A look at the latest collision repair tools and equipment

April 3, 2023
Check out ABRN's picks of what's new in collision repair tools and equipment.

The ABRN editor's picks of the latest tool and equipment offer greater speed, increase worker comfort/reduce injuries, and provide a higher quality repair. Check out some of what has caught my eye in recent months!

3M Perfect-It Random Orbital Polishing System

Although you might still sometimes need a rotary polisher for heavy paint correction or cutting a show-car finish flat with wet-sanding prior to polishing, today's random orbital polishers make the possibility of swirl marks and burning through on edges a much smaller concern. According to 3M, its professional-grade random orbital polisher combines a circular and oscillating motion to help prevent swirl marks and other defects that can be introduced in rotary polishing. Pair it  with 3M's specially designed pads, compound, and polish for a consistent high-quality finish. The company says it's designed for all skill levels, so your technicians should have no more fear of swirls, burn through, or other pitfalls common with traditional rotary buffing systems.

Autel IA900AST Wheel Alignment and All Systems ADAS Machine 

Are you shopping for an alignment system and ADAS calibration equipment? Autel says its all-in-one wheel alignment and ADAS calibration system delivers a comprehensive approach to servicing today’s sophisticated vehicles. The space-saving, single machine and workflow of the IA900AST guides the technician through an all-systems diagnostic scan, digital chassis and tire inspection, four-wheel alignment, and ADAS calibration. The IA900AST package includes the targets, mats, patterns, and components for LDW, ACC, lidar, radar, night vision, RCW, lane watch, and AVM system calibrations, and an MSUltra diagnostics tablet. Compatible with any standard four-wheel alignment rack, the IA900AST offers alignment coverage for U.S., Asian, and European vehicles 1996 and newer.

BendPak's EV2400SL EV Battery Pack and Powertrain Lifting System 

If you plan to do any EV collision repair work that requires removing the battery (which, on a battery electric vehicle, typically takes up much of the real estate under the belly of the car,) you'll need a platform lift to support the battery, which can often weigh over 1,000 pounds, for its removal and installation. BendPak's EV2400SL has recently been upgraded and is now part of the company's Mobi-EVS lineup. It boasts a 2,400 lb capacity and now features an integrated slip-plate deck that enables side-to-side shifting, along with more ergonomic deck handles and larger tool trays that run the length of the platform on both sides, keeping fasteners and tools within easy reach. Other notable upgrades include zero-throw tri-casters, a reinforced steering handle that can be removed and stowed when not in use, and a two-piece lift motor cover for easier maintenance. Mobi-EVS models meet or exceed the standards prescribed by ASME PASE 2019.

FLIR ONE Edge Pro 

An Infrared camera is one of those tools for which you'll find a number of applications to make a diagnosis easier and quicker. Find blocked passages in a radiator, locate a loose electrical terminal, show a failing wheel bearing, and even diagnose a faulty heater element in an ADAS forward camera. FLIR says its ONE Edge Pro wirelessly connects to a smart device to easily inspect targets that are out of reach or out of view, or it can clip onto a phone or tablet for one-handed operation. Combining VividIR and FLIR MSX (multi-spectral dynamic imaging), users can take high-quality thermal images from any position or angle with a natural grip. With FLIR Ignite, users can instantly upload images and videos from the FLIR ONE Edge Pro to the cloud where they can edit, organize, store, and share data. It's compatible with iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

Flo-Dynamics EV Battery Pack Leak Tester

As you've probably read about or seen on social media, a damaged EV battery pack can lead to a "thermal event," a fire, in your shop or parking lot. Damage is not always readily apparent. That's where battery pack leak testers come in. Flo-Dynamics says its EV Battery Pack Leak Tester, No. LPLT-100, is a multi-purpose, low-pressure leak tester designed to offer rapid and efficient testing for EV battery pack compartments. The smokeless, vaporless unit provides clean, dry, contamination-free air for testing. The LPLT-100 allows for a technician to connect, test, and provide an accurate leak flow rate on the flow meter. Simply switch the control knob to decay/off to perform pressure decay testing. It uses shop air, is Ford approved, and offers an optional, high-voltage glove adapter for quick and accurate glove testing.  

Getac Technology Corporation B360 and B360 Pro Fully Rugged Laptops

Mobile computing can allow for easier repair planning in the shop's production area or quick estimates in the field or parking lot. But not all laptops stand up to abuse, as anyone who's dropped one just from a chair in the living room can attest. Getac Technology Corporation says its B360 and B360 Pro Fully Rugged Laptops are designed to deliver connectivity, reliability, and computing performance to professionals working in challenging environments. Key features include an upgraded Intel Core 12th generation i5/i7 processor with integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, an upgraded USB 3.2 port, a Thunderbolt 4 Type-C port, an upgraded HDMI 2.0 port, as well as the addition of a mini-SIM card slot. The B360 Pro takes it even further, with optional NVIDIA GeForce GTX1650 4GB discrete graphics controller, plus an optional media bay that can accommodate a third SATA SSD (for up to 6TB storage capacity), third battery, or a DVD drive, as required. Both laptops weigh just 5.11 lbs. 


If your shop is space-limited or you're just wanting to increase the versatility of your refinishing equipment, wouldn't you take a look at a spray booth that functions well for multiple refinishing operations? Global Finishing Solutions says its Ultra XD Closed-Top Open-Front (CTOF) booth allows vehicles to be filled, primed, sealed, painted and cured in one location. Ultra XD CTOF Booths come standard with GFS’ High-Performance Airflow Ceiling in downdraft or semi-downdraft airflow models, while the full-filtered ceiling provides excellent air filtration and contamination control. 

Miller Electric Mfg. LLC's Digital Infinity ’22 Custom Kindig-it welding helmet 

Who said PPE can't be a little fun? Miller Electric collaborated with Dave Kindig, American hot rod designer and owner of Kindig-it Designs, for its custom Digital Infinity '22 Custom Kindig-it welding helmet featuring his most iconic ar builds. According to Miller, the ClearLight 2.0 Lens Technology delivers high-definition optics for the most realistic view that’s clearer and brighter, with a 13.4-square-inch viewing area and X-Mode technology to eliminate interference from sunlight and out-of-positoin welding angles. AutoSense technology automatically adjusts the helmet's sensitivity for its environment, and users can easily switch between two preset memory settings. Users can even track their arc time and count.

PPG Moonwalk automated mixing system

If you've ever had to mix just enough white basecoat to refinish a mirror or for a spot repair, you can appreciate how precise the mix must be when adding just a tenth of a gram. A painter's "itchy trigger finger" on the toner mixing lid can mean a wasted mix. PPG says its MoonWalk mixing system, designed for PPG Envirobase High Performance toners, can eliminate human error and waste when mixing a refinish color to achieve unprecedented refinish color accuracy. The self-contained mixing system is comprised of storage space for toners, a scale, a computer for formula retrieval, a touch screen and label printer.  

After retrieving the targeted color from PPG’s formula retrieval system, the technician loads the required toners onto a dispensing rack. Automation then takes over, first checking to determine if the right toners are loaded. Then, one by one, the system dispenses the exact amount of each toner, with an accuracy that is 10 times more precise than the standard, according to PPG. Waste is further eliminated since the technology and packaging are configured to use all of the toner, down to the last drop. To learn more, visit us.moonwalkrefinish.com. 

Ravaglioli KBI Series booth-installed scissor lift

With a booth-installed scissor lift, painters don't need to crouch down or lie on the floor to apply paint, rocker guard, and other coatings near the ground level. Ravaglioli's KBI series includes five scissor lift models suitable for installation inside paint booth grids and preparation areas, and those with pneumatic-operated arms are a compact and explosion-proof configuration, making them ideal for installation in paint booths. According to the company, the structure of the lift is adjustable and adapts, within a certain range, to the floor or grids. The unique always-on-pad function allows operators to optimize their intervention when positioning the vehicle. The arms are equipped with a built-in pad that allows them to remain on the lift at all times, even in the rest position, thus making it immediately ready for use.

RBL Products 512 Defect & Dirt Removal Kit

You may have the latest paint booth with fresh filters and a painter who's fastidious in wearing a paint suit and blowing off his or her suit before entering the booth. But dirt nibs are often still a fact of life. RBL Products' 512 Defect & Dirt Removal Kit includes a lightweight, cordless, and ergonomic 5mm sander and 12mm polisher for spot jobs such as removing dirt nibs after refinishing. The digital tools include built-in "job done" indicator lights, along with RPM controls and timer & battery indicators. The RBL 5mm Sander ranges from 4000-8000 rpm, while the 12mm polisher ranges from 2,500-6,000 rpm. Each full 512 Kit comes fully equipped with both lightweight & ergonomic tools in addition to RBL's proprietary sanding discs, polishing pad, One-Step Polish, four 10.8v Lithium-Ion batteries, and a four-battery charging station, plus a large RBL Products bag. Individual kits are available: the RBL 512-S comes with the sander, two batteries, the One-Step Polish, sanding discs, and a line charger. The RBL 512-P features the polisher, two batteries, One-Step Polish, buffing pads, and a line charger.

Rotary Lift Wide Smartlift

Electric vehicles (EVs) need a lift with a wide stance so there is room to maneuver a platform lift to remove and install the battery. Even if you're not working on EVs now, wouldn't you want to consider future needs when you're replacing your current worn-out lift or planning a new facility? Rotary's Wide Smartlifts, Nos. SLW210 (10,000-lb capacity) and SLW212 (12,000-lb capacity), are designed for shops that need a lift versatile enough to work with both current and next generation vehicles. The inground lifts feature a wide stance with an overall width of 119-5/8" and a drive-thru clearance of 88-1/16".  They're ideal for servicing electric vehicles, exotics, and standard vehicles. Interchangeable adapter kits are available to allow the lift to service cars, trucks, and EVs on the same arm. 

Topdon EV

It seems as though every EV that's run out of juice on the side of the road is photographed and shared on social media these days, to the delight of EV detractors. Just as drivers of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles occasionally ignore their low-fuel light too long, some EV drivers are going to flirt with their charging range and crawl to a stop on the side of the road. Topdon's EV Rescue 5k power station delivers reliable, instant power whenever and wherever shops need it. Acording to the company, it's ideal for towing companies looking to charge electric vehicles dead on the side of the road or mobile technicians needing consistent voltage power supply, using clean (generator electrical output is not "clean" and consistent, according to Topdon), renewable power, with no fumes, noise, or excessive costs. Users can simply flip the switch for silent, emissions-free portable power. The EV Rescue 5k can also be used to complement or completely replace gas/diesel generators.

Wiha Tools 26-pc Insulated EV Essential Tool Kit 

Technicians need insulated tools to help safely work on EVs. Wiha Tools' 26-piece insulated EV Essential Tool Kit includes individually tested, 1,000V AC-rated, insulated VDE screwdrivers, sockets, ratchets, extension bars, wrenches, pliers, cutters, a cable stripping knife, and tweezers. The tools feature a SoftFinish cushion grip handle with a slip guard design, exact fit precision machined tips for reduced cam-out, and induction hardened cutting edges and jaws for ideal sharpness and longevity. They also endure a rigorous heat-treatment process for maximum strength. The tools come in a sturdy plastic shell case with dedicated tool compartments for secure storage and organization as well as custom-fit trays with finger-recesses for easy tool retrieval. 

About the Author

Jay Sicht | Editor-in-Chief, FenderBender and ABRN

Jay Sicht is editor-in-chief of FenderBender and ABRN. He has worked in the automotive aftermarket for more than 28 years, including in a number of sales and technical roles in paint/parts distribution and service/repair. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Central Missouri with a minor in aviation, and as a writer and editor, he has covered all segments of the automotive aftermarket for more than 20 of those years, including formerly serving as editor-in-chief of Motor Age and Aftermarket Business World. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Sponsored Recommendations

Best Body Shop and the 360-Degree-Concept

Spanesi ‘360-Degree-Concept’ Enables Kansas Body Shop to Complete High-Quality Repairs

How Fender Bender Operator of the Year, Morrow Collision Center, Achieves Their Spot-On Measurements

Learn how Fender Bender Operator of the Year, Morrison Collision Center, equipped their new collision facility with “sleek and modern” equipment and tools from Spanesi Americas...

ADAS Applications: What They Are & What They Do

Learn how ADAS utilizes sensors such as radar, sonar, lidar and cameras to perceive the world around the vehicle, and either provide critical information to the driver or take...

Banking on Bigger Profits with a Heavy-Duty Truck Paint Booth

The addition of a heavy-duty paint booth for oversized trucks & vehicles can open the door to new or expanded service opportunities.