Quit bouncing, tires!

I’ve owned quite a few cars in my lifetime. Now being Dec. 2012 and I’m 26, the Accord is my sixth vehicle I’ve owned. It’s a sad fact that every car I’ve owned (this Accord included) I’ve had trouble with tire shops not getting a perfect balancing job on the tires. Maybe I’m a super sensitive pain in the butt, or maybe tire shops just don’t have the talent or care when it comes to installing those wheel weights. I’ve had this issue with several different brands of shops and even some dealerships. I first became aware of this problem when I got my first new set of tires on my 2002 Acura RSX. The worn stock Michelin tires were beginning to show their underlying canvas and I decided to get a good set of Goodyear ZR rated tires. The total cost was an eye-brow raising surprise, but the grip and quietness of the new tires were well worth the money. Only problem was at speeds above 55mph, the whole car would shimmy like crazy. I took my car back to the Discount Tire shop in Flagstaff, AZ (lived here about a year) I bought the tires from and complained of the shimmy. They apologized (nice guys) and did another balancing for me. I went to the freeway expecting a smooth ride like I had when I first bought the car, but nope. The vibration/shimmy was worse! I was determined to get it right. The wheels weren’t bent, the suspension was tight and my RSX hadn’t had any issues with vibrations before. Long story short, it took FOUR trips back to this same shop before they got it right. My thoughts: “Okay maybe their technicians were crummy and/or the equipment they had wasn’t calibrated quite right.” I moved to New Mexico a few months later and I was due for a tire rotation and balancing. It was a free service at any Discount Tire in the county so why not take advantage of that with the nearby store? I did and yup, they screwed up the balancing and I had to go back…twice.

I once owned a 2000 BMW 323i. Great car. I bought a set of Khumo AST High Performance tires for it and I decided to avoid Discount Tire Co. The independent shop I used said they couldn’t get the balancing right due to “bent wheels.” I didn’t bother to go back or try another tire shop. I took my car to BMW of El Paso, TX and had them give it a try and they got it perfect. I had two Pathfinders and I had problems getting the all-terrain tires balanced. Nissan Sentra…same thing.

Overall, my point is whenever I get a set of tires, I pretty much plan to have the inconvenience of returning to the shop a few times. Similar situation with my Accord. When I bought it, the high performance Hancook V2 tires were pretty new, but they would shimmy at speeds above 60mph. Big-O Tires tired and I didn’t feel any difference. So did my private mechanic when I had the timing belt service done and it still didn’t feel right. I had to get them RoadForced balanced by Borman Honda here in Las Cruces, NM. After experiencing the results of the the RoadForce system (unfortunately, very few shops have this equipment) I only use this. http://www.gsp9700.com My Accord now rides as smooth as, well any car should! Here’s a shot of Borman Honda. I’m usually not a fan of  dealerships, but these guys actually do really good work and are very pleasant.

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While I was getting the tires RoadForced balanced, I got the compliance bushings replaced as well. They were pretty well worn out as you can see in this pic:

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I was aware of these bushings being worn but I didn’t feel any bad handing/ride characteristics so I figured I’d wait for a while before spending the money to replace them. Borman Honda told me these fatigued bushings can allow excessive movement in the lower control arms and cause accelerated wear on other components. After they replaced these bushings, I was really impressed by how much more secure the steering felt and highway tracking was significantly better. Again, I didn’t think it was bad before but this is a lesson on how little things make a big difference.

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