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Passenger/Light Truck

Livin’ Large

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em handy. Over time, you’ll learn most of the bolt patterns and offsets available for each vehicle.

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Let’s walk through a sale. Your customer has a 1999 Honda Accord with factory 15-inch wheels. This vehicle is a good example to use for this exercise for several reasons. First, it’s a very popular car for customizing. Secondly, the Accord can have two different bolt patterns, depending on engine size.

The four cylinder has a 4-4.5 bolt pattern, and the V-6 has a 5-4.5 bolt pattern. You must identify whether it’s a four cylinder or V-6 to order the right wheels. Several other vehicles have different bolt patterns, too, depending on model, so you need to be specific.

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For the sake of this example, you find out that this Accord is a four cylinder. Now, you can start to qualify the customer. You not only need to know what the customer wants, you also need to know what he/she can afford.

If they ask about financing, have them fill out the paperwork. If the finance company agrees to provide $600, you should show them painted or polished wheels. If the customer qualifies for a $1,500 or higher credit line, show them chrome wheels.

Use your display wheels, a poster, a catalog or imaging software to show them new styles. Explain to customers which wheels will fit and why others will not.

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Here’s another example: A 2004 Ford F-150 pickup comes with 17×7.5 wheels and narrow tires. It has a high positive offset instead of the medium offset used for the 1997-2003 models, which presents unique challenges.

I’ve noticed that most wheel manufacturers are drilling 6-135mm to fit the bolt pattern but offer offsets from 0mm to +35mm, depending on the size. Make sure that when you order wheels for this truck (or the Navigator/Expedition), you get a wheel that fits the way the customer wants.

Personally, on the F-150, I think a lower offset looks better because it pushes the tire to the edge of the fender or just outside the fender, which results in a very aggressive stance. And that’s what most truck owners want. Make sure customers don’t mind kicking a little mud on the sides, though.

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For the Navigator/Expedition, try to get at least a +20mm or higher offset. This keeps the tire near the OE position and reduces the risk of damaging the paint with rock chips. These vehicles are bought for luxury, not off-roading.

Remember, most customers won’t just hand you a chunk of money without you getting involved and showing genuine interest in their vehicles and modification desires. You need to be as excited as they are about their new tires and wheels. Ask them to pick out three or four styles/brands that they like, in order of preference.

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Ask for the Sale

Because not all wheels are available all of the time, it helps to call your suppliers and give them vehicle information and the styles of wheels you need. After you have availability information in hand, let the customer know and, then, simply ask for the sale. Respond positively and proactively by saying, “They have the style you want in stock. When would you like to have them put on?”

At this point, stop and don’t say a word. Let customers accept the fact that they are making a major purchase. Let them decide how quickly they can return for the wheels. If the wheels are available locally, and you have someone available to get them immediately, ask for the keys and get the car on the rack while sending for the wheels. The best sale is the one that’s quickest.

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If the style of wheel that some customers want is not available, look at the pattern to determine their tastes. Do they like a five-spoke or multiple spokes? Do they like a swirl or something else really flashy and cutting edge? Work with your suppliers to find a similar wheel that is available. If you don’t, customers may lose interest in purchasing wheels and tires and spend their money on something else ®“ or with someone else.

 

Educational Resources

The most important consideration before installing any tire or wheel is to make sure the load carrying capacity of the wheel and tire meets or exceeds OE specs. If you don’t know how to adjust air pressure to attain the proper load carrying capacity, I suggest picking up a resource manual.

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The Tire Industry Association (TIA) has several resource manuals and certification tests available that can help you with tire-related questions, including repairs. The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) is another good source for information.

I hope these last two columns have motivated you to “live large” and succeed at selling big tires and wheels. The potential is enormous ®“ and so are the financial rewards.

In an economy where every dollar counts, you now have the power to promote your business, draw new customers and increase sales. As with most anything, the amount of effort you put in is directly related to the return.

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