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These 10 Commonly Replaced Parts on a Tire Changer Can Save You Money.

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

Typical bead breaker cylinder exploded view showing internal seals

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

BEAD BREAKER QUICK RELEASE VALVE (PLASTIC) OEM 3005320
Plastic Quick Release valve for Hofmann, John Bean and

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

Typical Forward and Reverse switch for Coats electrical tire changers

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.

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Do You Need a Tire Inflation Cage?

You’ve probably heard about tire inflation cages before, but you’re not quite sure what they are or if you even need one. In this blog, we are going to clear up these common questions.

Inflating a tire may seem like a simple job, however, experienced heavy-duty mechanics know it requires training, knowledge, preparation, and the right equipment. Some mechanics and shop owners fail to realize that when a tire blows there is a high probability of serious injury or even death.

What is a tire inflation cage? Simply put, it’s a piece of equipment designed to keep the mechanic safe when inflating a tire. It is typically a heavy tubular steel fabricated cage where the tire is placed during the inflation process. The narrow design allows the tire to stay in a vertical position during inflation, which prevents any component from turning into a projectile during a blow out. There are various sizes and designs from a portable 2-bar setup all the way up to fully enclosed cages and barriers. High quality units are designed to meet or exceed OSHA’s 1910.177 standard.

Martins Industries 4 bar tire inflation cage (Buy it here)

When do you need a tire inflation cage? The OSHA standard applies when servicing multi-piece and/or single-piece rim wheels used on large vehicles, such as trucks, tractors, trailers, buses, and off-road machines. These tires are larger than automotive/light truck tires with tire inflation pressures that can easily exceed 100psi.

How do you choose the right inflation cage?

  • Start by investigating the types of vehicles and tire sizes you typically handle in your shop. You will need the maximum OD (outside diameter) and width of the tire.
  • Determine your maximum inflation pressures and ensure the cage you choose is certified to inflate tires up to that pressure.
  • Verify the cage you choose meets or exceeds OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.177
  • Choose a reputable manufacturer that uses a reliable welding process.

Why should you get one? The most important reason – SAFETY! The explosion of a truck tire filled up to 100psi can generate up to 50,000lbs of pressure during a blowout. At that point, broken parts of the tire and rim become projectiles that can seriously injure or even kill people in its path. Furthermore, OSHA regulations require the use of a cage or barrier when inflating these tires, as well as providing your employees with the necessary training. Occupational Health ans Safety laws in Canada vary by Province and also require employers to take measures such as restriction on who can work on tires as well as providing operational procedures and appropriate equipment.

Interestingly enough, even smaller automotive and light truck tires can explode while being filled if they were poorly maintained. Check out this Inside Edition investigation below.

Inside Edition – Investigation of tire blowouts.

Branick Industries, created one of the most convincing videos showing the danger of an exploding tire in slow motion captured in High Definition (Watch the video below). Branick also listed the most common failures

  • 16.5 inch rims
  • Zippers
  • Sidewall Rupture
  • Over Inflated Runflats
  • Bead Failures
  • Sudden release of air and debris.
Check out this video of a truck tire blowout – courtesy of Branick Industries.

Although OSHA doesn’t specifically require inflation cages for passenger and light truck tires, it’s clear that inflating a tire poses a risk of explosion. Using a tire inflation cage to protect you and your employees from the danger of an explosion is the safest solution.

Interested in a tire inflation cage for your shop? Check out our entire lineup of tire inflation cages here. If you need help choosing an inflation cage feel free to contact us and one of our technicians can guide you through the process.

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Removing water, oil and sludge from inground lift pits.

Corrosion and water damage are a big concern when it comes to inground lifts. Over winter months, snow and slush dripping from vehicles makes it past the covers on your inground lifts and into the underground pit. That pit houses some pretty important parts like the hydraulic cylinders, hoses, safety locking mechanisms and so on. These systems are likely made of steel with a minimal amount of paint, or if you’re lucky some powder coating. If ignored, this water / salt mixture starts to corrode these parts causing expensive and possibly irreparable damage.

So what can you do about this? Well it’s simple, keep up with regular drainage of these pits.

But how? Most shops start off with a quick and dirty shop-vac. They push the hose down into the pit as far as it can go (which is typically not all the way) remove whatever comes out until the vacuum fills up, drain and repeat. If you have more than one or two pits, this is hands down one of the dirtiest, time consuming jobs in the shop. (No one is going to volunteer to do this one)

So, to make things a little simpler, we’ve put together two options that are cleaner and faster making it more likely that you will keep up with this critical maintenance. So let’s get started.

OPTION 1: The Flow-Jet Pump Kit

If you’re interested in this pump, you can but it here

The flow-jet kit consists of a mini air pump, bracket and integral air regulator that can be permanently installed on each of your inground lifts. The pump can either be hard connected to shop air or plugged in when needed. Once activated, the flow-jet effortlessly drains water from the pit when needed.

CONS: The flow-jet is a small pump and can be a little slow for most people. It is also not designed to drain multiple pits. If you do decide to install it permanently, you will need to consider routing of the air/drain lines to avoid trip hazards.

OPTION 2: Heavy duty air operated double diaphragm pump

If you’re interested in this pump, you can but it here

This double diaphragm water/oil and gasoline pump is fast, heavy duty and an excellent upgrade from the shop-vac. It is powered by your shop-air supply and does a super job of draining water/oil from the pit. It’s a good solution for dealerships or large shops with multiple inground lifts. It can be taken out when needed, and put away after, leaving no unsightly air lines or drain hoses hanging around.

CONS: This pump is a little pricey. Since it is not permanently installed most people forget to use it leaving you with an awesome tool and a bunch of water in your pits.

TIP: If you do decide to go this route, make sure you use a high quality reinforced vacuum hose along with a coarse filter on the intake to keep it from collapsing or clogging when started.

Well, we hope we have shed some light on the options available to you when it comes to removing water from your inground pits. No matter which route you take to get there, make sure you’re on top of it.

If you have questions, feel free to call us at 1-888-255-2372 or email us at [email protected]

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Steel cables and your automotive lifts

What are cables? Steel cables, a.k.a. wire ropes for cables over 3/8″ diameter, are a flexible connection mechanism used on a variety of lifting equipment.  They are an evolution from chain links which were notorious for catastrophic failure. Unlike chain, steel cables are made from many strands of wires twisted into specific patterns for improved strength and flexibility. Failure of a single strand in the cable is less critical as the other strands can take up the load.

In the automotive repair industry steel cables are most commonly seen on 2 post and 4 post style automotive lifts.

A typical 2 post lift,¬†consists of a high pressure hydraulic cylinder assembled into each tower. When powered up, these cylinders support the weight of the vehicle while the cables¬†are used to balance out any uneven lifting conditions. Even though they don’t directly support load, they are still performing an important role of keeping the vehicle level on the lift.

Two post lifts typically have small diameter sheaves due to space constraints in their design. Smaller sheaves mean tighter bending radius and higher bending stresses on the wires. So, inspect your wire ropes and sheaves frequently as detailed in your owner’s manual.

On 4 post lifts, the wire ropes are responsible for supporting the weight of the vehicle andthe lift. Hydraulic cylinders pull on the ropes, which in turn raise the load. As you can imagine, if a wire rope on your 4 post hoist fails, the load will free-fall “until and if” the mechanical locks stop it. The “if” in that statement depends on the condition of you locking system. Clean, inspect and replace damaged or broken parts of your locking system immediately. Never use a lift with a malfunctioning locking system.

You may think this will never happen to you, but many owners and operators take their cables for granted making cable failure more common than you think. So please inspect your cables frequently and take them out of service when they don’t meet the standards.

Want to know more about wire ropes and inspection, watch this video and purchase the ANSI/ALI ALOIM standard.