How to use a bubble tire balancer

Written by g.k. bayne
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The use of a bubble-type wheel balancer is as old as the automotive industry itself. Not as high tech as new spin balancers, the bubble balancer still is an effective way for accurately checking old and new tire installation. Once the tire is either repaired or a new piece of rubber is installed on the wheel rim, it is only a few basic steps away from being ready to mount on the vehicle.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Mounted tire and rim
  • Air compressor
  • Tire inflation tool
  • Air pressure gauge
  • Tire weight tool
  • Bubble tire balancer
  • Tire weights various sizes

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  1. 1

    Inflate the tire to the proper pressure by adding air to the tire with the air inflation tool. Check the tire pressure for the proper inflation. The tire must be properly inflated for a correct and accurate balance.

  2. 2

    Remove any old wheel weights that are currently on the rim of the metal wheel. These old weights will interfere with an accurate balance. Lock the wheel balancer into the fixed position so the balance mechanism is not damaged by placing the wheel onto the floating hub.

  3. 3

    Place the wheel and tire onto the bubble balancer. The outside or street side of the wheel should be facing upwards. Unlock the balancer and allow the tire and floating hub to come to a fixed movement. In other words, when the bubble balancer is first unlocked, the floating hub will seek a level position and will move around before finally coming to a fixed reading position.

  4. 4

    Observe the position of the air bubble in the double bullseye reader located in the centre of the floating hub bubble window. The double bullseye is identified as two concentric circles or rings, one inside the other. The tire will be balanced or level, once the air bubble is dead centre inside this inner circle.

  5. 5

    Add a small wheel weight to the opposite side of the unleveled (high side) bubble. Place the weights, one at time, alongside the metal rim. Use increasingly higher weight increments until the bubble is centred in the bulls eye.

  6. 6

    Lock the balancer ,and hammer the wheel weights onto the raised rim with the mounting tool.

  7. 7

    Unlock the bubble balancer and check for level. Continue steps 7 through step 9 until the bubble is in the centre bullseye of the bubble window.

  8. 8

    Lock the bubble balancer, remove the balanced tire, and mount it on the vehicle.

Tips and warnings

  • Be sure to remove all foreign debris from the tire treads before balancing any wheel and tire assembly. Gravel and mud will give an inaccurate reading to the tire if it is left in the deep treads of the rubber.

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