Tool Review: CTEK CS FREE

April 13, 2022
Reviewed by Brian Culotta, shop foreman and master technician at Dave’s Auto Care in Willoughby, Ohio.

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Q. How did the tool function as far as saving you time?  

A. This tool was fantastic for being able to charge a battery remotely! It may have the appearance of a jump-start (jump pack) however instead of only applying 12V to the vehicle battery, it will provide 13.5V charging voltage. This tool simply is a low current (20A max) cordless/portable battery charger.  

Q. How has using this tool impacted your shop’s profitability?

A. Any time a technician can be more efficient, profitability will go up.  

Q. What kind of setup was involved before using the product?

A. Other than charging the unit, there wasn’t any setup. It was ready to go thereafter.  

Q. How easy was it to use?

A. Very easy to use. I keep this product on one of my diagnostic tool carts and on its charger when not in use. It’s a simple grab and go whenever the tool is needed.  

Q. How was its packaging? Did it come with any accessories?

A. The packaging was premium – nice, colorful, high-quality packaging that was appealing to the eye. The product came with the cables needed to attach to a vehicle and its charging adapter/cable. Additional adapters came with the charger to plug into various power outlets in other countries. There’s also an optional solar charger which I could see being very handy for recreational activities like camping.   

Q. What features did you like?

A. The convenience of the tool primarily. Not having to worry about where the nearest power receptacle is and if I am going to need an extension cord is very nice.  

Q. Is there any way you could think to improve or add to this tool?

A. It would be nice if it had a display. It has countdown lights that represent how much time is remaining until the vehicle battery is charged. Instead of having these confusing lights, I think it would be nicer to have a display offering more details of what is happening such as time remaining to charge the vehicle battery in percentage or minutes, vehicle battery voltage, and internal battery state of charge.  

Q. What types of jobs did you use this tool for?

A. Often when performing diagnostics on a vehicle, the ignition key may be required to be on for an extended period. Having the ability to use this tool without needing an extension cord was very convenient. Who wants to find where the other technician put the extension cord? Once you finally find it, where is the nearest receptacle? Who likes tripping on extension cords anyway? This product can offer a solution to all those scenarios.  

I also used this tool as a battery maintainer during a module programming event. When a vehicle ECU requires programming, it’s advised to keep clean charging voltage on the vehicle while it’s being programmed. This tool allows that to happen. Keep in mind, this tool can only provide up to 20A of current, so this is not a replacement for vehicles with higher electrical loads during a programming event.  

 *Note: This product was given to the reviewer free of charge from the manufacturer.

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