When you make the decision to buy steer tires there are factors to consider, American or Chinese? All position or long haul? 14 or 16 ply? Then once that has been determined, what type of balancing do you want to choose? We here at Truck Tire Depot in Houston TX, offer three forms of tire balancing to fit your needs. We have the computer spin balance our most popular choice, bag balancing, and we sell centramatics, and for the real old school drivers heck, I’m sure we can find some old golf balls laying around.(just kidding) If you are not sure what type is best for you let me shed some insight on how each works, and why you should get them balanced. When tire manufactures produce tires, unfortunately they don’t test every tire, and if unbalanced it can cause a strong vibration or bounce in the steering wheel or under your seat at speeds exceeding 35 mph that can ultimately cause front end issues, balancing you tire will remove that vibration.
The process of computer balancing requires a trained technician to either perform a dynamic or static style computer balance, a dynamic is performed on steel wheels and a static is performed on aluminum wheels. Both methods mandate the technician to input the diameter of the tire, the width of the tire as well as the distance the center of the tire is from the machine. Once that is done, the tire is spun till some lights blink and the machine will give a reading of how much weight will be necessary to balance the tire to 0.0. The proper amount of weight is added to the opposite side of the tires heavy spot and thus balances your tire. This method is very precise but does require to be redone every 45,000 to 50,000 miles
The bag balance is a bit more of a scientific method. As the tire is mounted on the wheel a bag of balance beads made of coated glass is added to the inside of the tire. The size of the tire and the ply count are determining factors of how and oz are poured into the tire. For example, a 24.5-inch wheel with a 16 ply tire may require a 12 oz bag as to where a 16-ply 22.5 inch wheel may only call for 10 oz bag. Once the beads are added to the tire and the tire is mounted the beads are at rest on the bottom of the tire thanks to good ole gravity. Once the tire is in motion, centrifugal force sets in and the beads adhere perpendicular to the tire wall. Keep in mind that then trucks suspension allows the wheel assembly to move vertically, upward motions is resisted by the suspension spring and the downward motion is assisted by the spring and resisted by the tire pressure against the roadbed. And those heavy spots that the tires have, in this balancing method, as they are rotated at a higher velocity, their centrifugal forces physically move the tires up and down. As the tire is moving up and down the beads inside have their own masses resisting motion, and they move relative to the tire. At the top of the tire as the tire moves up the beads does not. Its no longer guided by the tire wall and its able to maintain its velocity until it reestablishes contact at a new tire wall location at the furthest point of the imbalance. At the bottom, as the tire moves up, the bead is lifted but does not change its location in the tire wall. On the sides of the tire, as the tire moves up, the beads roll down the tire changing its relative location in the tire wall furthest from the imbalance. The more and more the tire turns the beads progressively reduce the imbalance until the beads are held by centrifugal force in their balanced state. Since no imbalance exists, the are no vertical movements of the tire to disrupt their positions. Once you break or hit a road bump or something and then you may have to start at square one. Balance bags are good for the life of the tire, and do not have to be redone every 45,000 to 50,000 miles.
Centramatics are a form of balance that is installed to the wheel hub and works similar to the beads except they are constructed of a durametal hardened alloy filled with proprietary synthetic oil, designed to operate in the most extreme environments. The outer edge of the centramatic has a ring that is filled 1/3 of the way with this dampening fluid and its function is to lubricate, dampen vibration and help balance. The fluid alone would simply flatten out under centrifugal force at high speeds and forced around the ring in useless positions. That is why it is necessary to have both the solid and liquid material. By using centrifugal force, the durametal and synthetic oil automatically distribute exactly where needed by placing the assembly in the equilibrium or perfect balance. These free moving weights sense the deflection and move opposite the heavy spot to balance not only the tire but the entire assembly, wheel, drums, hubs and all.
Determining which best suits you is simply personal preference, I have drivers swear by one method over the other and other drivers give the exact opposite opinion. Sometimes the choice comes down to price, either ways we are here to help you achieve the smoothest ride possible. If you have any questions on pricing please give us a call, we are here 7 days a week. Mon -Fri 6a to Midnight and Sat 7a-5p and Sun 8a-4pm. 713-675-1090.