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New Tires and Vibration on my Lexus

I had Costco install 4 new tires on my '06 Lexus ES330 two weeks ago. The tires are the same ones that came with the car (Michelin Energy 17"). I felt vibration in the steering wheel at highway speeds (70 and above). I had Costco re-balance and vibration is still there. Before the tire change the car ran smoothly even at speeds > 80.

Do the new tires need to break in? Or, did Costco do something wrong?

Tires don’t need to break-in. Did you get 4 tires? If so, have Costco swap the rear and front tires, see if it changes the vibration. Either the balance isn’t right, or a tire has some defect. No vibration should occur.

I spent $850 to get 4 tires (those Michelins are expensive). I hate when I spend $$ only to get a problem!

You could have the tires checked on a machine that does “road force balancing”, find the bad one, and have them replace it. Even if there’s no bad tire, road force balancing is superior to regular spin balancing.

Or, in an effort to find out which side the bad tire is, you could swap front-to-rear on one side and see if the vibration changes, then again on the other side.

You could have them “index” the tires. Many tires now have colored dots on the sidewall to indicate the high spot and/or the heavy spot. Indexing can smooth out a bad ride. See for an in-depth explanation of indexing.

One pointer: if they try to tell you you have a bent rim, make them show you. That excuse is used far too often to explain away what’s really a bad tire or bad balancing.

You may have an out of round tire. Costco likely uses a primitive balancer which works well in most cases but in odd ball tires a hunter balancer can help compensate or identify a tire or wheel problem.

Specifically the Hunter GSP9700. Other Hunter balancers do not have the “Road Force” capability.