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Wheel balancing

Question : I HAVE come across your replies regarding wheel balancing and I am surprised that you always advised front wheel car owners not to do wheel balancing by lifting up each/particular wheel, rotating the wheels at high speed and inserting the weights to balance them.

I noticed that the wheel alignment and balancing outlets are equipped with equipment designed to carry out this procedure.

I am sure you have seen such equipment where the worker sits on and spins the wheel.

I am told that most of the equipment is imported and is quite expensive.

Why is it that such equipment is manufactured in the first place if the off-wheel balancing machines could balance the wheels and tyres perfectly.

My personal experience with the various cars I have owned, mostly Malaysian made ones, was that unless the wheels had been balanced using the on-wheel balancing method, the wheels will vibrate at certain speeds.

When I changed tyres, the outlets would do off-wheel balancing first, followed by wheel alignment and on-wheel balancing.

When I go for regular alignment and balancing (without tyre change), the outlets will carry out the alignment first, followed by on-wheel balancing. If any vibration is detected, they do not do the off-wheel balancing.

I have also patronised outlets which do not have on-wheel balancing machines and they do only off-wheel balancing.

From my experience, no matter how much off-wheel balancing is done, the vibrations are still felt. It's as if the on-wheel method is a must.

Since I am not that technically inclined, I would like to know what are the differential side gears that were not designed to spin at high speeds that you mentioned in your reply to MC.

Answer : It is actually for rear drive cars that tyre shops have the on-car wheel balancing machines that spin the front wheel assembly while still mounted on the suspension.

Many of these machines came out during the days when the MacPherson suspension first came into use and wheel balance became very critical as even the slightest imbalance would cause steering shake.

On-board balancing took into account even imbalance in the brake discs and the hubs and virtually eliminated this shake problem.

With front wheel drive, the issue is that unless both wheels are lifted off the ground and allowed to rotate using engine power, there can be severe differential side gear and bearing wear due to the high spinning speeds. There is nothing wrong in using the unit if one knows how to use it correctly.


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