A (Wheel) Weighty Question

I posted sometime back on how Superblue was having “wheel shakes” at around 50 MPH of late, and a couple of members jumped on it as a wheel having become unbalanced. Yesterday, my tech bud indeed found in our parking lot a strip of 3 weights + 1 (= 1 oz. total), still attached to the adhesive tape that was used to adhere them to my rim. That matches an “empty” spot on the rim of my right front wheel. I remember now that was the wheel I had a flat on about a month or two ago in my parking lot one a.m… I reinflated it with my inflator and got her to a tire repair place a few miles down the road from me to get patched up. I guess when she went flat that caused the balance weight to let loose (?) :confused:

Anyway, I was stunned to see they are putting weights on with just adhesive tape now (?) :open_mouth: This was at a national tire shop chain where I bought my set of tires a couple of years ago. Seems like when I was younger tire installers used a tack hammer to hammer them somehow to the rim. I then got to checking the Jag lit and see that Jag actually has their own wheel weights that have a little piece (“ear”?) attached as part of the weight that curves over the edge of the rim, presumably then squeezed with a pair of pliers to lock them onto that spot of the wheel. :+1:

So have tire places pretty much cheaped out now these days and they are all using tape for the weights, or just the chain shop I used? :confused: I just don’t see how they can expect adhesive to hold the weights on, given how fast the wheels spin, the road bumps they encounter, car washers and their brushes, wheel cleaning chemicals, etc. :frowning_face:

It depends, ally wheels have a thicker rim than steelies and the tape is common practice, also as wheels became wider there was more discrepancies between inner and outer balance spots. I too have seen a line of weights on my drive.
I had my car on the hoist once when I had my Midas W’shop and it had had a wheel balance, I went up to it and idly spun the wheel (front) and it went round then stopped quite quickly. The thin balance weight was fouling on the brake caliper. I sent the wheel back to be rebalanced.

Decent wheel balancing attaches weights in two planes, typically the inner rim and the outer rim. Some people prefer the weights not be visible and request that the weights be applied to the inner rim and just inboard of the outer face of the wheel, hidden behind the spokes or whatnot. Works fine but requires more lead, so shops sometimes charge extra for it.

The stick-on weights are attached with foam tape, looks kinda like the poster tape of old. Sometimes they come off. Some people draw lines around them so if they go missing you can just stick one back on. Some apply a layer of aluminum tape over the weights to secure them. The aluminum tape doesn’t weigh enough to throw off the balance.

If your tire went flat there is the possibility that it was being driven on while the pressure was low and could have been damaged. This may add to the wobble.

I was wondering about that, too, and the fact that at the time of the repair they may have not re- balanced the wheel. It was sort of a tense situation, in that the shop I had driven her to is one of the largest tire chain shops in the U.S., which is not where I bought those tires (which was NTB, too far to drive to w. a leaky tire :grimacing: ). They of course then did what I guess is their usual sales spiel to try to pressure me into buying a new tire from them, claiming that if they took the tire off the car and it turned out it was “non-repairable” (in their opinion) they would not be “allowed” to put it back on the car. I knew since it was something that happened in my parking lot it was just a simple, clean puncture and could tell the air was coming out from the middle of the tire (vs. the sidewall) = simple repair needed. I told them basically don’t try to “extort” me with that talk into buying a tire when my old one was less than 2 years (and 7K miles) old and required just a simple repair. :angry: I pointed out that all they needed to do was lift it up on that corner with a floor jack (all their bays were full at the time) and they could see it themselves (turned out it was cleanly punctured by a bolt, still in the tire). I said if it was somehow too bad to repair they could always use my spare. Of course, they have a pat answer for that, by asking me how old my spare was and that if it was OEM they could not do that b/c they can’t put a tire on a car that is more than (6?) years old. :roll_eyes: I at that point told them that I’d just change the tire on my car in front of their shop myself, huffing and puffing away (which I knew they would not want other concerned customers to see going on :wink: ). The manager then came out from the work area and agreed they would look at it that way. After looking at it they repaired the puncture and he very courteously didn’t even charge me for the repair as he drove her to the front and handed me the keys. :smile: B/c it was a “gratis” job, I bet they didn’t bother to re-balance the wheel.

If I had it to do over again, I would have just called A.A.A., except I was in a hurry that day. :thinking:

I’m glad they tape them on instead of hammer them on!

I’ve never had the sticky stuff come off. But one thing worth doing, which I always do when bring my car in for new tires, is give the inside of the wheel a good clean with dishsoap. Sometimes if the tire place doesn’t bother cleaning the grease off the wheel, the weights won’t stick very well.

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Amen! You watch those guys hammering clip-on weights onto an alloy wheel once and you’ll be requesting stick-on weights from then on!

So Kirby, are you saying we should stick with the adhesive weights for our cats rather than the ones with the metal “ears” ? :confused:

If you have alloy wheels, I would insist on stick-on weights.

I will expand on my story.
I use a small family owned tire wholesaler who’s main business is retreading truck tires. He has on more than one occasion refused to repair a flat for a number of reasons all of which have been explained by him and also investigated by me. A couple of reasons not to repair the tire: it has sat flat for some time-this causes the side wall to become weak at the crease that is created. I have first had experience on why not to repair a tire such as this. I had a front tire on a 1978 Ford F100 (that had sat flat for some time) explode when I inflated it. It removed both the inner and outer fenders from the truck. It was like a bomb went off. Luckily I had walked to the other side of the truck to fill another flat tire. Second: when you run a tire with very low pressure the bulge in the tire gets hot and the inside of the tire starts to pulverize into little beads and weaken the side wall at that point, I’ve seen it.
I try to use small local businesses unless it is just not tenable.

Stephen J.

When I had my new wheels and tires mounted on my XJS, I carried them back and forth in a truck.

Most shops crank them on with an air gun which makes it almost impossible to remove with stock lug wrench. Once home, I covered all the weights with aluminum tape as mentioned above.


Where do you get this aluminum tape at? I don[t think I have ever seen it at WM … :confused:

Lowes, Home Depot or Ace Hardware. Look in the heating and cooling section.


Aye, that aluminum tape is neat stuff. I stumbled on to it at my local ACE hardware. never thought of it to secure wheel weights.

One of my cans in the shop has some lead chunks. Saving to melt for any project that never developed. wheel weights amongst them. The knock on type. Noo tape on ones.

But, in my mind’s eye, I do not see the knock on being applied to an alloy wheel?

Steel for sure. None around as of now…

As I recall in my full service station job days, The weight was determined and then split one in and one out , .

No one at that time wanted toput all the weight inboard.

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I don’t think it’s common any more, but a couple of decades back it was not unusual for alloy wheels to be designed to accept clip-on weights. The rim profile had a little recess where the clip-on weights would be applied, although I think the tire shop gorilla had to use a little tool to bend the clip a bit farther open than when the same weights were used on steel wheels. Or he’d just whack it a little harder with the hammer to make it go.

Both of my current Japanese appliances have 16" alloy wheels, and neither one could possibly use clip-on weights. The surface of the rim is totally flat and smooth, no place for a clip-on to go.

The difference between a “static balance” and a “dynamic balance” is that the static balance, which is done on a bubble level, only determines which area of the wheel is heavy. The dynamic balance, done on a machine that spins the tire up, also determines whether the imbalance is on the inboard side or the outboard side. If, for example, you took a balanced wheel and added an ounce to the outboard rim and added an ounce to the inboard rim 180 degrees away, that wheel would still be balanced according to the bubble level – but it would give the car a case of the shimmies at speed. The dynamic balance tells the operator how much weight to put on the inboard and outboard edges in order that the wheel will neither hop nor shimmy.

When you just split the weights and put half inboard and half outboard, you’re performing the static balance and merely hoping not to make the dynamic balance any worse than it already is. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but no tire shop should be balancing wheels that way any more. The wider wheels get, the more important dynamic balance is, and even my Japanese buzzboxes have 50-series tires on them these days.

Here is what Jag shows for the XJS … They offer both “clip on” and “knock on” style weights, from 5 g. up to 60 g. in 5-gram increments. The knock-ons come in both single piece and two-piece styles. (supposedly the knock on is the style shown in the illustration, but to me it looks more like it would be a clip on style … ? :confused:)


Those weights are for the steel wheels.

??? You’ve lost me … It shows them as belonging to all XJS wheels … I also checked it with my Jag factory parts manual and it shows ditto, although it doesn’t use the term “knock on” for any of them on there …

That’s what it shows in the factory parts catalog …