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We periodically distribute our employee handbook and shop practices manual to the whole staff and they are supposed to sign a receipt for each acknowledging that they have read and will comply. This time a relatively new tech told our admin person he would sign. Why not? Because under the section about wheels and tires it says "do not use battery operated impact tools to perform final installation of wheel attachment hardware." He had a big expensive half inch drive battery impact and thought he should be able to use it for everything. I was very proud of myself for not going out there and telling him to do what the hell I said. I calmed down and put the justification for the rule in writing.

 

Here it is:

 

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Wheel installation is arguably the riskiest operation we perform in terms of the potential disastrous results possible if performed incorrectly. Engines and transmissions failing catastrophically pale in comparison when you consider the results of a wheel coming adrift at speed.

 

To minimize the risk and the corporation’s liability, we have established what we feel is the best and most reasonable approach. It is based on a standardized process, tools with known capabilities, and technician experience and training. Some companies require that all lugs be torqued manually to manufacturer’s specs. We have adopted a less stringent process, but one that is accepted practice in our industry and has minimal impact on technician productivity. Implementation of this process depends on the following:

 

  • A compressor with adequate pressure and volume to insure that it is capable in almost all circumstances of providing more torque than needed for the types of vehicles we service.

 

  • Half-inch drive air impact wrenches that are known to provide more torque than needed for the types of vehicles we service.

 

  • Torque sticks that limit the torque to approximately manufacturer’s spec.

 

Battery-operated tools have permeated our industry and in most cases they are easier to use and offer improved productivity. There are great performers and not-so-hot performers. There is no way for management to evaluate the performance of every impact gun that appears in the shop and there is no way to determine the continuing performance of those tools as their batteries discharge and deteriorate with age.

 

The standard process for wheel installation at First Landing Autocare incorporates the use of professional-grade half-inch air impact wrench connected to shop air supply with the correct torque stick for the application. Battery impact guns are not to be used for final tightening of wheel fasteners.

**************************************************************************

 

How does the group feel about this?

 

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Great Tire Deal

Battery impacts are very strong these days, 18v Fuel impact is stronger than most 1/2 air impacts.

 

That said I have heard they don't work well with torque sticks (not sure why). And with that said, all wheels should be torqued with a torque wrench to make sure they are not under tightened (although they may be over tightened).

 

Myself if I have a 100 ft-lbs wheel nut, I tighten it with a 80ft-lbs Torque Stick then finish it off with a torque wrench. But I don't stress speed over being accurate.

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I don't have torque sticks. Used them once, but I didn't see the time savings to be enough to justify. Almost every tech that's come to work here has argued that they have some magical ability to torque just right with an impact alone. I've taken my snap on digital torque wrench to every lug nut on a wheel after they torqued them with an impact and showed them the variations on their torque. If it was supposed to be 100 ft/lbs, they usually ranged between 60 and 130. I insist that if the wheels are off they get torqued to spec with a torque wrench. The safety of my customers and my reputation isn't worth saving 56 seconds over.

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Whoah.

 

I love my staff, I really do. They are some of the most dependable men & women in the industry, highly skilled, with a generally positive attitude, and with a reasonably healthy pride about the manner in which they complete their tasks. There's not a single member on the team that I would "cherish" losing, and each one of them would create a unique vacuum of lost talent if I lost one of them.

 

That being said...

 

When we add an addendum to our employee handbook that requires the staff to read/sign off on the policy, I do the best I can to educate them all on the rationale behind the change or newly implemented policy, and frankly, the understanding is always clear....there is no room for debate at that point, nor is there even the slightest possibility that any one them think that they have the lattitude to tell me they refuse to sign the document.

 

Once I had a gentleman ask (during a meeting) if he could speak to me immediately afterward regarding some of the meeting's topic material. He withheld the signature on the policy update, until after we had the chance to talk, which I respected. All he wanted was clarification on a few of the details he didn't understand, and although he admitted that he wasn't entirely happy with the new procedure, he wrapped up our talk with an affirming tone, and reitterated how much he appreciated the company he worked for, and the relationships with his coworkers.

 

If I decide that the new uniform standard makes it mandatory to wear purple socks to work...everybody better be ready to go Plum Crazy.

 

Just one man's tale of a mutaully respectful, happy team.

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I've yet to see a torque stick under torque anything. Dfrisby - check your psi or air tool quality. A standard IR2135 will overtorque every time if gone around twice. I verified my torque sticks, the 80's come in at 100-110, the 100 does 120-130, the thick 120 will snap the stud eventually. 100lb/ft won't warp a rotor in a star pattern.

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As we do updates to our manual, the employees signature is only to show that they have read and received a copy. It does not state that they agree with it. If they disagree or don't follow it, that's a different story, also covered under the policies and procedures.

 

As far as the torquing of wheels, our policy is that you don't get a second chance. ANYONE caught not torquing a wheel with a torque wrench will be terminated. No torque sticks allowed in the shop. I know it sounds harsh, but it is dealt with at the first interview with an employee and it is one of the few things that I demand 100% from my crew. I have a friend with a shop that was working on his friends daughters car. She was on the freeway and a wheel came off. She was able to gain control of the car and stopped in the fast lane. Another car came from behind and hit her. She died at the scene. So, in short, he killed his friends daughter. Imagine living with that the rest of your life. The day I heard that story, my policy took effect. We will not put our customers lives in danger over a few minutes of insuring 100% correctly torqued wheels.

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I've yet to see a torque stick under torque anything. Dfrisby - check your psi or air tool quality. A standard IR2135 will overtorque every time if gone around twice. I verified my torque sticks, the 80's come in at 100-110, the 100 does 120-130, the thick 120 will snap the stud eventually. 100lb/ft won't warp a rotor in a star pattern.

It wasn't with torque sticks. Just an impact gun. I think torque sticks are fine. I just used them once and didn't find the time savings to be worth the investment. I use my torque wrench all the time. If I was a tire shop it would maybe make sense.

 

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Like most I started out with air tools while working in shops but as I grew my shop out of the ground I never really had a good air system set up, so I used battery impacts, drills, and even ratchets. Even now with a nice quiet screw drive compressor and a manifold with hose reels coming down in all bays I sill like my battery operated tools. My rule for employees is that you may tighten a well on with an impact at its lowest setting and then they must be torqued with a torque wrench that I provide.

 

And yes the new milwaukee FUEL tools are as badass as they look.

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
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      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
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