Learn how to use it!
Let’s face it, technology really has made life easier for tire techs. You have touchless tire changers, balancers that automatically lift and lock tires, and more.
Changeover season is here and technology can be a huge help, but only if you know how to behave around this equipment, and how to use it properly.
Sure, there’s an automatic tire changer that only takes two minutes to change a tire. You still have to set it up correctly, mount and clamp it, so it does the bead breaking and everything right. It’s marvellous technology that increases operator safety and reduces damage on the tire and wheel assembly. Manufacturers will provide the training to make sure you know how to operate it right.
The technology in balancers is phenomenal. The lift is on the ground, so you put the tire on the lift, it raises it up and lines it up with the shaft. You hit a button and it automatically locks the tire. That’s a great safety feature, considering the heaviness of the tires in the truck market.
Because even though the industry is trying to go green, SUVs and trucks haven’t slowed down. You’ll be working on those big tires for the next few years. Some of these are in excess of 200 pounds. When you have to do the lifting, remember to use proper lifting techniques. Use your knees, not your back. Or get a dolly and use it.
Many of the lifts have lifting points on them electronically. Lifting is getting extremely difficult because of the different cars on the market. So there are a lot more “do’s” than “don’ts.”
I recommend using the American Lifting Institute (ALI) guide, which shows proper lifting points for all vehicles. In certain applications, you cannot lift in certain spots. With brands like Mercedes and BMW, lifting has gotten extremely technical.
Make sure the weight is compatible to the weight of the lift. For example, you may have a vehicle that’s 9,000 pounds but has 3,000 pounds of tools on it. Do not use a 10,000-pound lift with that vehicle!
If you don’t lift a car properly, it could fall off and be a danger. You could cause extreme damage to the lift. If you were to lift certain vehicles like a Range Rover or Mercedes, you could damage the car and it might not be repairable. It’s extremely important to make sure you have the proper lifting points, from some kind of reference.
Education is huge, for safety’s sake. There are so many new tools and equipment. Make sure you have all the updates on your tools. When you can’t figure something out, you might be tempted to take a shortcut. Have all your TPMS software up to date, with proper service packs.
Now there’s something called a clad wheel. It’s an alloy wheel with a delicate chrome-painted plastic cover bonded to the face of the wheel. You need pin plate adapters on your balancer in order to get a proper balance on a clad wheel. If you break the plastic, it could cost you.
Updated training is what makes people safe. Much of the new technology is being forced by the bigger tires and wheels coming onto the market. Get the training, the knowledge, the updates to stay safe during this year’s changeover season.
Matt White is the Director of Tire Services for the Tire Industry Association (TIA). He has over 34 years of experience training technicians from all over the globe on how to stay safe on the job.