RV Tire Safety: Bad ride? Can’t “balance” your tires? Maybe it’s something else

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By Roger Marble
I can’t remember the number of times I have seen someone post about the “bad ride” they had in their motorhome. They took the vehicle to their RV dealer only to be told they could not “balance” the tires, or that they were balanced and the ride was “what it is.”

The ride can be affected by a number of different contributing factors:

1. One or more tires may be out of balance.
2. The tire may not be properly mounted to the wheel.
3. The wheel could be out of round.
4. The brake drum/rotor may be out of balance.
5. The wheel may not be mounted to the hub correctly.
6. The tire may be out of round.
7. The tire may have internal structural “uniformity” problems.

Many times people jump to the conclusion that the tire must be “out of balance” and they want to ignore all the other possibilities.

Back in 2012, I covered a number of possible contributing factors when I answered the question of Do you need to balance your tires? Obviously, those that just focus on “balance” did not review this blog post.

In that old post, I said it was possible to balance a cinder block. You might consider reviewing that post as it has some good pictures of the other conditions that can give poor ride.

I have used this comment a few times in my RV Tire Seminars but I bet few believed me. Well, here is the proof.

This first shot is of my “bubble” balancer and my test cinder block. Yes, the balancer is old (from the ’70s), but I have balanced hundreds of tires.

I even balanced those used on my Camaro race car with this balancer, where high speed (125+) would quickly show up if the tire was out of balance.

First I confirm the balancer is adjusted to a near-zero level of out-of-balance itself. We can see the bubble is very near to perfect balance with it right at the center point.

Next, I loaded the cinder block onto the balancer. I chose to not try and pile standard wheel weights on the block, so just grabbed some hand wrenches. After some moving these “balance weights” around I ended up with a very acceptable level of balance.

I do hope this clears up some of the confusion on ride vs. tire balance.

 

Read more from Roger Marble on his blog at RVtiresafety.net or on RVtravel.com.

 ##RVT960

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Keira B
1 month ago

Heh heh, balancing a cinder block. I Love it!

Dennis
1 month ago

Learned on that exact bubble balancer in the 1980s. Not much later did our shop get a spin balancer.
If balanced correctly, the spin balancer would confirm the bubble balancer was accurate. Of course if you would try and use a bubble balancer today, most people would scream and claim you were a hack.
Thanks Roger for the article.

Rick
1 month ago

Just saw an old “Sears” tire balancer for sale in an antiques store that looked very much like yours only smaller. Almost bought it. Kind of wish I had.

Jim Carter
1 month ago

HI Roger.
Hi really appreciate your articles from the position of a knowledgeable tire person.

Many years ago I worked at an old time auto service station. I soon became the ‘go to’ guy for tire mounting when my shift was on. One thing I came to realize during balancing a new set of tires was the position of the wheel weights. The first thing we did after removing the old tires was to remove the existing tire weights and carefully clean the rim and the bead contact surface. After mounting the new tire I used a bubble tire balance machine to carefully balance the new tire/rim combination. After doing this for some time I came to realize that in many cases, the new weights were the same size and position as the ones I removed. I believe the tires are really pretty well balanced as manufactured. The weights balance the rim.
I am sure this is not always the case, but in the experience we had it seemed to be the majority of the cases.