auto shop car liftThe end of February tends to be a slow period at many auto repair shops. Customers have already winterized their cars by switching to snow tires, checking the heating system, recharging or changing the battery, and rustproofing the undercarriage, so—barring any unexpected problems or accidents—they probably won’t have any need for a mechanic until spring.

No auto repair shop owner likes to see empty service bays, but there is one good reason to be thankful for the downtime: it allows your employees to perform routine maintenance and inspections on all the major equipment and tools they use. Here is a brief checklist of winter maintenance tasks to take care of at your service garage.

  • Hydraulic auto lifts: It’s important to have a qualified professional perform a thorough inspection on your hydraulic auto lifts at least once a year. This inspection, which covers the motor and internal mechanisms as well as the outer cables and structure, not only ensures the safety and performance of the auto lift, but may also be required to keep your warranty intact. Don’t skip it!
  • Tire changer/wheel balancer: Inspect all hoses for leaks, cracks, or other signs of damage, and replace if necessary. Check that the fittings on the clamp arms and other important parts of the machine are tight. Remove grease and dirt buildup around the adapters, pressure cup, locking nut, cones, and thread shaft to keep the machine working smoothly.
  • Power tools: Inspect all moving parts and replace anything that is worn or visibly damaged. Sharpen drill bits, saw blades, and any other components that may require it. Lubricate if necessary.
  • Air compressors: Confirm that the oil levels are at manufacturer recommended levels. Inspect the inlet/outlet valves, inlet air filter, and head gaskets for leaks. Check belt for looseness, tears, and other signs of damage. Clean the compressor as necessary.

A slowdown in customer visits doesn’t mean the mechanics and techs at your auto repair shop have to remain idle. The above maintenance tasks are ones that must be done to promote longevity and safe operation of your tools and equipment, so take advantage of winter downtime to work through the above checklist.

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One piece of equipment every auto repair shop needs is a tire changertire changer. Tire changers greatly increase the productivity of your mechanics and act as a great source of revenue since your garage can offer customers a wider range of useful services.

But due to significant variations in the cost and capabilities of tire changers, it’s important to have a clear idea of what kind of features you need for your shop so you can make the best purchasing decision. To help with the process, here are a few key questions to consider before choosing a tire changer.

  • How many cars does my garage service weekly or monthly? Auto repair shops that see relatively few customers can get away with an economy model tire changer like the Nationwide 430. High-volume shops, on the other hand, need a more robust tire changer that can stand up to heavy duty usage.
  • What kind of tires can the machine accommodate? If your garage deals primarily with standard passenger vehicles, then you can stick with a tire changer for standard wheels. If your garage gets a lot of business from commercial or specialty vehicles as well, then you should look for a tire changer that can handle oversized and low-profile wheels in addition to standard sizes.
  • Does the tire changer come with the features I need? Power operated assist tools, a 220V power source, an easy mount system, and press arm options are just a few of the features high-volume shop owners should look for in a tire changer.
  • Does the manufacturer offer onsite training? Many modern tire changers have sophisticated onboard computers to help with diagnostics and setup, and can present a steep learning curve for mechanics. Check to see if the manufacturer offers an onsite training session to help your employees learn how to use the machine as quickly as possible.
  • What kind of warranty is included? Tire changers are expensive, so getting a good comprehensive warranty is essential for protecting your investment. Find out exactly what’s covered and learn what kinds of activities void the warranty before making your purchase.

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