Tools of the Trade
Finding the Right Tire and Wheel Combination Easier Than Ever
How many times has a customer asked you how large a tire and wheel they could fit on their vehicle? If you’ve heard that question once, you’ve heard it a hundred times.
Determining the exact or maximum tire and wheel size combination that would fit a particular vehicle has mainly been a trial-and-error exercise – get as many different wheels as you can, mount tires on wheels, then spend hours wrestling with tape measures and plum lines.
After years of knuckle-busting and brain-straining tire/wheel size battles, there is finally a tool on the market that takes all the praying out of the equation. Tire MountMate, the result of five years of development and testing, takes all the guesswork and extra labor out of finding the perfect fit.
Many tire dealers miss out on the lucrative street rod and muscle car market because these cars are a nightmare for the untrained and can even push the limits of the highly skilled tire/wheel expert. But these markets are booming with large diameter (expensive) wheels.
Then there’s the growing sport compact and tuner markets – similar to old-fashioned street rods, but with newer vehicles. All of these vehicle owners are looking for the right tire/wheel combination to fit the look they want to achieve and the road performance they desire.
And they’re desperately seeking dealers who want to take the time to help them determine what works and fits. Once you help restyle one, the customer will tell all of their friends. Maybe at the mall, or perhaps at the next classic car show. Then what happens? You could well have a parking lot full of classic and vintage cars with owners who have plenty of money. Don’t be surprised if a ’34 "Vickie" comes rolling up in your door, as it did mine not too long ago.
With the right tools and information, helping these new found customers is easy and profitable. Once the customer arrives at your shop for the test fit, get your tire manufacturers’ data books out and show the different tread designs, sidewall styles and sizes available.
Tire diameter and wheel selection can make or break a vehicle, so ask the owner what they have in mind. Nostalgic, modern or ultra-stylish wheels will affect the "look" differently. There may also be some cost issues for the customers, too, so make sure to determine their desires and their limits.
Take into consideration the flexibility of offsets and sizes. These options make selecting a perfect wheel combination easier. Remember, you’re working on a $1,500-$6,000 deal, so be patient, listen to the customer and guide them to the tires and wheels that you feel will match their desires.
After you have an idea what tires the customer wants, take a couple of tires and do a dry test fit. This is where Wheel MountMate comes into play. First, set the tool into the tire by selecting the right faceplate to fit the bolt pattern, extend the arms to simulate the wheel size you want to test, and clamp it onto the tire bead.
Next, jack the vehicle up with a small bottle jack or floor jack placed under the rear differential. This jack position supports the weight of the vehicle and loads the suspension as though it were sitting on an actual wheel.
With the test tire and tool assembly bolted to the car, check clearance of the assembly to suspension components and tie rod ends. Then, turn the steering wheel left and right while bouncing the vehicle to make sure that the tire won’t be cut when it turns.
Repeat the fitting process for the rear – obviously without the steering check – to clear the frame, then ask the owner if the tire and wheel fit in the fashion they want.
Because of the tool, you and your customer can see the results instantly so that there is no confusion as to how the vehicle will look and perform with the new tires and wheels. And you’ll know just how wide a wheel the customer can choose, and what backside setting is needed to achieve the desired results.
After everything is dry fit and customer-approved, all you need to do is pick up the phone and order the wheels and tires. In a short period of time, your customer will be driving off into the sunset enjoying the fruits of your labor. And you’ll enjoy the feeling of satisfaction by providing extra service your competition couldn’t.
Yes, the right tools make all the difference in the world. Especially when it comes to profit-building tire and wheel sales.