Finding new tires that are not out of round - mission impossible?

Joined
Jun 3, 2009
Messages
271
Location
Texas Republic
I find it very difficult to pick new tires. None of the "expert" test/comparisons bother to test the most important quality - roundness and ability to balance. All my cars seem to be very sensitive to this.

Every time I bought tires new tires in the last 20 years, I got front-end shaking that's new to the car. In almost every instance, balancing/rebalancing didn't help. I ended up having to pay for road force measurements, only to find out that the tires were in fact badly out of round from the start. Claiming warranty based on out-of-roundness is generally very difficult. Manufacturers seem to have proprietary standards of how much variation is acceptable. They also vary depending on tire size and most manufacturers keep this data secret. Plus, their "acceptable" variations are way too high, so even tires deemed as "acceptable" cause major front-end shaking and they won't replace them.

I've had this problem with many different brands: Continental, BFG, Good Year, Kumho, Falken, General, Federal, Barum, etc. From experience, country of manufacture seems to be more important than brand. Worst tires I ever had were from Discount Tire Direct, Continentals made in Brazil, all 4 totally out of round but only 1 of 4 met Continental's limit for replacement. Continental replaced it. The replacement was made in Czech Republic and was perfect, but it didn't do me any good with the other 3 shaking. Below is the Road Force report on 3 tires: they were 16, 20, 12 lbs out-of round, with Continental saying up to 18 lbs is acceptable! ***! For brand new OEM tires installed on new cars, most auto manufacturers do not accept tires that are more than 2 lbs out of round!!!
outofround.jpg


Due to this persistent problem, I have stopped buying tires online as dealing with warranty claims is nearly impossible. I also always ask to see the tires to find out where they were made and usually get the deer-in-headlights look. But even in brick and mortar stores the balancing/out-of-round is a major problem. Their first instinct is to claim that I have a suspension issue. They reluctantly replace the tires but it usually doesn't help. In fact, oftentimes the replacement tires are even worse than the original set. What I do, out of desperation, is I just swap the wheels around until I end up with the best two on the front end which eliminates the shaking and never rotate the tires.

The only replacement tires I ever bought that were perfect out of the gate were Bridgestones made in Japan and Michelins made in France. Both purchases over 20 years ago.

What is everyone's experience with out-of-round tires? How do you pick tires and which installers seem to be most knowledgeable and helpful about balancing/out-of-round problems?

My list:
BEST: Japan, France, Czech Republic.
Hit or Miss: USA, Germany, Korea.
WORST: China, Brazil, Taiwan.
 
A couple of thoughts:

1) What vehicle are we talking about? Year/make/model, please. Some vehicles are incredibly sensitive to wheel end vibrations - some require extraordinary work to get a smooth ride.

2) Is it possible that the roads are washboard around where you are and the problem isn't the tires at all?

3) You may be one of those people who have a sensitive butt. If so, you might try additional padding on the seat.

4) Is it possible that the problem is the wheels? Or the center piloting? Are the wheels OE or aftermarket?

And allow me to correct something. Car manufacturers set their own specs and NONE use 2#. What the value is is highly dependent on the vehicle. So it is important to answer question #1.

And lastly, when you buy tires, does the tire shop routinely roadforce the tires? If so do you know what the values are? Have you determined how small the force has to be to get a good ride?

Looking forward to getting these questions answered. That will allow me to diagnose the problem.
 
Never had a problem with Michelins... as a matter of fact Michelins actually cleared up issues that I had with other tires that I was told IS NORMAL....They were not Michelins cleared them up....You get what you pay for....for me dont go cheap on brakes or tires....save a few bucks elsewhere...
 
Michlin has been good, Continental has been good, Pirelli and Nokian pretty poor.
I have Continentials on my 21 Honda HRV Sport...225/50/18. These are OEM tires.. They are a good riding tire but not very good on sluch or snow...
 
I’ve had trouble in the past with poorly calibrated wheel balancing machines at a couple different shops.
Found a good, well managed tire shop to stick with and haven’t had balancing issues since.
 
1) What vehicle are we talking about? Year/make/model, please. Some vehicles are incredibly sensitive to wheel end vibrations - some require extraordinary work to get a smooth ride.
Currently the cars in my signature. Pontiac Vibe GT (FWD) and Jaguar S-Type (RWD). In the past I had the same problems on my Ford Probe GT, BMW 325i and Toyota Matrix.
2) Is it possible that the roads are washboard around where you are and the problem isn't the tires at all?
No. The problem is the tires, 100%. Each of my 3 cars rides perfect on good, well-balanced, round tires. I have extra sets of wheels both for the Pontiac and for the Jag so this is super easy to demonstrate. I had to go show the shop a couple of times. They finally stopped insisting on a suspension issue when they felt the car drive perfectly smoothly on the other tires. Also, quite often I can get rid of the steering wheel shake/hop simply by rotating the tires until the bad ones end up in the rear, where it's much less noticeable. That's what I ended up doing with my current set of Kumho's on the Jag, after much back and forth with the tire shop.
3) You may be one of those people who have a sensitive butt. If so, you might try additional padding on the seat.
Not that. The steering wheel and whole car shakes in direct proportion to how bad the tires are. Usually in line with measured road force measurement.
4) Is it possible that the problem is the wheels? Or the center piloting? Are the wheels OE or aftermarket?
No, all rims are perfect, all OEM. I had the rims tested independently. This is actually showing in the report image. (Rim - OK)
And allow me to correct something. Car manufacturers set their own specs and NONE use 2#. What the value is is highly dependent on the vehicle. So it is important to answer question #1.
I heard the 2 lb RF figure in a video posted by a Toyota production manager turned YouTuber a while back. In any case, the manufacturers have incredibly strict requirements to ensure the new cars ride smoothly.
And lastly, when you buy tires, does the tire shop routinely roadforce the tires? If so do you know what the values are? Have you determined how small the force has to be to get a good ride?
They refuse to do it as part of the standard install cost until I come back with a problem.
 
I feel your pain. It seemed Michelins were the best as far as being round in my experiences.
Michlin has been good, Continental has been good, Pirelli and Nokian pretty poor.
I had a Michelin made in USA that was out of round. Tire shop replaced it. Only Michelins made in France have been perfect for me but I only had 1 set so it's hard to generalize.
I have Continentials on my 21 Honda HRV Sport...225/50/18. These are OEM tires.. They are a good riding tire but not very good on sluch or snow...
The original set of tires on any car will most likely be perfect, regardless of brand. As I explained in the original post, car manufacturers have strict standards. Every wheel+tire assembly is tested for balance/roundness and only the very best make it on brand new cars. Unfortunately, tire manufacturers use much lower standards for "replacement tires" sold at tire shops. So when you replace your worn tires with the exact same brand and model, there's no guarantee the ride will be as good as it was with your old tires. Actually, you are almost guaranteed it will be worse.
 
They refuse to do it as part of the standard install cost until I come back with a problem.
I think you found your problem. What sort of operation tells a customer they won't check their work unless you have issues? Do they consider the time and effort you must expend to come back time and time again for something that could have been done at the point of commerce?

Find a competent tire installer and send these clowns packing.
 
I had a Michelin made in USA that was out of round. Tire shop replaced it. Only Michelins made in France have been perfect for me but I only had 1 set so it's hard to generalize.

The original set of tires on any car will most likely be perfect, regardless of brand. As I explained in the original post, car manufacturers have strict standards. Every wheel+tire assembly is tested for balance/roundness and only the very best make it on brand new cars. Unfortunately, tire manufacturers use much lower standards for "replacement tires" sold at tire shops. So when you replace your worn tires with the exact same brand and model, there's no guarantee the ride will be as good as it was with your old tires. Actually, you are almost guaranteed it will be worse.
I dont agree. I have found that over the years the OEM tires are NOT the best and as I stated I replaced them with Michelins and the problem was gone after the dealer just said that they ALL DO THAT...
 
General Alti Max RT 43 made in Romania were the worst set I’ve ever bought. 3 of 4 bad out out of round.
Firestone Wilderness HT were the second worse set. 2 of 4 were out of round. I don’t recall where they were made.
 
We actually have a tire store in Louisville that will SHAVE the tires on the wheel to be perfectly round...never had it done but that service is out there..
 
I think you found your problem. What sort of operation tells a customer they won't check their work unless you have issues? Do they consider the time and effort you must expend to come back time and time again for something that could have been done at the point of commerce?

Find a competent tire installer and send these clowns packing.
I would love to do that but it is easier said than done. Here in central Texas, due to the huge population growth, all tire shops are so busy you can consider yourself lucky if you can even get on their schedule. I tried several different shops. Some damaged my rims, others can't get balancing right. Discount Tire is the one-eyed king in the land of the blind. They never scratched my rims and most often get the balancing right the 1st time. But they are so busy they refuse to RF every tire installation. Only comebacks.
 
I dont agree. I have found that over the years the OEM tires are NOT the best and as I stated I replaced them with Michelins and the problem was gone after the dealer just said that they ALL DO THAT...
OK fair enough. I missed your 1st post. I was responding to your 2nd post where you said you have OEM Continentals which are good.
 
There is roundness and there is force variation.

I think your search is not for round tires, but for someone who can and is willing to properly mount a round tire on a round wheel and apply a road force balancer to get minimum force variation.

It is about like finding a 4 leaf clover.
 
Road Force and "out of round" are two different things.

Road Force is a measurement made up by the Hunter Engineering Company. You'll notice all over the Hunter website that it appears as Road Force® in their descriptions. That's because it is a registered trademark. Hunter owns the term. They literally made it up. It's not some SAE or ISO measurement standard. It's a marketing tool to sell wheel balancers that can then be used to upsell services to customers.

"Out of round" is a simple measurement of the circular run-out of a tire. You don't need a $10,000 wheel balancer to measure run-out. Hunter will tell you that measuring Road Force is more than just measuring run-out. With a roller that contacts the tire, it applies a load and spins the wheel assembly. This measures not only run-out, but also any construction related items that could cause an inconsistent measurement around the circumference of the tire that can only be identified with Hunter's proprietary Road Force® dynamic test. This is when the Hunter rep asks a shop if they're going to buy his $10,000 wheel balancer.



Since Road Force® is a made-up term by Hunter, I can 100%, without-a-doubt, assure you that Toyota (or any other manufacturer) is not using it as any type of production or service standard that a tire has to meet or pass to be considered "good". The tires on a new Toyota Corolla haven't met some arbitrary Road Force® number when they were first mounted and when those tires are replaced at the local Toyota dealer, they're not being sent back to Bridgestone or Michelin if they don't result in a specific Road Force®.

That's absolutely not how it works, despite what a
video posted by a Toyota production manager turned YouTuber a while back
Can you share this enlightening video or is it lost to the annals of your search history and we'll just have to trust you on this one?
 
I just take my tires to a new acquaintance of ours who is in the tire business. He only does road force balancing(RFB) with the HUNTER 9000. The cost is the same unless he has to dismount the tire in order to reposition it, then there is another small charge.
 
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