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Tech Tool Talk with Pam Oakes

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I have a co-worker who is retiring from the business after 40 years. He's selling his tools. Should I buy them?

"Well, do you need more tools? Better yet, do you need the type of tools he is selling?

"After being an auto tech for 40 years, I am sure he has a plethora of specialty items. You know, some of those manufacturer-specific gizmos have a hefty price tag on the tool truck.

"You may be able to acquire what you need at a deep, discounted price. And that's the second thing you need to take a look at: your tool budget. Don't go crazy on things that you don't need—like a spark plug cleaner.

"Stay focused and I am sure that you will get a great deal."

For years I have been collecting specialty tools and auto-related items from my tool reps. I was told years ago—by another rep who's not around anymore—that if I bought them right, they could turn into retirement money. How can I find out how much this stuff is worth? I'm getting close to that age.

"First, don't confuse a financial rep with a tool rep.

"One helps you with your money while the other helps you with purchasing the right tool for the job.

"Second, beauty is in the eye of the beholder—and that includes all of those brand-specific promos you have purchased throughout the years.

"Is there a market for it? I'm sure someone, somewhere is looking for the exact item stored in your closet. But, you have to take the initiative to get your money—and 'profit'—out of the knickknack.

"It's up to you to do the footwork to let everyone know what you have and how much you want for the promos. Possibly, your brand-specific tool company has someone at the corporate office that can guide you.

"Good luck with your treasure hunt!"

I'm looking to buy a new scanner, but I can't decide if I should get it online or from the local rep. What's the best procedure?

"Price is one thing, but years of quality service is what you really want in a scanner.

"And, if you have questions, how helpful will the online store be when you're in trouble? What type of training will they provide? What is the warranty for the device? Is there an interactive forum for the product?

"These are questions that you need to find out before purchasing. Period.

"Compare advantages and disadvantages between the two options. You need to take careful consideration when it comes to purchasing any item for your tool box.

"You also need to find what is best for you before shelling out the cash—what's going to give you the biggest bang for your buck."

ASE-certified technician Pam Oakes is the owner of Pam's Motor City Auto & Tire Center, an award-winning automotive service business in Fort Myers, Fla. She also is the author of the book series Car Care for the Clueless and hosts a weekly radio talk show by the same name on CBS Radio's The Sky and CoachMeRadio. And yes, she still "turns wrenches."

Have an automotive service-related question for Pam Oakes? Email it to TB reporter William Schertz at These and other questions first appeared in the new "Ask Pam Oakes" feature in Tire Business' Service Zone e-newsletter. To subscribe, visit

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TB Reader Poll

Previous | Published February 22, 2019

What kind of investments do you plan to make this year?

Adding more employees.
21% (17 votes)
Upgrading software/hardware.
16% (13 votes)
Upgrading our equipment and/or facilities.
37% (30 votes)
Training for employees.
27% (22 votes)
Total votes: 82
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