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Try This At Home Tire Test - Wheel Bent or Out Of Balance?


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Author: Brian Turner - www.driving.ca

There's nothing more frustrating than falling victim to a misdiagnosis or shoddy auto repair, and it doesn't make you feel any better to know you were the one that screwed up in the first place. Wheel vibrations can be tricky to repair because it's not always about the balancing of the wheels, and the fact that few DIY home garages have a wheel balancer doesn't make this any easier. Still, there are a few ways to verify if your shimmy is due to a wheel imbalance or a damaged rim or hub.

A dial gauge indicator may seem like a tool that few DIY techs would have in their toolbox, but they're inexpensive (under $60), readily available, and can help to solve a myriad of vibration mysteries. When you consider that the average charge to balance four wheels at a professional shop is around $100, forking out some money for a dial gauge can easily pay for itself.

Using a dial gauge to determine if a wheel rim is bent is a relatively simple affair. With the wheels on and car raised, set the dial gauge up on a study floor jack (most gauges have a strong magnetic base), set the pointer of the gauge on the outer bead edge of the rim at a right angle, zero the gauge, and slowly turn the wheel while watching for a reading. If the rim has clip-on weights on its outer edge, you can simply move slowly over them and ignore their deflection on the reading.

Most alloy rims with a good tire can balance with up to 0.005" of horizontal deflection, and most steels can handle up to 0.025". If you find one or more of the rims out by more than their tolerance limit, don't immediately start shopping for new ones until you check the hubs they're mounted on. Perform the same inspection with the wheels off and the dial gauge pointer on the face of the hub where the wheel is bolted. Hub face tolerances are much lower than rims. A horizontal deflection of as little as two-thousandths of an inch can translate to a much larger figure at the edge of the rim.

Rims can also cause a vibration if they have too much vertical deflection. measuring this is as easy as mounting the gauge pointer to the edge of the rim in a parallel set-up, rather than the right-angle perpendicular configuration you used for horizontal tolerances. Depending on the damage to the rim, professional wheel shops may be able to 'straighten' them. Keeping the price of a new rim in mind, it might be cost effective to have them checked to see if they're reparable.

If the hub is the cause but the tolerance is minimal and any integral bearing is good with no noise, roughness or play, having the wheels balanced on the vehicle might provide a smooth ride again. Only a minority of shops have this equipment, so expect to have to call around to a few garages to find one.

Source: https://driving.ca/column/corner-wrench/corner-wrench-is-your-wheel-bent-or-out-of-balance

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