5. Mounting/demounting tires without bead lubricant.
I'm sure this has happened to almost every tire dealer and fleet at one time or another when you find that you are out of bead lubricant but have a shop full of tires to mount and demount. The pressure to get the work done pushes technicians to work without the right materials even though lack of lubricant can prevent the tire from seating concentrically on the wheel which results in irregular tread wear.
In addition, tires can be destroyed by tire tools digging into and cutting the bead, which allows air to get into the casing and separate the sidewall or, at the very least, causes the bead seat to leak. Customers will be really angry when they find their tires are ruined due to a really stupid mistake on the part of the technician as well as the person responsible for ordering supplies.
6. Failure to use a safety cage.
I can't count the number of times I have walked into a truck garage or tire shop and seen a technician inflating a tire outside of a safety cage that was standing just a few feet away. In some cases the cage was brand new and spanking clean, and in others, the cage was covered with dust, rags, magazines and other assorted debris and obviously hadn't been used in years.
When inflated, truck tires are essentially bombs. If they zipper rupture or blow off a wheel due to a distorted bead seat caused by the wheel running hot, they can pack a real punch that causes severe bodily injury or death.
I guess it's like riding in a car. Some people use their safety belts, while others need to feel macho and "live on the edge." The trouble with this is that when you're in an accident situation, you don't have time to click that seatbelt.
The same can be said for zipper ruptures and when tires blow off their wheels. When it happens, it's too late to roll the assembly into the cage.
Not using a safety cage is a really bad mistake that can ruin your whole day. Stay safe. Always inflate truck tires in a safety cage.
7. Installing tire/wheel assemblies on vehicles without cleaning mounting surfaces and fasteners.
This is a common mistake technicians make. Maybe it's because they lost their rags or wire brushes, maybe it's because they are in a hurry, or maybe it's because they never learned to put their toys away when they were kids, but cleaning the mounting surfaces of wheels and brake drums and the studs and nuts when installing a tire/wheel assembly on a vehicle is critical.
Dirt, rust, grease, paint and other stuff on the mounting faces inhibit proper clamp load attainment and result in torque loss during the "settling-in" process when this junk gets worn away or compresses. The result of this mistake is wheels that run loose and wallow bolt holes, conditions that ruin the wheels or result in the wheels coming off the vehicle while it is traveling at 65 mph.
8. Using anti-seize compounds to lubricate nuts, stud threads and hub pilots.
Some people think that using anti-seize compounds is better than just motor oil to lubricate nuts, stud threads and hub pilots because it will keep them from freezing together and the wheel can be removed more easily. Actually, using anti-seize compounds to lubricate wheel components enables the assembly to change itself.
Such compounds should be avoided on wheels and fasteners since product consistency varies, which can result in overtorque and yields the studs, reduces clamp load and enables the wheels to come off on their own.
Only two drops of motor oil should be applied to hub-piloted nuts and flanges and two drops to the last two or three threads at the end of each stud. Hub pilots should also be lightly lubricated with motor oil. This is a case of where going above and beyond is a mistake.
9. Not tightening lug nuts in the proper sequence.
How many times have you watched someone install a wheel and they tighten the lug nuts using the criss-cross pattern to run them up to 50-ft.-lbs. but then go around in a circle re-tightening each of them up to 450-550-ft.-lbs.?
Or they just hold the impact wrench in one place and turn the wheel, tightening the nuts as the wheel turns.
One reason for doing this is that they are assured they haven't missed a lug nut. Well, when this happens, I can assure you that the wheel is cocked on the axle end, will run loose, and, yes, may come off down the road. This is a mistake that is caused by inattention or just plain laziness.
10. Not using a torque wrench.
Everyone knows that using a torque wrench is time consuming, many people don't know how to do it properly, and why bother with it if you let the impact wrench hammer a few extra times to ensure the wheels are on "guten tight"? Well, you need to use a torque wrench because the "guten tight" method often results in either over- or under-torque.
If the impact wrench is weak and not putting out the torque it does when new, you will under-torque the fasteners even if you leave it hammer a few extra times.
If a 1-inch wrench is strong and putting out its specified torque, you can easily get 1,200 to 1,300 pounds of torque on the fasteners in a matter of seconds. This much torque can break studs, or worse, "yield" them, which takes the tension out of them, causing them to lose their ability to hold clamp load.
The problem is that this condition is tough to see with the naked eye. As a result, the wheels run loose in both over- and under-torque situations. A torque wrench, like a calibrated inflation gauge used to accurately measure tire inflation pressure, is the only way to tell that you have the proper 450 to 550 pounds of torque on a truck/bus tire-wheel assembly. Take the time to use one and don't make this mistake.
So, how many mistakes are you guilty of making in the last six months? Making mistakes like these will only make things harder for your company to do business in the long run.
Do you have fleet accounts that make these mistakes? If your fleet customers are committing these errors routinely, let them know. Lord knows all of these mistakes are costing them money!
If both you and your customers make these corrections, think of the number of accidents that can be prevented, tires and wheels that can be spared early deaths and technicians that can be kept safe. There's absolutely no downside to correcting these common mistakes.
Peggy's previous columns are available at www.tirebusiness.com.