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post #1 of 8 Old 23rd July 2007, 07:57 AM Thread Starter
Ocean's M5
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Question Hunter has a New way to balance tires...

It's called Smart Weight. I had it done in conjunction with my New Yokahama Advan Sports at a shop that has the "SmartWeight'' Beta Version. It actually feels llike the ride is smoother. It may be subjective, but it feels like it is balanced better than normal...

Heres an excerpt from roadfly. you can also go to There's a movie there also

to find out more about it.

Article Excerpt
Byline: Bruce Davis

Hunter Engineering Co. claims its new "SmartWeight'' wheel balancing technology, which evaluates static and couple forces independently, can reduce the amount of wheel weights needed by 20 to 35 percent while also cutting the amount of time needed to balance wheels.

The patented SmartWeight system, unveiled at the recent Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas, computes the amount of correction weight by measuring and evaluating independently the "absolute'' or pure static (shake) and couple...
The burly gentleman with the bushy mustache who's standing behind the local tire shop's counter diagnoses the problem before you even finish telling him the situation. "Yer tires need to be balanced," he says. "It'll be forty-two dollars and we'll have ya' outta' here in 'bout an hour." You pass the time in the "quaint" waiting room, leafing through a two-year old copy of Field and Stream, and sure enough, your car's ready to go in no time.

Problem solved, right? Well, maybe not entirely. How well do you know your tire shop and its employees? Are the technicians ASE certified? Do they have additional specialty training? Are they using equipment that's state of the art, or does the shop bear a striking resemblance to Gomer Pyle's garage? These are important questions, and they could make the difference between a repair that's fixed right the first time or the beginning of a long and stressful repeat problem relationship.

Roadfly was fortunate to have spent a full day at the world-renowned Hunter Engineering headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, where we met with the folks who know more about vehicle dynamics than Brett Favre does about football. They gave us the full tour, and we were able to pick their collective brains about the proper way to mount and balance a wheel and tire. What they told us might surprise you...let's read on.

"Most people don't realize that both the wheel and tire have high and low spots," began Dave Scribner, Product Manager of Hunter's wheel balancers, tire changers and brake lathes. "The general notion is that a tire might have a high spot, so people pound weights on a rim to counterbalance that high spot."

Denny Bowen, Hunter's Director of Product Management chimes in, "Static balancing has long been a standard for balancing, but a true two-planed, dynamic balance will really make a difference to any vehicle." We're standing in one of Hunter Engineering's shop facilities, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of dollars of world-class automotive equipment.

Hunter Engineering

Scribner leads us to one of Hunter's finest pieces of equipment, the Hunter GSP9700. As he places a wheel and tire assembly on the machine, he talks about the additional factors that play a key role in proper tire and wheel balance. "You can have a wheel that reads completely balanced and still have a vibration. That drives customers and technicians nuts," he says with a bit of a knowing smile and as he places the wheel on the machine, we get the impression that he's done this a time or two before. "Wheel force variation can cause a vibration that most balancers won't detect, and it's one of the main reasons drivers feel a vibration in their vehicles."

Jim Huhn, Director of Marketing and Communications for Hunter Engineering adds, "With today's extremely modern and well engineered suspensions, drivers can detect vibrations that they were never able to detect before. It's something that can be both a blessing and a curse."

We watch as Scribner attaches Hunter's exclusive "Inflation Station" device to the tire's valve stem. The Hunter GSP9700 is capable of determining the proper tire pressure for a particular wheel and tire combination, provided the operator supplies data about the vehicle from which the wheel came from. The machine detects that this particular tire is under-inflated by almost 7-PSI. It automatically corrects the tire pressure.

With the tire properly inflated, the machine starts itself up and attempts to determine the wheel's state of balance. Within a matter of seconds, it's determined that the wheel is severely out of balance and that it's suffering from excessive wheel force variation. Scribner makes a few marks on both the rim and tire with a grease pen, then removes the assembly from the machine.

"What's happened here is that the rim has a high spot, as does the tire. To complicate matters, the tire has its own 'stiff and weak spots.' As the assembly rotates, there are various forces working against the tire. Air pressure is supporting the tire, while the road surface is pressing back against the tire. When there's a stiff spot, it can act like a 'hard spot' and cause a vibration."

Hunter Engineering

Bowen seems to be reading Scribner's mind because he continues, "Dave is going to deflate the tire, break the bead and spin the tire so that the high spot on the rim matches with the low spot on the tire. That should correct the problem."

We follow along with Scribner as he rolls the wheel assembly over to another one of Hunter's fine pieces of machinery, the top of the line TC3500 Tire Changer. Having spent many years mounting and balancing tires myself, I was awed by Hunter's latest and greatest equipment. The attention to detail, the quality construction and the amount of computerization was nothing short of amazing.

As Scribner deflated the tire and broke the bead, we arrived at a somewhat startling discovery. The wheel that we had been working with was a 19" magnesium alloy wheel from a Ferrari, and much to our surprise, the inside surfaces of the wheel were heavily gouged and scraped. "That's from a technician using a shovel breaker improperly," said Scribner rather nonchalantly.

Apparently the Hunter folks were well aware of this, and explained that on traditional tire changers, a metal shovel squeezes the tire against a nylon block while breaking the bead of the tire (that's where the tire mates to the rim to create an air tight seal). If the operating technician isn't careful, the shovel will drag across the inside of the rim. "The scary part of this is that the customer would never know it happened, but anyone with a basic understanding of chemistry will know that magnesium doesn't like water," says Bowen, "And the inside of tires can collect moisture and water rather easily." The result could be catastrophic were the damage and moisture great enough - the wheel could easily collapse at a very inopportune moment.

"We can build the greatest equipment in the world," says Jim Huhn, "But if the tech's don't know how to use it properly, it won't matter how good our equipment is. We place a lot of emphasis on proper technician training, and offer classes here on a regular basis (for industry technicians)."

Hunter Engineering

Within a just a few seconds, Scribner has the wheel free of the rim, has spun it to align his marks and is inflating the tire. The beads seat with a loud "pop!" and with the press of a pedal, the wheel is released from the non-marring jaws of the rim clamps. We head back over to the Hunter GSP9700 machine, and watch as Dave Scribner mounts the assembly to the machine once again.

"This is another problem for a lot of technicians," he explains as he places the wheel on the balancing machine. "A guy uses the wrong centering cone, or manages to clamp the wheel so that it's slightly out of square, and he'll be chasing balance issues all day." With the wheel mounted (square and true) to the balancer, Scribner once again checks the tire pressure and waits for the machine to properly inflate the tire. Within seconds, the air hose is removed and the wheel is being checked by the GSP9700. Bowen adds that Hunter has an optional attachment for the GSP9700 that will help to automatically center the wheel assembly on the balancer.

The machine winds down and Scribner lifts the protective lid. "We need to add three-quarters of an ounce to right," says Scribner as the machine rotates the wheel assembly automatically to the proper position. He makes a note of the location, cleans the inside of the rim (as close to the center of the rim's width as possible, and applies a weight. He fires up the GSP9700 once again and smiles, "Perfect."

The Hunter GSP9700 tire balancer really is a marvel of modern day engineering and Hunter has every right to be proud of it. With a large, CRT-style display, computerized menus and functions, and Hunter's exclusive "road roller" (a drum that rotates against the tire to simulate road conditions and measure wheel force variation), the GSP9700 makes all other tire balancers look like toys.

The road roller can supply up to 1400-lbs of pressure against the tire to detect non-balance, radial force-related vibrations and is a key component to the success of the GSP9700. The GSP9700 can also determine if excessive "run-out" (effectively a side-to-side variation) is tire or rim related. But the most amazing option available to the Hunter GSP9700 (at least in our minds) is the "StraightTrak Lateral Force Measurement System."

Hunter Engineering

This incredible piece of technology can detect tire pull, and suggest the ideal corner on which to mount the wheel and tire to negate a tire pulling effect. Tire drift was one of the most difficult problems to properly diagnose, that is, until Hunter developed technology to detect and correct it. It's nothing short of amazing. Why? Prior to this technology being made available, a technician had only a few options available to help correct a vehicle's drifting problem - perform a vehicle alignment to counteract the tire pull, or try to guess which tire was causing the problem and then, through trial and error, place the tire in the proper location on the vehicle to correct the pull.

Neither of those options is very efficient, especially if the vehicle's owner rotated his tires regularly. If a vehicle is aligned to correct a tire drift problem, the drift will resurface when the tires are rotated, creating a "repeat problem" for the shop and vehicle owner.

"Tire drift problems just became a thing of the past," says Bowen. "The StraightTrack LFM system helps a lot of shops solve problems that were once nearly unsolvable." We watched as Scribner demonstrated how compounded tire pull could result in more than 21-pounds of pull to the left in a simulated example. Jim Huhn commented, "You'd notice that sort of pull pretty quickly and most tech's would suggest an alignment to correct it."

Scribner then asked the GSP9700 to determine the ideal placement of each wheel and tire assembly on the vehicle, then re-ran the simulation with the proposed changes in effect. After the corrections were made, the pull force registered 2-pounds of pull to the left - an entirely acceptable figure.

Despite spending the better portion of a day with the guys from Hunter, we had run out of time and wished we could have had more time to talk tires. We finished the tour with a trip through the company's mini-museum, and marveled at the dozens of Duesnebergs, Lincolns, Rolls Royce and other fine cars from the '30s and '40s. Lee Hunter, Jr. founded the company in the mid 1930s when he invented the world's first quick-charge battery charger for automobiles. Prior to Hunter's invention, battery charging took days - Hunter's machine could charge a battery in just a few hours.

Hunter Engineering

From there, Hunter was called off to World War II. Upon his return in 1946, his company went on to develop many industry leading products - from alignment machines to electronic, drive-on brake and suspension testers. Today, Hunter Engineering products are the finest in the industry.

Of course, as the good folks from Hunter were quick to point out earlier, a properly trained technician is the key to getting the most from any Hunter equipment. So, do yourself a favor the next time you need to have your tires mounted, balanced or aligned - locate a shop that utilizes Hunter equipment, and make sure the technicians are properly trained to use the equipment.

For more information about the amazing line-up of Hunter Engineering equipment, or to locate a shop that utilizes Hunter equipment, please visit them on the web, at:

The editors of Roadfly wish to send a hearty and sincere thank you to Jim Huhn, Denny Bowen and Dave Scribner for taking the time to share their knowledge with us, and for allowing us to spend so much time at their world-class facility in St. Louis, MO.

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post #2 of 8 Old 23rd July 2007, 12:06 PM
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I had my wheels and tires done at Stokes tire shop in Santa Monica and i think (not 100%) is the method they use at their shop...thanks for the info

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post #3 of 8 Old 23rd July 2007, 03:50 PM
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Funny..Hunter I believe is also responsible for a method or rather I should say a machine for balancing called Road Force.
Supposed to be the best way as it actually puts a roller down on the wheel while spinning to simulate actual driving thus resulting in a better balancing of the wheel....any truth to that guys!!


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post #4 of 8 Old 23rd July 2007, 04:08 PM
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yes belive it or not BMW is makeing it manditory all their dealerships buy the machine and use it. belive it or not it actually tells u if the wheel is bent or ouy of round and the exact location on the screen pretty dummy prof

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post #5 of 8 Old 23rd July 2007, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by MCarRacr07 View Post
Funny..Hunter I believe is also responsible for a method or rather I should say a machine for balancing called Road Force.
Supposed to be the best way as it actually puts a roller down on the wheel while spinning to simulate actual driving thus resulting in a better balancing of the wheel....any truth to that guys!!
I have mine balanced by a guy here locally that uses the Hunter 'Road Force Variation' machine. I am very picky about the ride on my cars. I have literally gone from one shop to another if they do not feel right. I like to watch the tech balance them...

I have had the Hunter machine balance tires that no one else can. Somehow it actually tells the tech to move the tire on the rim to get a better balance. Had him fix the balance on a 4runner and actualy determine that one of the new Michelin's (never had this happen before) on my wife's LX470 was beyond help. I was skeptical, but saw it with my own eyes. New tire fixed the problem.

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post #6 of 8 Old 23rd July 2007, 10:42 PM
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I went to famous here in Germany- no pics of it but they have a laser balancing machine that's unreal (>$30,000) -the lasers read the entire wheel/tire and determine if any flaws, also runs a diagnostic program etc...

..smooth as velvet now

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post #7 of 8 Old 23rd July 2007, 11:07 PM
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The shop that refinished my wheels used the roadforced method. When I got the wheels back and took a look on the inside it looked like it had less weight than before and it rides perfect on the highway..Hunter has always been the leader in wheel and tire mounting technology....

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post #8 of 8 Old 24th July 2007, 02:42 AM
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roadforce wheel balancers are the shadizzle!!! I can only hope to one day own one for my shop. for now, its ol' reliable coats 1001!! I have had the pleasure of using the road force wheel balancer. It is quite the machine!! one thing that is also nice about that Hunter roadforce balancer is that if there are variations, the wheel can be assigned a certain side of the car as to keep vibrations and noise down. really cool.

also A nice thing is for the tech doing the balancing. it threads the balancer lug, has a lock so the wheel doesnt spin and lose you place, spins the tire to the direct spot of the weight, oooh its giving me goosebumps!!
they also make an add on that hoists the wheel up so you dont have to strain yourself with the heavy 30" bling bling's! thats why they clal hunter the BEST. I have a hunter tire machine and alignment machine. good schtuff.
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