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Wheel balancing after changing of car tires

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I got my tires changed over last weekend, and the chap asked me if I wanted the wheels balanced.

 

I know that they were balanced when I got them, and the little weights are still there, but does it need to be redone? How often?

Can one tell? - is there a vibration or something?

 

or is the whole thing, just a way to pry a few extra euros from me?

 

cam

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Normally you'll get vibrations around 100 km/h if the wheels aren't balanced. Don't know how often it needs doing, though.

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When you say changed the tyres, do you mean he swapped the tyres over onto the same rims? Or were the complete wheels swapped over?

 

Basically, if the tyres are re-fitted on to rims, they will need balancing. If they have not been refitted, they do not.

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I'd pay the extra few euros for balancing just to be on the safe side. You'd regret not doing so if your car started to shake at high speeds.

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Anyone got any advice/experience how often re-balancing needs to be done? I have two complete sets of tires and swap them around myself every 6 months. I assume the set of wheels that came with the car (bought new 5 years go) were balanced at the factory. The new set I bought about 4 years ago were balanced at the time they were first put on. Since then I haven't had it done. I don't notice any vibrations or anything so is it safe to assume I am fine?

 

I am loathe to give garages any more money than absolutely necessary.

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2 hours ago, theGman said:

Anyone got any advice/experience how often re-balancing needs to be done? I have two complete sets of tires and swap them around myself every 6 months. I assume the set of wheels that came with the car (bought new 5 years go) were balanced at the factory. The new set I bought about 4 years ago were balanced at the time they were first put on. Since then I haven't had it done. I don't notice any vibrations or anything so is it safe to assume I am fine?

 

There are many reasons why re-balancing of wheels and tyres may need to be done very few of which have anything to do with either time or distance travelled. And not all those reasons will lead to vibrations being caused which are strong enough to be telegraphed back through the steering wheel, pedals or seat frame.

 

One of the most common reasons can be caused by the loss of one (or more) balance weight(s) upon a hitting either a pot-hole in the city or an expansion gap in the road surface at typical autobahn speeds.

 

Another is the excessive loss of tread footprint in just one particular section of a set of tyres which invariably happens when braking excessively - such as occurs when being surprised by the sudden shortage of distance between the vehicle and the tail end of an unexpected stau or moving traffic jam.

 

More common than the loss of balance weights or hard braking tyre surface loss is due to damage caused to tyre walls by carelessness when parking on kerbs or by hitting speed bumps too fast. Tyre damage, particularly to walls, may not be recovered from or improved on by rebalancing and even partial loss of footprint will only continue to get exponentially worse if disregarded.

 

Given 10 - 20 minutes any skilled mechanic should be able to read the surface condition of all 4 tyres and give a valid appraisal as to the question of whether there's any need to have them optically balanced on the car by using a laser beam diagnostic rig.

 

Be sure that you are paying close attention to the yellow crayon markings on the inner walls of your tyres when refitting them. The original tyre fitter who balanced the wheel and tyre will have indicated both the axle and the side to which they were matched when balanced.

 

In Germany they usually put a short forward facing arrow and VL VR HL HR (for FL FR RL RR) on the inner walls. When making seasonal changes they should always be re-marked since they tend to fade in use according to road, weather and UV light conditions.

 

It is important to pay attention to this since no two axle shafts or brake discs are exact matches so if a wheel/tyre combo balanced to the LHF is put on the right rear it won't vibrate through the steering but may wear faster whilst its diagonal or front right counterpart may well get condemned to being hammered for a very short lifespan.

 

Check your tyre tread depths for consistency across as well as around each tyre. Albeit the legal minimum is only 1.6mm to reduce the risk of aquaplaning and for multiple other safety reasons summer tyres should ideally have at least 3mm and winter tyres 4mm.

 

Also bear in mind that tyres may have acquired some (up to 3 years according to the ADAC) 'shelf life' before they were originally fitted at the factory or when purchased by you and there is a maximum permitted term of use rule enforced at the HU by the TÜV (and their equivalents) in Germany of 6 years. You can read the year and week of manufacture from the 4 digit production date code in an oval on the outer sidewall next to the DOT code. The first two digits are the week and the last two the year so 2615 would be week 26 of 2015.

 

If your winter tyres might need renewing next winter then you might get a better deal in spring or early summer if your supplier is needing to free up shelf space for incoming summer tyres.

 

Prices for summer tyres don't tend to fall much out of season but may be put on offer if a new 'model type' is being promoted by the dealer's primary manufacturer or they are switching main supplier brands.

 

HTH

 

2B

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17 minutes ago, 2B_orNot2B said:

HTH

 

2B

 

By gosh that did. Thanks 2B

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damn it, @2B_orNot2B - YOU ROCK!

 

all of this seems to imply that if/when you rotate your tires, you should definitely have them re-balanced at the same time, correct?

 

 

 

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42 minutes ago, lisa13 said:

all of this seems to imply that if/when you rotate your tires, you should definitely have them re-balanced at the same time, correct?

 

 

Jein! ;)

 

Times and reasons have changed thanks to manufacturers policies most of which are unrelated to the tyres or wheels specifically but are related to reducing corporate fuel efficiency ratings brought about by weight reduction and certain body styling options offered by cutting standard equipment.

 

Back in the day (in 1969 at the then sole Renault distributorship for Wales) when I started one of the first standard jobs I was taught was indeed to follow the correct rotation pattern and to re-balance the resulting front wheel/tyre combos on the spinning machine prior to fitting them. We were of course working with 5 full size standard tyre/wheels.

 

Almost all models still had rear drum brakes and some of the older Fregate, R4 and Dauphine we serviced even had front drum brakes.

 

With drum brakes the drums themselves are balanced to the axle but the runout (side play) is less noticable than with discs consequently accurate balancing is not quite as critical to safety albeit on the rear axles of large trucks it still makes a serious economic difference to the tyre lifespan and is consequently something most major trucking companies maintain strict data records on to this day.

 

By comparison with most other car manufacturers which still fitted cross-ply (bias-belted) tyres during the 1960s and '70s that was considered the most progressive method since only the French makers Regie Renault, Citróen and Peugot were exclusively fitting Michelin diagonal-belted tyres.

 

Nowadays most cars come with either a spacesaver spare or a so-called tyre repair kit so as to cut manufacturing costs and increase profit per unit, allow for 'optimization' when passing homologated fuel and emission efficiency testing either for DOT, DHSA, CARB, CAFE or EC standards and to free up floor, side wall trunk or under hood space for more sporty styling.

 

Ironically none of these justifications are applied to arguments used for obligating buyers to pay more for full size wheel/tyre combos for most SUVs.

 

So if you do have 5 in rotation then IMO you're still better off to be using old school methods otherwise it's probably better to be refitting them as per the current standard on the same axle and side whilst expecting to change your front axle pairs in about 4/5ths of the time/kilometers that the rears will last.

 

2B

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@2B_orNot2B Naturally, everyone here drives a lot less than we do in the US, but I have wondered something since I got here and you seem to know your stuff. In the US, most tire manufacturers recommend an alignment once a year or every 10,000 miles (16,000km). No mechanic, not even the dealer, has recommended this to me since I have been here and many do not even have the equipment. What gives?

 

For reference, I drove approximately 25,000 miles per year at home. Here, ahahaha! Here, I'm driving a 18 year old car (I don't believe in buying costly depreciating assets and then putting them at risk with the other idiots on the road) that only has 114,000km on it because we just don't drive that much.

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Before I get on to questions about alignment let me point out something else I forgot to mention wrt refitting tyres. 

 

Not only is it important to refit the wheel/tyre on the correct side of the correct axle but it is also important to fit it in the same position on the axle hub (as per an imaginary clock face).

 

IME most tyre fitters will put either their markings on the TOP of the inner wall of the tyre and may also score the disc accordingly to match a smaller inward pointing arrow or stroke so set it next to the axle and rotate either the axle or the wheel so as to be able to locate the wheel in line with the peg on the axle hub and then you should be OK wrt the screws or studs.

 

@AlexTr

 

Well there are two schools of thought wrt how often alignment checks are necessary one of which relates to how soon the mechanic or shop owner has to meet their next boat or mortgage payment. :lol:

 

However on a more serious note any of the reasons I mentioned earlier about hitting potholes, uneven pavement surfaces, kerbs or speed bumps which might cause a rebalancing of wheel/tyre combos to be necessary could also result in a change in steering and/or suspension geometry in which case alignment on a similar laser beam testing rig* should be on the plan.

 

Steering arms may be adjustable to compensate for misalignment but steering knuckle joints and suspension eye bearing bushes can become deformed by impact and needs must then be replaced accordingly. Oversight of such issues are potentially dangerous and will defo result in HU failures.

 

Again, apart from the obvious low inflation = high shoulder wear pattern or over infation = high centre wear pattern any skilled mechanic should be able to recognise at least 6 or 8 other common tread wear patterns which may be the result of suspected alignment problems such as rising or feathering of tyre blocks or patches of scuffing of front tyres caused by 'fighting' through rather than effortlessly taking bends or corners.

 

Suspension geometry problems may not be so easy to detect by eye but can be very serious in their effect as a bouncing tyre cannot achieve full contact in cornering or emergency braking and will defo increase the risks of unexpected aquaplaning in any sudden rainstorm!

 

Remember, no matter how well you know the road, any sudden change of weather after an extended dry spell is likely to result in more water lying on the surface due to the amount and mixture of tyre (carbon black or Russ) dust, brake dust, oil and diesel mist which will have created a highly effective sealing coat which prevents the water from being absorbed and/or running off the camber as it would do in a normal period of showers or heavier rain every few days or hours.

 

Stay safe out there and please don't cut the wrong type of corners - I might be out there too!

:ph34r::D

 

2B

 

ETA

*In Germany only the manufacturers Niederlassungen (corporate subsidiary shops) tend to have the funds to invest in such testing rigs but in most cities at least one or two of the local large tyre dealers will have them.

 

Albeit I used to be able to rock up and roll in within 15 - 20 mins you, as an owner rather than a trader or grease monkey, may need to make an appointment.

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