- Inform your customer as to why you won't install the new tires and rims
- Use the TPMS sensors from the original wheels, if compatible; or
- Sell the customer new TPMS sensors for the other rims and ensure that the sensors are properly programmed into the vehicle's TPMS system.
Q: We're looking for one or more TPMS tools for our shop. How do we make the right choice?
A: Before looking for TPMS tools, consider the amount of usage you may have for one or more tools. How much tire service do you perform? Factor in tire replacements, rotations, tire repairs and repairs to the TPMS system itself.
For instance, with a sensor's internal battery life expected to be 7-10 years, some of those cars will need sensor replacement and will be on your doorstep soon. When they arrive you want to be ready. Next, consider the applications that the tool manufacturer promises and how updates are made. As a related topic, ask about the availability of TPMS-related service information.
You'll also want to be ready for the new EZ-sensors, which will cover roughly 90 percent of the TPMS sensor applications. To help streamline their programming prior to installation, a programming "pad" is available that enables you to simply lay the new sensor on the pad and reprogram it. When combined with a standard TPMS tool, this can help streamline some of the sensor replacements that are no doubt headed your way.
Q: We've encountered conflicting recommendations on the proper method to ensure a good tire repair. Bearing our customers' safety in mind, what's the best way to go?
A: According to the Rubber Manufacturer's Association (RMA), 88 percent of tire repairs are performed improperly. That's a scary statistic when you consider the safety implications. To repair a tire properly, the following rules apply:
- Repairs may only be made to the tread area; this does not include the outside shoulder, nor the sidewall.
- The puncture can't be larger than 6mm (1/4") in diameter.
- The tire must be removed from the rim/wheel assembly for a thorough inspection to check for any damage.
- One repair cannot overlap with another repair.
- A rubber stem, or plug, must be applied to fill the puncture injury and a patch must be applied to seal the inner liner. A one-piece "patch plug" is the perfect solution for this application; a plug by itself is not an acceptable repair.
Q: We plan to replace our ancient wheel balancer this year. What factors should we consider for that replacement?
A: When searching for a balancer, remember that you're buying it to make money. It may sound obvious, but it means you should look for a machine that will work reliably with consistent results. Consider the following when shopping around:
- Reliability - Ask your rep for the names of other shops in your area that are using the balancer in question. Get testimonials from those who use the balancer who can point out various advantages and disadvantages about the balancer. Getting an opinion from an experienced user can go a long way towards preventing a misguided decision.
- Features - Give this some serious thought. Carefully review your needs so you don't over-buy or under-buy.
- Standard and optional equipment - Make sure you know what's included with the balancer. You may want to negotiate a package with the balancer and the options you need.
- Capacity- Make sure you consider all of the types of tires and wheels that you intend to balance.
- Warranty and service - Make sure your rep clarifies exactly what's covered and for how long. Also ask about downtime and response time to your service needs. Does the machine need to be serviced from a regional service rep? Can they generally make the fix on the spot? If not, how long will it take to get the machine back? Can they provide a loaner?
Q: We need a quick and reliable source of information to handle TPMS service more efficiently. Can you give us some direction?
A. TPMS tool manufacturers know that they'll be a lot more successful with the tools they sell if they also provide related service information. So, that's a good place to start. You can also look to the publishers of repair manuals for their guidance on TPMS. One other place you might want to take a look is at the Tire Industry Association (TIA). TIA offers a service called TPMS Manager, that provides comprehensive approaches to sensor information and relearn procedures. For more information about the service, go to www.tpmsmanager.com/TIA.