Tires 101: The Right Tools for the Job
Growing up in a small West Texas town, and going through the same school system, I came to know what to expect from the cafeteria: Friday was enchilada day, pizza was always served with corn, everyone brown-bagged it on fish stick day and chicken fried steak made a regular menu appearance.
Ranging from rubbery to hard as a hockey puck, the chicken fried steaks on our trays were a far cry from the tender, hand-battered, perfectly seasoned versions that the South is famous for, but worst of all, they were served without a knife. We would bear down on the steak, wiggling our forks but accomplishing nothing more than sliding it around our tray. Try as we might, a fork—for lack of a better expression—was not going to cut it. We just didn’t have the right tools to get the job done.
The same can be said for implementing new tire services. If you or your technicians don’t have the proper tools in hand, the job you are performing will be frustrating, certainly less than enjoyable and cannot be completed efficiently, accurately or even at all. Whether you are adding tire rotations or full-blown tire sales to your arsenal, the start of a new year may also mean investing in new equipment for your shop. This month we’re discussing some of the basic tools you’ll need to implement just a few of these tire-related services.
Tire Rotation and Wheel Balancing:
One of the most common add-on tire services is tire rotation. To implement the service, you’ll need jacks, torque wrenches and sockets. The cost of these items is relatively low and tools can be easily stored.
We all know that rotating tires evens out wear and maximizes tire life. However, if you are rotating without also balancing, you may not be giving your customer the full incremental tire life that is possible when you rotate a tire.
“You rotate to keep even wear and maximize the life of your tire,” said Kevin Keefe with BaseLine by Coats tire service equipment. “You need to balance the wheels as well in order to maximize the life of tires and suspension components, and to ensure optimal ride quality. Tire rotations inherently increase the chances of a vibration-related complaint, as you are changing the position and mounting characteristics of assemblies with varying balance and wear conditions If you only rotate and don’t balance, then you are increasing the likelihood of a customer coming back with a service complaint. A wheel balancer would be an essential piece of equipment.”
When purchasing a wheel balancer, you will also need to invest in the necessary mounting adapters and wheel weights in order to service the variety of vehicles your shop typically encounters.
According to Keefe, balancing cones capable of accommodating passenger and light truck wheel bore diameters are critical, as well as an assortment of both adhesive and clip-on weights.
“Adhesive weights are used predominately on alloy wheels, especially those that don’t have a rim flange to accommodate a clip-on weight. That’s becoming more and more common, even with OE wheels. Adhesive weights nowadays are a must.”
Some customers prefer the adhesive weights for cosmetic reasons.
“A lot of consumers prefer them because they are largely hidden from view,” Keefe said. “If they have what they believe to be nice wheels, they may prefer to have the wheel weights hidden.”