ST. LOUIS — The growth of low-profile, run-flat and larger rim diameter tires over the past 15 to 20 years has raised the bar in terms of tire/wheel mounting and balancing and the types of equipment and amount of training needed to cope with the challenges.
According to data gathered by Hunter Engineering Co., 73 percent of OEM passenger and light truck vehicle fitments in the U.S. and Canada fall into these "difficult to service" categories, up from roughly 59 percent 10 years ago and 40 percent 15 years ago.
Hunter defines low-profiles as 45 series or lower, large diameters as rim diameters exceeding 20 inches and heavy assemblies as those with overall diameters exceeding 30 inches.
Assemblies such as these are requiring more skill from technicians using conventional tire changers and traditional balancers, Hunter said.
"New assemblies demand accuracy as well," Pete Liebetreu, vice president of marketing, said. "They can be sensitive to vibration and damage during service.
"The best equipment and best-equipped shops are better able to handle these additional requirements with easy-mounting, damage-free tire changers and accurate, weight-efficient, Road Force-capable balancers."
To help dealerships evaluate whether their equipment might need updating, Hunter has developed a "Tire Changer Decision Guide" that takes into account the range of tire/wheel combinations on the market and any special handling they might require and offers suggestions as to what type equipment would be appropriate to handle them.