Tire Shop cant seem to balance tires?

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May 22, 2013
Hello All,

I am a bit puzzled on what to do in my situation. My local tire shop has now done tires on my Saturn (Nexen CP672 14 inch) and our KIA (Cooper CS3 15 inch). These guys just cannot seem to get the tires to balance correctly at least on the Saturn. It has been a on-going thing for over a year now with my saturn. I have had it back several times, one day they kept it all day, and finally gave up and blamed it on bent rims, but I do not believe this to be the case as the Michelin on the car before, were butter smooth.

Being that they did at least try with my Saturn, I hesitantly bought the coopers from them at a good price, for the KIA. While the KIA does not have the vibration issues even as close to the Saturn, it is noticeable at some speeds, but before.. the KIA was butter smooth with the factory Hankooks. Mainly 55mph and then 80+ with the KIA. The Saturn has vibrations that pop-up at 65 and come and go all through out 80mph, the shop even had a tech check my Saturn's entire suspension everything was solid, the KIA is 2013, no way that suspension could be the issue.

Is it really that hard to balance tires? To me it seems to be "Put it on the machine, press the buttons, put the weights where the machine says to put them."

What recommendations can you guys make? This particular Tire shop has stores everywhere in my local area, but I have been to others with no luck. Is my best bet going to be going to a dealer ship that has a good balancer and having them look it over? Am I being to picky? Is it normal to have some vibration in the wheel? I really want that smooth ride back as most of my driving is on the interstate..

Thanks all, (sorry more of a rant than a question)
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I got winter tires from tirerack.com mounted on the wheels.
They were shaking at the highway speeds.

I ended up with different tires on the same rims - much better results.

Originally Posted By: Chris142
have them put them on the balancer,spin it and show you the bend

Yeah this! Anything under 1/8 or maybe 1/4" shouldn't really be felt.

I had a bunch of saturns and they're so tight in the front end any out-of-balance -or-round can be felt.

They probably also rotated around to get the best rims up front.

For giggles have them balance to zero on one balancer then move it to another and see if it, too, zeroes.
I'd make sure they aren't overload the rim with excessive weight.
a road force balance is the best way (IMHO) to balance a tire. Essentially you're taking the misbalanced portion of the tire and mounting it to the rim whereas the least amount of wheel weights are required. If it's done right, you'll need no wheel weights.

On new tires there's a circle, usually like yellow or red. that circle is supposed to be mounted where the valve stem is at for optimum balance. Depending on the experience of the tire mounter, they usually ignore this little detail. But it does help balance the tire using less weights.

I had a guy at big-o balance the tires on my truck and he tapped 3.5oz of weight on and blamed the rim. I told him to rotate the tire 180 deg which he argued with me, but eventually did when the manager made him appease me. weight dropped to 1oz.
BUT, my rims are still bent, (which they are not).
And never let a tire guy put weights on more than 1 spot on the rim. That's the sign of a very wacked out balancer.

Also you want a static balance, so the weights are ONLY mounted on the inside of the tire and won't show on the outside.
Previous posts have the correct idea, rotate the tire on the rim and try, again. The problem here is the machine. If it's out of whack you'll have a tough time solving the problem. Check to see if the rim is out of round and then if the tire shows a high spot when rotated against a fixed point. If you have a high spot that is also heavy then you're stuck.
Originally Posted By: eljefino

Yeah this! Anything under 1/8 or maybe 1/4" shouldn't really be felt.

I had a bunch of saturns and they're so tight in the front end any out-of-balance -or-round can be felt.

0.05 inches might be too much. I have 1,8 mm / 0.07 inch radial runout (checked with laser) on my trailer tyres, and I can feel it while driving 55 mph!

2 of the 4 winterforce tires I bought in 2011 balanced perfectly, but would shake the car apart. Bought two new and they are fine now.

it could be something on the car too. The Lifeliner tires were super smooth when they were put on my car. Then I noticed the rotor swelled due to rust and was grinding away at the caliper. I knocked the rust off othe edge of the rotor - now it's not balanced causing the car to shake.
Originally Posted By: EricF

Also you want a static balance, so the weights are ONLY mounted on the inside of the tire and won't show on the outside.

That's for vanity. OP can feel it in his steering, which could be a dyanmic issue.

But if he gets it done right, dynamically, it should also be so, statically.
I've decided that my days of buying tires at dealers without road force balancers are over, because I've twice had to carry the car to a different shop that had a road force balancer to diagnose a tire balance issue. Our local Goodyear dealer has a few Hunter road force balancers, and they generally don't use them unless they have to, but if you have balance issues with a tire you bought from them, they'll do the proper diagnosis (on those machines) to get the problem corrected (or justify a tire replacement).
Originally Posted By: EricF
And never let a tire guy put weights on more than 1 spot on the rim. That's the sign of a very wacked out balancer.

That doesn't sound right. I thought dynamic balancers might show up to two places to mount weights. So as to get the sume of those two forces to counteract wherever the actual imbalance is.

Static, there is a patented method of using four locations to attempt to get the balance right. But usually static balance uses, if high weight is required, half on outside of rim, half on inside.
Get to a shop with a roadforce balancer, we have a 2004 Chrysler Town & Country and we bought a set of Michelin Defenders at Costco, despite the fact they tried and tried and tried they were never smooth, after balanced with a Roadforce machine, it got almost perfect. I'm sure "Hokiefyd" knows a bit about that. By the way, make sure the person that will be using the balancer knows how to, usually it is 1 or 2 employees that are properly trained. Today's tires are not similar to tires made 10 years ago, we demand excellent wet and dry grip, quietness and longevity so something has to give and that is simplicity, very much like pre-computer cars to newer cars.
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Stan, don't assume that imbalance is the cause of the vibration.

Yes, improperly calibrated machine is possible, but it would be improper for every customer.
Bent wheel is possible--have them show you.
Worn mounting cones on the machine is possible, but also would show up often.
Tire out of round is likely. With the tire & wheel spinning slowly on the machine, look to see if it is actually concentric.
Custom wheels (or certain stock wheels) where the center pilot hole is not exactly in the true center; a lug centric adapter must be used to center the wheel by the lug holes.
Road Force--this means that the tire sidewall is stiffer in one part of the tire than in another part. If you try a shop with the Hunter 9700 road Force balancer, first ask which of their guys is trained and a good operator on the machine.
I had issues with the cooper's you mentioned not seating on the rim correctly. And causing the feeling that they were out of balance. This was on a Saturn sl as well. Go to a different shop and have them balanced there and see if another shop can do it correctly. Machine could be out of calibration but it's easy to recalibrate it.
I tried Goodyear TripleTred on 99 Saturn SL2. At 65 mph very noticable vibration. After taking it back to shop 3 times all they did was take weights off, put it on balancing machine, put weights back on. I complained on website. The owner of 37 shops called and said he would have "the boys" put Michelins on. They balanced perfectly and two sets of CS4's from the same shop have also. If the tires before balanced that tells me it is not a rim problem unless they bent it at the shop.
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