There are certain questions where everyone’s opinion falls on one side or the other. Coke or Pepsi? Chevy or Ford? PC or Mac? And right up there, repair bench or rack? Since the creation of racks and benches, technicians and shop owners alike have been bickering back and forth about what is the best piece of equipment for their shop. There is no black and white response when it comes to your or any other shop out there.
Think of auto repair benches and frame racks as two different animals within the same species. Benches hold a vehicle in alignment and allow you to position parts and pieces of the vehicle back within the alignment of the bench. With a bench you setup holding points that become specific measuring references. Most benches, either using dedicated or universal fixtures, have measurement scales running down the platform and along the crossbeams to reference all repairs. When deciding on one or the other, you should ask yourself what would be the best fit for my shop and my productivity. Here is a short list of basic questions you need to answer, prior to deciding.
- Cars or trucks? As most vehicles, especially in the US have moved to a unibody design, benches have become more popular. However, trucks and larger SUVs are primarily still built on a frame, making a rack your best option for repairs.
- High End Exotics? Does your shop see high end exotics like Maserati and Jaguar? If so, a bench is probably the way to go as their manufacturers dictate certain bench appropriate repair methods. Many exotics have specified repair equipment that meet manufacturers requirements. Also, those vehicles tend to allow less pulling and more parts replacement which sometimes favors a bench.
- Commercial vehicles? Is your shop getting or turning down commercial and heavy duty vehicles? There is a huge number of commercial vehicles on the road, and taking advantage of that could be very lucrative for your shop. When working on commercial and heavy duty vehicles, a rack, like Chief’s Centurion is what you need. It offers longer runways to accommodate the larger size, and rams powerful enough to make the correct pulls.
- Repair philosophy? This is a tougher question to answer now as car designs are changing. Does your shop do a great deal of pulling to restore cars back to factory settings, or is sectioning and replacing areas a more common practice for you? Though some benches come with towers capable of pulling, their bread and butter is designed for replacing sections of a vehicle to restore it back to factory specs. A rack on the other hand is equipped with towers, sometimes as many as 4 to make pulls easier and more efficient. As cars have evolved, some manufacturers have designed them with “crumple zones” or areas that are engineered to absorb impact, making removing and replacing a must.
Obviously, these questions are merely guidelines to get you on the right track. When choosing between a rack or bench it will boil down to your preference and comfort level with each piece of equipment. Whether you are leaning towards a rack or a bench, reach out to one of Chief’s knowledgeable distributors, who can answer more detailed questions about any of Chief’s full line of collision racks or Globaljig repair benches.