Whenever you get a new set of tires or wheels, you’re going to want to have an expert mount and balance them – unless, of course, you’re an expert and you have your own mounting and balancing equipment.
Mounting is pretty self-explanatory – it’s simply the act of putting the tires onto the wheels, then installing the wheels onto your vehicle’s axles.
Balancing is a bit more complicated. A wheel is said to be in balance when the center of gravity is identical to the axis of rotation – in other words, when the mass of the wheel and the tire is evenly distributed around the axle, so there’s no vibration when the tire spins. An easy way to understand the concept of a balanced tire is to think about your washing machine during the spin cycle. If the clothes are evenly distributed inside the washer, no problem. But when things get unbalanced, it’s a completely different experience – and you certainly wouldn’t want that to happen to your tires!
Your installer uses special equipment to analyze the tires and wheels and find any heavy spots that could cause them to vibrate when spinning. One at a time, the tire and wheel assemblies are placed on the balancing machine and run through a series of diagnostic tests. The machine identifies where the tire and wheel assembly is out of balance, and then the technician corrects any imbalances by applying small weights to the rim at specific locations, in order to even out the distribution of weight.
Road Force Balancing
While spin balancing spins the tire assembly in the air to find imbalances, a Road Force balancer simulates the force of the road on a tire by pressing a large roller against the tire as it spins. Then the machine measures the deviation from perfect roundness so the technician can balance the tire. Road Force balancing may be able to detect tire issues not found by spin balancing.
Road Force balancer image courtesy of Hunter Engineering Company
If your wheels and tires are out of balance, your vehicle’s ride can be affected. If you’re experiencing vibration that starts at around 40-45 mph, and worsens as your speed increases, chances are you have an out of balance tire.
Most of us are sensitive to vibrations while driving, and even a small vibration can be extremely annoying. And that’s not all – the repetitive vibrations can make your tires wear out faster, along with the wheel bearings, shocks, and other suspension components.
Vibrations can also occur if the wheel and/or tire are not completely round. If there’s a high spot on the wheel and also a high spot on the tire, and they happen to be lined up with each other, then the high spot will be even more pronounced. A trained technician can usually correct this problem by rotating the tire slightly on the wheel, so the high spots are no longer matched up.
If you’re getting a new set of tires, or you just think you may need to have your wheels balanced, we can help you find a great installer right in your neighborhood.