Road Force Balancing Explained for Auto Mechanics

automotive service technician

Traditional tire balancing is important for eliminating vibrations caused by imbalances in a vehicle’s tires and wheels. However, traditional balancing has its limits. For example, it cannot measure the amount of force that a tire throws off while in motion and weighed down by the vehicle. That’s where road force balancing comes in. Road force balancing is where wheels or tires have pressure applied to them to mimic how the tire would perform under real on-the-road conditions. As a result, a road force balancer can measure the amount of force the tire can throw off.

Once you have a better understanding of what exactly road force balancing is, you can see its advantages in comparison to standard tire balancing. Here’s what auto mechanics need to know about road force balancing.

The Differences Between Road Force and Standard Balancing for Cars

Wheel balancing by itself refers to evenly distributing the weight of the wheel and tire assembly so that vibrations are reduced and tires don’t wear down unevenly. While standard balancing works fine for older tires, on new tires—especially on higher-end vehicles—the distance between the rim and the tread is often very low. This makes standard balancing less than ideal for these tires.

Although standard balancers will know various measurements of the wheel and look for the roundness in its assembly, road force balancing can measure something standard balancing can’t: how much force can be thrown off by the tire while it is spinning. Furthermore, a road force balancer can simulate how wheels act while in motion and under the weight of a car, by applying many pounds worth of pressure to the wheel as it spins.

Road force balancing can determine the force that can be thrown off by a tire while in motion
Road force balancing can determine the force that can be thrown off by a tire while in motion

Road Force Can Be Found—and Balanced—in Both Older and Newer Car Tires

Road force can be measured based on how much force wheels throw off and auto mechanics should know that it can be measured in both older and newer tires. However, the difference worth knowing here is that newer tires can be more vulnerable to road force, whether because of weak spots found in a tire’s sidewalls, or from stiffness (or lack thereof) in the walls. Whatever the case, road force balancing tools can sense any discrepancies or variations in the wheel’s tread, including if the tire isn’t entirely round, if it’s stiff, or any other factor preventing the tire from operating smoothly under the weight of a vehicle. A road force balancer can provide auto technicians with a very detailed assessment of balancing issues that a vehicle may be experiencing.

Sidewalls on newer tires are often shallow, which can lead to more obvious vibrations
Sidewalls on newer tires are often shallow, which can lead to more obvious vibrations

An Auto Technician Will Love How it Can Fix Vibrations Found Within Tires

Any weight imbalances in car tires, no matter how small, can result in imbalances at particular speeds, often leading to vibrations, pulling and uneven wear. Because newer tires tend to have shallower sidewalls, vibrations can be especially pronounced. One of the biggest causes of vibrations is road force variation, and these issues—including imperfections with regards to tread, rims, or roundness of the wheels or tires—can be identified with a road force machine. Those wanting to be an auto technician should note that with a road force balancer these imperfections are much easier to fix, which results in happier customers, fewer comebacks, and less time and money spent on traditional balancing.

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