Top 10 Tools: Pete Rudloff, Pete's Garage Inc.

June 17, 2016
This shop owner explains why these tools are key to running a successful business.

Owner: Pete Rudloff

Shop: Pete's Garage, Inc.

Location: Newark, Del.

Pete Rudloff is a technician, national automotive instructor and advisor, nationally published technical writer and owner of Pete’s Garage Inc. in Newark, Del. - a six-bay facility with more than 4,500 sq. ft. of work space. He says Pete’s Garage has become known for fixing difficult-to-repair cars and has grown a reputation of being a diagnostic destination more than a maintenance shop. Rudloff also created Delaware Training Group to bring technicians together in an environment that fosters learning. Among many other professional accolades, Rudloff is an ASE Certified L1 Master Technician.

1. Factory scan tools

With a small shop, Pete's Garage works on five manufacturer groups and has OE level scan tools for all of them, including the Chrysler wiTech. In addition to Chrysler, the shop has OE level scan tools for GM, Ford, Toyota and Honda. "Having the OE scan tool gives me the same capability as the dealer," Rudloff says. "With full communication capability, I know that I will not encounter a tooling deficiency whenever I schedule a client in for testing. Having 100-percent capability is critical to my service-ready business model."

2. Snap-on SOLUS Edge, No. EESC320

"By combining a premium graphing scan tool with my OE tool arsenal, it gives me a competitive edge beyond the OE dealer shops," explains Rudloff. He says the SOLUS Edge is faster at most tasks than its OE counterparts. "And if it runs out of ability, I always have my OE tools to back it up."

3. Pico Technology PicoScope Advanced Automotive Kit, No. 4425

Rudloff likes this tool because it is fast and user-intuitive. "The 4425 takes everything good about Pico and makes it more powerful," he says.

4. Pico Technology Automotive Pressure Transducer, No. WPS500X 

"Taking engines apart to determine their state of health is the old way of doing things," Rudloff says. He adds that this tool allows him to check valve timing and compression by pulling a spark plug.

5. AESwave FirstLook Engine Diagnostic Pulse Sensor

Rudloff says this delta pressure sensor complements the Pico Pressure Transducer. He uses it to measure air pressure changes in both intake and exhaust pressure pulses.

6. Mac Tools Roll Cart, No. MB197UC

"These spacious carts give me the flexibility to mobilize both specialty tooling and basic hand tools away from my primary toolbox," Rudloff says. "With four of these carts, I'm able to keep a lot of my gear in an easy to use, organized format."

7. Precision Instruments Split-Beam Click Wrenches

Pete's Garage has a policy to toque every fastener, which is why these tools come in handy. Rudloff utilizes three different sizes of these torque wrenches, adding they are fast to set, inexpensive, durable and do not require resetting to zero after use. "I like these over my more expensive digital torque wrenches," he says.

8. DeWalt 1/2" Impact, No. DCF899HB

This impact swayed Rudloff to use cordless power tools instead of traditional air tools. Calling it the most powerful 1/2" impact he has ever used, Rudloff says the Li-ion batteries almost seem to never need a re-charge.

9. Hunter Road Force wheel balancer

"A few years ago, my shop dropped conventional balancing in favor of doing Road Force correction before balancing on every tire," Rudloff explains. "Tire profits have soared and customers have been happier than ever."

10. Motorola Droid Turbo smartphone with Seek Thermal Imaging Camera attachment

Rudloff calls his Motorola smartphone "a nearly priceless tool," noting that he uses his smartphone to perform vehicle inspections electronically, look up service information and use his Seek Thermal Imaging Camera attachment. He also uses it for taking pictures of things that would otherwise be notated in writing. "The smartphone is a huge time-saver in the bay, and the Droid Turbo has the battery power to go all day."

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