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Lifting lube profits

October 11, 2010
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Lube industry professionals know that anything performed in the lube industry has many methods of attack.

However, it is important to realize that there is usually a proper procedure that is critical in certain operations, namely lifts and tire rotations.

Lifting to success

Lifting in a lube can be compared to professional weight lifting.

Weight lifters, when lifting properly, using professional input and proper guidance, can lift without injury to themselves and substantially increase their performance.

This would also be the case in lube facilities where staff members are performing multiple services that, if done within a prescribed set of parameters and given guidelines, outperform the competition and retain and expand their customer base.

This style of running any business is not unique but can get complicated as new products and services are added.

The approach by which one confronts these issues, as simplistic or complicated as they may be, will contribute to the continued success or failure of a shop, and the expansion of its products and services.

The outline for accomplishing this multi-level endeavor involves consistent involvement, includes staying abreast of product upgrades and evolving technology information so that a facility can stay ahead of the curve.

Pre-lifting checks

There are several general facts associated with lifts and tire rotations. These issues need to be examined and explained before offering the service at a lube business.

Tire rotations are recommended by both the tire manufacturer and the automobile manufacturer.

Wheel alignments and tire balancing are encouraged for the purpose of maintaining even tire wear, which promotes a safer driving experience.

Pre-qualifying customers' tires, before performing the rotation, is the first step on the list of to do in order to properly complete the service. If the tires have:

  • Abnormal wear;
  • A notable defect;
  • Mismatched rim or tire sizes;
  • Tire tread; or
  • Broken or missing wheel studs or lugs when you inspect them — this would be considered a non-performable rotation and the customer should be notified of your findings.

Matching the weight of the vehicle to the capabilities of the lifting equipment is also at the top of the list.

There is nothing more frustrating, for the customer and the manager, than to offer a service that can not be performed because of too much weight.

Please note: there is a lift capable of lifting 9000 lbs on the market today. Check with your distributor or manufacturer.

Identifying proper lifting points

After performing the inspection and deeming the vehicle serviceable, properly position the vehicle over the equipment lift and prepare to raise the unit.

It is important to identify the proper lifting points on the undercarriage.

All manufacturers have specific jacking points and recommend that these points are the engineered 'safe points' to raise the vehicle.

Some manufacturers have identified the proper lift locations with triangular markings on the undercarriage or have placed a label inside the right front door of the vehicle.

If you do not have the lifting locations readily at hand you will need to acquire these specifications from either the manufacturer or refer to the "Lifting It Right" guides published by the Automotive Lift Institute or the "Vehicle Lifting Points for Frame Engaging Lifts."

Several other sources have this information readily available.

Each lift manufacturer has their own accessories for the purpose of adapting to certain types of vehicles and this will have to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Understand that some of these accessories will reduce the lifting capability of your lift. See the lift manufactures directions for this area.

Rotating right

At this point the vehicle can be raised, but not before announcing out loud that the lift is being operated. Slowly engage the controls and observe the area constantly for possible hazards.

If at any time the vehicle appears unstable, stop the process and determine what the cause of the instability is and make the required adjustments.

If for any reason the vehicle can not be raised under stable conditions discontinue the process until such requirements are met.

Most manufacturer recommend that tires rotate from the left front to left rear, left rear to left front (LF to LR and LR to LF) and right front to right rear and right rear to right front (RF to RR and RR t RF).

Some recommend rotating in an X pattern from front to rear and rear to front. Here again each vehicle manufacturer is specific on their recommendations.

Upon completing the rotation it would be wise to have a second individual inspect the lug nuts on each wheel for proper security and torque, this way it is not left to chance on a busy day that a vehicle under your care drives off with loose or improperly secured lugs.

Lifting profits

Continued training, technical updates, and further educating ourselves and our employees are the only ways to properly advance our business safely and efficiently into the future.

Once all employees are properly trained, owners can actively advertise their lifting and tire rotation options to increase their bottom line.

Errol Lowe works with Devon Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of turnkey lube shop equipment systems.