'02 Impala 3.4L 196.5k: Need (4) Tires



Sounds like you’re talking about cheapo tires to put on a car you’ll be flipping ASAP :smirk:


14 year old vehicle. Almost 200,000 miles. Primarily in town driving. Just put 4 inexpensive all-season tires on and drive on.


@Mustangman gave you the correct description of offset. The reason for it is to get the centerline of the tire over the centerline of the wheel bearing, or near to it.

You have a one piece wheel bearing with two tracks about an inch and a quarter apart, about 30mm IIRC. As long as the centerline of the wheel falls somewhere between the inner and outer races of the wheel bearing, you are OK. If it falls outside of the races (either side of the bearing races), then it will cause excessive wear of the wheel bearing.



No. I was referring to the balancing and the number of (large) weights the Wal-Mart tech always seemed to tack onto my steel wheels. I used to look at that and say to myself, “did he do that right? How can these pristine factory steel wheels need that many weights???” Made me wonder if he knew how to balance tires properly.

And yeah, I’m most likely going to end up down at the tire shop having them install (4) new tires (like I’ve done a million times before), but I thought I’d post here first just to see if anybody had any creative ideas - like how to find a set of new take-offs for an older vehicle. Turns out, it’s not really possible - at least for this vehicle.


Thank you for that clarification. I understood clearly with your 2nd sentence. I couldn’t picture what Mustangman was describing, but then again - I can’t even buy a set of tires, so whatdaya expect? Got it now, thanks!


I hate to say this . . . Wal-mart mechanics aren’t the only ones that don’t know how to balance rims properly

Some of MY colleagues clearly don’t know the proper way

3 or 4 weights each side, totalling about 12 ounces :fearful:

I quietly observe this and say nothing

If I get the vehicle next time, I balance the rims properly


Cheap tires can require a lot of weight to balance. I am often impressed mounting and balancing quality tires when they only need .25 of an ounce or no weight at all. Mid price range tires will usually need .75 to 2.00 ounces of weight. I don’t deal with low priced tires but the need for a lot of weight doesn’t make the tire defective, just of low standards.


“Cheap tires can require a lot of weight to balance.”

I agree with that

But if you don’t know what you’re doing, you might install 12 ounces per rim, and you have a new set of the most expensive Michelins :smiling_imp:


I find the Walmart references interesting.I am pretty cheap/frugal esp for the older cars in my house. So before heading to any specific store, I will shop around on the internet. I will check sears/WM/American tire depot/Pepboys and so on. I have never found the WM tire pricing competitive and that is despite the brand/ratings on the tire.


So how does that wheel balancing machine work, anyway? I always thought it was designed to be idiot-proof. It looks like, after the guy spins the wheel up, he’s slowly turning it by hand while watching some screen to precisely locate some “sweet spot” where, I presume, the machine is telling him to attach a weight. Isn’t it also telling him what size weight, or is that where the tech’s judgment comes into play?

And then he spins it up again and, if the machine tells him it’s still not right, the process repeats?

And why would brand new cheap tires need more weights? I could see used tires that may not have worn properly, but new tires (cheap or high quality) should be made consistently throughout, no? Is it the formulation used which can result in a tire that looks round but actually has variable densities inside? If so, you would think something like that would be illegal as it could be potentially dangerous. And then how would you know that an allegedly higher-quality tire didn’t also suffer from the same condition (since you wouldn’t be able to tell visually)?


The cheaper the tire, the more inconsistent they are. It takes effort to get good tires.

My standard rant about tires is: Tires are the only thing keeping your car on the road, why would you risk your life on cheap tires? End of rant.

As for balance, how many tire techs know to place the yellow dot next to the valve stem? Some tire brands get marked with a yellow dot because that is the lightest spot on the tire. How do you think tire manufacturers know this point? They spin them up and measure the balance before leaving the factory, that’s how. Do you think the cheapo tires get balance checked?

There may also a red dot indicating the “high point” of the tire’s out-of-round-ness. This spot takes precedence over the yellow dot. Again, how do you think they find that point? They road-force measure it. Again, cheapo tires don’t do this.

Here is the article explaining the dots;



I leave tire place with new tires and they are balanced do I care about how many weights were used, Not even a little bit.


A regular machine spins the wheel and senses the perturbations in the smoothness of the spin caused by slight variations in weight around the axis. The machine then shows the tech where the high and low spots are so he/she can add weight, and tells him/her how much weight needs to be added to equalize the forces. A respin confirms the balance or suggests that it needs tweaking.

A road force balancer does the same, but with a spinning drum pressed against the tread simulating road forces. Road forces can affect the way inconsistencies in weight combined with inconsistencies in roundness affect the smoothness with which a tire will roll. It then tells the tech where and how much. Since internal tire faults or damage can affect the way a tire rolls on the road, and thus its balance, road force balancing can detect them better than a regular balance.

Nothing is idiot proof. Idiots are ingenious in overcoming idiotproofing.


@the_same_mountainbik LOL

I’ve seen similar quotes about idiots or fools

“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”

–Attibuted to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy


I thought the dot was the heaviest part of the tire, not the lightest. Maybe its the color of the dot. Green-heavy, yellow-light. I can see why a kid in the shop would get a little confused though.



I don’t know if I’d go as far as to say people are “risking their lives” on cheap tires. For all the millions of tires out there on the road rotating millions of times every day through all kinds of conditions - many of them being of the “cheap” variety, how many do you see failing? Tires, no matter what quality, seem to be very reliable. And if they weren’t, we’d know about it. Every manufacturer has their low-end, people are buying them, and it’s not harming them physically. They may not last as long, and people may abuse them, but they don’t seem to fail.

On the other hand - I just had a $175 Michelin tire fail on me on the Interstate at 70 mph. To me it looks like a sidewall failure as there is no evidence of trauma to the sidewall of the tire. All I see is what looks like the tiniest of pinholes in the main tread. There was nothing in the road that I ran over that I could see (9 AM, clear day). So why did the whole sidewall fail instantaneously like that? Michelin did a massive recall on these “Latitude” tires a couple of years ago for sidewall defects, but these tires came after that. Did they correct the problem? Maybe the recall didn’t extend far enough? Michelin told me to take the tire to an authorized dealer, but all I got from them was either “You need to take that up with Michelin directly” (Town Fair Tire), or “that’s not a sidewall defect, but I can’t tell you what it is, either” (Sears), So even “higher-end” Michelin has had dangerous defects in their tires. You just never know…


Well, I guess you couldn’t make the balancing machine “idiot-proof” because ultimately the tech has to hammer on the weights and he could put them wherever he wanted - out of distrust for the machine, sheer ignorance, or even maliciousness.

What about changes to the tire over the course of its life? Wouldn’t that potentially change the tire’s balancing characteristics? You’re on the Interstate, suddenly lock the brakes and skid 50 feet. Wouldn’t your tires need to be re-balanced? You whack a curb, but there’s no outward signs of damage to the tire. Does that affect the balancing?


Not significantly if there are no mechanical problems acting on the tire and it was properly balanced to begin with.


So I’m sitting here laughing because I started looking online for tires and I see UniRoyal Tiger Paws at Wal-Mart. That’s the tire that originally came on the car brand new from the factory … and they were fine. They’re only $79 each, 55,000 mile tread, 98H-rated tire … Gotta be better than the Douglas or Goodyear Viva (3’s now, apparently).

But I’ll check with that independent tire guy I bought the 98H BF Goodrich Advantage TA’s off in 2009. They’ll be another $100 or so, but maybe a better tire? So hard to quantify these things …


If you had bought your tires at Costco, they would have come with a lifetime road hazard/failure warranty that is included in the purchase price of the tires.
No hassle at all, in my experience, to get a free tire replacement at Costco when one of their tires is punctured or fails in another way.


Good grief, thousands of people manage to choose and purchase tires in less time than it would take to read this thread.


You should . . . especially if you’ve got 6 or 8 weights per tire, totalling 12 ounces or so per tire

That is just lousy work, or more likely idiocy

To actually pay for such work is an insult :frowning:

I’ve seen it enough times that it’s not even a shock, anymore