RV trailer tires: To balance – or not?

20

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Asking your fellow RVer about whether they balance their trailer or fifth-wheel tires is perhaps akin to forgetting to wear your deodorant to a dinner party in mid-summer. Who wants to talk about it? If informal polling holds true, the majority of trailering RVers probably don’t balance their tires. Their argument against it? Many have never thought about doing it. Others say their dealer never recommended it. Some don’t think the expense is necessary. How about it?

We called in the official industry spokes-folks about it: Wilson Beach, a director with the Tire Industry Association, the group recognized as representing tire makers and maintainers. In a previous life Beach was a tire shop owner. His first reaction to the question “To balance or not to balance” was a question: “Have you ever driven down the freeway and watched a vehicle with an unbalanced tire? The tire can bounce so hard it can actually leave the pavement,” says Wilson Beach.

In Beach’s view, a balanced tire is one that runs cooler and smoother, and will have a far greater lifetime than an unbalanced one. “It’s money in the bank,” Beach told us. But are all tire shops ready to balance your trailer’s  “rubber donuts”? That depends. Some trailer wheels are not designed like the typical car or truck wheel, with a nice round hole in the center for the bearing cap to protrude from. If your wheels don’t have a center hole, some shops won’t be able to balance them unless they have an adapter that uses the lug holes to hook up.

That lead to an interesting point: Beach says that in reality, the truest “center point” of any wheel is not the center hole, but rather the center indicated by the lug holes. To get a truer wheel balance, it’s best to go to a shop that uses an adapter and balances wheels based on the lug holes.

Keep ’em cool? Keep ’em smooth? Sounds a bit like taking care of our loved ones. And with the expense of tires today, it may be worth thinking about.

##FT12-17 ##RVDT1300

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Lee
6 months ago

I have always had my trailer tires balanced. I thought that’s just what you do when you buy tires…

Tom S
6 months ago

Bought my new trailer tires on-line, and when I went to have the four of them mounted, several places would only mount tires purchased there. However, Walmart agreed to mount the tires, and balancing was free with the tire mounting service ($20 per tire). And, it’s lifetime balancing, guaranteed. The Tech said he never heard of balancing trailer tires, but performed the included service. Based upon what I just read, glad I insisted that it be done.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
6 months ago
Reply to  Tom S

Sorry for the delay in publishing your comment, Tom. It was being held as spam, and I have no clue why. I think sometimes our anti-spam controls are just a little over-zealous! 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Roger Marble
6 months ago

One possible benefit of balancing trailer tires would be that IF there was a serious manufacturing problem it might show up with the tire being significantly out of balance. The spin when balancing might also show an out of round condition which might be another indication of a problem.

Thomas
6 months ago

Just yesterday, sitting around the campfire I asked the others about how many have their trailer tires balanced? All 7 of the trailer owners said they did and will continue to do so.

Linda
6 months ago

We have always balanced the tires (and spare) on our 5th wheels. Doesn’t make sense not to.

M. Will
6 months ago

All four of my tires that are on my travel trailer at this moment are balanced and my two spares also.

Alvin
6 months ago

WOW, that this is even being discussed is ludicrous.
The guy that said ” tires don’t know they’re on a trailer” got it right.
After over 50 years as an RV’er, and automotive tech plus talking to hundreds of folks about their rigs and why they fall apart, only now I know why.
For gods sake people if you can afford to RV you can afford to balance tires, its a dam safety issue as much as anything!!!!!!!!!
Take Wilson Beach’s advice, your tires will give you change back over their lifetime, you’ll be safe and you won’t shake the hell out of your RV. No wonder microwave ovens fall off walls -WOW.

Like I said I have no idea why this is even a discussion, and to end this, if you run into a shop that can’t or doesn’t balance anything on a rim – RUN like hell from that place.

Gman
6 months ago
Reply to  Alvin

Hit the nail on the head! Take heed of this advice.

Steve
6 months ago

I was amazed at the amount of lead used to balance my 6 tires. They must have been very much out of balance so glad I balanced them.

John Goodell
6 months ago

I’ve asked a couple of tire shops about balancing the tires on my 5th wheel and they both told me they don’t balance trailer tires, end of story. But I keep on reading articles like this that recommend it!

Bob p
6 months ago
Reply to  John Goodell

Not only do I balance the tires I also install shock absorbers, you will be amazed how much better it tows and also how everything stays in place inside the trailer. Between the two it will ride as smoothly as your tow vehicle.

ToolMan
6 months ago
Reply to  John Goodell

You need to find a tire shop that cares about safety.

Ron T
6 months ago
Reply to  ToolMan

I worked at several tire shops in the 70s. We always recommended new valve stems and balance or included it in the cost of the tires. It’s cheap insurance for both the buyer and the seller. The buyer gets longer tire life, a better ride, and doesn’t have to worry about a dry rotted valve stem breaking. The seller gets a happier hopefully repeat customer and you as the mechanic/installer don’t have to see as many unhappy customers pulling into the lot with complaints that you have to spend time resolving while working for free. If you’ve been there you know what I’m sayin’ . . .

Donald N Wright
6 months ago

I bought my little chinese tires at Firestone (next time will be Goodyear) so they were balanced. I regret no road hazard package offered. I want my Aliner to have as smooth of ride as possible.

Bill Hay
6 months ago

Some Goodyear tires are made in China

Fox
6 months ago

Also just think about it… The extra shaking is not good for the structure. Balancing means fewer staples and screws pulling out.

Robert Olson
3 years ago

I have started using “Balance Beads” they are small balls that you put inside the tire. This give automatic balancing even as the tire wears or ages. This is used on Trucks, motorcycles cars etc. Plus you can change the tire yourself and save the mounting and balanceing charges.

George
3 years ago

Good point Randy. My tire guy says it not usual to balance trailer tires. Maybe for him but it is for me. Not pointing fingers but if you don’t do it maybe you’re not quite balanced.

Randy
3 years ago

Heard this from a tire guy when I ask if I should balance trailer tires and it made a lot of sense to me! “Tire don’t know it’s on a trailer!”