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We put Centramatic's continuous wheel balancers to the short-term test on our Project TJ.
Balance Your Tires! (cont.)
So here's the point. Our BFG's that we paid so much for not only had terrible tread wear, but were also becoming rolling vibrators, and had even become out of round! The TJ already has some still-to-work-out vibration issues and this was adding to the misery. All four tires were worn differently and were different shapes, making the Jeep feel like it was rolling on eggs. What's a guy to do?
The first thing we did was talk about it with friends. A close friend of mine used to own a Hummer. The Hummer is now gone, but he did tell me about how he made his tires survive the long haul, by using Centramatic continuous wheel balancers. With his testimony in mind, I went to www.centramatic.com to do some more research. I immediately contacted Robert Coolidge and got a set sent out for testing.
Please take note: The Project TJ has a 5 on 5 1/2 bolt circle, since we did a Warn axle and hub conversion on both the front and rear axles. Stock TJ's have a 5 on 4 1/2 circle. Currently, we are running 15x10" steel rims with about a 3.75" backspacing. Because of the many different rim styles, Robert is not 100% of fitment for many TJ rims, as backspacings and rim shapes do vary. However, he will take returns on balancers that do not fit.
So what does a
Centramatic continuous wheel balancer do, anyway? To quote Centramatic,
Simple enough, right? But how do they work? To install the balancers, all you have to do is remove each wheel and slip one onto the wheel's studs. Then, re-mount your tire, tighten the lugs, and go!
Our model #300-303 was drilled for either 5 on 5 or 5 on 5 1/2" bolt circles, so they should fit most Jeep CJ's, Dodge trucks, some Fords, and many other 4x4's. Each balancer consists of an aluminum balancing ring which contains tiny weights, suspended in a synthetic SAE oil. Once up to speed, the weights will automatically go where they need to be, due to centrifugal force. So, every time your rig starts moving, the tire is dynamically re-balanced!
So, now you don't have to worry about that best guy at the tire shop's accuracy quite as much. Even if he's off by several grams either way, the Centramatics will rebalance the wheels once you get going. And, even if you get a little mud stuck inside your rim, the balancers will handle them, too!
observations after about 3,000 miles of use:
- Because of the above note, you probably realize that the balancers will not really help you much on the trails. However, if you're like us, your trail tires also take you to work every day, and that's when it matters.
- On our first test-drive, we immediately realized that these were a great addition to our Jeep. We noticed a very noticable reduction in tire vibrations, and quite a bit less wobble from the front end.
- After 3,000 miles, the Jeep seems to drive better, strictly from adding the balancers. The BFG's are pretty much toasted, but they still have about 35-40% of their tread left, and the balancers have allowed us to keep driving on the street with those tires still on.
- We now have a set of Mickey Thompson Baja Claws waiting to be mounted on the Jeep. We will do a long-run evaluation of the balancers later this year, after testing them on the new tires.
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