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Old 03-12-2002, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,538
Bad tires or bad wheel balance

I have a 93 300E with Goodyear Regatta II tires that have only about 7,000 miles on them. The tires have been fine until I had them rotated and balanced. After this, the car pulled strongy to the right, the tires bounced (especially at freeway speeds) and my steering wheel vibrated. I had the position of the front tires rotated and this took care of the pulling.
They rebalanced the front wheels, but the mild tire bouncing and vibrating steering wheel remained. It reveals itself only at speeds above 60-65, and gets worse with higher speeds.
I have 15" 15 hole chrome wheels, and they were using the stick-on weights on the inside of the wheel. I read some posts on this site that explained how trying to balance wheels with only "inside weights" might not be the best method.
I had them rebalance the wheels again using clamp-on weights on the inside and outside of the wheels very reluctantly. They told me the weights would scratch the rims.
In any event, the tires still bounced and the steering wheel still vibrated. I went back, had them pull the wheels, and had them spin the wheels in the balancing machine with the weights on to prove to myself that they were balanced. And they were.
I took my car to my MB mechanic, and was told that warped front brake rotors can cause tires to bounce. The front rotors were warped so we changed them. It didn't solve the problem.
Is there anything I may be missing?
Are there tires that are just bad and can't be balanced?
I'm reluctant to go back for the 6th time and have the tries re-balanced when they appear to be "balanced" on their machine.
Should I get the tires replaced?
It's just uncomfortable and pisses me off to drive on the freeway with bouncing tires and vibrating steering wheel...

Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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Old 03-12-2002, 02:17 PM
Ali Al-Chalabi's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Knoxville, TN
Posts: 1,837
When my dad had the C280, he had the same exact situation that you described. He repeatedly had the tires rebalanced as well as changed the motor mounts and never corrected the problem. I knew he wouldn't, because I knew exactly what the problem was, defective tires! If you jack up the car and spin the tire, watch to see how far out of round it is. If it is OK, then the problem may be elsewhere. But the Pirelli tires on the C280 were manufactured massively out of round.

I made it a point to be the very first thing I did when I got the car as my own to replace the tires with Michelins. It has never before been smoother. It is possible that the tires either have a manufacturing defect or something else, and need to be replaced. I could not sstand the vibration at highway speeds on my car, and in this circumstance it was caused by tires that were not round.

-Good luck in diagnosing your problem.
Ali Al-Chalabi

2001 CLK55
1999 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel
2002 Harley-Davidson Fatboy
Merlin Extralight w/ Campy Record
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Old 03-12-2002, 10:14 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Florida
Posts: 52
I was encountering the same problem on my 190E till I went to bleed the brakes. When I was loosening all of the lug bolts I noticed none of them were the same in tightness. When I put the wheels back on I made sure I used a torque wrench. Took it for a drive and no more vibration. Maybe the differences in torque on the lug nuts was causing some warpage in the rotors or wheels? I don't know but my vibration is gone now.

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Old 03-12-2002, 10:40 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Near Williamsburg, Virginia
Posts: 364
Just a comment about checking the tires for an out-of-round condition ... I had a similar situation with shimmy in the front end. It took me months to realize that the front tires were out of round because, cold they were fine, but after about 45 minutes of driving the belts would separate. One day I just happened to check the tires for out-of-round while they were still warm and found the problem. You also mentioned bouncing. Are the front shocks good?
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Old 03-12-2002, 11:22 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: New Bedford, MA USA
Posts: 1,583
Hmm, let's see...Everything was OK until you had them rotated and then it all went in the dumper (so to speak). Make sure the direction of rotation was not reversed on any of the tires in the process of rotation. I'd have the dealer put them back the way they were originally and start over again. The owner's manual gives the correct rotation sequence. Make sure they follow it. If your mech states warped rotors cause tire bounce at highway speeds, then he doesn't know what he's talking about unless he drives with one foot on the brakes and one foot on the gas (at highway speeds...did he really listen to what you were telling him??) What you are probably dealing with is harmonic standing waves in a tire rotating the opposite direction it was designed to rotate in. Just spinning the tire will not reproduce the problem. There has to be contact with the road to produce distortion of the casing..yada yada yada...Put 'em back to their original locations and see if the problem goes away.
Jeff Lawrence
1989 300e
2000 Dodge Grand Caravan SE
No matter what you fix, there will always be something else to fix..
"Warranty" is just another way of postponing the inevitable.
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Old 03-12-2002, 11:28 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,538
I spoke to my buddy who is the head of quality control for Mitsubishi Motors U.S.A. He gets a number of customer complaints from owners of new Mitsubishi's who complain of out-of-balance tire issues, front end vibrations, etc., and usually the problem is bad tires. The technical defect is called 'RFV', or radial force variation - basically a soft spot in a radial tire. A tire has 360 degrees, 10-15 degrees of it may have a soft spot in the side wall, and everytime the tire rotates and hits the soft spot, there is greater flex in that area of the side wall, thus an out of round condition.
It can't be seen under visual inspection. It takes a very expensive machine to detect a bad tire.

I had the tires re-rotated back to the original position, and had the tires rebalanced (once again), this time using the "stick-on" type weights. I have the chrome wheels and the clamp-on type are reluctant to stay on.

I'll let the forum know what happens.
Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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Old 03-12-2002, 11:35 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Surrey, Beautiful British Columbia, Canada
Posts: 750
goodyear regatta 2 sounds familiar. those are the tires
on my truck, what are they doing in your benz car?
michelins are the best, imho! no flame throwing, pls.
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Old 03-12-2002, 11:38 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,538
Yeah, I know, I should have put Michelins or Pirelli's on the car.
I've learned my lesson.

I regret going with the Goodyear's, but with only 7,000 miles on the tires, their barely worn and I'd like to get my money's worth.

They are not a truck tire, though. The Tire Rack calls these a regular touring tire that you'd find on a typical heavy American sedan, like a Cadillac, Buick, or Crown Vic.

The Michelin MXV4's fall into the Grand Touring Tire category. I should have gone with these.
Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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Old 03-13-2002, 12:10 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Surrey, Beautiful British Columbia, Canada
Posts: 750
do i spoil my truck, or what? he, he, he
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Old 03-13-2002, 09:08 AM
kowached's Avatar
Rising Member
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Michigan
Posts: 74
If you really don't want to use weights when balancing...

You might be able to find a race shop that will "Match-Balance" your tires if you don't want to use weights. The process is very labor intensive and involves rotating the tire on the wheel until it is in balance.

I agree that high speed rated Michelin tires are the most inherently round and well balanced tires around .

1998 BMW 540i Sport
1995 E320
1992 400E
1989 BMW M3
1979 Triumph TR7 (1st car)
1986 BMW 735i (Sold)
1980 BMW 320i (Sold)
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Old 03-13-2002, 11:38 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Plattakill, NY
Posts: 137
I would find a shop with a good Hunter balencer with the "road force" on it. They are very popular with the Miata crew as they are prone to vibrations due in part to there light weight. If there is a solution to the vibration that machine will find it. The shop near me charges like $10 a wheel to balance with it. It has a roller that simulates the pressure that the road puts on the tire.
1991 Mazda Miata 174000
1991 Subaru 189,000 Winter beater

got rid of:
1984 VW Vanagon 195,000
1976 350SE Euro 185,000 KM
1973 280SE 4.5 (boy do I regret that)
1980 280SE European W126 4 speed manual (miss it)
1989 BMW 735iL 119000 (good riddance)
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Old 03-13-2002, 12:30 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Surrey, Beautiful British Columbia, Canada
Posts: 750
for wheel balancing, it would be best to go to someone
you can really trust to do the proper balance and torque
on your wheels.

one time this problem drove me crazy. took the time to
see a friend and he showed the proper way of doing it.
nothing special, just the old fashion way of tire balancing.
(i was there in front of the machine)

problem was the weight was not precisely installed. i was
amazed how less than an inch off could make a real difference.

btw, my problem was at 65mi + the car was unstable.
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Old 03-13-2002, 12:45 PM
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Woolwich, Maine
Posts: 3,598

Getting your money's worth out of the tires you have may end up prematurely wearing your front shocks, steering components and other suspension parts.

I have had similar problems on Pirelli tires and will never own another set of them. The first ones were CN-36 models from the '80s on a 230E and the last experience was with the P600's that came on my 16 valve 190E (both tires were "V" rated).
In each case the tires became geometrically unstable, due to some manufacturing problem, at speeds over 60 mph. Most tire balancers do not run that fast, so if the tire becomes misshapen at 70, you will have a problem that is "undetected" at the shop on the balancing machine, and therefore cannot be addressed. I have tried other tire brands, including Goodyear and Dunlop, but have only found Michelin higher performance tires, like the MXV4 and XGTV4 series (now the Pilot XGTV4) consistently reliable.

If your tires are suffering from belt or other separations of the layers of materials used in construction, the problem will not go away. Also, your wheel manufacturer should be able to specify the kind of weights to use to achieve a dynamic balance of the wheel/tire combination. The 16 valve 190E requires stick on weights on the inside and a special clip on configuration at the outside, using the factory wheels. A wheel design that does not allow weights on the inside and outside is not meant for anything but the showroom.

Balancing on the inside and outside of the wheel cancels dynamic forces that arise from the wheel rotation that cause a wobble more than the typical hopping you see with some unbalanced tires on the highway. Balancing on one side cannot address these forces and is more likely to add to them than reduce them.

So, my advice is to replace the tires you have as soon as practical, and contact your wheel supplier/manufacturer and ask for directions on what kind of weights to use on the inside and outside surfaces when balancing. Good Luck, Jim
1986 Euro 190E 2.3-16 (291,000 miles),
1998 E300D TurboDiesel, 231,000 miles -purchased with 45,000,
1988 300E 5-speed 252,000 miles,
1983 240D 4-speed, purchased w/136,000, now with 222,000 miles.
2009 ML320CDI Bluetec, 89,000 miles

1971 220D (250,000 miles plus, sold to father-in-law),
1975 240D (245,000 miles - died of body rot),
1991 350SD (176,560 miles, weakest Benz I have owned),
1999 C230 Sport (45,400 miles),
1982 240D (321,000 miles, put to sleep)
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Old 03-13-2002, 01:14 PM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
The Hunter force variation balancer (as mentioned above ) is the way to diagnose the tire/wheel combination.

One area I haven't seen addressed is that if I read this right you are using an aftermarket wheel. The proper wheel will center to the hub which gives the same centerline as the balancer. If you balance a wheel then center it on the lug bolts as most aftermarket wheels do, then balance can never be right. If the wheels are hanging when tightened they can be easily be .010in of center. Every effort should be made to support the wheel as it is tightened to avoid this condition.
Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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Old 03-13-2002, 01:31 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,538
Thanks for the input everyone.

My wheels are the original 15 hole rims.

I spoke this morning again to my buddy, Jim, the director of quality control for Mitsubishi.

His job also requires working with the tire manufacturers. On the Mitsubishi Diamante's, they used to use Toyo and Yokohama's. He liked the performance and ride characteristics of the Yokohama's better, but said that both were good tires. He was recently forced to change to Goodyear tires, because they have a more "premium" image in the minds of consumers. He said they've had nothing but problems with Goodyear, in particular with the Radial Force Variation problem, flat spot problems that don't run out if the cars have been sitting in storage for too long, and a problem I believe he called 'kinesics' (sp.???) - where the tire does not track straight, in other words 'cone-shaped'. If you roll a cone-shaped object, it will not roll straight, obviously. This is what caused my pulling problem.

Another frequent problem they run into is technicians at dealers not operating the balance machines correctly. They have technicians who swear up and down they know what they're doing, been doing it for 30 years, and that the tires under warrantly are defective. Mitsubishi USA will send a quality control engineer to diagonose a problem or to assuage a consumer complaint, and find that the technicians are not operating the machine correctly. Usually they are not centering the tire correctly on the balance machine.

My buddy and I believe my specific tire problem is the Radial Force Variation problem.

BTW, I cross-checked the balance of my tires at Penske. After balancing the tires and applying the weights, I had them rotate the tires 90 degrees and re-check them in the machine. They all came up balanced.

I suppose I can plead my case to Penske that my tires are defective and that I want them replaced, but I'll still be stuck with these damn Goodyear Regatta II's.

No good solution.

Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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