Centramatic Wheel Balancers

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Well-known member
Dec 21, 2017
Jupiter, FL
I have a vibration in the front end that is very annoying.  It's only between 55 and 65 MPH, right in my sweet spot for cruising.  I had the tires rebalanced and it improved somewhat but is still there.  Anyone use the Centramatic balancers with any success?  I'm heading to Arkansas on October 20th and would like to cure this before the trip.  Any feedback is greatly appreciated.



there is a guy with a youtube channel (Big Truck Big RV) and he recently did a video. He seemed to like them.  He goes by IronCobra on the fordTruckEnthusiasts forum.
Centramatics are like beads inside your tires, they cover up the problem. You need to find out what is causing the problem, then fix the problem, not cover it up.
Good Luck,
Indiana Journey
I largely agree with Indiana Journey, but the "cover up" is pretty much SOP.  Whether you use wheel weights, beads, or Centramatic-like device, balancing compensates for a physically out of round or unevenly weighted wheel and tire.  It's possible that the Centramatic will achieve a better balance than the tech who did your tires (what method was used?), but it's also possible that vibration is something else altogether, e.g. drive shaft, wobbly wheel bearings, etc. It's not always easy to determine where a vibration originates.

The Centramatic might do a better job, but they are pricey. If you are convinced the problem is front wheel balance, you might make a second attempt at balancing with weights or beads before taking the more expensive step. Sometimes the shop or tech who does the balancing is less than meticulous, especially if there is no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary.
I owned my trucking business for almost 60 years and tried all the tire balance procedures available through the years. Centramatic is a good product and will work, but I prefer the mercury filled balancers. More precise and quicker balance because of density. Never wear out. I ran them on all tires, steer axle, drive axle and trailer. Figured they paid for themselves on second set of tires by eliminating rotation alone. Completely stopped uneven tire wear and vibration. Starting using them about 30 years ago.
  I never had much luck with beads, bags, ball bearings, golf balls, and what have you. Did have some success with antifreeze and balanced my tires with it for a couple of years when I went to tubeless tires about 1968. Tubeless tires will walk on the rim making lead weight balancing useless.
  The most important step in tire balance is the tire mounting. There is a mounting ring mark on every tire from bicycle on up that must be equal distance from rim all the way around. You can easily visually check this.
Thanks for the replies - I do not know how they were previously balanced.  I bought the coach last year and the PO had new tires put on as part of the deal.  When I drove it to Lou Bachrodt Freightliner in Fort Pierce, FL for the annual service I noticed the vibration and they found front suspension bushings worn and I had them replaced.  St. Lucie Tire was right next door and had them do an alignment and balance.  The vibration was less but it did not disappear.  Centramatics wants $215 for the pair and it would be worth it if it fixes my issue.

New Koni shocks were installed a week or two ago and that did not cure the vibration but helped the handling 300%.
  I have them, they work great. Note though that your tires might not be precisely round.
Try these guys for centramatics.
Mine took out that same type of vibration.
I had dynabeads in the tires didn't work for that vibration. Remove beads if you have them if you add centramatics
Take your tires to a decent tire service center. Someplace with a Hunter Road Force balancer.
I suspect the issue is both your wheel and tire are egg shaped. Slight as it may be, they are. There is a sweet spot where both will cancel out the others defects. The load force machine will find that spot and tell the technician how to align the tire to the wheel to reduce the load force. If there is still too much load force, the tire is defective and must be replaced. Just because the tire is balanced, does not mean it will pass road force testing. This is wyh cheap tire shops cannot fix balancing issues. They don't have the right equipment.

Update - I installed the Centramatic balancers and drove 450 miles yesterday to Memphis.  No improvement.  I'm thinking along with johnhicks and Optimistically Paranoid, "out of round".  Heading up to my daughter's today to Rogers, near Bentonville AK.  Being that close to Walmart HQ, there should be some truck shops nearby to check and shave the tire(s) IF that is the problem.  Are there any shop recommendations in that area?

Thanks, Ed
"Out of round" is a more-or-less normal situation; that's the reason that balancing is required in the first place.  If tires and wheels were perfect, no need to balance at all. Few are, however.

So the question here is whether yours are so badly out of round (or otherwise imperfect) that wheel weights or Centramatic cannot correct.  A bent wheel, for example, would probably thwart any attempt to balance and shaving the tire rubber won't help at all. So will bad wheel bearings (lets the wheel move around as it rotates) or sloppy king pins.

I think you need better diagnosis rather than just trying solutions. Few tire shops are all that skilled and don't cope well with unusual situations. The guy at the sales counter just sells services (balancing, shaving/truing, etc) and a kid in the back runs through a standard procedure, helped by a machine that may or may not be smart enough to find all types of problems. Or be in proper calibration to do the job perfectly.
Thanks Gary.  I drove from Memphis across I40 and up I49 yesterday, about 350 miles total.  I40 was pretty smooth (unlike the previous day) and at times there was no or very slight vibration.  Other times it was just as before.  The steering feels tight, new Koni shocks all around and Centramatics on the steer tires.  FL service replaced some worn bushings this spring and I had a front end alignment. Could it be out of balance rears and just feel like the front?  I'm scratching my head on this one and not into throwing money at something without looking into other possible causes.  Any other ideas?

A seat-of-the-pants feel for the vibration source is not super reliable, so yes, it could be a rear wheel/tire.  Could also be a driveline vibration, not wheel/tire at all.
Gary RV_Wizard said:
A seat-of-the-pants feel for the vibration source is not super reliable, so yes, it could be a rear wheel/tire.  Could also be a driveline vibration, not wheel/tire at all.
Agreed. I can generally pinpoint which corner it's coming from in my cars, but not so much my MH. One time, the tire was balanced at 60mph, but below 30, I could feel the corner of the car rise and fall as if I was driving slowly on a patch of speed bumps.

Now, I mount and balance my own tires, primarily because I wasn't satisfied with the last few shops. I use a bubble balancer with stick on weights and the tire changer kit from Harbor Freight, mostly for the bead breaker and it works well. So far, I have mounted and balanced about 10 tires and they have been silky smooth up to 80MPH. I don't usually drive faster than that. I have heard that 10 ply is impossible without a machine. I haven't tried one yet, but I have done 8 ply without too much trouble.

Surprisingly, small trailer tires are the most difficult because the beads don't like to seat. So far, a ratchet strap and a fresh can of premium starter fluid work best and that comes with its own struggles and additional dangers.
You have already purchased the Centramatic tire balancers so this comparison may not be of interest to you but perhaps others will find it useful.

This link compares Centramatic tire balancers to mercury filled tire balancers.  I was interested because I haven't heard of the mercury filled tire balancers. 

Another update:  I spoke to Centramatics and their comments were the same as everyone's here; either the rears or a driveline issue.  They did tell me that all Love Truck Tire Centers stock their products.  Off I went to find one in Arkansas and bought a set for the rear for less than Centramatic's price.  Vibration free now.  I drove from Bentonville Arkansas to Lafayette Louisiana (550 miles) yesterday and it rode great.  It did nothing to help the windy conditions though - 20+ MPH and gusty.  Now I need to find a cure for that one. ;D

Note for future reference:  If you negotiate new tires in your purchase price, don't let PO chose the brand or tire shop.

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