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News   October 13, 2010   by CARS Magazine

Hands off the rims

It used to be said that the tires were the most important things on a vehicle because they were the only thing that connected it to the road. Tires and wheels are an important element of any car or truck; but they have also evolved to an...


It used to be said that the tires were the most important things on a vehicle because they were the only thing that connected it to the road. Tires and wheels are an important element of any car or truck; but they have also evolved to an expression of the car owner’s personality as well. Not only must they do their job properly, but they must look the part as well.

Have you taken a look at tire rims lately? Talk about bling. And it’s not just the aftermarket chrome plated, see them a kilometre away, mortgaged the house for these, babies. More often than not, brand new cars and trucks are coming off the show rooms with pretty fancy alloy rims.

“Rims have become very specialised, very expensive, very modern aluminium alloy, plastic coated. We even have rims that are a polymer, without any steel, (and) these all have to be handled different,” said John Van Loenen, Easter Canada Sales Manager for Hofmann Corporation, a division of Snap-on Equipment that has been manufacturing garage equipment since 1931. “We have to handle 3,000 dollar wheels and we can do this without actually having to touch the rim assembly. Tires have changed themselves and they also have to be treated differently because of the sensitivity of these wheels and tires.”

Hofmann’s ultimate tire changer is the monty FA 1000, colloquially called the Full Monty. It is designed to safely and efficiently change all types of tire and wheel combinations with limited physical input from the technician. The technician rolls the wheel assembly into place and the hydraulics of the machine will do most everything else. The machine features computerized mount/demount programs, automatic tire diameter measurement, automatic laser-profiling of the wheel, integrated wheel lift, electro-hydraulic center clamping, a two-speed drive system and a top-side bead inflation.

To operate the FA 1000 the technician must choose from standard, soft side-wall or sports tires. They are then guided in a step-by-step manner through the tire changing process using a simple joystick. There is a manual override for special circumstances. A handy aspect of the FA 1000 is that the wheel assembly is lifted onto the tire changing spindle automatically reducing strain and fatigue for the technician. It can handle most wheel sizes so it will work with regular car tires as well as truck tires.

“The speed of the operation is secondary to the care of the tire and rim. There are not too many cars out there that have a steel rim and a regular tire,” said Van Loenen. “They mostly have aluminium alloy, either as an OEM feature or an aftermarket addition and these have either low profile type tires or run flat tires. That what we see.”

“The Bosch TC752 Pro allows the operator to utilize its hydraulic bead breaking and mount/dismount system to mount and dismount low profile and specialty wheel tire assemblies effortlessly,” said Frank Nowaczyk, Sr. Product Manager, Aligner and Lift Products Bosch Diagnostics Business Unit.

The Bosch TC 752 Pro accommodates wheels up to 32″ diameter including run flats, low profiles and PAX tires. The hydraulic mount/demount tools help prevent accidental rim damage by eliminating the need for a tire lever and standard automotive and light truck adapters are included.

“Our TC 752 Pro makes changing ultra high performance low profile and run flat tires a one man job,” said Nowaczyk. “Two things that decrease profitability are outdated equipment which requires multiple technicians change a tire, and damage to customers expensive wheel and tire assemblies. These two situations are a thing of the past with Bosch TC752 Pro.”

Once the tires are changed they have to all point in the same direction. “Our Easy 3D wheel aligner can perform a basic alignment check in as little as two minutes,” said Nowaczyk. “This gives a repair facility the ability to audit each vehicle coming for service. Once the work is sold fast set up and portability between bays means more alignments per day and more profit potential. We haven’t sacrificed accuracy to gain speed. With features like two cameras per wheel and an independent reference system, The Bosch Easy 3D is so accurate and repeatable we have even published those specifications in the operator’s manual.”

The Bosch FWA 4630 Easy 3D Alignment System represents a new generation of true 3D image technology aligners aimed at fulfilling the alignment service requirements of modern automotive vehicles and service centres. The Easy 3D system contains two portable camera pods mounted on an alignment rack with ‘electronics free’ measurement boards attached to each wheel, operating at high speed to enable a 27Hz update rate, or 27 updates per second. Measurement boards at the wheels and camera pods made from expanded polypropylene with internal suspension damping, contribute to low weight, ease of handling and drop resistance. Easy 3D’s innovative measuring method, eliminates the need for calibration during installation, and provides precise measurements that can be repeated even if the camera pods are repositioned in the middle of the alignment process. Easy 3D users can move their system to different bays within the shop

Hofmann’s Van Loenen concurs that speed without accuracy is a fallacy. “You can never separate seed and accuracy,” he added. “What we will tell is that when you use our alignment system you can have a full readout on all the specs of the car within three minutes. Once you put that car on our rack and use our alignment system it will give you a full readout for your customer, in colour, in less than three minutes.”

When a car is handled by the Hoffman alignment system, “the barcode is scanned on the car and all the information is put on the computer automatically giving model date, the stats everything,” according to Van Loenen. “The car is driven onto our scissor ramp which has lights and locks. All the switch plates and turntables will lock automatically and unlock when needed. They also have full LED lighting underneath so the underside is completely lit up for the technician.”

He said that the best feature of the system is that it retains the readings.

“You can go to your customer and say, ‘Hey, Mr. or Mrs Customer this and this can be done and if they say go ahead the full readings are retained and the technician can go ahead and do the work without having to redo the initial test.”

It used to be that alignment was a purely mechanical operation. Cars with stability control, traction control and other electronic aids have changed this parameter.

Failure to perform the manufacturer’s required SAS Steering Angle Sensor) reset after a wheel alignment may cause conditions that could result in major complications. Bosch’s KTS diagnostic tools will deal with the growing number of vehicles that require SAS reset.

“The new Bosch system will reduce equipment investment costs and increase work bay efficiency,” says David Scribner, Group Product Manager for Bosch Diagnostics Business Unit. “This also makes ‘one trick repair gadgets’ – that are unable to perform other critical undercar functions – obsolete.”

Having the right lift for alignment is important according to John Rylee, director of marketing at Rotary Lift.

“We produce the Y-lift. The advantage of the Y-lift over the scissor lift is that the design is open throughout the centre. What that does is it allows the technician to move to the side if they have to go to their tool chest or the alignment instrumentation. Or make a tire adjustment. In a scissor lift the sides are obviously blocked by the scissor mechanism and you can only walk out the back or the front of the lift.”