How to recognize a good tyre service?

Tyre change is either done quickly or well – there are no compromises when it comes to tyres

If you changed your tyres in the spring, and the car workshop had a record short service, then you have yet to find out how much a mechanic’s rush can cost you. You will find out now when you change your tyres before winter. Contrary to appearances, seasonal tyre change is not an easy and banal activity that can be done in three minutes – or even in twenty-three. That is, you probably could do it that quickly –carelessly and cause damage to tyres and rims. Replacing tyres requires knowledge, experience and skills of mechanics as well as good and serviced machines. Any mistake made in the process can be very costly for the tyre and wheel owner. Invisible damage may only become apparent on the road – and this puts your health and life at risk. That is why responsible and professional services attach great importance to every detail of tyre replacement. But how do you find such car workshops? How could you know that your tyres are in the hands of professionals? How can we make sure that the services we pay for in the workshop are of high quality?

Replacing tyres is too serious an activity to be treated only as another time-consuming duty on the check-off list. So how do find a car workshop that deserves your trust.

1. Duration of the service – an analysis of just this one aspect lets us deduce what type of workshop we are dealing with. Professional tyre service does not resemble a pit stop at races. Tyre change can be done well, professionally and without damage, or be cheap and fast. One or the other. If someone was able to replace a set of tyres in just a few minutes, it means that they took short cuts in many important moments of the entire process, thus putting you in danger. Professional replacement for a set of 16-17” tyres on alloy wheels, meeting all the requirements, should take at least 40 minutes, if the stand is operated by one service technician;

Among the basic mistakes made by service technicians working in a hurry we can mention damaging the bead and the cord of the tyre during forced assembly. Such a mistake may, unfortunately, lead to a complete loss of steering and control of the vehicle by the driver while driving at high speed. Some rushing “experts” also set too high pressure when pumping the wheel, waiting for the bead to jump on the rim’s mounting ledge – this causes irreversible deformations in tyres, in which drivers invest their money, and creates a risk of the bead slipping off the rim while driving.

There is no place for rushing in professional workshops – quality and accuracy are important. Remember that an indispensable part of wheel balancing – unfortunately often underestimated by poor workshops – is cleaning the rim shelves. On this surface depends the correct assembly of the wheel, and if it is not cleaned, it may cause vibrations, noise and reduce driving comfort. It is similar with cleaning the place of the stick-on weights after the previous balancing. There can be no correct balancing procedure if the service technician omitted these steps. In addition, taking a shortcut and using only a pneumatic or electric impact wrench to fully tighten the wheel bolts with full force can damage the rims. After such a service, if it happens that the driver has to replace the wheel on the road, it will be completely impossible for them to unscrew the screws on their own. A decent service only pre-tightens the wheel to the hub and tightens the bolts with the appropriate force with a torque wrench – emphasised Piotr Sarnecki, general director of the Polish Tyre Industry Association (PTIA).

2. Price – the abnormally low costs of tyre replacement services can only testify to one thing: the workshop is not staffed by professionals who should receive appropriate salary for their knowledge and experience. In addition, cheap service workers most likely use old, malfunctioning machines and tools from a bygone era, which damage modern tyres. The owners of such workshops often do not invest in business development and save even on sufficiently frequent servicing, knowing that a group of certain regular, unaware customers will bring them a steady income anyway. What we “save” by using an unprofessional workshop will come back to us multiplied in the form of breakdowns on the route and the costs of collisions;

3. Quality – that is, having appropriate tools and knowing how to use them. Cars change, they run on larger and larger wheels – a few years ago 14-15-inch wheels were standard, now we often see 16-17-inch wheels. Workshops that do not invest in new machines and their servicing and maintenance are not able to properly service tyres and meet all the requirements. It is hard to blame the drivers for not knowing that the workshop should use tools with plastic covers and attachments on the tyre changer, so as not to scratch the rim and expose it to corrosion or lack of tight contact with the tyre. As customers, we rarely have a genuine understanding of the tyre-changing process and we can’t judge whether the service technician is using the machines available in the workshop correctly. Fortunately, the fact that the low quality of tyre replacement is usually reflected in the low price of this service makes things easier.

The Polish Tyre Industry Association (PTIA) is well aware of the problem of drivers, who are trying to find a car workshop that can be trusted with seasonal tyre replacement. There are nearly 12 000 tyre services in Poland. Unfortunately, the level of service and technical culture is very diverse. Too many car workshops replace tyres in an unacceptable manner, causing damage to them. That is why the Polish Tyre Industry Association, together with TÜV SÜD, an independent certification company, introduces a system for assessing and awarding professional services based on an independent audit of equipment and qualifications of technical staff. The Certification of Tyre Services helps car workshops to improve their quality – which is crucial for safety – increases their competitiveness, and gives customers confidence that the service will be performed by well-prepared professionals.

This post is also available in: plpolski (Polish)