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Without question, the applications for specialty tools are endless—there’s always a tool for that special job at hand. We plan on purchasing a hand-held vacuum pump to check vacuum actuators used on automotive HVAC systems. What other...

Fuel pressure gauge kits come with various adapters and fittings designed to fit the fuel injection systems of domestic and import cars. Although domestic cars typically have test ports so you can quickly connect a gauge, this is not always the case. As a reasonable starting place, look for a kit that has a gauge and other main components that you can add on to. That way, your equipment investment can grow along with the types of cars you service.

We periodically encounter vehicles with performance problems resulting from restricted exhaust systems. What sorts of tools and techniques are there to help us pinpoint these problems?

Although a vacuum gauge can be used for detecting exhaust restriction, it leaves a lot of guesswork with regard to just how restricted the system is. For that reason, it’s best to take a direct reading from the system itself. This can be done a couple of ways.

The oxygen-sensor mounting hole offers one handy port to check backpressure. Since all sensors use 18mm threaded holes, one adapter fits all cars equipped with oxygen sensors. Install the adapter in the hole and tighten it according to the manufacturer's torque spec.

You can also tap into the exhaust system with a universal backpressure kit. Unlike tapping into the oxygen sensor hole, this kit lets you tap into the exhaust system anywhere, including ahead and behind the converter or muffler, without removing any parts. Also, by checking backpressure ahead and behind suspected restrictions, you can cut the time spent pulling off sections of the exhaust system to isolate the source of backpressure. Generally speaking, you should see no more than 3 psi (02.1 kPa) of backpressure on your pressure gauge.

We have an old starting, charging and battery system tester with a carbon pile load device that needs repair. From what we’ve learned, this type of tester is now obsolete. Is this true?

Obsolete may be too strong of a term, since carbon pile load testers still have their place for load testing batteries. The real issue is that there’s a more efficient way to perform electrical system tests on a day-to-day basis. Today, the conductance-type electrical system tester is, by far, the most popular. This handheld tester simply clips to the battery and you follow the on-screen prompts to perform the various electrical system tests. In only a matter of minutes, you can gain full insight into electrical system operating condition. Since the learning curve to use this tool is small, you can begin making money faster with this new technology as opposed to older-style testers.

When performing any work that requires disconnecting the battery, the electronic memory becomes erased, causing a major headache for our shop and an annoyance for our customers. In some cases, it even triggers the security lock for the entertainment system, a real hassle to reset. Is there any sort of tool we can use to prevent the loss of electronic memory?

Yes, there are memory savers available from several companies that work a couple of different ways.

One style simply plugs into the lighter socket or power outlet with an adapter to maintain battery power to the electrical system. Be advised, however, that on some vehicles this circuit is not “hot” at all times. Rather, this circuit is controlled by the ignition. If you happen to connect a memory saver to this type of system with the key off, you could be fooled into thinking that the memory will be saved. So keep this in mind.

The other type of memory saver connects to the vehicle’s Diagnostic Link Connector and provides power through that gateway. Make sure the memory saver you’re considering can connect to the types of cars you service.

I often need to connect a multimeter in one area of the car, but need to observe the readings from the meter in a different area. I usually don’t have a helper available, so are there any tricks I can use in this situation?

Multimeters often have range-setting tones that you can apply to emit an audible tone so you can hear when a certain measurement threshold has been met on the meter. However, if you really need to see the display itself, this can be tricky. At least one multimeter manufacturer now offers a multimeter with a removable display head. You simply make the connections with the meter where you need to, then take the display head to a different location.

Next time we're going to cover leak detection. Until then, keep your questions coming.

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