How to balance alloy wheel tyres

Written by chris stevenson
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How to balance alloy wheel tyres
Adhesive weights are easily applied to alloy wheels and will not damage the rim's surface. (Oleksiy Mark/iStock/Getty Images)

Tyre maintenance on your car has a critical effect on how long the tyres wear, riding comfort and safety. Since tyres can be an expensive investment, keeping them properly cleaned and balanced can ensure a longer life for the tread, better tracking and smoother operation. Modern cars are produced with a light chassis, making them susceptible to the slightest intolerance when it comes to road vibration and suspension. Because alloy wheels are designed to be lightweight, they must be balanced with particular care. A few options exist for balancing alloy wheels the correct way.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tyre iron
  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Pliers
  • Washing-up liquid
  • Bucket
  • Tyre brush
  • Rags
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Gasket scraper
  • Static balance machine
  • Wheel weights (adhesive)
  • Chalk
  • Owner's repair manual
  • Torque wrench

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  1. 1

    Put the vehicle in a neutral gear. Loosen the rim lug nuts with a tyre iron but do not take the wheels off. Raise the vehicle with a floor jack and place two jack stands under the front frame. Raise the rear of the vehicle with a floor jack and place two jack stands under the rear frame. Finish removing all the lug nuts with the tyre iron, take the wheels off the car and place the wheels on the ground.

  2. 2

    Use pliers to remove all existing old wheel weights on the rims. For stick-on weights, use a gasket scraper to shave them off. Fill a bucket with water and washing-up liquid. Use a tyre brush to clean the inside and outside of each tyre and rim, removing all mud and grime. For road tar, paint and cement, use lacquer thinner and a gasket scraper to remove the build-up. The rims must be spotless.

  3. 3

    Place a static bubble balance machine on a level surface. Look down at the bubble in the window gauge. Square the bubble exactly in the middle of the cross-hair by turning the adjusting knobs on the 90 cm (3 feet) stands. Place one rim over the machine cone, outside facing upward. Push the lever down on the machine to "float" the tyre. Notice where the bubble sits. If the bubble sits in the 9 o'clock position, you will place increments of weights at the 3 o'clock position.

  4. 4

    Detach 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) increments from the adhesive strip. Place one 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) weight opposite the bubble position and note the bubble movement. Place as many 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) weights on the rim as needed to centre the bubble in the window gauge. Mark the outline of the weights on the rim with a piece of chalk. Release the machine float lever, letting the rim sit on the machine frame.

  5. 5

    Remove the adhesive backing from the appropriate amount of weights you need. Press the weights, sticky side down, on the rim lip inside the chalk marks. Remove the wheel from the balance machine and perform the exact procedure on the rest of the wheels. If any rim requires more than 85 g (3 oz) of weight, place half of the weight on the inside of the rim directly opposite the front rim weight position.

  6. 6

    Extend a straight chalk mark line from the front of the rim to the inside of the rim, then turn the rim over on the machine and secure the weights (for halving the weights). When you've finished balancing all the tyres, place the rims back on the vehicle and tighten all the lug nuts with the tyre iron. Raise the vehicle with the floor jack and remove all the jack stands. Finish tightening all the lug nuts with a torque wrench, according to your repair manual's specifications.

Tips and warnings

  • Use adhesive weights on alloy wheels. The pressure-type, lead clip-on weights, applied with a hammer, can damage the alloy wheel material.

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