High Speed Tire Balance
It’s necessary to balance the tire on the rim because both the tire and the rim are almost never perfectly balanced and when they work together, especially at high speeds, the areas that are off balance will cause the tire to ride imperfectly.
If you’ve ever ridden in a car that drives fine at lower speeds, but starts to shake at higher speeds, the tire and rim are most likely out of balance and need to be high speed balanced.
There are other problems that can cause this such as something loose on the front end mechanism of the car or problems with the suspension, but most times it’s the tire out of balance that is the cause of the shaking and vibrations.
When you bring your car to most garages or certainly tire shops, they have a machine that is used to test the balance at high speed.
The newest machines don’t actually have to spin the wheel at the same high speeds that the tire and rim would be running at to test the balance, but either machine will work fine.
The technician puts the tire and rim (whether it’s a new tire or one that is suspected to be out of balance) on the machine’s perfectly balanced axle and tightens the rim so that the tire can be tested.
Small weights that are attached to the outside and inside of the rim are used to balance the tire and rim assembly to counter the out of balance areas. If the wheel has weights already on them from being balanced previously, they are removed before mounting.
There is a cover that is placed over the tire and the machine is started. The tire spins for a short time and then stops. There is a digital readout that will tell the technician if the wheel needs weight to be added, how much weight, and the exact position to put it.
Both the inside and outside of the rim usually require different amounts of weight that is measured in ounces. Typically anywhere from ¼ ounce to 1.5 ounces of weights are used to balance the tire.
There are different types of weights for the various rim edges and the technician uses a special key that is matched to the rim to find the type of weights that go on your rims.
Once the weight type and ounces are chosen, the technician can spin the rim while it’s still on the machine until the two lines on the screen come together and the weights are tapped on to the edge of the rim exactly where the high speed balance machine says they should go.
After the weights are placed on the inside and outside of the rim, the technician places the tire back on the machine and runs the same high speed balance test used initially.
The reading should be something that says 0.0 or OK which tells the technician that the tire is now perfectly balanced and ready to go back on the car.
So if your car shakes as you’re driving on the highway, your first stop should be to the local tire shop where they will recommend a high speed balance check and you’ll know exactly what that means!
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