RV trailer tires: To balance – or not?


    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.


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    Robert Olson

    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.


    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.


    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!”