When adjusting the balance of a customer’s tires, wheel weights are used to correct any imbalances. The right wheel weight placed in the right spot helps ensure proper tire performance.
It’s all about physics.
By applying the weights to the wheel in a specific, precise location, that additional counterbalance weight causes the wheel’s mass to be distributed more evenly around the axis of rotation.
This ensures the wheel will rotate without vibration. Weight placement location and amount of counterbalance required is made easy with modern wheel-balancing equipment.
Two main types of wheel weights are used: clip-on wheel weights; and adhesive wheel weights. The “right” wheel weight depends on both technician preference and wheel application.
Both clip-on and adhesive wheel weights are available in a variety of different materials. Most common are coated steel (to avoid rust), lead, zinc and even types of plastic.
By nature, technicians often prefer more malleable materials for clip-on weights so they’re easier to install faster with less force. The variety of clip-on designs allow the technician to match them to the profile of the rim flange.
For adhesive weights, the material doesn’t matter as much as the quality of the adhesive tape that secures it to the rim.
Prices often vary based on materials used. Local and state environmental ordinances also may impact the choice of wheel weights used, particularly where lead is concerned.
Clip-on wheel weights, an industry standard, are fastest to use in the balancing process. The design concept hasn’t changed much since the 1930s when they first became popular. Knocking them into the right place on the wheel’s rim flange is a fast process compared with steps necessary to apply adhesive weights.
It’s important the profile of the clip-on weight used matches the profile of the rim flange. Failure to match the weight design to the rim properly can result in weights moving on the rim, coming off the wheel or scratching up the rim.
If the wheel does not have a flange, adhesive wheels weights -- also referred to as “stick-on” or “tape-on” weights –- are the best option. Adhesive wheel weights are a good choice for customers who want their wheels to have a certain aesthetics, as weights can be placed behind spokes or integrated into elements of the wheel design.
For adhesive weights, proper surface preparation takes more time, but helps to ensure quality balancing. Be sure the surface of the inside of the rim is clean. That includes properly removing any existing weights and remaining adhesive residue.
It’s also important to clean the wheel before applying new wheel weights. Once the wheel surface is clean and the proper amount of weight is determined, remove the backing of the wheel-weight strip and place the weight in the center of the imbalance point. Apply pressure to make sure contact with the rim is secure.
Finally, re-spin the assembly to ensure proper balance has been achieved.