard many stories from our customers about the bad experiences they’ve had when they tried to cut corners and purchase one of those “bargain” no name lifts out there.
Many auto shop owners and service managers are always looking for ways to bring in new revenue. One of the best ways to accomplish that is to get into offering wheel alignment service.
While getting up and running for alignments can require a high capital expenditure initially, it can reap huge rewards down the road. Data shows that offering wheel alignment service is very profitable.
Once you’ve done your research and determined that offering this service is something you wish to do, then the next step is to determine what specific pieces of equipment you will need. First, you will need an alignment lift. There are many different alignment lifts on the market. We’ve covered them before in a previous post here about Alignment Lifts.
The next item that you will need is an alignment machine. There are many good manufacturers of alignment machines. One of them is Ranger. ASEdeals.com has been carrying alignment machines by Ranger for many years. They are surprisingly affordable and we get great feedback on them.
Some key features to look for are, the number of sensors it has, what type of sensors, what type of wheel clamps it uses and is it hard wired or wireless. The Ranger model CRT380R alignment machine has 8 sensors. You would prefer an eight sensor model to a six sensor model because if you get in the way of one of the beams, you don’t have to start over. Everybody prefers a wireless model. The last thing you need is a bunch of wires cluttering up your work area. The Ranger alignment machine utilizes Bluetooth technology, which is state of the art and reliable and precise. The wheel clamps utilize heavy duty chrome rods with nickel plated screws and are adaptable to a wide variety of specialized wheels. Of course, probably the most important thing is that it is accurate.
Next, a very important thing for many shop owners and technicians is the support after the purchase. Anybody can sell you a piece of equipment and then forget about it. An alignment machine is a complex piece of machinery and it takes some training to learn how to master it. Ranger offers more than just an instruction manual. They will come out on-site to train you on it and set it up. Then, once you’re up and running, the one year warranty includes on-site service as well. Finally, they offer annual updates.
These are important considerations before determining what machines and which manufacturers to purchase. With such a large initial investment required, you must do your homework.