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Old 05-04-2010, 09:47 PM   #1
Harlequin
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Default Mounting tires - Road-force balancing no-longer useful?

I was just at Discount Tire, and know that pretty much all of their stores (including this one) were equipped with a Hunter 9700 road force balancer. I asked if they would use it, and the guy said they got rid of it, as did most of their branches, because they just aren't very useful. He was helpful, and found me a branch that still had one, but his view was that road-force balancing doesn't really achieve very much, and he wouldn't personally bother even though he's had his car up to [speed in excess of lawful maximum]

He said that modern rims (provided they're OEM) don't allow for much change, reducing the need for and usefulness of road-force balancing, and that by the time you get up to speeds where it could matter, it still doesn't matter, because the forces involved are so far removed from what the machine actually operates with, and dwarf its influence over anything, that again, road force balancing is just not useful.

He knows more about it than me. How does his view sit with you guys? Might road force balancing be an older methodology that is becoming obsolete?
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:54 PM   #2
Gearhead Jim
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The Road Force balancer can detect an out-of-round or out-of-true condition. Even if they can't fix it by rotating the tire around the rim, you will still know about it and be able to understand any high speed vibrations.

With skinny tires, the Road Force balancer may not be as useful. On a Corvette, I'd insist on it.
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:10 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Gearhead Jim View Post
The Road Force balancer can detect an out-of-round or out-of-true condition. Even if they can't fix it by rotating the tire around the rim, you will still know about it and be able to understand any high speed vibrations.

With skinny tires, the Road Force balancer may not be as useful. On a Corvette, I'd insist on it.
I agree ; there are a large number of out of round tires and the road force balancer kicks them right out as not meeting speck. This really messes with the dealer.
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:44 PM   #4
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I have never had Road Force balancing on any of my vettes even the Z06, and never had an issue. The discount tire guy here told me the same thing your guy mentioned.
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:45 PM   #5
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Maybe not on smaller tires, and I even question his logic there, but with as much rubber and the size wheels on the Corvette, it's a must. I've tried it with and without, and there is a difference.

Those who say there is no difference, probably have never tried it.
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:57 PM   #6
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I've tried it with and without, and there is a difference.
Was the comparison on a C6 with OEM rims and good tires? If what he says is accurate, it's the combination of precision modern tires and wheels that removes the need. Other combinations would see more benefit.

(That said, from what's been said so far, I'm starting to lean back towards maybe getting the road-force balance done, Just In Case.)
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Old 05-04-2010, 11:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harlequin View Post
Was the comparison on a C6 with OEM rims and good tires? If what he says is accurate, it's the combination of precision modern tires and wheels that removes the need. Other combinations would see more benefit.
This was on my '05 C6. When I replaced the original tires with Firestone's (on the factory rims). I did not have the road force done...the ride was pretty good, but I thought it could be better. I had the road force done and it was as smooth as glass afterwards. I have since replaced the rims and will not go without the road force again.

My only recomendations would be to make sure the technician is qualified to run the machine, and Hunter has the only true "road force" balancer, don't settle for something else.
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Old 05-04-2010, 11:23 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Harlequin View Post
He knows more about it than me. How does his view sit with you guys? Might road force balancing be an older methodology that is becoming obsolete?
he's full of crap. i've had rim and tire issues (not with the vette) discovered by this process that would have gone on and driven me mad had they not found them. i just had a set of chrome gumbys installed this weekend and i had my local discount tire (desoto, tx.) rfb everything...smooth as glass.

Last edited by gbgary; 05-05-2010 at 12:59 AM.
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:10 AM   #9
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They just got rid of them? to who ? there equipment lease was probably up and maybe they are trying to cut cost of new equip. I will always insist on RF balance.
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:50 AM   #10
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I've driven mine with two sets of factory tires and one set of aftermarket and none were road forced...never even the slightest vibration at speeds up to 150. All the wheels were oem Speedlines. We report, you decide.
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Old 05-05-2010, 01:42 AM   #11
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What your contact at Discount Tire wasn't saying is that the Road Force Balancer is EXPENSIVE to purchase and expensive in labor hours and knowledge to use.

Their customers don't want pay the premium they have to charge to use it.
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Old 05-05-2010, 02:40 AM   #12
Wayne O
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haljensen View Post
What your contact at Discount Tire wasn't saying is that the Road Force Balancer is EXPENSIVE to purchase and expensive in labor hours and knowledge to use.

Their customers don't want pay the premium they have to charge to use it.
Cost is always a factor to one degree or another but I was never charged any premium to use the Hunter machine at the Discount Tire stores I use. I'm not so sure cost was their main motivation for switching. I use Discount Tire almost exclusively to mount my track tires and passenger car tires (I give them a lot of business). I have friends that work at Discount Tire and these guys are into racing. Over a year ago when they got rid of the Hunter equipment I was surprised. When I asked about it almost all the guys (and not just the manager) were pretty much united in their low opinion of the Hunter. They felt the Hunter was a great diagnostic tool but not exceedingly helpful for what they routinely do.

Even with the variety of mounting problems they face daily they seem to be resolving them just fine without the Hunter. I'm always impressed with Discount Tire...they go the extra mile for a customer. IMO if they felt the Hunter was a genuine benefit for the customer they would have kept it. I'm sure the Hunter road-force balancer is beneficial for certain situations but even without it I've never had a problem with Discount Tire balancing my tires.
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Old 05-05-2010, 07:29 AM   #13
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Discount tire told me on the phone that had a Hunter so I went to their shop. When I picked up my wheels, I saw junk all over the machine. Turns out that have one but don't use it. The HRE's were scratched and I never put the wheels back on the car until..I sent the wheels back to HRE for repair, then off to a real tire shop with a Hunter. I have had two rear tires from The Rack that were way off and had to be exchanged. The Rack had no issues with the report that the Hunter rejected the tires. Get your tires to a Hunter and then you know all is well if the machine operator knows what he is doing. If you drive fast, be safe!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:39 AM   #14
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They just got rid of them? to who ? there equipment lease was probably up and maybe they are trying to cut cost of new equip. I will always insist on RF balance.
you got it! let's face it: a RF balancer machine is far more expensive (I guess I could ask Hunter for exact number) than a standard balancing machine.

and considering that Discount Tire sells all those aftermarket wheels for all makes, I find it hard to believe that all the tires and all the wheels are just so easy to balance. they surely have not been for me.

a long time ago (and maybe still) the tires that went to the new car mfr. for installation were the best-balanced without a wheel. all the "other" tires of same make, model and size went to tire shops.

to eliminate the machine is either a cost-cutting measure or a training matter (for employees who either can't, won't or aren't taught).

note: just a small example of RF balancing...there were two or three tire mfr. tents at IndyCar Barber Motorsports Park last month. all I saw were hunter RF machines.

Last edited by AORoads; 05-05-2010 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 05-05-2010, 10:46 AM   #15
FredC5
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I bought Bridgstone P03 tires from the Rack a few years ago for my C5 and had them mounted locally using a regular spin balancer.. There was a great deal of vibration right at 65 MPH that was not accepatable. I had all 4 tires rebalanced and saw that they read perfect on the regular balancing machine but the ride still sucked.
After a month I finally brought them to a shop that used a 9700 Hunter and the owner spent quite a bit of time explaining to me how it worked and why it cost $20 per tire to balance them. We found that one of the rear tires failed the test and probably should have been sent back but more than a month had passed. Also the other three were out of balance according to the 9700 readout. He spun the bad tire 180 degrees on the rim and it still failed but not by much so we remounted them on the Vette. They treat the wheels with kid gloves and there was not a scatch on them.
I can't tell you how much the ride improved after doing the RF balancing and I took it up to 140 MPH without a hint of vibration. Since then I always use road force balancing to match the tire to the rims. It is well worth the extra cost, which is a result of the high cost to purchase a 9700 Hunter.
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Old 05-05-2010, 10:47 AM   #16
haljensen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne O View Post
Cost is always a factor to one degree or another but I was never charged any premium to use the Hunter machine at the Discount Tire stores I use. I'm not so sure cost was their main motivation for switching. I use Discount Tire almost exclusively to mount my track tires and passenger car tires (I give them a lot of business). I have friends that work at Discount Tire and these guys are into racing. Over a year ago when they got rid of the Hunter equipment I was surprised. When I asked about it almost all the guys (and not just the manager) were pretty much united in their low opinion of the Hunter. They felt the Hunter was a great diagnostic tool but not exceedingly helpful for what they routinely do.

Even with the variety of mounting problems they face daily they seem to be resolving them just fine without the Hunter. I'm always impressed with Discount Tire...they go the extra mile for a customer. IMO if they felt the Hunter was a genuine benefit for the customer they would have kept it. I'm sure the Hunter road-force balancer is beneficial for certain situations but even without it I've never had a problem with Discount Tire balancing my tires.
Key words in your statements above: "not exceedingly helpful for what they routinely do", "cost is always a factor'.

The bulk of their business is replacing tires on stock wheels. The owner of a stock sedan with stock wheels doesn't want, need, or is willing to pay for Road Force balancing. Soccer mom getting new tires on her minivan won't pay a premium for balancing. The quick, cheap balancer used everyday by a barely trained employee does an adequate job.

Every Road Force balance I've had cost noticebly more than the standard balance, I seem to remember around twice the cost.

Last edited by haljensen; 05-05-2010 at 11:21 AM. Reason: add cost statement
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:06 AM   #17
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Here is Tire Rack position:

http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tirete....jsp?techid=40

a++ Cedric
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Old 05-05-2010, 05:05 PM   #18
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So when you buy tires and pay extra for the road force testing, do you ask for a print-out or some kind of report on each wheel?

I assume they'll use the machine to get a best balance for each wheel, but if that best-fit is still something the machine considers "reject", I'd like to know that and be able to ask them to actually reject that tire and use another, rather than just run with the best fit of a less than ideal tire.
I haven't had a road force balance done before - what should I expect?
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Old 05-05-2010, 07:41 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harlequin View Post
So when you buy tires and pay extra for the road force testing, do you ask for a print-out or some kind of report on each wheel?

I assume they'll use the machine to get a best balance for each wheel, but if that best-fit is still something the machine considers "reject", I'd like to know that and be able to ask them to actually reject that tire and use another, rather than just run with the best fit of a less than ideal tire.
I haven't had a road force balance done before - what should I expect?
I've always made an appointment and waited.The Tech came and got me on two different occasions to show me the imbalance and how they rotated the tire to clear the balance. They seemed rather proud of their expertise and knowledge and showed me how the machine checked runout in two planes. The manager explained that the training for the operation was time consuming and expensive, only three people at this location had the training to use the Road Force balancer. The extra cost is well worth it since I've never had a balance problem with any new wheels or tires. No complaints, callbacks or re-balancing has ever been needed.
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Old 05-05-2010, 09:54 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haljensen View Post
Key words in your statements above: "not exceedingly helpful for what they routinely do", "cost is always a factor'.

The bulk of their business is replacing tires on stock wheels. The owner of a stock sedan with stock wheels doesn't want, need, or is willing to pay for Road Force balancing. Soccer mom getting new tires on her minivan won't pay a premium for balancing. The quick, cheap balancer used everyday by a barely trained employee does an adequate job.


Every Road Force balance I've had cost noticebly more than the standard balance, I seem to remember around twice the cost.
+1

Is it worth keeping a more expensive/complex machine around just for the few situations where it would make a difference? Most places probably would not - they are competing with Sam's club, etc. and need to keep costs low.
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