Tire service tools used to consist of a basic tool kit, tire iron, lug wrench and some repair materials – anything else was considered a luxury. No more. Time is money, and having the right tools for the task can make tire service easier and more efficient for technicians – saving time and money.
It may be too early to make a Christmas wish-list, but the busiest tire and auto service season (summer) is almost here, so consider investing in some of these items for your shop. Included are some TPMS tools that you didn’t need a few years ago. Prices range from less than 10 bucks up to more than $1,000.
Digital tire tread depth gauge: Shows tire tread wear measurement clearly in inch, metric and fractions. Spring-loaded probe and hold measurement button save time, improve accuracy.
Damaged lug-nut remover with six-fluted sockets: A common set of two covers 3/4-inch/19mm and 13/16-inch/21mm rounded hex nuts on most passenger cars and light trucks. One brand has a 12-fluted twist socket on the other end for removing wheel locks.
Impact sockets with protective sleeves: These help prevent wheel scratching, and some even come with internal plastic inserts to prevent scratching of decorative chrome wheel lug nuts.
Wheel hub and locknut tool: Removes and replaces most of the hubcap locks on GM, Ford, Chrysler and aftermarket wheel locks without the factory key and without damaging lock or studs, the maker says. A hub-cap puller/replacer can similarly prevent damage.
Portable tire spreader: Ideal for passenger, truck and even small OTR tires. In addition to the main one in the shop, a hand spreader can go in the service truck or also serve in the shop.
TPMS torque wrench: Look for a click-type, 20-150 inch-lbs., with +/- 3% accuracy. Also consider a pre-set torque tool designed for use with the TPMS snap-in sensor.
TPMS mounting tool: For removing TPMS sensor nuts and seating sensor grommets and to hold the valve while screwing it into the sensor. A valve-holding tool attaches to the sensor to keep it from dropping into the tire cavity when mounting or demounting a tire.
Universal TPMS sensor activation tool: These will help service various vehicle makes and models. In addition to reprogramming TPMS sensors after a tire change or rotation, some provide audible and visual confirmation of sensor transmission and communication with the vehicle. The more advanced scan tool models add the ability to read/clear diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) from TPMS sensor failures and can display the TPMS sensor tire pressure information.
And if you service commercial vehicles, you’ll need a one-inch truck torque wrench, with the ability to cover the common 475 ft.-lb. and 650 ft.-lb. requirements.