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When Do You Replace Your Tire and Wheel Equipment?

tire and wheel equipment

Purchasing new tire and wheel equipment for your auto repair shop is an investment. It’s expensive. Some equipment is very expensive. You want to make sure you get all of the return you can on that investment. At what point do you decide you have gotten as much ROI as you are going to get and replace it? Replacing your tire and wheel equipment is not a decision any owner makes lightly. There are a number of factors that go into this decision.

Tire and Wheel Equipment: Is It Repairable?

Sometimes your choices are determined by your budget. It’s been a challenging year for most small business owners. No one will judge you if you want to get a little more time out of the equipment you already have. This equipment includes: 

  • Tire Changers
  • Tire Balancers
  • Wheel Aligners
  • Brake Lathes

The above machines range in price from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, so you will want to get your money’s worth. In order to do that, you need to keep up with your preventative maintenance and replace smaller parts as they wear out. In busy, high-volume shops, tire changers and wheel balancers will begin to show wear sooner. These are expensive machines, so to avoid breakdowns, keep them clean and inspect your equipment regularly. When you see small parts like hoses on your equipment wear out, replace them before they break. You will avoid downtime and other more expensive repairs in the future. 

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At some point, however, your machines will be more expensive to fix and keep using than they will be to replace them. Typically speaking, tire changers and wheel balancers last between eight to twelve years. 

Small parts are simple enough to fix. Motors, steel arms, or pedal assemblies are much more extensive repairs. If you are trying to do the difficult repair-vs-replace calculus, determine how much downtime you’re looking at if you keep it. How much money won’t you be making if you baby along a dying machine? 

Useful questions to consider when making this decision would be:

  • How old is the machine?
  • How often is it used?
  • What is the cost of the repair(s)?
  • What would it cost to replace?
  • Would a replacement machine be able to provide more or better service?

While a shop owner may have good reasons to repair rather than replace a machine, it’s always better to replace it before it becomes completely inoperable. You don’t want to lose customers because you cannot provide them with service. It’s much easier to retain an existing satisfied customer than it is to attract a new one. 

What to Do with Old Tire and Wheel Equipment

If you do decide to purchase new equipment, don’t throw out the old. You may find that it’s still useful as a backup machine for less complex jobs. You can also trade it in when you buy a new machine or repair it and sell it to another shop. 

ROI of New Equipment

Because today’s vehicles – and their wheels and tires – change so rapidly, new equipment will eventually be a necessity in order to service new cars and trucks. If your tire changer or wheel balancer can’t service the new trends like 20-inch rims and low-profile tires, it will have outlived much of its usefulness. 

When you replace it with new equipment, your shop will be able to service a wider variety of vehicles, and your techs will not have to struggle and waste their time trying to make a dying piece of machinery still work. More business and less wasted time can be leveraged into profits that will justify a large expense like new equipment. Before you buy any specific machine, consider the types of service you would like to be able to provide and factor that into your decision. New revenue streams are good! 

What is your shop’s experience with investing in new equipment? How much time have you gotten out of your tire and wheel equipment? Have you found that maintenance and repair is a better strategy in certain circumstances? Do you have specific equipment recommendations? We would like to hear about your experience, so please leave your comments either here or in our forums.