Equipment to assist with tire maintenance


Heavy duty, over-the-road truck tires and wheels can weigh anywhere from 100 to 200 pounds, says Todd Michalski, vice president, sales and marketing, for Gray Manufacturing Company. “This amount of weight is routinely handled in many shops without proper equipment for the technician to safely and productively complete simple tire work.”

Gray Manufacturing ( specializes in portable lifting equipment for use by professional technicians.

Traditionally, technicians have used an air-end lift to raise the end of a vehicle to quickly remove and install tires, he notes. “However, this practice has become less safe as vehicles today have bumpers that are not designed as proper lifting points. 

“When lifting the back of a heavy duty truck, if the frame rails are accessible as a lifting point, then an air-end lift can be the right tool for the job. The air-end lift can make quick work of any tire job that needs to be done. 

“However, the technician must always remember an air-end lift is a lifting device only and the vehicle must be supported by properly rated vehicle support stands.”



Today, the more popular method for changing tires is to use a high-capacity axle jack to lift the vehicle for tire work, observes Michalski.

“An axle jack with a low starting height and high capacity allows the technician to complete a tire change even when a vehicle is loaded. The ability to change tires on loaded vehicles greatly improves shop and driver productivity.” 

When deciding on an axle jack, there are some key considerations, he says, including: capacity, how the ram retracts, minimum start height and whether most of all the jack’s critical components are equipped with corrosion protection.  

As with air-end lifts, technicians must understand that axle jacks are lifting devices only and that properly rated vehicle support stands must be used, he stresses.



Getting the vehicle safely off the ground is only the first obstacle in changing a tire.  Once the vehicle is in the air and properly supported, the technician is then faced with lifting and manipulating those heavy truck tires pounds. 

“This is a recipe for a multitude of accidents which create unnecessary costs for a shop,” Michalski says. “A sturdy and reliable wheel dolly will make tire changing efficient and safe.”

A quality wheel dolly has reach arms with internal bearings that allow the user to rotate the wheel for easy alignment, lessening the chances of a lifting injury, he adds. Some other important features to look for include an offset column for easy access, rear and forward tilt, accessible parts tray for lug nuts and reach arms that rotate the wheel with minimal effort.