Shopping for a new tire changer?

Several real-world considerations should be addressed first.


Up there with oil changes and brakes, changing and repairing tires is the most common job a light duty fleet maintenance facility will handle. A good tire changer will, with regular maintenance and some repairs, last for many years. However, changes in fuel economy regulations, vehicle types and trends as it pertains to rim size and composition have had an effect on tire service.

The days of easy steel rims and regular valve stems are fast disappearing. Fleets these days have “soft” aluminum rims, tires with stiff sidewalls and TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) valve stems that, if serviced improperly, can break. Not surprisingly, times are a changing in the tire changing world as well. Keep this in mind when shopping for a new tire changer.

110V OR 220V?

For years, many shops have worked with 110V and 220V tire changers, not knowing that there is not a huge difference between the two. Both types of machines consume the same wattage, but a 220V machine will run at half the amperage.

Simply put, with half the voltage available to a 110V machine, the amperage is doubled. Many shops will purchase a 110V machine, because it will spare them a phone call to the electrician.

According to Jeff Kritzer, senior vice president of sales and marketing for BendPak, when a tire is properly secured, there is one clear differentiator between 110V and 220V machines.

Bendpak (www.bendpak.com) is a global leader in automotive repair-related capital equipment including lifts, oil filter curshers, and tire and wheel service equipment.

“One advantage a motor running on higher voltage would have is starting under load,” he notes. “When servicing heavy wall truck tires or stubborn performance tires and wheels, the turntable may tend to stall. A machine running on 220V will have a better chance of restarting and continuing after a stall.”

For this reason, 220V machines are becoming increasingly important. Most new light duty vehicles come with aluminum rims, all of them come with TPMS sensors and an increasing amount come with run-flat tires.

Oftentimes, installing these items requires putting an assist arm on the far side of the tire and depressing the bead in between the rim and the mounting head with a tire bar. Then, the user turns the tire 30 degrees or so, re-adjusts his tire bar and repeats the process.

When installing the tire, even when the rim is properly secured and the tire has plenty of lube on the bead, the turntable may stop turning if the technician takes his foot off the pedal. Sometimes, he will need to do this if the tension from the bead pulls the mount head into the rim, which causes damage. Other times, he may stop to adjust his tire bar in order to avoid tearing the bead.

No matter the reason, a 220V machine with the appropriate assist arms help prevent this and damage to the rim, because it allows the user to get the turntable moving even as the bead gets tighter. This enables the technician to make adjustments without fear that the turntable won’t be able to rotate afterwards. It also decreases the need for another technician to help spin the tire as the turntable struggles to rotate. In this way, a 220V machine is safer and more efficient.

SPECIFICATIONS AND ACCESSORIES

Fuel economy requirements and vehicle users desiring large rims with low profile tires have affected the kind of tire work fleets require. It is wise to look for a tire changer with a large turn table and a tilt-back mechanism in order to not only accommodate the tires that are already in the marketplace, but to be adaptable to the larger rims and thinner tires that are yet to come.

“For a fleet operation servicing mostly passenger vehicles and light duty truck tires and wheels, a standard swing-arm or tilt-back style changer with a wheel clamping range up to 24” should be adequate,” says Kritzer. “Be sure to check your specific requirements before choosing the appropriate machine.”

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