It certainly helps when you have a problem with your automobile if the repair shop has the proper tools to diagnose that problem. Well, here are some of the things that you should look for if you have specific problems.

If you have a check engine light, make sure that your repair shop has a gas cap tester [left] because a faulty gas cap on a 1995 or newer car can turn on the check engine light. Something like this would test it and tell whether or not the cap is good or bad.

All right, if you have a problem with one of the gauges in the car, your shop has to have one of these gauge substitute units [right]. What this does, it gives the technician the capability of dialing in resistance as a substitute for the sensor that activates the gauge. A chart tells them what the gauge should do and by following the directions on the chart, they can determine if it’s the gauge in the dash, the wire leading to it or the sender that controls it - saves a lot of time.

Here, if you have lost your wheel lock key, don’t have somebody cutting and hammering on the car. Look for a shop that has one of these hubcap and wheel lock removal kits [left] and in a matter of minutes, the wheel locks will be on the ground and you won’t damage anything else on the car and you won’t spend a lot of money.

Brake problems - everybody has brake problems these days and especially if you have ABS. It’s critical in many test procedures to be able to monitor pressures at different points in the system. This tells you whether you have a bad proportioning valve or a bad hose or whatever it might be. Well, this snap-on brake pressure tester [right] has a whole array of adaptors and two gauges so that you can monitor these pressures to find the problem quickly and inexpensively.

Alright, bleeding brakes, that’s something that has to be done periodically, especially with ABS. You have to flush the old fluid out. Modern wisdom says that you should use a system that draws the fluid out of the system through the brake bleeders instead of pressurizing it. That’s what this Phoenix unit does [left]. Look for something like that. Quick and it doesn’t damage anything.

Now, if you have something that may be suspect inside the engine - maybe you’re thinking that there might be something down inside a cylinder. Make sure that the technician has access to a bora scope [right]. This will give them the ability to go down inside the cylinder or up inside the oil pan or any of a dozen other places and see minute details inside the engine. Saves tear-down time, makes the diagnosis absolute.

Look for these tools. And if you have a question or a comment, write to me. If I use your letter, I’ll send you a MotorWeek T-shirt.  The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, Maryland, 21117.