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What Are Wheel Weights and Why Do Cars Need Them?

By Tire Agent Staff

June 14, 2023


Wheel weights are small, precisely measured metallic or composite devices attached to your vehicle's rims, which counterbalance irregularities in the tire-wheel assembly, ensuring smooth and balanced rotation. 

While they may seem like inconspicuous components of a vehicle, wheel weights play a critical role in maintaining a smooth and balanced ride. Let's delve into the world of wheel weights now.

Why Are Wheel Weights Necessary?

Tire-wheel assembly imbalances can occur due to manufacturing variations, uneven tire wear or the addition of aftermarket components. Need more info on why balanced tires are so essential? We've got you. Tap or click here for an explainer on balancing and alignment.

When a wheel is not balanced, it creates vibrations that can lead to uneven tire wear, reduced fuel efficiency, compromised handling and an uncomfortable ride.

Wheel weights serve the following key purposes:

      • Balance: By strategically adding or removing weight, wheel weights enable the tire-wheel assembly to rotate evenly. This balance minimizes vibrations, improving ride quality and enhancing vehicle performance.
      • Stability: Balanced wheels improve stability and traction, especially at higher speeds. This ensures optimal handling and maneuverability, reducing the risk of accidents and enhancing overall safety.

Characteristics of Wheel Weights

Wheel weights typically appear as small, rectangular or curved metallic pieces. They are often coated with a corrosion-resistant material, such as zinc or lead-free plastic, to protect against environmental elements.

They are attached to the wheel's rim, either on the inner or outer surface. They are strategically placed to offset imbalances caused by tire or wheel assembly irregularities.

The most common types of wheel weights include:

      • Clip-ons: These wheel weights feature a clamp-like design that securely attaches to the rim. They are commonly used in steel wheels and can be easily installed or removed without damaging the wheel finish. Clip-on wheel weights are available in various sizes and are widely used in professional tire shops.
      • Adhesive wheel weights: These sticky wheel weights are backed with strong adhesive material and are primarily used for aluminum alloy or composite wheels. Adhesive weights are typically lead or steel and are available in standard and low-profile designs. They adhere firmly to the wheel surface, ensuring a secure fit.

The Importance of Wheel Weights

Balancing your vehicle's wheels is important, regardless of vehicle type, for optimal performance, whether it's a basic SUV or a high-performance sports car. Tire balancing can only be achieved through the use of weights.

The tires on your car are in constant contact with the road surface, making it critical to have properly balanced rims and tires. Adding weights ensures a balanced rotation and enhances braking and maneuverability, particularly on rough terrains.

A vehicle equipped with wheel weights also provides better control on the road. This becomes particularly significant when driving on wet roads, as the presence of weights makes it easier to maintain control of the car.

Regardless of their brand, most wheels have a slight imbalance due to factors such as angular speed, wheel mass and distance from the axis. Adding weights to the wheels helps counterbalance this imbalance.

Whenever new wheels are installed, your auto shop will do what's called balance and alignment. If you experience vibrations in your vehicle immediately after installing new tires, the technician may not have adequately balanced the wheels. In such cases, it is advisable to return to the installer and have them check the weights on the wheels.

Where to Buy Wheel Weights

Wheel weights can be purchased from many places, including tire retailers. Local tire shops or retailers often stock a wide range of wheel weights suitable for different wheel types. They also have experts who can assist in selecting the correct weights for your vehicle.

Another place to look is online retailers. Numerous online merchants offer wheel weights, allowing you to browse a comprehensive selection and compare prices. Websites specializing in automotive parts and accessories and e-commerce platforms can be reliable sources for purchasing them.

This begs the question, though: Should you DIY wheel weights, or leave it to the pros?

Should You DIY Wheel Weights?

Unless you are a trained mechanic and you have the right equipment for checking wheel and tire alignment, the answer is no, you should not DIY your own wheel weights. There are a lot of things you can learn to do for care and maintenance of your vehicles, but wheel weights are not on that list. 

While attempting a DIY installation of wheel weights may be tempting, leaving this task to professionals is recommended. Proper wheel balancing requires specialized equipment, such as a dynamic balancer, to achieve accurate results.

Also, professionals possess the knowledge and experience to identify potential issues and guarantee correct weight placement.

Incorrect installation or improper weight distribution can lead to imbalances, causing further problems and potentially compromising safety. Therefore, we recommend consulting a trusted tire shop or automotive service center for professional wheel balancing and weight installation.

When you buy tires and aftermarket wheels from Tire Agent, we can recommend a tire shop near you for installation. 


Photo 145241667 | Wheel Weights |