Editor's Notes: Smartphone As A Tool? App-solutely!

Editor’s Notes: Smartphone As A Tool? App-solutely!

Readers submit the smartphone apps they use in the bays and behind the counter.


In my December 2012 Editor’s Notes, we discussed using your smartphone as a shop tool (“There’s An App for That”). We reached out to you, our readers, through the magazine, Facebook and Twitter for suggestions on which apps you’re using in the shop.

Many readers wrote with great suggestions and many wrote eagerly looking forward to our list.

The most popular app mentioned was Torque Pro, which I found also happens to be a popular one with iATN members.

Another reader, “Andy Mechanic,” wrote, “For revolutions or other noise-making components that increase with speed, you can find a Sound Spectrum Analysis app to see it on a screen, and watch the noise increase with speed. I am using this one for my Droid: SpectralView analyzer. I am using the demo version and it is OK, but the Apple ones are best and the bought apps are much better and can save data too!”

Stephanie Dillon, the service writer at Prestige Auto Works, in Sacramento, CA, writes, “My favorite free app that I use every single time a new car comes in is the VIN Hunter Pro. I use my iPhone to scan (or type) the VIN barcode. It instantly gives me the vehicle information. There is a field to fill in the exact mileage and a notes field that is convenient for adding the license plate. You can even take a picture for that vehicle. You can e-mail the info to yourself if needed. You can keep the vehicles in a list or delete them when you don’t want them. There are other similar apps I’ve tried, but this one is still my favorite for the job.

“We also have the GoPoint OBD II plug-in reader and the app on our iPhones,” Stephanie continues. “For only about $100 you can get the OBD II on a cord that plugs into the vehicle and iPhone. You can quickly see the check engine light codes and pending codes, as well as some live data. It’s handy to keep in the car for use when we are not at the shop with our regular tools.

“I have on my iPhone the RepairPal app as well. It is most useful for customers to have. It allows them to save their vehicle information, locate Top Shops (such as ourselves), and get a repair quote estimate range. As a top shop we guarantee fair pricing and our quotes will fall within that estimate range. I’ve been out hanging with my friends and they ask about a repair and I can quickly look it up with this app and give them an idea of how much the job, including parts and labor, will cost.

We use the Mitchell shop management and I long for the day when I can scan a VIN and transfer the info and start a new work order on the computer. Integration with a mobile inspection system would be awesome too. I’m sure my dreams will come true, just a matter of time.”

Other responses were:

Shop Boss Pro for a labor and estimating guide, scheduling, customer notifications, vehicle information and shop management.

• Use the WORLDPAC app to scan VIN bar codes with an Android device. The VIN is instantly transmitted to ­speedDIAL.

• With the Headlight app by Sylvania, you can find part numbers for automotive replacement bulbs for every make and model between years 1958 and 2012.

Bosch offers a wide variety of free apps for tools, finding parts and more.

• The NaviGates mobile app enables users to search for belt routing diagrams and Gates parts by VIN.

Snap-on’s catalog app lets you browse and order tools with the tap of the screen.

Wunderlist helps you manage your daily to-do lists.

TransTec’s Transmission-by-Vehicle iPhone app was developed specifically to eliminate confusion over look-alike transmissions, identifying transmissions by vehicle make, model, year and engine.

Hunter’s TouchRemote allows iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users to enjoy full wireless remote operation of WinAlign alignment systems, which includes monitoring of live vehicle measurements, controlling WinAlign software features, and viewing of vehicle-specific adjustment illustrations and digital ­images.

Show Me the Parts app can help you determine interchangeability, check local availability, give you access to replacement instructions and diagrams, and even show you part photographs and additional cross-reference data.

And to give a plug to one of our own Babcox Media/AVI apps, we offer an ASE Test Prep app.

The ASE Test Prep app will help you “ace the ASE.” With this study app, technicians can learn from ASE-certified master technicians, watch training videos and take advantage of our practice tests packed with ASE-style questions. It’s available in the iOS and Android app stores. Be sure to watch for updates at avitest prep.com/app/.


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There always will be something new and exciting coming out. If you find an app you particularly like, shoot me an e-mail at [email protected] and I’ll share it with our readers. 

As for your customers, are they using apps to find and connect with auto repair facilities? Click here for a recent study regarding customers’ use of QR codes and mobile apps. Our sister publication Tire Review, also has a great article on Mobile Apps and Websites.



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