What are Wheel Balance Weights?
Wheel balancing (also known as ‘tyre balancing’) is a tricky task, and is the process of equalizing the weight of the combined wheel & tyre unit, so that it spins in a uniform fashion / smoothly at high speed rotation. ‘Balancing’ involves putting the wheel & tyre unit on a balancing machine, which centers the wheel and spins it to determine where the weights should go. When tyres are fitted to wheels at the point of sale, they are measured again on a balancing machine, and correction weights (Balance Weights) are applied. Tyres may also be rebalanced if a driver feels excessive vibration from the wheels when driving.
How to install wheel balancing weights?
Initial balancing methods utilised knock-on or snap-on steel weights. These weights of varied in size with a soft lead flange that gets knocked onto the edge of the wheel with a soft plastic hammer. These weights were very good when used on traditional steel wheels, but when alloy wheels came to the fore, these knock on weights tended to break the lacquer on expensive painted alloy wheels when hit onto the face of the rim. This led to the development balance weights specifically designed to fit alloy wheels.
Self-adhesive weights are flat, square weights with an adhesive backing, each weighing between 5kg and 10kg, which are cut to size with clippers and stuck to the inside of the wheel behind the spokes. The adhesive is very strong, but tyre fitters should always clean the surface where the weights will go to ensure it is free of brake dust, grit and road corrosives if at all possible. This will help prevent the weights from falling off.
What are wheel balance weights made from?
Traditionally many wheel weights were created from lead due to its low cost, ease of use and high density. However, due to environmental reasons lead has become banned in many countries and steel and zinc are now the most popular options.