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From digest.v5.n52 Wed Jul 31 06:36:26 1996
From: "M.K. Chatterji" <>
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 1996 01:19:08 -0600
Subject: Mail Order Tires (a little long--sorry.)

About a month ago I received my snappy set of Hockenheim R's shod with Yoke 509's from Discount Tire Direct in Scottsdale, Ariz. ( Yes, I know I should have bought AVS Intermediates but I guess I was too cheap.) They came mounted and balanced so I simply put them on myself at home. But alas, I get the classic balance problem, at certain speeds. I live 2000 miles away from Scottsdale. A mailorder nightmare. I guess I was screwed..

Biting the bullet, I take my '90 325is (E30) to the local Porsche-Audi-VW dealer (no Bimmer dealer in my town) and he rebalances them on his machine and even though the LED's zero out, the car vibrates even worse. He grumbles about it when I return--because sure enough, they're not zeroed out anymore--just a day later. With gnashing of teeth he rebalances them. They still vibrate. P-A-VW dealer doesn't really want to see me again.. (After all, it can't possibly be their perfect equipment, nor their certified mechanics. Must be my car. Right. Tough..)

Pessimistically I call Discount Tire and the rep. (Timothy) sounds like he knows what he's talking about, says that a lot of places use "cones" instead of real lug adapters to mount the wheels onto the balancer, thus giving erratic and inconsistent results. Since I watched it being done I could indeed confirm this. He says to balance a wheel correctly one must use lug-bolt adapters to simulate the real hub of that particular car.. Also the tires might need to be rotated on the rim about a quarter turn and remounted in order to cancel out any combination of out-of-roundness or runout between rim and tire.

He offered to re-imburse me for any expenses until I was satisfied (haven't received a cheque yet, so we'll see..) and if I could not find a competent tire place, it could be done for free at the nearest Discount Tire retail outlet. Although the closest outlet was a hundred miles away, I was happy to try anything by now.

So I take my pretty red baby over to Indy expecting the worst--toothless tire gorillas ready to hammer on my pristine wheels and to "please take a seat in the customer lounge." Quite the opposite. Eric the manager goes out of his way to make it right even though his store gets no revenue out of this mail-order sale. I ask who's beat-up '02 that is in the back of the parking lot and he tells me it's his! I'm home! He used to autocross it and is fixing it up. Going to re-join the CCA real soon. The assistant manager (Shawn, also a gear-head and speed enthusiast) actually did the work. He had to rotate two of the tires on the wheel so to eliminate any hint of out-of-roundness. The last tire/wheel combination took him four tries and he wasn't about to give up until it was perfect. Wow. These guys were well-educated and willing to get as technical as you wanted, and welcomed your presence while they worked.

Sorry this post is so long but it's rare to get this sort of treatment from a chain-type tire place, besides some listers might also like to hear about how simply slapping lead weights onto rims is only a small part of "getting it right." Now if they'd only have done that in the first place.. Next time I'll have the set of tires shipped to the retail store--those guys were a pleasure to deal with.

  • -Chat, Terre Haute, Indiana. CCA #94620 '90 325is, '68 R50us, '94 (Folding) ATB [!]
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