Ladysmith: At last you can balance your off-road tyres properly

Mark Pitout with the extraordinary state-of-the-art Hunter Road Force wheel balancing machine

“Many so-called all-terrain tyres are masquerading as off-road tyres, when in fact their carcass construction is no different to that of a road-based tyre. However, it’s not that tyre manufacturers are ‘pulling a fast one’; it’s simply a case of tyre selection versus application,” explains Mark Pitout from Mark’s Tyres, Ladysmith.

“Most 4×4 owners don’t really need a heavy-duty tyre, as they spend 90% of their lives town-driving, but when they hit the off-road, they want to feel safe.”

Many tyres come in both SUV and genuine off-road form. They look the same, but are far from it. The SUV tyre normally weighs way less than the dedicated off-road tyre, with the real off-road tyre being way more expensive and a lot heavier.

“This brings us to the biggest problem with genuine off-road tyres. They are bigger, heavier tyres, making them trickier to balance due to their rubber bulk. What’s more, they tend to cause greater vibrations when out of sync,” adds Mark.

It’s a common problem. The consumer buys four actual off-road tyres. The dealer fits the tyres. The consumer complains of vibration. The dealer rebalances the tyres. The consumer still complains of vibration. The baffled dealer blames the tyre manufacturer. The tyre manufacturer blames the dealer. The consumer, caught in the middle, ultimately regrets his purchase.

So, what exactly IS the problem?

Well, all things are NOT equal, and that includes tyre-balancing machines – most of these are unable to apply load to the tyre, so they don’t replicate real-life conditions. What’s more, a number of older machines base their balancing calculations on a pre-calibrated setting which could be set on a much smaller rim and tyre size – say, a 13-inch.

So, what now? Thin, lightweight tyres are usually easier to balance, so one option is to downgrade your real off-road tyres to a light-duty all-terrain that punctures at the sight of a twig. But, if you’d rather forgo the punctures, you can always look for a wheel balancing centre that has a state-of-the-art Hunter Road Force system installed.

To compound this, problems also exist when doing wheel balancing on low profile tyres as well.

The American-made Hunter Road Force is the only (patented) tyre-balancing machine that can apply load for a real-life test. It balances all four tyres while recording their respective discrepancies, then suggests a preferred order in which the tyres should be fitted: left rear, right rear, left front and right front.

The accuracy of the machine is (laser) pin-point; it’s also able to check if your rims are untrue. Another trick is to take a particularly fussy tyre and to mount it at the rear left-hand side of the vehicle – as far from the steering system as possible.

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So if you want to get that perfect and smoothly balanced drive out of not just your bakkie or SUV but maybe your sports car fitted with low profile tyres, then visit Mark’s Tyres and let the Hunter Road Force turn your off-road or a speed machine into a smooth riding dream machine!

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  AUTHOR
Rod Skinner
Editor

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