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High Speed Tire Balancing Issues

I have a 1999 Nissan Altima with about 120K miles. It still runs great and I just got new tires. The day after they were installed, I took it on the interstate and it shook terribly when I drove 60 miles an hour. When I took it back to the mechanic who installed my tires, he said that they no longer do a “high speed” balance and that there is only one true balance for a car. He said the problem was caused by rims being warped in the front right tire. He also said that the new tires/new tread are causing some of the initial problem and as the tread wears the problem will get better. I don’t know much about cars but this didn’t seem look a proper explanation to me. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

No it doesn’t sound reasonable at all. Sounds like BS to me. They were balancing wheels at NASCAR tracks with bubble balancers for years and driving well over 150 mph. A high quality tire should not be out of round and any properly set up balancer operated correctly should result in a satisfactory ride even in excess of 100 mph. When you returned with the problem did the mechanic put the car back on the lift and remove the tires and re-balance them? He should have.

Thanks for the feedback. The mechanic test drove the car and put it on the lift. He then let the tires spin and showed me that the front right tire rim was a little warped (which I had a hard time seeing). Before I got the new tires, the ride was fine at high speeds so I don’t believe the warped rim excuse either.


If the car didn’t shake at 60 with the old tires, it shouldn’t shake at 60 with the new tires.

If a bent wheel were the problem it would have caused the same shake before the new tires were installed. You didn’t say there was a shaking problem prior to the new tires.

“Only one true balance for a car.” What the heck does that mean? Whoever said that is nuts, and not to be trusted.

It will not get better with tread wear. If you keep driving with this imbalance your new tires will wear prematurely, which will make things WORSE, not better.

Normally I would suggest you go back the the original installer and have the tires re-balanced, but in this case I’m going to suggest you go to another shop, perhaps one specializing in tires, wheel balance, and alignment, and let them check the wheels, the balance, and the alignment.

And then I’d also suggest you find a new mechanic. The one you’re currently working with is incompetent.

I agree that I should get it balanced somewhere else. Unfortunately, my mechanic (who I have been going to for 9 years and is wonderful) does not do tires. I bought the tires on and this was the closest authorized installer.

Thanks for the advice.

He may be a great mechanic but a not-so-great tire person. Understandable. You need a shop that specializes in tires.

I buy my tires from a local shop that does tire installation and balance. They don’t do wheel alignment, however, so I have to go elsewhere for that, but they’re really good at what they do, so I keep going there.

Seems odd that TireRack would send you to someone who “does not do tires.”

Your problem is not insurmountable, you just need to find the right shop to balance/align your car so it drives the way it should.

I had the same problem after having new Michelin tires intalled on all wheels of our Toyota 4Runner. I went back to the tire shop. They turned one tire on its wheel to a different position. I think they called it “indexing”. This cured the vibration.

If there is a rim problem, you will never get it right until the rim problem is corrected. 

I suggest finding a real shop, maybe a body shop, that really knows alignment issues and get it done right.  

BTW, balancing is one thing that I would give a shop two tries at before worrying about their ability.  There seems to be a certain amount of art as well as science.

The downsides of buying from The tire retailer/installer has no interest really in supporting you since they are a third party in this all.

I did this song/dance once and stopped buying tires from tirerack. There wheel/tire combo’s are a great deal though since they mount/balance free and own the problems,

What was the “one true balance” that mechanic was refering to?
If I never mount and balance, fix a flat or any other tire related job again it will be just fine with me.

It’s possible the bent wheel was on the rear where you wouldn’t feel any of the wobble. Now that it is on the front, you can feel it.

First, take that tire and move it to the rear. If the vibration doesn’t change, it not that tire (and wheel).

If it does change, then you now know the problem is the wheel.