Undercar service, diagnostics and repair have become more complex with advancements in vehicle weight reduction. Technicians will need to be aware of industry standard equipment and best-practices in order to correctly perform these services. Understanding how to build this equipment into a shop’s business model could also provide a new revenue stream for shop owners. Tire, wheel and brake service as well as noise vibration and harshness (NVH) diagnostics are great starting points when considering an upgrade to your current undercar service offerings.
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If you haven’t already noticed, every vehicle manufacturer is working to make their vehicles lighter in order to improve overall fuel economy and emissions. With the move towards “light-weighting,” every possible method for weight reduction is in play. The effect this has had on undercar service is that every vibration is now amplified through the lighter weight components that have an inherent ability to carry vibration frequencies from the road to the driver. Today’s undercar service technician has to be aware of all areas of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Jobs such as tire replacement, wheel balancing, alignment and rotor machining have all become complex due to vibration concerns and require technicians and shop owners to raise their level of awareness, understanding and tooling to stay current. Additionally, vibrations that can’t be easily pinpointed will require the technician to have a fundamental understanding of NVH diagnostics.
In an effort to make wheel assemblies lighter many manufacturers have moved to plastic cladded wheels to decrease overall wheel assembly weight. Wheel designs have also added expense with some European varieties priced at over $2,000. What this means for you is that the old center clamp tire machine is ready for the scrap pile or a sale or donation to a restoration shop. It also means that a job that was relatively straightforward in the past, now comes with additional complications. How many scratched or damaged Audi wheels can your shop support? I think you get the idea.
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In order to perform tire mounting, shops now have several choices. The first is to send tire work to the tire shop down the street. The second is to be the shop down the street. While new, non-contact tire machines may appear expensive, forward thinking shops have realized that this new equipment can help to establish them as a go-to for tire replacement and ultimately turn tire service into a profit center for their business. As an example, the Hunter Revolution tire changer is claimed to be a fully-automatic tire machine designed for its ease of use and built in efficiency. Once the technician sets the first tire up on the machine, a task that requires no lifting, the technician can walk away from the subsequent tire dismounts and let the machine do the work. While this is happening, the technician can spend his or her time at the wheel balancer. Hunter.com claims that this machine can save the technician 25 percent or more time as compared to traditional tire machines. Additionally, the leverless design of this machine allows for mounting and dismounting without tool contact with the wheel, preventing costly wheel repairs.