The workhorse of today’s modern tire shop is the tire changer. Tire-changing technology can range from basic to automatic and nearly autonomous. Most are built for specific shop needs, based on things such as repair volume, tire size and types of vehicles serviced.
Types of tire changers vary by clamping style. Center-post or pedestal-style tire machines hold the tire from the hub center of the wheel only. This reduces the risk of damage from the steel clamps as the wheel is held in place by a dowel pin that engages one lug hole on the wheel, which prevents slipping and spinning that can occur when changing stiff tires.
Another style of equipment is the tabletop tire changer. Tabletop equipment offers quick setup and minimal accessories to change a wider variety of wheels, including motorcycle, ATV and UTV assemblies.
Clamps are used to hold wheels in place. Changing larger truck tires is also simple on a tabletop machine but requires some use of expensive accessories depending on the type of wheel assembly. While technology can vary by manufacturer, here are some essential considerations when using this type of equipment:
Tire sizes and custom wheels – As rim diameters grow and wheel designs become more fragile and complex, not all tire-changing equipment is designed to handle newer fitments. Be sure technicians are aware of the capacity and capability of the tire changers in use on the shop floor
Flexibility – Tire changers are engineered to make work – and the technician’s day – a little easier. For instance, leverless heads allow you to mount and demount tires quickly without using a metal tire tool, so you don’t risk damaging delicate wheels. Machines with adjustable wheel clamps allow greater flexibility so the shop can work on wheels of different sizes, which expands the types of tires able to be serviced.
Durability – Tire changers on the shop floor can take a beating. Spending a bit more on better quality can pay off when you consider the potential expense of equipment repairs and bay downtime. Be sure to check the weight and quality of the side shovel arm and mechanism and that the unit itself is built heavy enough to handle daily use and abuse.
Performance – Not all tire changers are alike. It is important to match the task with the proper equipment. Advancements in tire changing design help to protect those gorgeous rims, balanced against the power to handle heavier, lower-profile tires. But not all shop floors have the latest equipment. Be sure technicians are matching the right tire changer with the job. When considering new tire-changing equipment for your shop floor, start by taking stock of what you have currently, your volume of tire service work and the type of equipment that will support your workflow best, keeping industry trends in mind. Also consider technician skill and capabilities. Some equipment is so advanced it does the heavy lifting, which may create opportunities for techs with less upper-body strength and/or physical limitations to be able to do this type of work.