Tire service tips

Tips on purchasing new equipment, plugging tires, and more.

There are many amenities that a top-of-the-line balancer offers. Advanced wheel balancers have a laser sight, so you don’t have to bend over and “guesstimate” where to put the weights. Many will automatically measure all of the elements of tire size in one automatic movement and on a digital screen walk you through the balance. Some machines even spin the tire into position to put on the weight. Others apply load to the tire to simulate real-world driving conditions and check to see if the tire itself was mounted in the best possible position to prevent balancing issues. Unlike in the past, the newest “diagnostic balancers” can be operated as quickly as standard balancers, with literally a second or two difference at most.

Q: Do the more advanced tire changers need training to use?

A: Yes. The simple ones have been known to crush fingers and break arms. Now the really advanced machines come with video cameras and several assist arms that are controlled with joysticks. Pete Liebetreu of Hunter observes that the least expensive machines require the least training, the middle machines the most, and then the most expensive are so automated the need for training begins to drop off. Of particular importance is the fact that “much of the training is really more related to the tire being serviced than the tire changer. In other words, run-flats need more training than a standard tire, no matter what equipment you use,” according to Liebetreu.

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