Why Are My New Tires Vibrating At 55 MPH?!

Categories: Tires 101

So let me guess, you went to your mechanic, had your new tires mounted and balanced and now they’re vibrating at 55+ MPH. Ok, so you go back to your mechanic and he’s saying that it could be a bad tire and/or there’s probably some belt separation right? NOT SO FAST!

This scenario has been encountered by 1000’s of people and played out hundreds of different ways with every tire type imaginable, including truck tires, all season tires, car tires and even eco friendly tires. Allow us at Next Tires to shed some light on what might be happening with your new tires and talk about how you can stop your tires from vibrating at high way speeds.

Scenario #1 – Newly Installed Tires: So you were excited by the convenience of saving time and money by shopping for your tires online and having them delivered to your local tire shop. While headed home, after having your new tires installed, you notice what seems like a wheel or tire vibration that wasn’t there before. Obviously something is wrong so you turn around and head back to the tire installation shop. After further inspection the head mechanic tells you, “You more than likely have a bad tire and it appears the belts are separating.” Unfortunately this exact scenario is a big reason why a lot of people are afraid to buy tires online. The truth is, it’s not likely the online tire company’s fault AND it’s unlikely the tire is bad!

So you’re probably thinking, “What the heck is it then because whatever it is, it’s annoying!” More often than not what happens is the tire installation shop rushes the balancing of the tire(s). If you weren’t aware, every wheel has a heavy spot and it tends to be where the valve stem hole is because this area needs to be reinforced, usually with steel, to allow for and support the opening created by this hole. Also, if you’ve ever noticed a yellow dot stamped on your tire’s sidewall, this is to indicate the tire’s heavy spot. Knowing this actually makes it easier to properly balance any tire with any wheel. How? Simple. A trained tire professional starts by aligning, on opposite sides of each other, the yellow dot of the tire and the valve stem (hole) of the wheel. Next, the tire is rotated around the wheel to the point where little to no added weight is needed. This counterbalancing technique usually produces a quality tire balancing that does not vibrate. However, because so many tire shops are pressed for time and need to get many vehicles in and out as quickly as possible, they tend to just throw the tire on the wheel, balance as close to perfect as possible in a single try and put them on the vehicle. Nine out of ten times this is where the problem begins.

“So what can I do?” It’s best to have the tire(s) rebalanced properly and while the solution is simple, it is both time consuming and frustrating. On your way back to the tire installer ask yourself the following question, which will help narrow the location of the poorly balanced tire(s). “Where am I feeling the tire vibration?”

  • If you’re feeling the tire vibration through your steering wheel, than the misbalanced tire is most likely in the front. You’ll probably need to have the front tire(s) rebalanced.
  • If you’re feeling the vibration in the seat of your pants, than the misbalanced tire is most likely in the rear. You’ll probably need to have the rear tire(s) rebalanced.
  • If you’re feeling vibration in both the steering wheel and the seat of your pants then you likely need your tires rebalanced in the front and rear.

“So how can I be sure it’s not a bad tire?” Well, in some cases you may be able to “outrun the vibration.“ This means that the vibration only occurs at a certain speed and if you accelerate or decelerate the vibration is dramatically reduced or goes away all together. This is how you rule out the bad tire assumption. Now don’t get us wrong, there are, have been and will continue to be bad tires but these days it’s extremely rare, especially with all of the advancements in and quality of tire manufacturing technology and the strict tire testing that occurs before the tires are shipped to tire wholesalers, local tire shops and online tire stores.

Scenario #2 – Tire Belt Separation: If you’ve ever driven on a tire with a separated belt you’ll recognize it right away, so for those who haven’t, let us explain what that feels like. In short, it’s like driving with a square wheel! From the minute it is put on, to the minute you remove it and no matter the speed, it will feel like a dead weight that just cannot and will not roll properly. The reason it feels like this is because the tire is distorting or collapsing under load and with each rotation the belt or internal structure is separating. If you feel these symptoms then you probably have a bad tire and the only way to cure this ill is to get a new tire. Worry not, though! This is problem that can be proven and most manufactures will replace it at no cost to you under their workmanship warranty.  

We here at Next Tires hope this helps clear up the confusion between a bad tire balance job and a bad tire with a separated belt. As cut and dry as it seems, is as cut and dry as it is! We hope this article was of help to you and if you or someone you know have more information that can help others with this type of problem please feel free to share and enlighten others with your knowledge or experience!