Balancing tires requires seeing the wheel weights.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 2001

Dear Tom and Ray:

My fiancee and I don't always see eye to eye, especially when it comes to automobiles. Most recently, our disagreement was on the subject of wheel balancing. As we were watching the technician go about his business, clamping numerous weights around the rims of my wheels, my dearest remarked that she always tells them to put the weights on the back sides of the wheels so she won't have to look at those ugly wheel weights. I replied that you couldn't get a proper balance unless you use both sides. Otherwise, why wouldn't they always hide the weights? Please tell me -- am I right? Or have I been needlessly scarring up my beautiful aluminum wheels? -- Ken

RAY: You're right, Ken. In order to balance a wheel properly, the weights have to be placed on both sides.

TOM: We have a machine in the shop that spins the wheel and then uses arrows to show us exactly where a weight should go. And it will point to one side or the other, depending on where a weight is required.

RAY: There are some wheels that absolutely will not accept weights on one side, due to the wheel's specific design. Those are usually high-priced alloy wheels of some kind. And in those cases, we just have to put weights as close to the center as possible on the back side of the wheel (sometimes gluing them on). That usually gets us a close approximation, but it's not ideal.

TOM: But since you're just getting married, don't be crude and rub her nose in the fact that she was wrong, Ken. This is a delicate point in your burgeoning relationship. So be kind and gentle when you explain things to her. Offer her something in return. Tell her if she stops obsessing about putting the weights on the back side, you'll promise to ignore any weight she puts on her backside.

RAY: Oh! We're going to get some nasty mail on that one!

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