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Wheel balance

I have a 2006 Ford F150 4x4 with 17 in. “chrome clad” aluminum wheels. I have had the wheels balanced 3 times at separate locations, and new tires installed. However, I continue to have the “wobble” at 55-62 mph. Can it be the “chrome cladding” that does not allow conventional balancing?

Have you had the suspension checked? This wobble might not be related to wheel balance. I would look for a worn or leaking shock absorber.

The chrome has nothing to do with it…Many 4X4 trucks are susceptible to a nasty condition called “Death Wobble” where, at a certain speed, especially after hitting a bump, the entire front end starts shaking and it can become violent…But it doesn’t do this all the time, just now and then. The correct term is “Steering Oscillation”…

Is your problem CONSTANT or occasional?

I had a similar problem in Buick Century. No matter how well I had the wheels balanced, I felt a wobble from the front end at certain speeds. As it turned out, one of my tie rod ends was to worn. There was excessive play in the steering parts. Replacing the worn steering parts solved the problem. Also, the problem could happen if one of the rims is a little deformed from potholes or large bumps in the road.

The “Death Wobble”. Perhaps in it’s nacent form. Constant? Hmmm. Only in that every time I pass through 52-62, I get it. After my last balancing of the wheels (I had just had the tires replaced and balanced, I took it back 1000 miles later and had them rebalance them) it seemed to be “less” (a relative term). But yes, it is there, and again, definitely not a death wobble, although when it does hit a road bump it shimmies, it is apparent. I have only put the last 10,000 out of the 40K total on the vehicle.

Does rotating the tires front to rear make any difference? Try it.

No, doesn’t seem to help. When I first bought the vehicle (it only had 30, 000 miles on it and looked as if it came off the showroom floor) I had the wheels rotated, balanced, and the alignment checked. Same effect, ALWAYS at 52-60, there was the wobble; slight, but there nonetheless. Got a flat on the front, had both front tires rebalanced, same effect. Bought new tires 1800 miles ago (because of snow and the original tires were getting a bit thin), all rotated (mixed, actually) same effect. Took it back, rotated and balanced, smae, but less, this last time around.

2 possibilities:

  1. The rims are out of round. Find a place that has a Hunter GSP9700. They should be able to tell you if the rims are the source of the problem (Runout values larger than 0.015".) You can find a GSP9700 by going to this web site:

http://www.gsp9700.com/pub/search/findgsp9700.cfm

  1. You have aftermarket wheels and they are not piloting on the center hub. You’ll need to contact the manufacturer of the rims and ask them what hub rings you need.

CapriRacer is right. The Ford dealer in my town has a “road force” balancer they use which is similar to, or possibly the same Hunter GSP9700 wheel balancer. It puts weight on the tire and wheel assembly, simulating, as well as possible, real-world conditions, then balances the tire and wheel assembly.

Thank you all for the suggestions. I will look for a shop with the GSP9700 and see what happens. To be continued…

Karl,

The Hunter GSP9700 does use the term “RoadForce” as part of their description of what happens - and since the unit is, by far, the most popular unit that does this type of thing, it is quite likely that is the unit your Ford Dealer has. BTW Ford does recommend that dealers buy the Hunter unit.

  • BUT -

Balance is only part of what the unit does.

What makes the Hunter GSP9700 such a valuable diagnostic tool is its ability to measure uniformity - if you think runout, you’re not far off the mark.

If you want to know more about uniformity, I talk about it here:

http://www.barrystiretech.com/unifandbal.html

John
I have a 2006 F150 as well but have not been cursed by the dreaded “wheel vibrations.” I did have a slight vibration at about 25,000 miles and rotated my tires and it went away. (actually it probably moved to the back of the truck, but it doesn’t show up - out of sight, out of mind) There are several TSB’s on that very issue with the 2006 truck. I will try to copy and paste one here.

Thanks, Capri. I printed that page out. I have to go to Johns Hopkins Medical Center tomorrow and do a lot of sitting around. Now I have some reading material!

The truck was purchased with 30k miles and while it may have looked showroom new that doesn’t mean the truck has no history behind it.
Maybe it was whacked at one time, expertly repaired appearance wise, and has a bent wheel hub; or as mentioned, a loose suspension component.

Thank you all. I downloaded the vibration.pdf and took it to my local Ford Dealer who, by the way, has a Hunter GSP9700. Bottom line, the pickup is 97% better after the force-load balancing. The dealer maintains it is the new tires I had put on, but since it was vibrating with the original tires, I have to take it with a grain of salt. All-in-all, the ride is measurably better in the 55-60 mph range. They also did an alignment and turned the rotors while it was in so I’m good to go.

On another question, since I had it balanced this time on the GSP9700, do I have to continue finding locations with the Hunter machine each time I get it balanced?

Again, thank you all for the your input and ideas.

John,

If you read up on what the GSP9700 does on the website I linked to, you find out that what makes the unit unique is its ability to measure a property call “Road Force” - and that road force has nothing to do with balance.

So, No, you don’t need to use a Hunter GSP9700 every time you balance. But if you are having a vibration issue that doesn’t seem to be fixed by balancing, then a Hunter GSP9700 will help you diagnose the tire / wheel part of it.

Although an unlikly cause in this situation, liquid in the tire will cause an out of balance problem at 45+ mph that disappears as speed exceeds 55 mph. I would never skip looking into a tire before balancing it. But, your problem has remained after new tires were installed. And please post the cause when found.