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Balancing OffRoad Tires

Being able to road-drive an extreme 4×4 is what separates capable rigs from glorified side-by-sides. However, road-driving any very capable off-road rig with big, heavy, and durable tires can pose more than a few challenges. Tires chunk and wear oddly when used in extreme environments. Wheel weights can get knocked off on rocks. Tires can spin on wheels. All of these things can throw off past attempts at tire balancing. Running imbalanced tires that at speed on the road can be a real pain in the stinker, causing death wobble, tire hop, and general dangerous driving conditions. With a few tricks and a little work you, too, can get your tires to behave on-road like they’ve got a lick of sense. Here are a few tips and tricks we have tried when wheels and tires don’t cooperate with our on-road driving plans.

wheel-weights
This style of stick-on weights is the best for balancing tires that get used off-road if you want your tires to stay balanced. But even with stick-on weights (or clip-on weights), tires can spin on the wheel, throwing the whole tire balance off and wasting time and money. We’ve also seen mud and sticks tear both styles of weight off the inside of wheels while off-roading (although some duct tape over stick-on weights may help retain them). Wheel weights that clip onto the wheel’s rim can move or get knocked off and are pretty useless to those of us who wheel on anything other than gravel.

beadlock-wheel
Tires mounted on beadlock wheels can be hard to balance but also have advantages. A lightweight wheel, like these forged Welds with beadlocks added by OMF, is easier to run balanced when combined with well-made newer tires. Once used and chunked, the tires can start hopping, wobbling, or shaking. Because these older Weld wheels are forged aluminum they are quite strong while being lightweight. Which makes them easier to balance. Also, the welded-on inner beadlock rings have been machined to maximize weight savings, and sometimes a beadlock ring can help protect a stick-on wheel weight from getting knocked off while the beadlock keeps the tire from spinning

adding-bb-weights
You can find a chart online giving you a weight to add to each tire for starters. Some tires need more, some less. We’ve also heard of people using 00 buckshot, birdshot, sand, steel BBs, and even a little water to balance tires internally. To add any of the above, pull the valve core and break the inner bead with a piece of wood, truck with trailer hitch, and a Hi-Lift Jack as shown. Then pour in your balancing medium. Experiences and opinions on this method of tire balancing differ. A few commercial tire balancing beads are also available, such as Dyna Beads, which offer results with product support. The theory is that when a heavy spot in the tire rotates up as the tire spins, the tire bounces and the balancing media goes down. As this happens with a few revolutions, the media collects on the side of the tire opposite the heavy spot and counters the weight as the tire turns.

Wheeling in mud and water with low tire pressures can allow dirt, mud, or water to slip into your tires through the bead. When this happens your tire can be out of balance and may not hold air. Then you have to dismount the tire, clean the tire and bead surface, and remount the tire. Mud can also get caked on the inside of your wheels, wreaking balancing havoc. When this happens you need to find a pressure washer to hose the goop off the wheel.

For wheel alignment we recommend Tiremania Antelias: 04402352

 

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Elie Hajj
Mechanical Engineer, admin of lebanonoffRoad.com . Experienced offroad and drifting driver. interested in: Rally, Rally raid (Paris-Dakar), internal combustion engines, 4x4 modifications, mechanical design.
http://www.lebanonoffroad.com
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