With current economic conditions, passenger tire repairing is becoming increasingly more important from an economic, as well as environmental, standpoint. It is true that many car owners are skeptical about having tires repaired because they have not been educated on the fact that a properly repaired tire is as strong as a new tire.
But even though modern equipment, materials and techniques have made the repair process easier and less expensive, the industry still faces obstacles, the biggest of which are the attitude of shop owners and professionalism in executing repairs.
The practice of tire repairing is slowly becoming a lost art. It is a real skill to know how to properly repair a tire without failure. Today, fewer people have that skill.
If ever the tire repair industry was ready for a crusade, now may be the time.
Based on what I've observed, it seems the majority of tire specialists limit the repair of passenger tires to puncture repairs only. Most of these involve a simple plug from the outside without removing the tire from its wheel.
On the other hand, repairing is still a large portion of the commercial tire business, which may be due to the higher costs of these tires.
The number of outlets repairing passenger tires has been steadily falling due to the decline of the full service gas station. Even though this means more reliance must be placed upon tire specialists for quality work, many tire shops have not taken advantage of this great profit potential.
Many tire dealers are more preoccupied with competing with other dealers and warehouse clubs on new tire sales than they are with the more profitable part of their business-tire servicing.
We must not forget that the destiny of the tire industry is always tied to the motor vehicle industry. Technological development has compromised the tire, in that the constant improvements in quality, mileage and performance have extended tire life very close to the life cycle of the automobile.
The bad news is that this means there will be a considerable slowing down of the tire replacement rate.
The good news is that, due to the tire's longer exposure to operating hazards, the number of tire damages will increase-thus opening up a greater market for tire repairing and maintenance.
So in order to compete, tire dealers must no longer be just new-tire merchants. The tire store can no longer remain the place where you just buy tires-discount retailers and warehouse clubs belong in that category.
Discount operations have been a part of our economy for years because a large part of the public is willing to put up with some inconvenience in order to save a few bucks.
Discount operations are not going to fade away into the sunset. They will always be with us and may even increase in number in the coming years.
Tire dealers must become tire specialists boasting the latest in highly sophisticated precision equipment to satisfy a more exacting motoring public-a public that is beginning to demand more as far as their tires are concerned.
It is the height of folly to tell a customer you cannot repair his damaged tire and then sell him a new one. This could make him an ex-customer when he finds out the old tire could have been repaired safely and economically. Thousands of high-tread tires that could be safely and easily repaired are scrapped each year. Obviously there is a need to educate the motoring public on the savings and environmental benefits of repairing damaged tires.
Almost any tire and tire damage can be repaired. But the user is more concerned about the work being efficient and the cost commensurate with the anticipated mileage than he is with the suitability of the tire for repair.
Unfortunately, I have seen some of the most awful attempts at repairing tires, and I believe that poor workmanship has had as much to do with the decline of passenger tire retreading and repair than anything else. Even simple puncture repairs are often butchered by repair people.
In the U.S., tire repairing is often done by poorly trained employees who are often given minimal instruction and told to perform the puncture repair fast and not waste time taking the tire off the wheel.
However, the repairman has no way of determining the full extent of damage this way. And he might not even recognize a problem if he saw it.
Every tire repairer worthy of the name should be a specialist in the treatment of rubber and know how to properly diagnose tire faults and damages.
Furthermore, his skill should be supplemented by an up-to-date vulcanizing plant and a clean, well-lighted work area, without which he cannot possibly execute high-quality work.
Many repair material manufacturers offer ``hands-on'' training in their training centers with an approach that teaches participants proper repair techniques from start to finish.
Many suppliers also provide in-shop training and conduct seminars to promote proper repair throughout the industry.
Unfortunately, not enough of the people involved with repairing take advantage of valuable education.