The Top 5 Favorite Tools of the Country’s Top Technicians – UnderhoodService

The Top 5 Favorite Tools of the Country’s Top Technicians

Dan & Kris Cesena
Honda Hospital, Inc.
San Mateo and Milpitas, CA

Our top five favorite tools (and why) are:

The Snap-on MicroVAT Battery/Starter/Alternator Tester. Why? Well it makes it much easier to test batteries, alternators and starters; it has an infrared port, which sends the data to an optional thermal printer; and with these printouts, our customers understand our diagnosis better. And, we are selling on average three times as many batteries as we used to before we acquired the MicroVAT.

The RTI Coolant Exchanger. Why? It is easier and faster to drain and refill. It’s cleaner, no coolant splashing on the floor while draining. And, there are no air pockets on refill because it draws a vacuum on the system when draining, and then “pulls” the coolant into all the areas of the cooling system.

The Pro-Cut On-Car Brake Lathe. Why? We have always resurfaced brake rotors while “on the car.” The Pro-Cut lathe has a nice stand that makes hooking up the machine easier and faster. And the Pro-Cut lathe takes fewer passes to make the smooth surface we want. This has greatly increased our productivity on brake rotor resurfacing jobs.

The RTI RHS780 A/C Machine. Why? It’s so darn easy. Hook up the machine, push a couple buttons and the machine does the rest. It is programmed to perform the steps necessary for an A/C service without having to monitor it every minute. Our techs really appreciate being able to work on another car while this machine does all the work.

The Vetronix Service Bay Workstation. Ours consists of the Vetronix Cart, a Honda PGM Tester (scan tool made by Vetronix), the Vetronix MTS 5100 Engine Analyzer and the Vetronix PXA-1100 5-Gas Analyzer. We added a Dell computer that hosts the Vetronix software associated with these analyzers. Why do we love it? Once you’ve learned how to use the equipment, it makes the diagnostic process more streamlined and allows us to get deeper into the diagnosis. It goes a lot farther than just checking the basics. In addition, the software allows us to print graphs that impress the customer and make them feel they are getting a great diagnosis for their money.

Chris Bower, Owner/Technician
Peckerwoods Pit Stop
Ventura, CA


My Top 5 Favorite Tools:

I couldn’t narrow it down to five. The best I could do was six. So as not to rock the boat, let’s just say that there was a tie for number five.

iATN ( – I have been a sponsoring member of this website for five years, and have used information available there for more jobs than I can count. Having the experience of nearly 50,000 of the world’s best techs at my fingertips is priceless. This is truly the best tool in my toolbox.

Fluke 88 Automotive Meter – This meter is any auto tech’s best friend. Its accuracy and features make electrical testing and diagnostics a breeze. No other DMM that I have ever used even compares. I would be lost without it. Ingersoll-Rand IR3121 1/2” Impact Wrench – I love this impact because of its strength and light weight. It’s easy to maneuver and control in tight places. It’s powerful enough to take on the most difficult fasteners, yet light and compact enough to fit into the tightest areas without fatiguing your arm, even after using it all day.

OTC Mindreader 3750 Scan Tool with OBD II Upgrade – This is a very user-friendly, inexpensive scan tool that I use all the time. The OBD II upgrade also allows me to view the data stream for OBD I Ford EEC IV vehicles. It’s not the fanciest scan tool out there, but it does what I need it to do, quickly and accurately. Mine has taken a beating, too, and has never failed me.

Silverline Mityvac Vacuum Pump – It’s just your basic hand vacuum pump, but in my opinion, it’s priceless. It also makes testing and diagnostics a breeze. This is another tool that I would be lost without.

Olympus D-460 Zoom Digital Camera – This was my first digital camera, and is now used exclusively for work. Quite frankly, I don’t know how I got by without one for so long. Not only can I take quick pictures to document jobs, but now I can get a real image of parts, part numbers, linkage, wiring, vacuum hose routing, etc., instantly, and can send them to anyone, anywhere, provided they are online. It’s much easier to verify a correct part with a picture than a description. It also comes in handy when I want to create a visual flow chart for another tech. I can get outstanding pictures as close as a couple of inches from the subject. Olympus is a top quality camera at an affordable price.


Richard Measom, Technician
Fakler Tires
Provo, UT


I have worked on brakes, front-ends and suspensions for 35 years, and I have gotten into some tight places. Here are my favorite tools:

My Snap-on Metric “Wobbles” – They can turn almost in an L-shaped angle, which makes rack and pinions that are mounted on the firewall an easy job.

My Snap-on Sockets with Flank Drive – I am able to take off any nut and bolt – no matter how rounded it is. My 3’ Pry Bar from Cornwell – My “big blue” has gotten into and pried better than anything I have used before or since. (I gave away all my other ones.)

My Matco Heavy-Duty Slide Hammer – It has gotten apart anything I can hook it up to (bearings, 4WD spindles, anything).

My Master Cylinder Syringe from Eisis – I have no more problems with air in the brake system, and bench bleeding is a snap and, best of all, no comebacks.

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