A balancer is a piece of shop equipment that helps a technician ensure the tire/wheel assembly’s weight is even and balanced, so it rotates smoothly once mounted onto the vehicle. Once balance is checked and any points of imbalance established, the technician then can add wheel weights to correct any issues.
The most advanced balancing equipment not only checks the tire/wheel assembly for balance, it also shows the technician precisely where and how much weight needs to be added to “balance” the entire assembly. This helps to solve for imbalance and static, quickly showing the technician how to address any conditions that might lead to tire vibration or other drivability concerns once remounted onto the vehicle.
There are three different types of wheel-balancing equipment: dynamic balancers, static balancers and “bubble” balancers.
Most common to professional and high-volume tire service shops are dynamic wheel balancers. These larger, powerful units offer incredible precision, resulting in efficient and high-quality work. They typically are a larger investment than the other two types of balancers.
These heavy-duty machines are designed to recreate the natural movement of a wheel on a vehicle. The wheel assembly is placed on a motorized spindle on the balancing equipment, which then is used to simulate the same spinning forces as if the wheel were attached to the vehicle.
Advanced measurement technology allows for more accurate results and better, faster wheel balancing. Different types of dynamic wheel balancers are designed for different sizes and types of tires –- covering outside tire diameters up to 50 inches and more.
Most balancing equipment is designed specific to the type of vehicles serviced, such as passenger, commercial, motorcycle, materials handling and more.
Static wheel balancers are lighter-weight, less-expensive solutions designed to read balance on the tire assembly without moving or spinning the wheel.
The tire is placed on a vertical, non-rotating spindle where its balance is measured through sensors mounted to the spindle assembly. Though a stationary (i.e. static) reading is less accurate and precise than a moving (i.e. dynamic) one, the equipment takes up less space on the shop floor, is portable and easier to work with.
A common type of static balancer is what is called a “bubble” balancer. This type of non-rotating balancer shows the angle of unbalance as indicated by the center bubble in an oil-filled glass sighting gauge.
Bubble balancers can be very portable lightweight solution for wheel balancing, some weighing 15 pounds or less. Though static and bubble balancers are less precise and less expensive than the more advanced dynamic balancers, for shops tight on floor space –- and even tighter on funds to invest in new equipment -- they can be a good an option.