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Summary
  • Tire-balancing beads are small tempered glass beads that are poured inside a tire. They settle in an appropriate position to counteract any wheel imbalance.
  • Some drivers say tire balancing beads work just as well as traditional weights. However, some users had issues with beads since they can clump up and settle on one part of the tire when they’re wet.
  • As the vehicle speeds up, the wheel’s centrifugal force and vibrations will move the beads to positions that balances out the heavy spot. Eventually, the beads will settle in a spot that balances the wheel once the vehicle reaches a high speed.

Tire-balancing beads are small, tempered glass beads that are poured inside a tire. As the tires spin, these beads are supposed to settle in the appropriate positions to counteract any wheel imbalances. This might seem like a simple solution that can solve a big problem, but do they really work?

There’s a bit of a debate about how effective these beads actually are. Some drivers say balancing beads works just as well as traditional weights. They say that one advantage of balancing beads over traditional weights is they don’t need to be readjusted as the tire wears out over time. For example, traditional weights might keep a wheel balanced over six months of regular use. However, as the tire wears out and its weight distribution changes, it might need to be reassessed. Since tire-balancing beads rely on centrifugal force to balance a tire each time it spins, the beads don’t need to be reassessed.

However, some users have had some issues with beads since they can clump and settle on one part of the tire when they get wet. When this happens, you’ll need to hammer your tire walls so that the glass beads can come loose.

Tire-Balancing Beads vs. Wheel Weights

The traditional way of balancing a tire involves putting weights on the rim. First, the tire and wheel are hooked up to a wheel balance machine that spins them. The machine has sensors that can assess the wheel’s weight distribution. After spinning the wheel and tire, the computer can give accurate recommendations on where to put the adhesive metal weights to balance them.

The downside of this method is that you have to individually assess every tire. Another is that balancing weights can’t balance tires as they develop imbalances on the road as they shed rubber and wear out.

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How Do Tire-Balancing Beads Work?

When a tire is unbalanced, part of it will be heavier than the other parts. As this heavier part spins, it’ll slightly move the tire toward that side. When the tire spins rapidly, this heavy spot will create vibrations. The driver can feel these vibrations on the steering wheel, which can affect their ability to control the vehicle. This is where the beads come in.

When the vehicle is stopped, the beads are all at the bottom of the tire. As the tire begins to spin, centrifugal force pushes the beads to the tire wall.

As the vehicle speeds up, the tire spins faster, moving the beads to positions that balances out the heavy spot. Eventually, the beads will settle in a spot that balances the wheel once the vehicle reaches a high speed.

The beads can counteract vibration and balance the tire by creating an equal and opposite force that counteracts the force created by the tire’s heavier side. The beads settle in the tire’s lighter part through inertia. As the heavy spot pulls the entire tire upward, the beads will flow downward toward the lighter spot because of their inertia.

As the tire spins, the tire’s heavier side will force the tire toward one direction, but the settled beads will counteract the force and balance the tire.

Can Balancing Beads Work In Any Tire?

Many balancing bead manufacturers recommend using them in all sorts of vehicles including motorcycles, cars, trucks, RVs, or semi-trucks. The amount of beads that you need to put inside a tire will vary depending on the vehicle. Motorcycle tires only require one to two ounces of beads per tire. On the other hand, cars need at least four ounces of beads. Heavy trucks or off-road vehicles with large tires might need more than 10 ounces in order to balance their big tires.

Tire balancing beads shouldn’t be used with vehicles that are going to be driven outside regular highways. This means the tire balancing beads shouldn’t be used in vehicles meant for track use or anything that involves hard cornering.

How to Install Tire Balancing Beads

You can add beads by shoveling them in the tire before attaching it to the rim. Alternatively, you can also use a hose and insert the beads through the valve stem after removing the valve core. However, this can method can be slow since the beads can create a bottleneck in the valve stem.

Overall, tire-balancing beads are a simple and DIY-friendly solution for unbalanced tires. Anyone can purchase them online and insert them in their tires through their tire’s valve.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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