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An Up-Close Look at Wheel Balancers

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Rememberwhen tire dealers and customers used to call modern day tire balancers“spin balancers?” Can you recall the time when a tire was placed on aflimsy little spindle and watched like a hawk until it found itsrightful level, then you marked the tire and pounded in the weights?Well, all that is ancient history now.

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With so much technologybuilt into a tire/wheel balancer, a better moniker might be a high techmeasuring system. Literally, the tire/wheel balancer has been through atechnological revolution that would scare the pants off a 1960smechanic. The improvements in tire/wheel balancers are so dramatic thatthey are immediately apparent to both the owners of balancers and theircustomers.

One company says its system is so accurate that itminimizes correction weight usage and attendant costs by 33% or more,simply by reducing the time it takes to balance most assemblies.

Alongthe way, tire/wheel balancer manufacturers have added the ability todetermine distance and diameter measurements with very fast read-outtimes. They also make balancing alloy wheels with hidden tack-onweights a much easier task than it used to be, and can even provide atire/wheel assembly with a “road test” while it’s still mounted on thebalancer.

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Armed with a host of computers and soft touchappendages that won’t damage an expensive wheel, today’s balancersfeature digital multicolor computer displays, 8- to 20-second balancingcycles, built-in lift systems and the ability to eliminate pullcomplaints.
Straight-ahead steering ability for all vehicles plusroutine tire rotations all but assure that tire dealers will notexperience problems or comebacks – two more advantages.

This isaccomplished on the tire/wheel balancer by identifying the differencebetween individual forces of the front tire and determining thedirection in which the vehicle may drift. Until now, steering driftcould only be verified through road tests and solving pull-relatedproblems through trial and error.

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Now that road tests can beconducted on a balancer, all lateral information gathered by themachine is applied to a set of tires, providing the operator withmultiple placement choices. The tires are tagged and positioned on thevehicle to provide the least amount of vehicle pull and to obtain thebest straight-ahead steering stability.

For as long as anyonecan remember, motorists have asked for good tire wear, straight-aheadtracking, a smooth ride and a straight steering wheel. All of this haslargely been delivered over time, but never so quickly, so accuratelyand so efficiently as today.

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