Top 10 Tools: David Lang, Independent Vehicle Service Inc.

The bulk of the company's revenue comes from brake repair, clutch repair, maintenance services and alignments.


Independent Vehicle Service, Inc. in Albuquerque, N.M. bills itself as a complete vehicle repair shop with an emphasis on Volvo, Mini and BMW repairs. Owner David Lang claims his shop can handle seven to nine percent of vehicles that are the most difficult to repair, ones that aren't repaired by the first three rounds of parts replacement from other shops. These are the jobs that are not the revenue producers: They are the reputation makers when properly repaired. Most revenue is produced by the brakes, suspension, service and maintenance which is the vast majority of work.

The shop's capabilities have enabled the company to expand in a challenging economy, and the shop recently moved to a larger operating facility which has one alignment bay and 16 lift bays serviced by nine technicians.

The bulk of the company's revenue comes from brake repair, clutch repair, maintenance services and alignments.

1)      Automotive Test Solutions Escope Pro 8-channel, twin-time-base labscope

Lang notes the importance of being able to view electrical circuits quickly in the cars that come into his shop nowadays. The oscilloscope has ten times the computing capacity of earlier models. "You need it every time you have a 'check-engine' light." The Escope Pro 8-channel (No. ESO1000) is a 16-bit, PC-based, adjustable-dual-time base oscilloscope.

The tool allows bi-directional control of electrical devices through the wiring, feedback equation (virtual replacement of electrical sensors) and more. The tech can scope eight circuits at the same time on two separate time bases. The tech can also view fast-timing signals and slow O2 signals on the same screen at the same time.

2)      Automotive Test Solutions Emission Five Gas Analyzer, No. EMS 1000

Lang says the gas analyzer provides the only way to know if the oxygen sensors on the engine control systems are displaying the correct information. "The user must compare the scan tool data to the reality of what gas is coming out the tail pipe."

With update rates from probe to screen displaying as fast as five seconds, the tech can locate fuel control problems, misfires, leaking head gaskets, no starts, hard starts and EVAP system leaks. The EMS 1000 comes packaged as a ready-to-run test solution, with all necessary cables, probes, connectors, hoses, and its own power supply.

3)      Automotive Test Solutions Emissfire Detector

This tool identifies camshaft timing problems through the spark plug hole, and misfiring cylinders from the exhaust tail pipe, Lang notes. The misfire counters provide information on which cylinders misfired and counts how many times the misfire occurred, alerting users to a bank misfire, random misfire or individual misfire. "The kit comes with additional pressure transducers. You can put the pressure transducers wherever you want. You'll know whether the cams are in time for the engine. You will be able to see non-invasively and dynamically whether the cam shafts are in time or not in time. You can tell cranking compression, idle compression, snap compression, tight valves, ring problems and more, all using the same piece. This can all be done without tearing the engine apart."

4)      Mitchell 1 ProDemand

The software combines service repair, maintenance and management information in an integrated source. Lang uses several aftermarket repair information services, but he prefers Mitchell 1 for wiring diagrams.

Depending on the search terms, as soon as the tech begin keying in data, ProDemand generates a list of components to choose from, or a filtered list of Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs), or a list of required maintenance items based on mileage. Diagrams, fluid specs and TSBs can be found easily. The system also has "legacy information" reaching back over the nine decades Mitchell 1 has been collecting data. 

5)      Streamlight Stylus Pro LED flashlight

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