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Poll: did tire balance beads work for you?

Did tire balance beads work for you?


  • Total voters
    36

thomat65

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Vote above! And please feel free to back up your vote by sharing your personal experience and tire/wheel specs.

I know there are already a few threads about balance beads on this forum but I'd like to see some numbers.
 

Steel City 06

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I have the Centramatic wheel balancers, and they make freeway travel very smooth. They operate on the same principle as tire beads, but don't allow side-to-side movement of the balancing material to prevent lateral unbalancing.
 
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thomat65

thomat65

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I have the Centramatic wheel balancers, and they make freeway travel very smooth. They operate on the same principle as tire beads, but don't allow side-to-side movement of the balancing material to prevent lateral unbalancing.
That looks like it'd be easier to mount that kind of balancer than to put beads in the tire. Where does it mount? The inside side of the rim?
 

Steel City 06

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That looks like it'd be easier to mount that kind of balancer than to put beads in the tire. Where does it mount? The inside side of the rim?
Pretty much. Take the tire/wheel off, slide the balancer on the studs, and put the wheel back on. The center part is thin sheet metal, so it doesn't space the tire out. No need to un-mount or remount any tires on rims.

So basically it only takes as much time as it would take you to remove and reinstall each wheel. They tend to outlast the vehicle unless damaged, so they'll last many sets of tires.

They automatically rebalance every time you come up to speed, so if you lose a chunk of tire or get a chunk of mud or ice stuck in the wheel, it will automatically balance that out.

They do make a small amount of noise at low speeds, but as soon as you hit about 20 mph or so, the material sets and becomes dead silent.

There is also a competing product by Balance Masters that uses liquid mercury instead of small pellets.
 
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thomat65

thomat65

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They automatically rebalance every time you come up to speed, so if you lose a chunk of tire or get a chunk of mud or ice stuck in the wheel, it will automatically balance that out.
That's the thing that I think is so neat about these kinds of solutions. This stuff has really piqued my interest.

I still don't really understand the physics behind it though. I mean if you were to tie a rope to the wheel and swing it around your head then all the beads or bearings or whatever would slosh over to the outside making it more out of balance. Maybe it has something to do with the motion of the wheel being constrained to mostly just the up-down direction as it rotates?

But even then I still don't understand how the balance beads would settle down. Because the tire's contact patch is flat so as the beads roll around into the contact patch it seems like they'd bounce off of that flat area... there's going to be some centrifugal jerk as the beads encounter the contact patch area. It doesn't look like the Centramatic wheel balancers would have this problem.

I feel like I have more questions than answers haha 🤷‍♂️

Edit: I think whoever wrote the material for Centramatic's website doesn't understand how they work either haha. Here's what they say at https://www.centramatic.com/wheel-balancer.rhtml?modelNumber=300-345 under FAQ > "What is inside the rings?"
A liquid alone would merely flatten out under centrifugal force at high speed and be forced back around the ring to an undesirable position. That’s why we use the benefits of both solid and a liquid.
Now that just doesn't make any sense at all. If there's a gradient that would cause a liquid to flow to the other side of the ring then round bearings will roll that way too! I don't doubt that they work, but it looks like even the manufacturer thinks magic is involved :LOL:
 
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Pokahpolice

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I've used beads several times in trucks and I don't like them. Do they work, yes. but they often feel like they are out of balance. Typically they work themselves out but I've pulled over and come to a complete stop on numerous occasions to try to get them to work. I'd rather have a pile of weights on the wheel and made my guy use weights on the new TJ tires.
 

Steel City 06

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I suspect the flat contact patch would alter the efficacy of beads at balancing a wheel. That would force movement that may counteract the balancing properties, and could even result in unwanted oscillations.

As to how the balancers work:

The beads (or balancing material) is driven to the farthest point due to the acceleration forces. This movement alters the center of gravity. A body in space will freely rotate about its center of gravity, and not whatever geometric center may exist.

Think about the spin in a hammer throw.
Even though the system appears unbalanced, it actually is balanced; however, it isn't rotating about the human, but an imaginary axis in between the human and the weight. If you were to put a ball on a string and attach it to the thrower's head, it would eventually sit directly behind the thrower's head, bringing the actual axis of rotation closer to the axis of the human body.

Since the wheels are isolated by the tire and the vehicle suspension, they have a tendency to rotate around their center of gravity. If that isn't concentric with the axle tube, the axle tube is forced to oscillate as a result. But the axle tube provides a restorative force that forces the beads to realign at the farthest away point, ultimately bringing the axis of rotation inline with the axle tube.

This process breaks down when there is insufficient compliance in the axle tube. Fir example, if you took the car with beads or Centramatics and put it on jackstands on the axle tubes and ran it up to freeway speeds, the restorative force from the axle tubes would be altered, the material would fly to one side, and the wheel would violently shake until the whole car falls off the stands.

Here is a brief overview of how Centramatics work:
 
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thomat65

thomat65

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Balance Masters
It looks like Balance Masters says their product is magical. I'm sure it's a great product but their reasoning just doesn't make sense:
http://www.balancemasters.com/how-it-works.html
However, when sudden braking or slowing occurs, the fluids continue to spin for several revolutions until they slow down to the wheel speed. Therefore, the fluid moving at high speed and weighing nearly 28 ounces per wheel whip around the ring at ten to fifteen revolutions per second. This weight, when pulled by gravity over the top of the wheel, "falls" over the front side of the wheel where the force is created which "pulls" the wheel down onto the pavement-JUST WHEN YOU NEED IT TO-on sudden braking over hard bumps or across sheets of water to create a road-hugging controlability and anti-sway, anti-drift and anti-trailer hop and bounce effect that amazes so many of our customers, especially the flammable and chemical haulers who religiously put Balance Masters® on their trailer axles.
...riiight... and the weight on the other side of the wheel "flies" around the back side of the wheel where the force is created which "lifts" the wheel up away from the pavement-WHICH EXACTLY CANCELS OUT THE OTHER FORCE. :LOL:

Note: that quoted paragraph has absolutely nothing to do with the balancing ability. I'm sure it balances great. But it's not going to give you magic grip.

But still I'm definitely going to keep these kinds of things in mind the next time I need tires balanced 👍
 
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Steel City 06

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I still recommend getting your tires balanced at the tire shop. These active balancers cannot account for out-of-plane imbalances that tire/wheel combinations often have.

For example, imagine a 1 pound weight on the inside rim and another 1 pound weight 180 degrees apart, but on the outside rim. On a basic bubble balancer, the tire would appear to be balanced. But run it up to speed, and you will find vibrations, because the axis of rotation in free space is no longer collinear with the axis of the axle.

Some basic shop balancing systems cannot account for this. For example, the bubble balancer would not find an out-of-plane imbalance. The Centramatic balancer would not be able to correct for it either. But some shops do offer advanced balancing that can account for this.

Out-of-plane imbalances aren't normally significant, but if ignored, especially on larger wheel and tire combinations, it could lead to very hard to resolve vibrations.
 

Vinman

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My current 35” tires were balanced and great for a while then started getting a shimmy at the usual 45-50 MPH speed. I left the weights on and added 4 oz. of copper coated steel BB’s. Tires run nice and true now.

After a wheeling trip last Winter as I was airing up I noticed significant amounts of snow in the wheels which would have certainly thrown off the balance with just conventional weights yet the ride home was shimmy free.
 
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Steel City 06

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Rescue6

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I am running beads in my tires and absolutely love the results. I was constantly rebalancing I’m guessing it was due to ripping chunks of tire out while crawling the rocks. It would cause unbalanced tires. Not to mention the huge tires are not easy to balance anyway. I’d been running beads in my motorcycle for the last ten years probably so I recently put them in the Jeep. So much better than I ever got with weights. And after multiple runs on the rocks now it is still buttery smooth. I’m running beadlocks do I just took the rings off and inserted the beads. I’ve seen people in videos put them in through the valve stem but I thought that looked like a pain.
 

Lou

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If anyone wants to buy a set of centramatics PM me. I have my second set that I ran for a few hundred miles. Didn’t work for me either times I tried them. Would happily pass them on.
 

JMT

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I tried balance beads to cure possible tire balance issues when I was running 31x10.5x15r BFG GY MTR w Kevlar on DC-2’s. Never changed anything. It was a waste of $30. When I went to 33’s everything went away and was smooth as glass.
 

Grant Lasson

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I used centramatics for quite awhile. They helped quite a bit if the tire was pretty close to being well balanced. As my 35" tires wore they were no longer enough. I would not recommend centramatics for tires/wheels that are not also weight balanced.

Right now I'm using airsoft pellets. They're more effective for the state of my tires now. I've pulled off the wheel weights.

Before going with the pellets I tried to get the tires/wheels road force balanced and was told that it could not be done. I think their weight limit was 12 oz and they said I needed more than that.
 

someguysjeep

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the 15" version seems small to me for big tires. they do not have enough material to handle the whole wheel. even with beads and centramatics my 35's can get squirrly if they don't distribute correctly. forcing a slow down to then to redistribute.
the 5 on 5 did not come with a spacer it fit.......they fit over the large rear JK caliper just fine..i never got to try the front axle the huge upgraded calipers make it impossible to fit now.
you can run them turned in or out depending on brake package and rim space.

my opinion would be...they are maybe helpful with small stock wheels or used as extra insurance for trail rashed wheels or extra crap hitching along until the treads clear/clean out.