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Road Force Balancing and independent tire shops

 
Old 02-15-2018, 02:36 PM
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Road Force Balancing and independent tire shops

I am about to replace tires on our 2013 TSX and was all set to buy them from tirerack.com, have them shipped to my Acura dealer and have them installed there.
Then something caught my attention. My Acura dealer does not have a road force balancing machine and they as expected are not cheap.
At the moment I am kind of set to get Continental Pure Contacts and with shipping and installation they would cost me $728.
The tires themselves are $600 including shipping and my Acura dealer charges $30 per tire and with tax it becomes $128.

I also got a quote from ETD Discount Tire for $652 total with installation and tax.
The difference is about $75 which is not a big deal but it is 11% more and is not easy to justify.

So here are my questions:
How important is to have load force balancing done? The only dealer in our area that for sure has it is my BMW dealer and they will charge $50 per tire.
How safe are independent chains like ETD Discount tire?

Does anyone know a good tire shop in Norther NJ, preferably Bergen county?
Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-15-2018, 02:38 PM
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You don't need the dealer to do your tires.
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Old 02-15-2018, 03:16 PM
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since you're in NYC, go to RCT Performance, they have 2 locations with road force machine.
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Old 02-15-2018, 03:31 PM
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I do road force balance at Discount Tires; but, I have after market rims on all three vehicles and posted hwy speed limits are 70-80 mph on the interstate (you can go at least 5 mph faster than the posted speed with no worries). If you have aftermarket rims and do a fair amount of hwy driving, I'll go for road force balance and then regular balance/rotations after that for the life of the tires.
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Old 02-16-2018, 06:23 AM
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I have operated an auto repair shop for 15 years now, and have 2 road force balancers in my shop. Here's my take. Road force balancing is a good thing, but it is only as good as the person running the balancer. If he really knows his stuff, has a ton of time to burn, and actually cares about what he is doing (a rare combo with tire techs today), excellent results can be achieved. The best results are done by not only measuring the road force, but also by match mounting (re-clocking the tire upon the rim)j in order to minimize radial runout. The problem here is that match mounting makes for more work, as the tire needs to be deflated, beads broken off rim, and spun upon said rim, then re-inflated and put back on the balancer. Basically, they will measure road force, balance the tires, and provide you with the measurements. If the mounted assembly has .026 or less road force, it is "in spec" and nothing more is done. Quality tires with true rims (no bends) can usually get to less than .010; after being match mounted by a whiz. Although Hunter's "spec" is .026 or less for P-metric radials, you really want them .015 or less for that butter smooth ride.

Call around a couple independent tire retailers and prod them with pertinent questions regarding whether they simply measure road force, or match mount to compensate for runout. Make sure to hint that you'd like to see .015 or better (if possible). Then, get a quote from them. Most tire shops will get you the tires and install for less than you can by buying them through TR, and then if there is an issue, you can deal directly with the shop which sold you the tires, vs the nightmare of shipping back to TR and waiting for replacements (if tires need replaced under warranty due to high road force). Buy them from someone who is competitive on price, and sounds like he gives a flying phuque about getting you the results you desire.

Another log to throw upon this fire shall be the fact that most of our customers are more worried about how long this will take vs. how good it can be. Therefore, the road force feature is turned off unless a customer requests it, or we have a vibration problem to solve. I sell over 500 tires per month, and have to match mount tires maybe 3-4 times a year to correct vibration.

The verdict? Don't get too hung up over road force. Buying quality tires is your #1 mission here. This is what I do. I mount the tires with the red dot (or single paint mark) aligned with the valve stem. That is what those dots/marks are for. Balance the tires. Having them clocked as such will minimize the amount of weight necessary to balance the tires. Then drive it. If you love it, you are done. If it sucks, then go through the deal of having them road forced AND MATCH MOUNTED! Again, Road Force machines only work their magic when the guy running them is willing to match mount. Otherwise, your desired results will likely never occur.
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Old 02-16-2018, 06:34 AM
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I forgot to mention, if you have them do what I described above, you could by all means have the road force measured at that time, as measuring it only takes a few extra seconds. Document the measurements. That way, if you do end up returning to have them match mounted, you will have a before and after result. On a side note, if the end result (after match mounting) does not get them into "spec," have the tires returned/replaced by the manufacturer under warranty. A good tire shop will handle such an affair for you, as the manufacturer will simply credit the shop for the tire.
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Old 11-26-2018, 10:20 PM
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OK. Double checked against a third gauge and they all agree with each other...36 lbs. Checked dash readings and acura-link readings on my phone and they both show 32. Trust but verify, as Reagan once said. It has an appt on Dec 6 so will bring it up with the dealer. Maybe it's not, but a 4 lb variance seems like a lot.
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Old 12-01-2018, 07:56 PM
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I used to get my tires at Costco. They did a good job (normal balancing, correct lug nut torque), but there was usually a wait list and they didn't accept appointments. They also did nitrogen fill, replacing my valve caps with the green ones, and thus tagging me as a newbie. I suspect the green caps led one shop to conclude they could take advantage of me, but that's another story.

I now go through TireRack and use the preferred installer in my neighborhood. TireRack gives a decent price and offers road hazard protection. The preferred installer does road force balancing and fulfills the requirements outlined by @antisocial above. I consider myself lucky as my installer is good at what he does, chats with me, and lets me watch him work. For me, the results are worth it.
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