Fifth Wheelin'
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Balance Your RV Trailer Tires?

Pssst! Wanta stir up a controversy at your next fireside gathering? Ask your fellow fifth-wheeler if he's balanced his trailer tires. It's almost like asking what your favorite holding tank chemical is.

If informal polling holds true, the majority of fifth-wheel folks probably don't balance their tires. Their arguments against it? Many have never thought about doing it. Others say their dealer never recommended it. Some don't think the expense is necessary. How about it?

We called in the official industry spokes-folks about it: Wilson Beach, a director with the Tire Industry Association, the group recognized as representing tire makers and maintainers. In a previous life Beach was a tire shop owner. His first reaction to the question: 'To balance or not to balance' was a question: Have you ever driven down the turnpike and watched a vehicle with an unbalanced tire? "The tire can bounce so hard it can actually leave the pavement," says Wilson Beach.

In Beach's view, a balanced tire is one that runs cooler, smoother, and will be one that has a far greater lifetime than an unbalanced one. "It's money in the bank," Beach told Fifth Wheelin'. But are all tire shops ready to balance your fiver's 'rubber donuts'? That depends. Some trailer wheels are not designed like the typical car or truck wheel, with a nice round hole in the center for the bearing cap to protrude from. If your wheels don't have a center hole, some shops won't be able to balance them unless they have an adapter that uses the lug holes to hook up.

That lead to an interesting point: Beach says that in reality, the truest "center point" of any wheel is not the center hole, but rather, the center indicated by the lug holes. To get a truer wheel balance, it's best to go to a shop that uses an adapter and balances wheels based on the lug holes.

Photo: tigerplish on

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  • I don't know why anyone wouldn't balance trailer tires, you balance the tow vehicle's. The trailer is a big investment, and being a full timer, I need it to last, and keep repairs down. We bought our 2003 27' Laredo in June 2006. I saw no indication original owners had balanced tires. We put a new set on within a week with balancing. We replaced again Sept 2007 after 9000 miles. We were down to the steel on one and the other three were very irregular even rotating them. When replacing I also replaced the spring yoke with Trail-aire's Equa-Flex kit. Was I glad, the old link holes were very oblong. This probably contributed to the wear on previous set of tires. The kit has new links, new greasable bolts, and new brass shims for spring eyes. If your rig is more than 3 years old with original steel yoke's, I sure would check them!

    By Anonymous Boatcat, at 7:13 AM  

  • Not only are mine balanced, but they are inflated with Nitrogen to run cooler & smoother. It cost me an extra $75.00 for all 4 tires for lifetime balancing and refills. Think of the ways that you waste $75 over 4-5 years time. I think it was a pretty good investment.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:47 PM  

  • Ever ridden in a vehicle with unballanced tires? Just because you dont ride in the trailer and feel the bouncing don't mean its not happening. You have a huge investment in your trailer, Why shake it any more than you have to?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:36 AM  

  • It probably is a great idea to get them balanced. I have never balanced my boat's trailer tires but I agree, it's something to consider - especially if there's a road trip coming up.


    By Anonymous Meerkat, at 11:57 PM  

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