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Nuts & Bolts: Big Tire Balance

Posted in How To: Wheels Tires on August 5, 2016
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Photographers: Verne Simons

I have an issue trying to balance the big off-road tires on my Chevy K30. The local shops stick a ton of weight on them, but the tires still shake. The suspension and steering are all tight and in good working order. I have looked into alternate ways to balance bigger tires, and I discovered that big rig shops carry a special balancing liquid that constantly balances the tires as they roll and wear. It is not very expensive. Does this seem like a possible solution for off-road tires? If so, why hasn't it caught on with the off-road market?

William P.

Via nuts@4wheeloffroad.com


Balancing big tires is always a challenge, and there are a wide variety of solutions out there. You didn’t mention how big your tires are, but we’re going to assume at least 40 inches or larger, as that seems to be the threshold where conventional balancing methods (clamp-on or stick-on weights) seem to fall short. Though big-tire technology has come a long way thanks to some major tire manufacturers entering the market, the problem is still the same: The larger the diameter of the tire, the more pronounced minor imbalance becomes and the more challenging it is to fix.

We don’t have any personal experience with liquid tire balancing options, but we’d be leery of them, mostly because they probably make a giant mess. As off-roaders, we are more likely than, say, an over-the-road trucker to unseat a bead due to the lower tire pressures we run off-road. That would allow whatever liquid method is inside to leak everywhere. There are other commercial solutions out there, from balancing beads like Dyna Beads (innovativebalancing.com) to powders like Equal (imiproducts.com). We’ve had varying degrees of success with all of them and unfortunately don’t have one surefire recommendation. There are also more homegrown methods like BBs, Airsoft gun pellets, and even steel shot. Regardless of the conveyance used, the inserted balancing media definitely helps, as it places the weight right where it needs to be near the tread face as opposed to farther in on the wheel where balance weights are less effective. The one drawback of inserted balancing media is that it takes some rotation and inertia for the media to start taking effect, so you won’t notice much of a difference until the vehicle is up to speed. At the end of the day we would say pick a media and try it, and let us know how it “shakes out.”

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