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3M Wheel Weight System

Posted in How To on September 1, 2007
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A simple but effective concept, the 3M Wheel Weight System is a lead-free composite material on a roll that takes the place of traditional stick-on and clip-on (where possible) wheel weights. The weight comes out of the cardboard box at the right and a window to the left allows seeing how much material is left.

To apply balancing weights with adhesives instead of clamping them to the edge of the rim is certainly not a new concept. Generally, stick-on weights come in 1/4- or 1/2-ounce rectangles in a row of 12, from which you cut off the desired amount. This is a fast and easy way to apply weights, with the added advantage that they can be placed practically anywhere on the rim as long as there is physical clearance for brake and steering components. It seems it would be hard to improve on this simple method, except that lead is being phased out as a balancing media and there was no really good substitute-until 3M recently debuted its Wheel Weight System, that is.

Rather than the individual pieces of lead on a stick, 3M has come up with a composite material that is very conformable and comes on a roll. Not only does the 3M Wheel Weight System (WWS) do away with the potentially harmful lead, it allows using exactly the amount of weight needed to balance a tire-and-wheel assembly to perfection. Also, these wheel weights obviously aren't likely to fall off as 3M Acrylic Foam Tape holds the weights on, and 3M does know adhesives really, really well. The material is available in two profiles: a standard profile (15mm wide by 7 mm high) for most balancing uses and a low profile (23mm wide by 4mm high) for clearance concerns.

The easy way to get the correct amount of weight is by using 3M's cutting tool-in this case, just shy of 1 3/4 ounces is being cut from the roll-but there's a scale on the box that can be used together with regular scissors. While usually not a big deal on large LT tires, this setup allows using the precise amount of weight needed for the task.

This new material is quite flexible and can be cut with scissors, but while there is a scale on the dispenser box that shows how much to cut off for a given weight, it is far easier to use 3M's "cutting device." A tire shop would also benefit from getting the stand for the roll.

Perhaps, in the not-too-distant future, Hunter balancers might be built to include an automatic dispenser that cuts the correct amount of the 3M WWS weight as dictated by the machine. And why not? Since the balancer knows what weight the tire-and-wheel assembly needs, it is actually a relatively simple add-on to the great Hunter GSP setup. If it does indeed happen, it'd be another feather in the hat for Dennis Franklin of Franklin Tire & Suspension, as he supposedly came up with the idea to combine the two products.

In the meantime, we can enjoy the hand-cut 3M WWS weights to get our tires running down the road with as little vibration as possible, and lead-free.


3M Automotive Division
St. Paul, MN 55144

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