Routine No More: ‘Tire Buster’ Days are Long Gone; Today’s Tires Need TLC - Tire Review Magazine

Routine No More: ‘Tire Buster’ Days are Long Gone; Today’s Tires Need TLC

‘Tire Buster’ Days are Long Gone; Today’s Tires Need TLC

Tire mounting can be a funny thing sometimes. There are those among us who apply so much tire lube that a wet suit would be suitable. They slosh the stuff in the general direction of the bead. Who cares if the sticky stuff runs off into every nook and cranny of a $10,000 tire-changing machine?

But, this flies in the face of years of tire construction and compounding technology in the bead area. Tedious lab work and empirical testing tell us to make sure a freshly mounted tire doesn’t slip on the rim. The Tire & Rim Association is involved in this work, and if they don’t know how a tire must be fitted to a rim, who does? The idea is to make prudent use of tire lube to mount a tire to a rim, with the ultimate goal being a firm, dry bead seat that will stand the test of time.

In that interest, new bead-area construction and advanced compounding formulations have been designed to prevent tire slippage after a tire has been mounted. Why spoil a good balancing job and run the risk of a disgruntled customer? “Dry” is the operative word here, and some tire-lube makers are presenting tire-mounting products that help solve the problem.

One company offers a mounting paste (a waxy substance) in a 7.7-lb bucket that will handle bead seating of about 400 tires and comes complete with a PVC brush. No more sloshing. In fact, the company says, you can dry wipe the tire changing machine after every work day.

The idea behind this product is mounting a tire without sloshing traditional tire lube that can find its way in and around the TPMS transmitter. Important to tire-mounting machine operators is that the tire slides up and onto the wheel, seats easily and dries quickly.

Putting a top line on this part of the story is basic. You can ruin a TPMS transmitter, or not. You can scratch an expensive wheel, or not. You can leave tire lube on the sidewall of the tire, or not. And, at all times, you are competing with an OE vehicle dealer who is also selling tires. You probably need to update your process steps for mounting and demounting a tire and put tire lubricant at, or near, the top of your list.

Science at Work

Fortunately, tire-changer manufacturers have your back. Today’s tire changers are literally scientific marvels. Exerting virtually no physical effort and applying precious little training, the operator of a modern tire changer follows a carefully articulated set of steps for every work order. This includes video instruction mounted on the machine. It’s foolproof, yet mistakes are still made. If you watched the Indy 500 on Sunday, May 27, you saw one car leave the pits and lose the right rear tire instantly. Someone forget to tighten the wheel fasteners.

Truth is, most tire dealers are doing a nice job of working with tire lubricants and mounting tires. But, it is also true that many still hang onto old traditions. “Mount ‘em up, and get ‘em out, and sometimes, WD-40 finds its way into the mix.” A nice product, but it’s the wrong application.

Tire mounting and demounting service relates directly to expensive OE wheels and tires. To say that many of your customers have $4,000 invested is no longer considered out of bounds. In fact, many have invested more than that. So, if you’re thinking that $10,000 for a new tire machine makes no sense, think again. Your ROI will show up sooner than you might think.

Setting Policies

Here’s the unvarnished truth. Tire mounting and demounting are far more complicated than they were just 10 years ago. We have specific training and certification in place for performing these once-routine tasks, and the Tire Industry Association has done a fine job of redefining the once-mundane job that was once called “tire busting.”

No longer can you afford to put your lowest-paid help in such a vital position. A mistake at the tire-changing level can undo tire-machine science and some great sales work in the showroom.

Establish a realistic cycle time for tire changing, with quality of work at the opening of your policy. When something differentiates from your established policy, such as tire or wheel damage, a control chart tells you exactly when and where the problem occurred. Study your bay-time turns, and you’ll see that variations stick out like a marked card. But, why?

Don’t blame the tech if it’s not his or her fault. What if a customer leaves your dealership without giving you a lock for the wheel fasteners? Your tech could be sitting there for 45 minutes unless he or she has been carefully instructed to ask for the lock before the customer leaves. It’s about training.

You need a visible, measurable enforcement for your tire-changing people, which must be a collaborative effort. Keep in mind that there has been, and probably will continue to be, a steady evolution of tire and wheel trends, along with vehicle weight, vehicle dynamics, more unsprung weight and more driver reaction to vibration.

It’s imperative for you to address the complexities of mounting tires with increasing diameters, widths, lower aspect ratios and run-flats. You already know that no tire above a 30-inch diameter will fit a vehicle without some suspension work. This is unlike tire-changing work 15 years ago, when tire changers pretty much managed the tire-mounting process day after day like rote.

No more. There are too many wild cards. In 2007 and beyond, the tire changer must learn how to slow down to go faster. It’s what the Champ Car and NASCAR people preach. They don’t mean ‘dog it.’ They mean adjust your speed just a little to get it right.

Follow proper procedures, use every helper device in your arsenal, avoid operator strain and use the lift instead of your back. Some techs will argue that the machine slows them down, and you may be tempted to listen. Don’t. Slowing down by 10 to 15 seconds will mean dollar savings instead of costly comebacks for tire and wheel damage.

After all, this is now a fairly complicated procedure. You can use too much tire lube or not enough. You don’t want a tire wrestler on your expensive new tire-changing machine to cause bead distortion, when the only goal is to get the tire to drop into the drop center, and your new machine does the job with a simple pedal push by the operator.

If you see your tire-changing operator lift a tire up and onto the center spindle on the tabletop, you two need to talk. Macho doesn’t count anymore; accuracy does. Your new tire machine is a multi-functional device that delivers both reliable and repeatable results.

Gather the basic statistics, including vehicle type, tire brand, size and appointment time. Apply these numbers to your tire-mounting process policies and the variations you’ve worked out with your tire-changing tech. This is the way to eliminate errors. You must follow every step because if you don’t, you can never retrace the steps.

By standardizing your tire lube and tire-changing process steps, you will remove awkward encounters between you and your techs. Simply pull out the paperwork, and show them the facts.

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