Why Robots Can’t Change Your Tires.

Bradley Naranch
2 min readFeb 25, 2022


I had an interesting conversation with the store manager here about the limits of robotics when it comes to consumer car & truck care. This was after a superb tire rotation, wheel balancing, & alignment service that took only an hour to complete. The manager was training a new African-American young woman wearing a really cool-looking Grateful Dead black hoodie that would make the folks at Meta, Alphabet, & Amazon envious, I might add. Apparently, there is no viable way to automate routine tire & brake service.

Why? No standardized parts from vehicle to vehicle. Tires need skilled human hands to remove & rotate or transfer to the balancing machine. Alignment requires practice & earned expertise. Oil changes are complicated, too. The good news? Electric vehicles like Teslas & Leafs & Volts don’t need to change oil, which is a fossil fuel after all. Yet they still need tires & brakes & Amazon hasn’t invented a way to online retail these things. Yet.

I love that Les Schwab started in central Oregon but didn’t stop there. In the San Francisco Bay Area, it has a diverse work force that reflects the gender, racial, ethnic, & sexually diverse communities who call this amazing place home.

When my cars (Mazda & Subaru) are being serviced by the dependable team here, I switch Amazon Music Unlimited on my Bose noise-cancelling headphones & head down Laurel Street to downtown San Carlos. It’s an incredible place with shops & locals out and about. From busy El Camino Real or the even busier 101, you’d never know such American main streets still exist so close to Silicon Valley.

Except that they do. And even though I live far away from here in the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains, I journey down to the valley for work, shopping, & essential errands like at care. Les Schwab is my go-to tire place for a darn good reason. Forget Tire Rack & come here instead.