A technological balancing act

Feb. 28, 2012

It’s a procedure that’s been performed on vehicles since they were called “horseless carriages.” Service technicians have been demounting, mounting and inflating tires for years.

For today’s modern automotive marvels, equally modern high-tech tire changing machines have made the process easier than in days past. But there are many factors that technicians must consider before attempting to demount, mount, inflate or balance a passenger or light truck tire.

Industry groups such as the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) and the Tire Industry Association (TIA) help keep techs informed on the latest practices and procedures. Both groups have guidelines to make mounting and balancing tires a safe, efficient and profitable procedure (see www.rma.org and www.tireindustry.org).

And equipment suppliers are continually creating new and better equipment. Here’s a rundown of some of the equipment suppliers’ latest offerings.

Robert Bosch wheel balancer portfolio

Robert Bosch LLC says its portfolio of advanced wheel balancers ranges from compact, tech-friendly balancers to sophisticated electronic and laser-actuated units.

The WBE 4110 compact wheel balancer offers an invisible weight mode for hiding weights behind spokes and a weight optimization mode that reads wheel imbalance.

The WBE 4140 wheel balancer features an easy-to-read upright LCD monitor, with intuitive and straightforward steps illustrated on the monitor.

The WBE 4230 features an easy-to-read color LCD display and exact attachment of all concealed adhesive weights using the electronic Easyfit data recording arm.

The WBE 4430 offers automatic, precise and quick wheel data input via electronic data sensor arms, and features an Easyfix data recording arm for measuring rim diameter.

Lastly, the WBE 4510 wheel balancer has a laser sensor that provides fully automated measurements for tire width, run-out and tire symmetry.

Corghi USA EM9380 wheel balancer

Corghi USA’s EM9380 wheel balancer has been specifically designed for the North American market. The main characteristics of this machine include accuracy, robustness and quick cycle speed, Corghi reports.

The EM9380 electronic wheel balancer features a monitor for cars, lightweight transport vehicles and motor vehicles. Rapid and precise, it handles high work loads.

New Coats BaseLine tire changer models

Hennessy Industries has added three new models to its BaseLine by Coats tire changer family. The BL300, BL400 and BL500 are ideal for shops where tire service is an important, but not primary, source of business. All four BaseLine models offer reliable, economical alternatives to pre-owned equipment.

The BL300, BL400 and BL500 service both steel and alloy wheels. Each tire changer comes with an air-powered side bead loosener, and X-shaped tabletop and bead-sealing jets to assist with inflation.

The BL400 and BL500 also include a fully articulating Robo-Arm helper device to easily mount stiffer sidewall tires.

Hunter TCX575 tire changer

Hunter Engineering Co.’s TCX575 tire changers now include the new PowerOut side-shovel bead loosener system. The PowerOut system provides fingertip bead-loosening controls outside of the wheel on the shovel handle.

This ergonomic design eliminates the foot-pedal control that often forces technicians into awkward positions when loosening beads, says Hunter. By operating the loosener at a more efficient and comfortable position, technicians gain additional power, speed and control.


Snap-on John Bean RFV 2000

Snap-on Equipment’s John Bean RFV 2000 Automated Diagnostic Wheel Balancer obtains the complete profile of the tire and wheel in one spin cycle. Patented optical imaging predicts if tire and wheel harmonics will interact with suspension harmonics to create vehicle vibrations.

The John Bean RFV 2000 incorporates “stripe of light” technology that provides advanced measuring processes to eliminate the need for mechanical measuring devices. With three-dimensional data obtained from optical cameras, the RFV 2000 provides a three-dimensional scaled color display of the tread, sidewall and wheel.

A weight for every need

When performing tire repair services, repairers still see a lot of lead wheel weights today. Not for long. With anti-lead regulations gaining momentum in an evolving marketplace, lead alternatives are the wave of the future. Here are some of the choices to consider.

3M Wheel Weight System

The 3M Wheel Weight System combines a lead-free wheel balancing material with 3M Acrylic Foam Tape adhesive. The product provides an all-in-one, securely attached wheel weight balancing system.

The 3M Wheel Weight System is designed to have less impact on the environment than standard lead wheel weights. The product consists of a flexible, conformable material available in an easy-to-use, self-dispensing package used with a stand and cutting device.

Features include 3M’s Attachment Tape technology for dependable attachment. The system provides an all-in-one, securely attached wheel weight balancing system.


IMI’s XACTBalance truck weights consist of free-moving steel particles in a flexible thermoplastic shell.

The particles move and adjust to changing speed, load and tread wear by targeting the exact location of imbalance, for the life of the tire.

IMI says XACTBalance offers a 40% to 60% greater vibration reduction than clip-on weights. The adhesive backing provides compatibility for flangeless, performance wheels and low-profile tires.

The product line is available in low-profile heights. While the weights are primarily for trucks, IMI does have an XACTBalance line for cars and light trucks.

Hennessy’s BADA Tape-A-Weights

Hennessy Industries’ BADA division recently launched three new styles of steel Tape-A-Weight products. In addition to BADA’s 7026FE style of low-profile steel strip-and-roll products, the company now offers 7025-FET, 7025-FE and 7024-FE products.

The 7025 FET steel Tape-A-Weight product is 25 standard profile strips with Tape-On-Top strips of quarter-ounce segments. The 7025-FE steel Tape-A-Weight product is 25 standard profile strips of quarter-ounce segments with no Tape-On-Top.

The 7024-FE steel Tape-A-Weight product from the value line is 16 standard profile strips of quarter-ounce segments with economy coating and no Tape-On-Top.

All three new Tape-A-Weight styles are manufactured at BADA’s Bowling Green, Ky., plant and feature BADA’s premium-quality adhesive backing, say Hennessy officials.

Perfect Equipment wheel weights

Perfect Equipment Inc. offers a full catalog of weight types in steel and zinc, including clamp-on and adhesives, for light passenger vehicles all the way to heavy-duty equipment.

“We are finding in our market that there are huge misconceptions about the proper ways to install non-lead wheel weights,” says Greg Parker, marketing manager at Perfect Equipment Inc. “In the old days, you truly did just ‘bang on’ lead wheel weights. Wheels were mostly steel and lead is malleable.”

Parker says that as lead weights disappear, the industry needs to learn that zinc and steel clip-on wheel weights must be installed with a soft-head hammer to avoid damage, rather than a metal hammer.

Perfect Equipment has added the new P-value lineup of steel clip-on wheel weights to its product lineup.

Featuring a five-year corrosion resistant coating, an OE manufacturer approved clip design and a lower cost per unit, this lineup of products is positioned for the price conscious buyer.

The P-value series is available in all eight standard clip styles with ounce increments from 0.25 ounce to 3 ounces and gram increments from 5g to 60g.

Plombco Inc. zinc and steel weights

Plombco Inc. offers a complete line of zinc and steel products for OE and aftermarket applications. The company also offers lead weights, while there is still a market for them. Plombco says it  likely will produce more steel weights as lead disappears.

“Most of the corporate decisions that have been made with original equipment manufacturers have veered toward steel,” says Mark Aiken, Plombco vice president of sales and marketing. “What you see happening is a lot of the independents choosing zinc. Part of the reason for that is people look at a zinc weight and it looks like a lead weight, so for them it’s a more natural transition to go that way.”

Wurth strip/roll zinc and steel weights

Wurth USA Inc. offers full-line wheel weight steel and zinc programs. The company’s wheel weights are available individually, in strips and as roll packaging.

Wurth’s wheel weight line offers steel 10– and 20-pound rolls in 1/4-ounce, 1/2-ounce and 5-gram increments. A mounting stand is optional. It is a no-waste, cutting, or measuring system with OE adhesive. The company says the most important feature to this addition is Wurth’s commitment to expanding non-lead options to customers.