Q: First off, I really enjoy reading your Auto Clinic every month. Always good info there, I just hope I can remember it all! In the April 2010 issue you show a picture of a Gates Belt gauge and mention it's available on their website, I did several searches there and couldn't find anything that looked like that. Oh wait! Was that an April Fool's joke? If so, you got me.... If not, what's the part number?
A: Yeah, they moved it off the home page after we went to press. You can find it here:
Q: For years I used an analog stick style tire gauge and never thought anything about it. A while back I read a recommendation (probably in Popular Mechanics) that a "good quality" tire gauge should be used, so I went to a reliable auto parts store and purchased a more expensive gauge that they recommended. This one works quite well and is accurate from one reading to the next. What I have noticed is that it and the gauge used at the local tire shop do not match. My gauge is always about 2 pounds lower. Where does one purchase a "good quality" tire gauge and how can the accuracy be checked?
A: I must have 6 tire gauges, from pencil gauges to expensive liquid-filled gauges that can check two tires at the same time. I keep one, a $30 liquid-filled gauge in the toolbox along with the micrometers, dial indicators and other expensive fragile stuff, and use it to calibrate other gauges periodically. Everyday, I find most gauges within a couple of pounds of that one. Just add two pounds to your gauge's reading.
Q: What scan tool do you prefer at your shop? I have a Snapon Modis with all of the databases and optional pieces/parts, and like it very much. I'd just be interested in your particular choice.
A: I have a passing familiarity with pro-grade scan tools, including the Snap-On. I don't repair cars full-time anymore, and most of our readers are hobbyists, not pro mechanics. Consequently, it's tough to justify the huge expenditure for a pro-grade tool, like the nearly eight grand (!) the Modis carries. I have several consumer-grade machines, including ones from Auto X-Ray, Actron and Equus. They all have their benefits. I usually reach for the Equus first, however. I just priced one online for $227. The big advantage to a pro-grade machine is the support from the manufacturer. If I still made a living fixing cars full-time, I'd probably spring for one, but I'm not really in a position to recommend one today because I don't use them consistently.