In passenger vehicles, the question of balancing tires is a no-brainer. Of course, they should be balanced, and regularly. However, when you bring up balancing in regards to commercial truck tires, it’s more complex. . . There are clear benefits to balancing truck tire steers, but no consensus has formed that recommends the balancing of all wheel positions.
. Let’s take a quick look at the positives and negatives, as well as covering what we tell our own customers at STTC locations.
(MOVE SECTION BELOW “THE BENEFITS”SECTION)
Balancing a four-wheeled vehicle doesn’t take long, but it’s another matter when talking about working vehicles. If the balancing is being done upon installation on an 18-wheeled truck, it can add 10-15 minutes per wheel. That adds up to roughly four extra hours the truck is out of service, not making money.
Time is money, so the costs of balancing tires are ultimately doubled – there’s the cost of the extra labor to balance each tire as well as the lost driver productivity. Since it hasn’t been proven that balancing drive & trailer tires reduce tire wear or vehicle maintenance costs, most fleets will not invest the cost to balance these wheel positions.
Leaving aside the more extreme claims that balancing “does no good,” balancing the steer tires will, limit truck vibration thereby reducing wear and tear throughout the drive system. The wheels will last longer, as will the cuffs, rotors, and associated components. Anecdotally, well-balanced steer tires will last roughly 30% longer, which ultimately reduces your tire budget
The other side of the maintenance coin is, of course, reliability. A well-maintained truck is going to perform better, see higher gas mileage, and be less prone to highly expensive breakdowns. There’s a strong argument for seeing steer tire wheel balancing as more of an insurance policy, lowering overall chances of larger problems.
At STTC, our position is that balancing commercial truck tires does help, but there are diminishing returns when balancing every axle on the vehicle. Our own recommendation is that fleet operators focus on the steer tires, and have them balanced every 20,000 miles, to get a good balance of cost vs benefit.
To schedule a wheel balancing, contact your local STTC today!