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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > Wheels and Tires Forum Sponsored by The Tire Rack > winter tires = steering wheel vibration...now what?



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      11-22-2005, 10:16 PM   #1
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winter tires = steering wheel vibration...now what?

I just put on my winter tires this weekend. I order the tires and rims together from tirerack.com. I noticed that speeds over 40 I get that steering wheel shimmy/vibration that I know other people have had. The 18" wheels that came with the car caused no vibration whatsoever. I thought my tires should come balanced already. Any thoughts what I should do now??
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      11-22-2005, 10:27 PM   #2
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Sounds as bad balance for me.
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      11-22-2005, 11:46 PM   #3
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It should be bad balance
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      11-23-2005, 12:10 AM   #4
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It could also be out-of-round rims. These would balance fine on most machines but would cause vibrations. I had this problem with some steel rims for my Passat. May even be a bad tire.
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      11-23-2005, 09:01 AM   #5
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Call Tire Rack; they will pay to have them rebalanced. But make sure you find someone with a road-force balancer, because as noted above, there is a better-than-even chance that one or more is out-of-round. This is much more often the problem these days than straight balance.

I bought a set from them in '02 that were mounted on take-off steel wheels for our relatively new '03 Corolla. The OEM Goodyears were smooth, but otherwise incompetent. The Michelins from Tire Rack were, at first, a total disaster - much shaking and vibrating. After a phone conversation, I had them carefully rebalanced and remounted at the local guy with a new road-force machine. Problem solved, but it was obvious from the work it took to make them right that the people who did the work at Tire Rack had no regard at all for the results - two of them had road-force readings over 20 lbs, which is completely unacceptable and Tire Rack admitted they should not have been shipped that way. In the end, RF readings were from a low of 5 lbs to a high of 12 - still not fantastic, but acceptable on the Corolla.

To give you an idea, all 5 of the tires on our '02 MB C240 have RF readings under 5 lbs - on the E90, the tire/wheel combinations have to be at least this true to avoid vibrations.
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      11-23-2005, 09:08 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrct9454
Call Tire Rack; they will pay to have them rebalanced. But make sure you find someone with a road-force balancer, because as noted above, there is a better-than-even chance that one or more is out-of-round. This is much more often the problem these days than straight balance.

I bought a set from them in '02 that were mounted on take-off steel wheels for our relatively new '03 Corolla. The OEM Goodyears were smooth, but otherwise incompetent. The Michelins from Tire Rack were, at first, a total disaster - much shaking and vibrating. After a phone conversation, I had them carefully rebalanced and remounted at the local guy with a new road-force machine. Problem solved, but it was obvious from the work it took to make them right that the people who did the work at Tire Rack had no regard at all for the results - two of them had road-force readings over 20 lbs, which is completely unacceptable and Tire Rack admitted they should not have been shipped that way. In the end, RF readings were from a low of 5 lbs to a high of 12 - still not fantastic, but acceptable on the Corolla.

To give you an idea, all 5 of the tires on our '02 MB C240 have RF readings under 5 lbs - on the E90, the tire/wheel combinations have to be at least this true to avoid vibrations.
Great info, man! I'll call Tire Rack today.
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      11-23-2005, 09:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrct9454
Call Tire Rack; they will pay to have them rebalanced. But make sure you find someone with a road-force balancer, because as noted above, there is a better-than-even chance that one or more is out-of-round. This is much more often the problem these days than straight balance.

I bought a set from them in '02 that were mounted on take-off steel wheels for our relatively new '03 Corolla. The OEM Goodyears were smooth, but otherwise incompetent. The Michelins from Tire Rack were, at first, a total disaster - much shaking and vibrating. After a phone conversation, I had them carefully rebalanced and remounted at the local guy with a new road-force machine. Problem solved, but it was obvious from the work it took to make them right that the people who did the work at Tire Rack had no regard at all for the results - two of them had road-force readings over 20 lbs, which is completely unacceptable and Tire Rack admitted they should not have been shipped that way. In the end, RF readings were from a low of 5 lbs to a high of 12 - still not fantastic, but acceptable on the Corolla.

To give you an idea, all 5 of the tires on our '02 MB C240 have RF readings under 5 lbs - on the E90, the tire/wheel combinations have to be at least this true to avoid vibrations.
What are RF readings? I've never heard of this before.
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      11-23-2005, 10:02 AM   #8
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I just called Tire Rack and they were helpful. They said the will reimburse me for getting the tires balanced and if that doesn't fix the problem they will ship me a new tire or tires for free.
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      11-23-2005, 01:03 PM   #9
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Yes, the balance was off. The shop I went to used a road-force balancer. Apparently, 2 tires were really off, 1 so-so, and the last one was perfect. The car is steady now. I can just barley notice an ever so slight vibration over 50mph, but I'm not going to cry over it. Also, it probably didn't help that I put all the tires on backwards! I didn't know/realize there were such things as directional tires. I got a good tire education from the nice gentleman laughing at me.
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      11-23-2005, 04:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmer4me
I just called Tire Rack and they were helpful. They said the will reimburse me for getting the tires balanced and if that doesn't fix the problem they will ship me a new tire or tires for free.
Too bad BMW doesn't provide service like that, or with that attitude... BMW are you listening? Anyone? Buehler?
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      11-24-2005, 09:01 AM   #11
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RF= Road Force - a road force balancer presses the tire/wheel with a preset force, using a roller, while the tire is on the machine. As the tire goes around, irregularities [high or low spots] will cause the "road force" to vary. How much it varies is measured in lbs or kgs. The lower the number, the smoother the tire/wheel.

Generally, on an insensitive chassis, RF numbers at 10 lbs or less are going to be OK. On a car like ANY BMW, you should be shooting for road-force readings on the machine of 5 lbs or less.

Balancing the tire is easy; getting the total package round and straight is the bigger challenge. What can be done is to move the tire on the wheel [they're wheels, not "rims"] until the high spot on the tire corresponds with the lowest spot on the wheel. This is called "matching", and is routine when a new tire is mounted on a new wheel at the factory, but is often neglected in the aftermarket. To be frank, this [as I noted in my first post] is at least the second time I'm aware of that Tire Rack has shipped a tire/wheel pckg that is laughably far off - these guys are supposed to be the pros, and it's pretty obvious that some of the tire guys in their warehouses are not doing the job properly - which can happen when it becomes a mindless, assembly-line process. Tire Rack claimed in my case that they used a R-F balancer - but the tires were so awful in terms of RF readings that it makes you wonder what the original tech was doing when the tires were mounted...listening to the i-Pod? Playing the lottery? Whatever...

Glad it turned out well, but everyone who reads this thread should note the potential lessons here....these are very sensitive cars, and tires are a part of the car that are widely misunderstood, even by many so-called experts [some of whom work in dealer service departments]. You have to become an expert yourself, which is what has happened to me over the past 40 years. Shouldn't be the case, but there you are...
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      11-24-2005, 03:52 PM   #12
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^^ this guy is the expert. I am doomed to have shimmy/vibration for the life of these shitty tires.
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      11-26-2005, 01:10 PM   #13
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L:

I tried to reply to your private message, but your box is full.

In essence, what I said was that a] it's good to hear they finally solved your problem (and everyone here needs to get the story) and b] this illustrates perfectly how I became an "expert" on this subject - grabbing somebody by the coattails and not letting go until you get the problem solved, or a good explanation of why it can't be.

6 grams may sound trivial, but not with these cars.

And though you've already spent too much time on this problem, there is one more step: a real sitdown with whomever is in charge of the service dept at this dealership. Opening line: "I've got some good news, and some bad news..." ("The bad news is you have to reform the way you do business in the service department...")
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      11-26-2005, 04:14 PM   #14
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Thanks jrct9454. I got scolded when I logged on, so I cleaned out the mail box.

I got to thinking about why one technician (they claimed to check the balance and everything was perfect) would not find a problem while another would. Of course I know that some guys are better at their jobs - more experienced, intelligent, with a work ethic. But if the machine is any good, even I should be able to use it. Then I thought about your previous words of wisdom, and what was different yesterday: I drove the car almost 20 miles to the dealership. Within 10 minutes the tech and I were on the road while I demonstrated the problem to him. Probably another 4 miles or so. He immediately took the car into the bay when we returned and did the balance. Ergo - the tires were nice and warm and round. No flat spots from sitting, etc. Therefore he was able to see the true balance of the wheel/tire during normal driving conditions and was not overcompensating for a cold flat spot from sitting.

Sound plausible? You said it all along.
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      11-26-2005, 04:47 PM   #15
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This is really helpful information for this upcoming season. Thanks Bimmer4me!!
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      11-27-2005, 08:13 AM   #16
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L:

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, wondering why they finally got it this time. Especially with these run-flats, the car just can't be allowed to sit for any length of time before the flat-spots develop. Technically, they always should drive it before starting a wheel balance procedure, but practically, hardly anyone ever does that.

Anyway, it's more proof that these cars are highly sensitive and need to be treated that way when it comes to the running gear.
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      11-27-2005, 09:51 AM   #17
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Moral of the story: always make sure the car has been driven for several miles before put on the balancer. It's really too bad the people that do this for a living don't know that.

I have no real complaints with the RFTs when they are balanced! I've had non-RFT tires that also got flat spots easily. I can deal with that for a mile or two...

Thanks again jrct9454 for all the great knowledge and advice.
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      11-28-2005, 02:35 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMW0
This is really helpful information for this upcoming season. Thanks Bimmer4me!!
I'm glad I can do something to return the favor. This forum has been so helpful. I went from ordering a 330xi to a 330i and purchasing winter tires because of all the great information here. AWD in my area is overkill, IMO, especially given that I like to do some real spirited driving every now and then.

For those that get directional tires, the point on the V shape tread should face the front.
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      11-29-2005, 08:57 AM   #19
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Unidirectional tires have an embossed symbol on the sidewall that shows the direction of rotation. This is because the tread design does NOT always make it obvious - yes, those with a "V" shape are more obvious, but there are many unidirectionals that have more subtle treads. In every case, all one needs to do is check the sidewall symbol.
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      12-19-2005, 12:50 PM   #20
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This is frustrating. Tirerack.com only reimbursed me for $80 instead of the full $104 to rebalance the “guaranteed balanced tires” I bought from them. Apparently, they do NOT cover Road Force balancing and limit the balancing to $20 per tire. I feel slighted, because that is not what they told me ahead of time when I called about the problem. $24 is going to kill me and worth it, but people should know Tirerack.com’s reimbursement policy ahead of time…jerks!
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      12-20-2005, 03:54 PM   #21
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jrct9454:

I am curious. After your experience with TireRack.com, would you buy from them again?
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      12-21-2005, 03:04 PM   #22
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That would be a big "maybe" - I'd be inclined to buy tires, but less inclined to buy a package. After my last experience, I'd probably buy the tires and have a local with an RF balancer do the mounting, with my active supervision.

I bought a package from them in 2001 with steel wheels and Michelins for my Mom's '91 Accord wagon, and those were fine. The same combination for our '03 Corolla, as I noted above, was NOT fine, and I had to have them redone, though Tire Rack's reimbursement covered 100% of the cost.

I think I would quiz the rep on the phone about how and who does their mounting and balancing at the warehouses, and make it clear that any case of the shakes would be 100% covered by them, with RF balancing [the only way to fly] part of the deal. No agreement, including a followup name and number, and no deal...
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