Not to ruin a tire: how to distinguish a good tire fitter from a profane


The way you dress

Of course, the first thing to look at is where the specialist works. There are a few not entirely obvious points that I would not have thought of if not for insider information from a very close friend with a lot of experience.

So, first: if we are talking about a small shop, it is easier to find a good specialist in places where they do not sell new tires. Such tire stores rely on services and try to maintain their quality at a high level. Otherwise, simply do not survive. Store is able to save a tire fitting shop even with bad specialists at the expense of sales. True, it is “over-shoeing” there usually know how.

In summary: if you want a quick and high quality “re-shoeing”, you can go to the store. If you need expensive, but good repair of a wheel, it is better to find a warm lamp shop. If all together, it makes sense to find a huge tire center for eight elevators and with a crowd of slightly gray-haired specialists.

An entirely small tire shop is a two-edged sword. If the owner works there himself, chances are it’s a tire fitter with experience who sold all the buds he had on hand, saved up and set up his own shop. But if it is clearly a hired employee, it is unlikely that he is a good professional. A high-level craftsman usually wants the appropriate salary, so he usually leaves quickly for a big company.

But even a big company is no guarantee of quality. First of all, they have their own scourge: staff turnover, and it is not clear who you will bump into: a professional or a novice. Secondly, not every company has training in principle, so that someone can learn right here and now on your wheels. So evaluate the workshop further.

You can leave right away if everything inside is dirty. The room, and even more so – the machines must be clean. And the tire changer himself must also be more or less clean overalls. It is clear that in shifting season, when there are queues and no time for cleaning, some small pigsty is allowed, but still. The same six-month un-washed specialist uniform is always visible.

Now moving on to the machines. If there are only two (tire changer and balance) – this is a bad sign. Should be at least a disc dresser and vulcanizer, and ideally – and a sink. A good washer costs as much as all the other equipment taken together (not the top, of course), so its presence in itself is a good sign. Well, and more important factor is impossibility to make quality balancing without a washer, as I told about in the last article. A wheel should be clean on the balancer, it makes no sense to hang a dirty wheel on the balancer, and a good professional knows it. He does not want to work there, and the customer in such a “tire shop” will not be able to properly balance the wheels.

Theoretically, a good repair shop should have a hoist. But if it’s not very big, jacks outside are also acceptable. Provided, of course, that the space inside is occupied by a set of machines and not a junk yard.

The trite advice is not to go where there are no lines in high season. Chances are, it’s either expensive or bad, or both. And, of course, it’s worth reading reviews online (e.g., on Yandex.Maps). A good owner or employee keeps track of them, thanks them for the good words, tries to solve the problem of a dissatisfied customer. By discounts, intimidation, torture, physical elimination.

Let’s say that outwardly everything suits you, you move into a clean and bright workshop, where you are greeted by a sober foreman in a clean overalls. What to look at next? His work, of course.

“With feeling, with thought, with attitude.”

The first thing the handyman does is remove the wheel. It would seem: what can be done wrong here? If you want, you can. As a rule, a nutrunner unscrews it and manages to damage the “secret”, if it is present. It is made of pressed rice most often (this is a subtle hint, yes), it is not very durable, and the edges are easily knocked down with a nut wrench. Of course, after that you will have to go somewhere else and pay money for removal of this “secret”. And this is not pleasant. A good master will not damage it.

The next procedure is to diagnose the wheel. Of course, an experienced tire fitter will see a self-drilling screw in the tire, while still rolling it from the car to the machine, but he will not shout at the whole “tire shop” that here it is, they say, the cause of unhappiness. The reason may be not in it, but in a crooked rim or a rim with a damaged paintwork (when air is trapped along the rim), in a valve, spool or another self-tapping screw. That is why a good repairman will not shriek with joy when he sees a self-tapping screw, but will make a full diagnosis. The search of the leakage is done in different ways: either by good old-fashioned immersion of the wheel in a bathtub, or with the help of special chemicals, which are mixed with water and sprayed on the tire. The chemical gives a lot of foam when there is an air leak, and only after the cause is determined accurately, the master will voice his verdict and suggest repair options.

The normal time to disassemble a wheel is a couple of minutes, no more. If it takes the master five minutes, something has gone wrong. Most likely, something is wrong with the handyman himself.Most often, of course, the cause of the downgrade is a puncture. For example, the same self-tapping screw. It can be eliminated in several ways: a tourniquet, a mushroom or a patch. The tourniquet is used in two cases: as a temporary solution (to get to the mushroom or patch) or if the tire is so dead that it makes no sense to spend money on a quality repair. So if you know the tire is good, and they put you a tourniquet, it’s better to refuse such a “tire” in the future. There is a very lazy person working here, who probably sits on the payroll and is not stimulated to work on conscience.

Of course, standing over the shoulder of the tire fitter and watching him work is dangerous to life. No one likes such customers, so it is better not to unnecessarily stress the specialist. But you can at least approximately estimate the quality of his work in another way – by time. You can watch from afar, and it is much easier.

If the puncture is treated with a patch, there is no way it can take only two minutes. Only those who do not follow the technology of repair and apply only one layer of glue can get it so quickly. There should be two layers (the first one works as a primer), so you can’t glue well in two minutes.

With side cuts, it is more complicated. There are two ways to repair this: cold vulcanization or hot vulcanization. It is better if the tire is “cooked” – repaired with hot vulcanization. In this case it only takes about twenty minutes to prepare, and the whole repair takes an hour and a half or two hours. If they did it faster, they used cold vulcanization, and that’s not always a good thing.

When straightening the disk it is difficult to spoil something – it is already crooked. Of course, if you want, you can overheat it in the process, underheat it, and it will open a crack. You can make a lot of unnecessary scratches. You can put a stamp with a figure eight on a rolling machine and screw up the disk by excessive rolling, where it would be solved by three blows with a sledgehammer, because such a machine does not fix figure eightes in principle. But all this can be seen only if you try to understand the technology yourself. And many tire fitters do not go into the technology. Simply put, if there is a desire to control everything, it is better to go to the workshop, where such a desire will not arise in principle.

After the wheel is assembled, a good technician will be sure to re-check it, not roll it silently to balance it. “Do you want me to balance it? Let me put a mark on it, and then I’ll assemble it!”. Have you heard that one? Not good if you have. Only lazy people or clumsy, awkwardly handed people suggest this way. A wheel must be balanced after any assembly. We have already told about it in detail, so I will not repeat it. I will add only one detail.

It happens, that after the balancing on the 16-inch wheel, you may find about 120 grams of weights. That’s a lot. Most likely, the tire fitter was lazy to conduct optimization. In theory, it looks not complicated – like rotation of tire on a disk by 180 degrees. It happens that, during mounting, the heaviest places on the rim and the tire coincide, and in this case, the imbalance will be maximal, and the amount of weights will be off-scale. In most cases, it can be avoided by just such optimization, which is disdained by lazy and slackers.

Now there is only one thing to see, how the master will put a wheel on the machine. At first he must check the cleanness of fitting planes and tighten the nuts or bolts by hand, and then tighten them with a nutrunner. But do not tighten. The maximum torque of impact wrench reaches 1000-1500 Nm for this work, while the norm is up to 180 Nm on the average. Therefore, after tightening the nuts or bolts you still have to use a torque wrench.

An interesting observation: sometimes masters know that clients try to control this moment and take a wrench in their hands. They even pretend to tighten the nuts. But in reality they do nothing, because the torque wrench has already tightened the nuts and bolts so that at best you can’t unscrew them next time (at worst they get deformed). So a torque wrench in your hand and a working torque wrench are two big differences.

And, of course, a good specialist will not lubricate fasteners with solidol or lithol. There are high-temperature greases for that.

Now one last piece of advice for considerate people who are not devoid of acting talent (and courage). Go to the tire shop and tell the tire mechanic: “I have a flat tire. Maybe the nipple is leaking, maybe the tank itself. This tire is a 17”. If in his eyes at the words “rubber”, “nipple”, “cylinder” and “radius” will light up flames of hatred or contempt, if his hand reaches for the machete, you are a good specialist. If he is clean and sober, you can trust him.


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