How Can You Tell if You Have an Out of Round Tire?
Telling if a tire is out of round is getting harder and harder by the day. Nowadays tire makers produce original equipment (OE) tires. (OE tires are factory tires that a vehicle is originally equipped with.)
An OE tire has to meet specific dimensions and weight requirements, along with longevity expectations, speed ratings and handling performance. This being said, an out of round tire is not common.
Read below to determine if you have an out of round tire.
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Learn what the numbers and letters mean on your tire here.
Finding an Out of Round Tire
When looking for this rare occurrence, you should focus on determining if your tire is a perfect circle or not. An out of round tire has a weak spot or spots in the tire. These typically look like a subtle flat patch along the tread of your tire.
This patch or spot can be seen when the vehicle is stationary or parked. This weak spot in your tire will deflect differently from the rest of your tire, while the stronger part of the tire will resist bending and remain stiff, causing vibration.
Please note: If vibration can be felt in the seat, this indicates the problem is located at the rear. If vibration can be felt in the steering wheel this is a sign of a problem that is located in the front.
Loud Tire Noise at Highway Speeds
Has your tire been causing your car to shake or vibrate? Or do you have loud tire noises while driving at highway speeds? A bad out of round tire is when the tire is no longer round, this can cause hash vibrations and road noise.
Once a tire is out of round the only thing you can do is replace the tire.
While there are many things that can cause a tire noise such as low tire tread, tire separation, out of balance tires, bent rims, out of round tires is definitely on the list of tire noise. The key is figuring out which noise is causing your harsh car ride.
An out of round tire is also known as tire run out. An out of round tire or tire run out means your tire is no longer perfectly round anymore. This will cause a tire noise or vibration.
There are two different kinds of out of round tire. Read below to understand the two cases.
Case 1: Radial Runout
The first and more common of the two is radial runout. Radial runout is when the distance from the center of the rim to your tire tread is different in certain areas of your tire.
Note: The distance from the center of your wheel to your tire tread should be the same distance all the way around.
Radial runout due to its different distances between the center of the rim to the tread of the tire will cause a rather harsh ride such as vibrations, tire noise, steering wheel vibrating/shaking and also bouncing. The worse the tire runout gets the more harsh your ride will be.
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When your tire has some form of a rough ride due to tire runout, this harshness will travel through your tires and up your steering shaft. This vibration causes your steering wheel to shake. Your whole entire car may also shake or bounce, but in minor cases you may just experience loud road noise while driving.
Case 2: Lateral Runout
The second type of out of round tire/tire runout is lateral runout. Lateral run out is when your tire has flat spots across your tread. This means your tire is weaker in certain spots on the tread of your tire. (Check for suspension issues)
When you put the weight of your vehicle on a tire with lateral runout, your tires will not be able to distribute the weight evenly. This type of runout happens between the center of your tread to the edge of your tread. As your tire spins, one part of your tire could be good and right next to it could be weaker.
This form of out of round tire would cause your tire to lean when it hits that certain spot. This lean is due to the improper weight distribution within that tire. Lateral runout could also cause your tire(s) to move side to side like a wobble.
Can you Balance an Out of Round Tire?
Usually you can NOT fix an out of round tire. However, you can maybe improve your ride quality by road force balancing your tire. Before we jump into that, let’s dive into a standard balancing.
A tire should be balanced when you put it on a rim. However, even new tires are usually not perfect. There are some spots that could be slightly heavier than the others. Balancing a tire is simply adding weight to your rim to balance out the weight of your tire.
A tire balancer will find the lighter spot on your tire and tell you to add weight in that certain spot on your rim. Without this procedure being done, you would have a very rough ride.
Having imbalanced tires can also cause more excessive tire wear. Due to excessive tire wear, you can cause a tire to become out of balance. Road force balancing will help a tire that is out of round or has excessive tire run out.
How a Balancer Works on an Out of Round Tire
When you throw your tire up on the balancer a big roller will come down and mash your tire as it spins imitating the road. This detects the weaker points in the tire.
Like your tire, your rim also has a runout, so what the machine does is it will have you put a mark on the tire and a mark on the rim. Once you mark the rim and tire you will need to break your tire down and match the mark on the tire with the mark on the rim.
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So, let’s say you have a weak point in the rim, the machine will have you put the stronger part of the tire on the weak spot on the rim. This will give you a better ride.
However, this process usually doesn’t fix your problem all the time, it simply improves it. More than likely you would just need to buy a set of new tires if you want to ensure that you have the smoothest ride possible.
Time For New Tires?
In short the answer is you can NOT fully fix an out of round tire, you may be able to make it a little smoother or better but not entirely fix the issue. Usually this means you need to purchase new tire(s). Get tire discounts by using the link below!
When you have a new set of tires installed you should have a nice, smooth ride. If you are starting to feel vibrations after a couple of thousand miles there is a problem.
If the vibration begins and continues to get worse until the next new set of tires, look into an issue with an imbalance in brake rotors, inspect the pads and rotors and the front struts and/or rear shocks. Also, ensure the tires are balanced, rotated on schedule, and have the shop do a 4-wheel alignment.
If none of these are making a difference and your tire(s) continue(s) to go out of round after a couple thousand miles, you should inspect the wheel (rim) for imperfections, bumps, dents, bends, cracks, not round, etc.
You may also want to look into buying quality tires that are specified for your particular vehicle to fix this issue.
Symptoms of Out of Round Tire
Symptoms of an out of round tire are similar to an out of balanced tire. So, before you think your tire is out of round, check for a balancing issue.
Due to the rarity of an out of round tire, because of technological advancements in tire creation, more than likely your tire isn’t balanced.
When determining the problem you are facing with your potential out of round tire(s) consider the following:
- Road noise from tires
- Vibrations/shaking steering wheel
- Soft/wear spots in tire
- Tread wear (uneven)