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Capital Equipment: Repair vs. Replace

Tires are an often overlooked service opportunity in today’s automotive repair facility. With regular scheduled deliveries from local warehouses, the need to stock these bulky items is a thing of the past.

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However, you can’t easily offer the service if you can’t do the services of mounting and balancing tires. You want to get the most out of a large purchase for your shop like a tire changer or wheel balancer. But just as with a car, there’s preventive maintenance that’s required so that your equipment runs at its peak and you avoid downtime. 

However, performing that preventive maintenance can sometimes lead to costly downtime and tack on another expense. Some scenarios are easy: The tire changer is under warranty and needs a minor repair? Fix it. The machine is at the end of its life cycle? Face it, it needs to be replaced. 

How do you know if your equipment is worth repairing or replacing? There are a lot of factors to consider. Use this checklist as a guide the next time you need to determine if you should repair or replace your shop’s valuable service equipment.


1. The Type of Repair 

Replacing parts, hoses and actuators is a relatively easy fix. But when you get into more costly and complicated repairs, such as replacing a machine’s motor, transmission or major structural elements like steel arms or its pedal assembly, it might be time for a replacement. 

To make your repair vs. replace decision easier, you can find online calculators that can do the number crunching for you. One of these is the Coats Repair or Replace Calculator to make better decisions for your business. Find it at

If you do decide to replace your current piece of equipment, don’t throw out the old one. It’s worth repairing! It can be used as a backup to service less-complicated tire and wheel assemblies, further boosting your shop’s productivity and gaining ROI. 

2. Age 

As a rule of thumb, the average lifespan of a tire changer and wheel balancer is about seven years. Holding on to equipment older than seven years is likely to result in less revenue and a bigger price tag for repairs than if you bought new. For equipment that’s less than seven years old, ask yourself: Am I making the most out of my investment? Talk to your manufacturer’s representative about what you could be doing to maximize the use of your equipment and improve your shop’s efficiency.


3. Maintenance

After a few years of regular use, tire changers and wheel balancers start to show signs of wear. Use preventive maintenance as a tool to add to your equipment’s longevity. Inspect your equipment and replace the small parts that wear out—like pistons, clamps and hoses—and be sure you’re performing routine maintenance like adjusting the oiler and filling the reservoir, cleaning the carriers and emptying the water from the dryer. 

4. Today’s Trends

Today, 20-in.+ rims are starting to become the norm, and vehicles with low-profile tires, especially in the performance segment, are also likely coming into your shop. Plus, the crossover and SUV segments are now coming with performance-rated tires as OE, and the off-road segments continue to grow. In addition, an array of materials is used in today’s wheel market, such as wheels with color and those with aluminum centers with carbon-fiber barrels. A tire changer or wheel balancer made seven to 10 years ago may have outlived its usefulness if it’s no longer capable of servicing these types of tire and wheel assemblies. Is your shop equipped to handle the tire service work that comes with these market trends? Ask yourself: 

  • Does your equipment handle 20-30-in. rims?
  • Does it handle off-road/plus-size tires?
  • Is your equipment safe for vintage-style wheels featuring sidewall designs or font embellishments?
  • Is your equipment safe for colored rims and various rim materials?

Upgrading to keep up with industry trends can protect your business from customer comebacks and grow it with satisfied customers.

5. Technology

Certain features on tire changers and wheel balancers make it easier to service today’s tire and wheel packages. For example, a tire changer should have adjustable, multi-position wheel clamps to allow for flexibility in clamping a wide variety of wheel sizes, including large, aftermarket custom wheels. 

Bead-pressing devices are also helpful since they allow the technician to press multiple sections of the top bead down during the mounting phase. For wheel balancers, adjustable pin plates, low-taper collets and functions like auto-indexing to the next weight position help technicians perform a more accurate balance. 

If your equipment is outdated, it could be eating up your technician’s time. Chances are, you’re having to outsource more tire jobs than you’d like. If this is the case, it’s time to buy a replacement. Your equipment should be able to handle the tire and wheel packages you’re servicing now and those that you want to service in the future. 


Consider the direction you want to grow your tire business when determining if you should repair or replace a piece of equipment. For example, if your shop wants to do more tire work but the tire changer or wheel balancer you have isn’t built for high-volume, it’s time to go shopping. Or maybe you’re looking to redesign your service center and the piece of equipment you have doesn’t fit the layout. Again, it’s time for a replacement.  

A tire changer or wheel balancer is an investment, and the manufacturer’s service network that comes with it is key in maximizing the equipment’s longevity. Consult the specialists when you’re trying to determine if it makes more sense to make the repair or if you need a replacement.

This article was provided by Hennessy Industries.

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