Article

Why You Should Consider Wheel Balancing

Can we forget wheel balancing? It wouldn't be the end of the world if you did, but it will probably cost you in tread life and driver complaints.

March 2013, TruckingInfo.com - WebXclusive

by Jim Park, Equipment Editor - Also by this author

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Tire wear associated with balance problems often appears as cupped channels along the tread face of the tire. (Photo: TMC)
Tire wear associated with balance problems often appears as cupped channels along the tread face of the tire. (Photo: TMC)
People will tell you that wheel balancing isn't necessary these days. Going back 10 or 20 years, new tires often needed a small amount of weight to balance out the irregularities in the old production process. With today's more exacting manufacturing standards, irregularities are the exception. Overall, new premium-brand tires are much better balanced than in the past. 

So, can we forget wheel balancing? It wouldn't be the end of the world if you did, but it will probably cost you in tread life and driver complaints. You see, the tire is just one part of a system that includes the tire, the wheel, the hub and the brake drum. They all rotate around the spindle at about 500 rpm at highway speed. Any one of those components could off balance.

Achieving good wheel balance -- not just tire balance -- starts with proper mounting. The tire must be concentrically mounted on the wheel, says Guy Walenga, director of engineering for commercial products and technologies, Bridgestone Americas.

"To get it right the first time, you need to lubricate the bead seat area on both sides of the tire as well both flanges on the wheel," he says. "Contrary to popular belief, lubricating the bead seat and tire bead is not to make it easier to slide the tire over the rim flange, it's to help those surfaces seat properly, and the help the tire bead slip up onto the 15-degree bead seat of the wheel. As the inflation pressure increases, the tire is pushed into the proper position on the wheel by the equal force applied all around the tire by the increasing pressure."

With the tire partially inflated, the installer should check the guide ring located near the bead to ensure equal spacing between the ring and the wheel flange the full 360 degrees around the tire.

"This is visual check," Walenga says. "You can see if the space between the guide ring and the flange are different anywhere around the tire. If it is, you must deflate the tire and try again."

By ensuring the wheel is concentrically mounted, you'll eliminate at least one cause of irregular tire wear -- radial runout, or an out-of-round condition -- and one suspect in your wheel balance challenges.

At this point, dynamic balancing is useful -- at least as a troubleshooting tool. Once the tire and wheel are dynamically balanced, they can be dismissed as causes of vibration.

If dynamic balancing is not to your taste, then some internal or external balancing tools can help.

Comments

  1. 1. Jim Barrow [ March 13, 2013 @ 07:27AM ]

    This subject is very important especially to me. Not only should a tire/rim assembly be perfectly balanced, but the brake drums as well. With today's wheel ends being hub-piloted, many shops take for granted that wheel ends are always balanced but they're not. Piloted hub flanges wear down over time causing the brake drum and wheel assembly to rotate out of round causing poor braking, vibrations, driver fatigue, and equipment/tire failure. As an O/O and self repair tech, I installed Centramatic's and Tru-Balance wheel centering stud pilots to my wheel ends and now all brake drums are perfectly centered and wheel ends balanced. I have no unusual tire wear patterns anymore, and can control the steering with one finger on the steering wheel. These products are not cheap but together they guarantee perfectly balance and excellent tire/brake wear. The big shops said I was wasting my money, but in reality they are upset because I found a way to keep them out of my pockets.

 

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