“So then they came out with the fluorescent drop light. That was a little bit more durable … they held up pretty good, and worked very well, but the bulbs at the time were a little expensive. They’ve come down in price since then, and have been efficient for quite a few years, but it’s been hard to see. They leave shadows when you look under a dash or in a tight space. And now they have the new LED lights.
“LEDs are interesting because you can see better with them, with a multiple light; they use less electricity and they’re more efficient,” said Lunsford.
“People get very diverse in the type of light they order. [But] you can’t beat the plain drop lights you can hold in your hand and take with you,” said Lunsford.
SCRATCHED-UP, KNOCKED-DOWN, KICKED AROUND
All three techs agreed that about every two years they’re usually ready for another light. And not necessarily because of failure — but because they get so beat up.
With this in mind, it’s no surprise that customers want to know what kind of warranty the light carries with it.
“That’s probably the biggest thing — how bright it is and what the timeframe of the warranty is,” said Jordan. “You want to have at least a year — or a lifetime on it, ideally.”
“I’ve got a cordless and a corded one, and unfortunately, drop lights are not 100-percent bulletproof,” said Lunsford. “You have that tech that’s going to run over it with a car or get a cord in the way and get the cord cut, so it’s an expendable item that might need to be replaced yearly, depending on how careless the mechanic is.”
THIS AIN'T NO HOME DEPOT
All three techs also agreed that they preferred buying their shop lighting from their mobile distributor.
“There were a couple of guys who worked here in the past that would go to Home Depot or something to get [lights], but most of the guys here get them directly off the truck. That way, if they have a problem, at least to some degree there’s a warranty,” said Jordan.
And quality is a big issue.
“[You can buy] the cheap fluorescent ones for eight bucks, but they don’t last very long…not for our environment at least,” said Steptoe.
“Maybe [they’ll work] for someone in their home garage.”
When distributors sell work lights, they’re selling innovation … and sometimes a much-needed release from some pretty haggard equipment.
“Some guys kind of get used to old ways and don’t change,” said Lunsford. “That’s the guy that doesn’t change his tools, either. He doesn’t go for innovation and he has a problem working on cars … because the guys who go for innovation get the cars repaired quicker, faster, and they’re more efficient.”
Power tools will always be a necessity in the automotive repair industry. Do you know what mechanics look for when they're looking to replace a cordless drill?