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Top 10 Tools: Brandon Steckler, Advanced Automotive and Diagnostics Repair

Oct. 13, 2017
This dealership-turned-independent tech shares the top tools he uses for diagnosing a wide range of driveability issues.

Technician: Brandon Steckler

Shop: Advanced Automotive Diagnostics and Repair

Location: Whiteland, IN

Brandon Steckler has been a technician for 18 years. He is a Master Factory Honda Technician with 14 years of dealership experience, and has worked as an independent tech for four years. He currently works at a small, full-service shop in Whiteland, Ind. that specializes in driveability and diagnostics. Steckler says he enjoys the automotive industry because it constantly provides new challenges and never gets monotonous. “The industry is struggling for a fortitude of sharp technicians, and I feel it’s a duty of mine to attempt to remain at the forefront of technical know-how and to empower and educate others whenever the opportunity presents itself,” he says.

1. ALLDATA Repair

ALLDATA Repair is an online repair solution that delivers OEM repair information directly from all manufacturers. “The information is affordable and easy to access,” Steckler says. “If information is missing, a simple email to the company will suffice, and the information will be sent directly to you via email.”

2. Snap-on SOLUS Edge

This scan tool offers OEM-specific coverage for more than 70 vehicle systems and can be used for various jobs including hybrids, TPMS, steering and clean diesels. “I like this tool over some of its more expensive cousins because it has what I need and none of the other bells and whistles,” Steckler notes.

3. Snap-on MODIS Edge

The MODIS Edge is a combination full-function scan tool and scope/graphing meter. “I still use an older MODIS many times per week,” Steckler says. “It provides me with a very portable four-channel lab scope for road test fault captures.”

4. Innova Electronics DMM Inductive AMP Probe, No. 3347

“I use this inexpensive probe in conjunction with my MODIS in a dual-graphing meter mode. By monitoring system voltage and battery charging over time, its reliable to detect a defect in the system without needing to drag over a carbon-pile tester,” Steckler says. This probe measures parasitic draw and is designed to work with all digital multimeters.

5. Automotive Test Solutions EScan Elite

The EScan Elite turns a laptop into a diagnostic scan tool. “This scan tool has many cool features, but my favorite is its VE Test and Fuel Trim tests. This scan tool will fill cells on a block chart based upon engine speed and load. I can quickly determine if the cause of the driveability concern is due to a fault related to fuel delivery, restricted exhaust, engine mechanical faults, vacuum leaks, unmetered air and even faulty MAF sensors,” Steckler says.

6. Automotive Test Solutions EScope Pro

This tool is a powerful 16-bit PC-based eight-channel, adjustable dual time base oscilloscope with complete accessory kit. The tool allows bi-directional control of electrical devices through the wiring, feedback equation and more. Steckler appreciates that this scope allows him to test from eight different points simultaneously.

7. Automotive Test Solutions iEA Intelligent Engine Analyzer

This tool is designed to help technicians identify camshaft timing problems and misfires. Users can detect pressure changes in the cylinders through the spark plug hole, and identify misfiring cylinders from the exhaust tail pipe. Steckler appreciates that these issues can be pinpointed without time-consuming disassembly.

8. Power Probe Tek Power Probe III

Steckler appreciates that this tool offers the functionality of a test light without the electrical load a test light can carry. “I can safely measure a circuit’s potential at a specific point and also provide a ‘known-good’ power or ground supply to prove out faults before replacement. The long leads allow me to walk around the entire vehicle with these capabilities right at my fingertips,” he says.

9. Automotive Test Solutions Emission Five Gas Analyzer

This tool allows users to locate fuel control problems, misfires, leaking head gaskets, no-starts, hard starts and EVAP system leaks. Steckler uses this tool to determine if combustion gases are present in a cooling system. “I can know, prior to investing in a repair, whether the engine sustained any damage and prepare my customer accordingly,” Steckler says. “I also use this tool to determine the functionality of a vehicle’s ability to control fuel/feedback.

10. Wide Open Throttle Piston Chart

"This software provides me with a very inexpensive and efficient means of accurately calculating the point of a fault in a 720-degree engine cycle as well as the duration of the fault," Steckler says. "The piston charts provide a means to determine what is going on inside the engine from the aspect of any cylinder at any point in time during the engine cycle."

About the Author

Stefanie Von Rueden | Assistant Editor - Vehicle Repair Group

Stefanie Von Rueden is assistant editor for the Vehicle Repair Group.

Von Rueden’s background includes professional writing and publishing. Previously, she worked in the Continuing Education department at UW-Whitewater. She has covered the vehicle maintenance and automotive aftermarket since 2016.

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