Jim Baker, president
Lost Highway, Inc.
Lost Highway, Inc. is a full-service, six-bay shop employing four ASE-certified technicians (three of whom are master certified) and a service manager. We are an ASE Blue Seal of Excellence shop, and service domestic, import, specialty and antique vehicles.
I had to think for a while to name our top five tools! We run a very well-equipped shop, so we had a pretty wide spectrum of stuff to pick from. I decided that “top 5 tools” would have to equate to “top 5 money makers,” so with that in mind, here it goes:
Snap-on Kool Kare R-134a A/C Service Machine There’s something to be said for a piece of A/C equipment that you can just punch your reclaim, evac and charge specs into and then just walk away from. It has been quite trouble-free in the 10 years or so that I’ve owned it. It’s been a money-maker in that we’re free to go do other stuff while it’s doing its thing as opposed to us sitting there watching clocks, gauges and scales.
Ammco 3000 Safe-Turn Brake Lathe The world would be a better place if everything we bought and counted on for production were as rugged and dependable as this piece of equipment. This particular lathe was in my dad’s shop first, then when he retired and sold out to me, it became part of my shop. It’s been a part of my day-to-day scenery for at least 35 years. Aside from some upgrades and having to get the motor overhauled once, it has never been off the shop floor. Moneymaker yes. It was paid for long, long ago and is zero overhead to us. Never calls in sick or late and never complains always produces. Great tool!
Snap-on MODUS Scanner With the amount of driveability and electronics diagnosis that we do, we rely heavily on our scan tools. I recently traded off my old MT2500 “Brick” and upgraded to a MODUS, and my lead tech also bought a SOLUS/Vantage combination. The MODUS has domestic, Asian and European capabilities, and is a favorite with our techs when it comes time for driveability, transmission or body control diagnosis. It’s hard to beat when it comes to ease of use. We also have a Vetronix Mastertech MTS3100, which is excellent in its own right. But for ease of operation, speed and dependability, I think we’d be hard pressed to find another scan tool that surpasses our Snap-on scanners.
Snap-on Counselor II with 4-Gas Analyzer We are in a rural, non-emissions testing area, so we don’t have the benefit of a chassis dyno/analyzer combination in our shop for diagnostic work. This piece fills the gap. The old Counselor is still pretty darn handy for a lot of things, and the lab scope and various test functions that it has are great. We have several different lab scopes and graphing DVOMs in the shop, but sometimes a nice big screen and a remote control is just what you need. Very trouble-free and compact and takes up very little floor space. The “bang for the buck” ratio is pretty high on this one.
Mitchell On-Demand and Mitchell Management You can have every hand tool and every whiz-bang electronic gadget in the world, but without the repair information to go with it you have virtually nothing. I’ve used Mitchell in my shop for the last 15 years, and am never short of amazed at the new stuff that is continually being added. I really don’t know how we would function without it. We run the web-based system now, as opposed to the DVDs. It’s on a wireless network to our front and back office and to four tech work stations in the shop. We also like using the Mitchell Management program there’s nothing like a computer to do your math, track, collate, sort, print, follow-up, etc. etc. We recently added the Quickbooks Integrator to our management program and it makes life easier for my accountant as well. I can’t say enough good things about the system our shop rotates around it.