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Tool Review: Streamlight Strion Switchblade

Sept. 10, 2020
The reviewer was impressed by the tool’s ability to cycle through three different lighting options.

A worklight may seem like a simple tool. As long as it turns on, does it really make a difference what worklight someone is using? For some, no, it doesn’t matter, but for automotive technicians, the worklight they use can have a huge impact on how well they can complete a job or if they are even able to finish the job at all.

Lou Fort, lead technician at K.A.R.S. Inc. in Huntingburg, Indiana, finds Streamlight’s Strion Switchblade to be an excellent multi-purpose tool.

Fort is impressed with the light’s ability to alternate between three lighting options – a bright, white light for area lighting, a CRI color matching LED, and a UV LED. He describes this feature as the Switchblade’s “wow factor” and notes that this is a good time saver for any technician who may need to constantly switch between different lights throughout a job or the day.

Outside of charging the light before use, the only set-up required is deciding which mode to use. Fort notes that the light comes with an operation instructions booklet.

“While I don’t think one would have to read it to figure out how to use the lamp, I found interesting information included in the manual,” Fort says. “It will automatically turn off after 40 minutes if in the UV mode. Since the UV [mode] is the last of the three modes it would be easy to miss not turning the lamp completely off. That auto-off saves us from ourselves.”

Other features of the Switchblade light Fort appreciated were the built-in detents, which enabled him to pivot the light head where he needed it and kept it in place, so he didn’t have to worry about the light moving around. The option to swap out a dead battery with any other battery from the Strion family, the metal hook for handsfree use, and the two different recharge options – USB cable or base unit – were other features of the tool Fort found useful.

“The past few weeks I have been using the Strion Switchblade as my go-to lamp,” Fort says. “I used both the [bright] white and UV LEDs to locate oil leak dye on a Rav4 and throughout the entire repair. Its CRI mode was used identifying the wires when fixing an airbag system on a town car, [and] when doing A/C service work. I fell in love with using the UV [mode] to seek out fluorescent dye, then switching over to the [bright] white for belt, hose, et cetera … inspections.”

Fort also found the size of the light to be beneficial on the job. When doing a shift tube/lock cylinder repair on a F-150, the thin design of the light allowed it to slide into a pocket on the dash to illuminate the entire upper column.

In future iterations of the light, Fort would like to see a stronger magnet, a way to dim the bright white and CRI LEDs, and the ability to use the light with a power cord hooked up to a power bank. He would also be interested in seeing a version of the Switchblade that allowed the head to turn 90-degrees side to side.

Overall, Fort says, “The Strion Switchblade’s three lights in one, with such a wide range of uses and power options, is a solid package for others to be jealous of.”

About the Author

Emily Markham | Assistant Editor | Vehicle Repair Group

Emily Markham is an assistant editor for the Vehicle Repair Group.

With an education based in writing and editing, Markham uses her knowledge to assist with the creation of content for Endeavor Business Media Vehicle Repair Group’s publications—Fleet Maintenance, Professional Tool & Equipment News (PTEN), and Professional Distributor—as well as their website, VehicleServicePros.com. 

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