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Gigantic wheel weights

I collect wheel weights I find along side the road. You know, a car goes around a corner and tosses a weight which slides to the outside curb. Ok, maybe I’m a little crazy to collect wheel weights, but that’s one of my “go for a walk” hobbies. I’m noticing the weights I’m finding now – compared to say 5 years ago – are considerably bigger. Not more numerous, I find them about the same frequency, but the ones I find are generally bigger. Some of them are down right huge!!! Like yesterday I found one at least 6 inches long, and very heavy. What’s going on with the wheel weights these days? How could it be possible that a wheel weight so big and heavy be required to balance a simple car tire? Are wheels and tires made these days really that much out of balance, direct from the factory, that they need huge wheel weights to balance them?

Or am I just on a lucky streak, and wheel weights aren’t generally any bigger now than before?


In all likelihood, that “6 inches long, and very heavy” wheel weight was for a large commercial vehicle

We have an assortment of wheel weights at our shop, and the ones for the larger vehicles are downright huge

Good idea @db4690. I’ll see if I can figure out a way to get an estimate of the circumference of the tire by the weight curvature.

Look how big wheels and tires are now compared to 20 years ago.

Your old Corolla rides on 13 inch wheels, right? Even my old 1970 Cadillac–a large car by any measure–sat on 15’s. 20 years ago when I was manager of a corner Chevron station that sold tires a 195/75R14 was one of the most popular sizes and fit a whole lot of family sedans and wagons.

Today a Toyota Corolla S comes stock with 16 inch wheels. Your full size cars and SUVs are 17 and 18. I have a customer with a Ford Taurus with factory 19 inch wheels.

Bigger wheels and tires, bigger weights.

Some of the SUVs use wheels up to 22".

A late uncle of mine used to collect wheel weights from everywhere he could. He would also visit the police firing range and pick up lead out of the dirt embankment.

He would melt it all down and cast fishing sinkers and bullets with it.

Some shops have difficulty in balancing wheels and tires ,one of my brothers bought a set of new rough tread off a shop owner for His Toyota ,the installer owner had 6 oz of weight on one side of one wheel the vehicle was undriveable ,Brother went across the street to the competing shop ,had tires rebalanced with a fraction of the weight ,problem solved .A lot of installers fail to get the rims centered on the balancing machine IMO .

While wheels are bigger, they’re almost always alloy, right? Do most alloys use clip on weights?

All of the alloy wheels with which I am familiar use the self-adhesive type of balancing weights.

Are the weight’s larger now with the transition to lead-free weights?

A little off the subject but here is a story about a guy who was a lead collector. I was stationed with him while we were both in the Air Force.

He called me one day and wanted my help and the use of my truck. He frequented a lot of DRMO auctions and I was used to loading and hauling around some of his odd purchases. On this day…he wanted me to pick up a rather large pile of lead for him. It had come from a base hospital X-Ray lab that was damaged in an earthquake.

We had to cut it into smaller chunks with axes so we could pick it up and load it. Ten loads later…it was all piled up in his garage. He took a piece of the lead to a guy who made fishing lures and the man rejected it because it was not pure lead. A large body shop also rejected it because it didn’t melt right.

My friend finally took it to a place that analyzed metal and he got some great news. The “lead” was a mix of lead and silver. It seems that was a common mix in days past and was a great windfall for my buddy. He paid an arm and a leg to have it all melted down and separated. He sold the lead and took the silver home. He never did tell me what he made on his original $900 purchase but he did give me a generous gas allowance for the use of my truck.

missileman: good story. Reminds me of an event many years ago, when I was just put in charge of a test department of a semiconductor manufacturer. A tech working for me asked me what do do with this and plunked a 5 pound hunk of gold on my desk. It seems for years he had been reclaiming the gold from the gold plated leads of reject transistors.

I was tempted!


Don’t forget that the way wheel weights attach to the wheels has changed over the years and not every tire shop stocks all the possible contours - and if they don’t fit right, they tend to fall off. I would expect the big weights to be more prone to this.

Are the misbalance problems due to the wheel or the tire, or both? I would expect them to be from the tire, and therefore the trend towards larger diameter wheels, and low profile tires, would require smaller weights, as there is less rubber. Also, the weights are further from the hub, and therefore can be smaller for the same effect.

Am I missing something?

Perhaps the wheels are so poorly made that they require balancing?

BillRussell said: “… Am I missing something?..”

Yup. Even though the amount of rubber in these ultra low profile tires is less, the larger diameter makes it more difficult for the rubber to be evenly distributed. - PLUS - Even if the uneven distribution is the same, the difference in diameter causes a larger imbalance.

ok, thanks…

One more factor, most of todays wheels are done on a dynamic balancer. Where a bubble balancer would balance using a 1 ounce weight in the past, the dynamic balancer may call for a 4 oz weight at one point on the wheel and a 3 oz at a different location.

Where a bubble balancer would balance using a 1 ounce weight in the past

The FAR past. My dads tires were balanced with a bubble balancer…I’m in my 60’s and have been buying tires since the early 70’s and always had them dynamic balanced. A few old time tire shops still have them around for a conversation piece. Don’t know anyone who uses them any more.

Even using the bubble balance at the gas station, I’d use 4 smaller weights in a triangle, front and rear, with the heavy point at the apex.

That one lost me. 4 smaller weights in a triangle or four smaller weights in a rectangle? :smiley: