Anyone who works with vehicles knows that serious damage isn’t always visible. And often, it’s the smallest components that suffer the worst wear and tear.
We all know the importance of regular safety checks – from brake testers and emissions testers to headlamps and tyre pressure.
But not every workshop has their own dedicated equipment for testing their suspension and steering.
Here’s everything you need to know about Shaker Plates – and how investing in them could save your business money in the long run:
What is a shaker plate?
A shaker plate (also known as a Wheel Play Detector) is a hydraulically operated device that can move in different horizontal directions.
It’s usually made with a moving plate that sits beneath the wheel of a vehicle, using its lateral movement and rotation to detect how the wheel moves under different forces.
In effect, it measures the amount of ‘play’ in your suspension and your steering joints – detecting the excess movement in the parts of your wheels and axle, to help highlight any damage and wear to your joints and your suspension system.
What happens if there’s too much play?
Let’s start with the obvious:
Loose components and joints are never a good thing in a wheel or an axle!
But aside from the obvious safety concerns, there’s a more subtle danger to having too much play in your vehicle’s fastenings.
When the joints and components in your suspension and wheels are loose, it adds extra wear and tear to both your axles and the tyres themselves.
Sliding parts are grinding parts. And over time, that extra wear and tear leads to more maintenance and repairs for your vehicles – which creates a hefty extra expense for your fleet and your workshop.
If you’ve never heard of a shaker plate before, it might sound like a highly specific tool for a niche use.
But when you add up the cost of long-term wear and tear across your entire fleet, a single set of shaker plates becomes an essential money-saving investment that every workshop needs to look into.
How does a shaker plate fit into a workshop?
If you want to test your suspension and wheels for excess play, you’ve got three popular options:
- A Play Detector fitted to a vehicle lift or inspection pit.
- An In-ground Shaker Plate fitted to an inspection pit.
- Or a Mobile Shaker Plate connected to a Mobile Brake Tester.
Here’s how each one works in practice:
1. Play Detector
A Play Detector involves a single moving plate that’s placed to one side of a vehicle lift (or an inspection pit) – allowing a single worker to measure the excess movement of a wheel, both horizontally and rotationally.
In the case of our own Totalkare Play Detector, the moving plate has a horizontal motion range of 45mm in both directions, and a rotational range of 12.5 degrees clockwise and anti-clockwise. It also comes with auto-zero plate centering, and an auto repair function in all of its lateral and rotational modes.
Once you’ve fitted the assembly to a lift, you can control the motion of the moving plate with a handheld torch (either wired or wireless), using the keypad fitted into the body of the torch.
2. In-ground Shaker Plate
If you’re using an inspection pit as your main method of working on vehicles, you’ll probably want to look at getting an In-ground Shaker Plate.
These are installed on either side of an inspection pit (either on their own, or as part of an In-ground Brake Tester) – giving you the under-vehicle access you need to see the movement in the steering joints while you’re testing for excess play.
Just like the Play Detector, your operators can control the movement of the shaker plates with a wireless remote control, using the keypad to control each movement.
But where they differ is in the range of motion. Our In-ground Shaker Plates can move in eight different horizontal directions – either manually, automatically in your chosen directions, or using a 10-cycle ‘box movement’ sequence.
3. Mobile Shaker Plate
If flexibility is important in your workshop, you might already be using a Mobile Brake Tester. And if that’s the case, a Mobile Shaker Plate is the perfect choice to pair up with it.
(Just like the In-ground Shaker Plate, you can still use it as a standalone play detector. But they can also be installed into an existing Mobile Brake Tester to create an all-in-one mobile testing station.)
In effect, the Mobile Shaker Plate works in the same way as the In-ground Shaker Plate: using a wireless remote to control its manual or automatic movement in 8 directions (as well as its 10-cycle ‘box movement’ sequence).
But what sets them apart is the flexibility you get with a mobile device. With a Mobile Shaker Plate, you can easily take your testing gear from one site to the next using a flatbed truck or a trailer – which makes it perfect if you have multiple workshops sharing the same equipment.
Looking to reduce your fleet’s wear and tear?
Excess play in your fleet’s wheels and suspension isn’t just about safety and staying roadworthy.
It’s about saving serious money on the maintenance and repair of your vehicles – extending their lifespan despite heavy use, and getting more miles out on the road.
So if you’ve got a workshop that’s constantly checking vehicles, take a look at the different options for play detectors and shaker plates in our new online shop – and see how much money your business could save.