Could the deep aqua channel on my hydro tires cause my tires to go out of balance?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1997

Dear Tom and Ray:

My Toyota Camry with 90,000 miles is the best car I've ever owned. But it
cannot be balanced. Numerous attempts have been for naught. The guy at the tire
place who tried to balance it suggested that the General Hydro 2000 tires that
are on the car might be the problem. They have a deep aqua channel and he
suggested that the belts in the tires with such radical tread designs could
become uncentered and render the tire unbalanceable. What do you think? -- Guy

RAY: I haven't had any personal experience with General Hydro 2000 tires, but a
balancing problem certainly could be caused by bad wheels or tires.

TOM: It's easy to find out using the old scientific method. I assume you feel
some sort of wobble or vibration in the steering wheel, and that your mechanic
has eliminated all the real dangerous stuff and narrowed it down to a balancing

RAY: So the first thing to do is try swapping the front and back wheels. Put
the front ones on the back and the back ones on the front. A bad tire is much
more noticeable in front, where it gets telegraphed through the steering

RAY: If you swap the wheels and the problem goes away, then you know one of
those two (now) rear wheels are the culprit. Then you can swap one at a time
back to the front and figure out whether it's the tire or the wheel and replace
whichever one needs replacing.

TOM: If you swap the wheels and the wobble doesn't go away, then you have to go
to Wobble Experiment, Stage Two. It's unlikely that you have four bad tires,
but you have to eliminate that possibility.

RAY: So make a deal with the guy at the tire place. He wants to sell tires,
right? Tell him you'll try a new set of tires, and if they solve your problem,
you'll buy them. But if they don't solve the problem, he'll have to take them
back at no charge.

TOM: If the wobble continues with four new tires, then you move on to Wobble
Experiment, Stage Three (this is the stage at which you apply for funding from
the National Institutes of Health). Next, you're going to have to try replacing
the axles. This is best done by a dealer, with whom you can make a deal like
the one you made with the tire guy.

RAY: Have him replace one axle at a time, with the understanding that you'll
only buy the axle if it solves the problem (you'll have to pay for the labor in
this case regardless because it's considerable).

TOM: And if it's not a bad axle, then either we or the scientific method has
failed you, Guy. So try writing to an automotive creationist and see how that

* * *

TOM: Is warming up your car actually BAD for it? Does slamming the door really
make a difference to the life of your car? Should you "save the brakes" by
shifting into a lower gear to help you slow down?

RAY: You'll learn the surprising answers to all of these questions, and more,
in our new pamphlet called "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even
Knowing It.'

TOM: It's our guide to making your car last forever.

RAY: Become an instant know-it-all. Order your copy by sending $3 and a stamped
(55 cents), self-addressed, No.10 envelope to Ruin No.1, PO Box 6420, Riverton,
NJ 08077-6420.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One