Tire Changers Buyer Guide wheel or tire changing is the unique process, tire changers are one of the most fundamental pieces of equipment any shop or garage owner can have and there are many accessories that you may need to consider when shopping for one.
Roller or shovel-type bead separators, integrated tire inflation systems, air surge pulse for faster inflation speed and improved bead seating, low-speed drive systems with increased torque for servicing tough combinations, and last but not least, leverless mounting/demounting. These are just specifications that may come with the tire changer but you must first keep in mind the type of vehicle that will be serviced. All of these added bells and whistles may come at an elevated cost so it is important to remember what is best for your shop/garage and your wallet.
Long gone are the days of easy steel rims and regular valve stems. These days, many vehicles have “softer” aluminum rims, tires with stiff sidewalls and a tire pressure monitoring system (also known as TPMS) valve stems that if not serviced properly can easily break. Times are changing and so is the tire changing industry so make sure you keep our advice in mind if you’re a newbie shopping for a tire changer.
Types of tire changers
Motorcycle tire changers aren’t as sophisticated as passenger cars, light truck or heavy-duty tire changers mainly because the wheels they deal with are smaller and lighter. They provide a simple bead loosening system and rim clamps are powered manually. Many of them can also accommodate wheel diameters as small as 10” and wheels 1-1/2” wide. You can also service small ATV wheels and tires as well.
Swing arm tire changers are engineered especially to handle today’s toughest tires. They feature an easy to use adjustable turntable providing a wider clamping range. These tire changers have four turntable jaws that adjust simultaneously for mistake-free clamping and their one-piece casting jaws covers add mounting torque which will protect your wheels. Swing arm tire changers require unscrewing the head in order to fit different size tires hence it takes up a little more time but is equally as efficient. Swing arm tire changers are easier to use and are more affordable but might not be as convenient as tilt-back tire changers.
Tilt back tire changers are known for being a bit more practical as well as easier to use but are more expensive than types of swing arm tire changers. Tilt back tire changer allows you to fit wheels in an easier manner because the towers tilt back allowing you to fit bigger tires there. When you’re ready the towers move back into place.
Leverless (also known as touchless) tire changers make it easier to change a low profile, run-flat tire on a 22” rim but these machines require a little training to use. But a little training is a small price to pay for all of the efficiency improvement and adaptability in the future. Leverless tire changers lift and set up heavy rims on their own and don’t require the operator frequently bending down.
This all sounds good but not so fast, you need to know that these specs come at a cost. Touchless tire changers are currently top of the line and can be a pretty big investment.
As you might already know, heavy-duty tire changers require larger equipment due to the size of the vehicles they service. These tire changers can work with wheels up to 56 inches (142 cm) in diameter and tires up to 90.5 inches (229 cm) in diameter and 43 inches wide. They are used mainly for agricultural off-road and construction vehicles but there are now bigger versions designed to mount and dismount tires up to 95 inches and feature a hydraulically operated self-centering four jaw chuck with clamping jaws that can clamp 14 to 58 inches from either the wheel’s inside or from the center bore.