The tire changer is among the most important pieces of equipment in your shop and it’s up to you as the shop owner (or manager) to keep up with it’s maintenance. Fail to do this and you risk saying no to jobs. But what do you do? where do you look? Can you even do any of it by yourself?. In this blog we will expose 10 commonly replaced parts on a typical tire changer and what you can do to extend their life. Knowing these parts can save you from expensive service bills all while looking like a hero, so let’s get started.
Caution: Before starting any service or inspection, read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow all safety precautions. Follow lockout and tagout procedures before starting any service work.
1. The FRL (Filter Regulator Lubricator)
Almost all tire changers use compressed air for rim clamping, bead breaking, and tire inflation. Before an inspection at the tire changer begins, check your compressed air system for leaks, condensation, corrosion, or water buildup. Look on the ground around the tire changer for puddles or drips. Check all air hoses and connections. Check the mainline water separator and pneumatic oiler (usually located close to the compressor). If you don’t have one, get one installed immediately. The valves and cylinders on your tire changers are susceptible to corrosion from water and will cost you some serious coin to replace. Your tire changer should also be equipped with it’s own filter, regulator, and lubricator (FRL). You can usually find this at the back of the machine at the compressed air line input. Check the FRL pressure setting, clean or replace the filter and refill the oil reservoir with air tool oil or equivalent (check manufacturer recommendations). If you find leaks, cracks or damage, replace the FRL promptly. Clean, dry, well-lubricated compressed air is the key to a healthy tire changer.
2. The Air Cylinders
Wheel clamping and tire bead breaking functions are typically performed by pneumatic air cylinders. These cylinders are generally quite robust, but can be susceptible to damage from abuse, debris buildup, and contaminants from poor quality compressed air. Clean any debris away from the rod and seal of the cylinders. Check the fittings and hoses going to these cylinders to make sure they are tight and leak-free. Cycle the air functions using the foot pedals or controls and check for air leaks from the cylinders. If you do find leaks, replace the cylinder seals. You can find the appropriate seals by searching our website or contacting us with your make and model number. Spending around $100-200 on seals early can save you from having to replace a $1000+ air cylinder.
3. The High Volume Dump Valve
The high volume dump valve allows the tire changer to move a large amount of air from the reservoir tank when seating the tire bead. If you’re experiencing issues with your bead blast system, this is an item to check closely. The dump valve is made from either plastic or metal and located inside the tire machine. You may have to open a side cover to access it. It will typically be the only valve that has larger diameter hoses. Inspect it visually for cracks or leaks. Check the tightness of clamps and fittings. Check the hoses for any cracks or leaks and replace as necessary. If your valve is serviceable, open it up and clean the internal components. Be careful when handling the seals within this valve as any tears or rips will cause the valve to leak. If you do notice cracks or leaks, you will need to replace the complete valve as rebuild kits are almost never stocked.
4. The Transmission Belt
Your tire changer has a small belt that connects the electric motor to the transmission that rotates the turntable. Open the side covers on your tire changer and locate this belt. If you notice excess wear, cracks, damage, or tears, it will have to be replaced. Most tire changers use a V-shaped belt. We stock various lengths of belts to cover most tire changers. Simply measure the overall length of the belt using a flexible measuring tape or string. Use this length in inches to find your belt size (for example A24 is a 24 inch V belt).
5. The Foot Pedal Valve
Foot pedal valves are the control center of your tire changer. They are used to activate the clamping cylinders, bead breaker, air inflation system and turntable. You can access the foot pedal valves by removing the covers from the sides of your tire changer and spotting the air valves connected to the foot pedals. Check the valve fittings and airlines for damage or leaks. Inspect the body of the valve for cracks. Clean any debris around the valve paying close attention to the rod of the valve. Applying a light amount of air tool oil on the rod while cycling the foot pedal will help lubricate the rod seal. Activate the foot pedals and check the springs or linkages for proper function and adjust as necessary. If you notice excessive leaks in either foot pedal valves, they will need to be replaced (most people notice a crack in the plastic housing or leaking air from the rod). Rebuild kits are difficult to find and replacement of the entire valve is typical.
6. Demount Heads and Other Tools
The demount / mount heads and other tools are typically plastic or metal parts that are in contact with the rim and tire. Depending on the type of machine, you may have a few different tools like rollers, fingers and duck heads. All the tools used to demount and mount the tire should be inspected carefully for wear or cracks. If your demount head is metal, check to make sure the plastic inserts that contact the rim are present and in good condition. Keeping a few sets of inserts on hand is a great idea. If your demount head is plastic, inspect the mounting location for deformations or early signs of cracking. Plastic demount heads are a consumable item, keeping at least one spare set is a good idea. They are low-cost and can save you downtime.
7. The Rotary Air Coupler
The rotary coupler is responsible for distributing compressed air to the wheel clamping air cylinders, while allowing the turntable to rotate freely without entangling the airlines. The coupler is located under the turntable centralized on the transmission shaft. You can typically find it by following the airlines from the clamping cylinders backward. The coupler and associated mechanism should be kept clean and lubricated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Check the fittings and air lines for tightness, cracks, or leaks. A dirty or dry coupler can be a source of leaks and malfunctions on the clamping cylinders.
8. The Turntable
The turntable is the rotating plate where the wheel is mounted during the removal and reinstallation process. Check the turntable clamps, inspect the sliding surfaces, jaw surfaces, plastic inserts, and other items. Make sure they are clean and free from debris, sealant, dirt, and grime. A buildup of dirt on these components can damage the turntable and seize the mechanisms. Check the clamping surface that contacts the wheel rims. Check the linkages under the turntable paying close attention to the connecting links and hardware. Check for any damage or deformation and replace or repair parts as necessary. Most of these components are not commonly replaced but are mentioned in this blog because they can be hard to find in stock. Do your best to keep them clean and in functioning order. If you see a problem in this area, order the replacement parts immediately to save yourself the aggravation of downtime.
9. Bead Breaker Quick Release Valve
This small valve is typically used on the bead breaker air cylinder. It will exhaust air from the cylinder quickly to allow the cylinder to move faster, making for a speedy process. If you notice it takes a long time for your bead breaker to go back to the home position after breaking the bead, then this valve is most likely the culprit. They are available in plastic or upgraded metal and can be replaced easily.
10. Forward / Reverse switch
This electrical switch is responsible for controlling the forward and reverse motion of the turntable. It can be found inside the tire changer connected to the turntable rotation foot pedal. It is an electromechanical device and will require replacement at some point, depending on the usage and age of your machine. If you are are not able to operate your turntable, then this may be the culprit. This switch is unique to the tire changer industry and does require a high amperage rating. Beware of low cost alternatives that could affect the safety of your equipment.