I'm starting down the DIY-automotive path and was reading about how some people use bubble balancers to balance their own tires at home. Can anyone speak to the accuracy of these balancers? Does anyone use them, and if so, how you found them to be precise enough for everyday use?
A bubble balancer is only able to balance the tire in one plane, as if it were a flat disc. A dynamic balancer is able to detect and correct for balance in both that plane as well as the axial dimension. You'll notice that wheels balanced on a dynamic machine often wind up with weights added on both the inside and outside of the rim.
The race team that I buy my tires through (they do periodic group buys), will do free mounting and balancing with a bubble balancer. I've taken advantage of that before and have no complaints. Couldn't tell any bit of difference between a set of tires dynamically balanced and those bubble balanced. The only apparent downside was that it took longer to do the balancing process with the bubble balancer vs. a dynamic balancer.
I grew up in the days of a bubble balancer at most tire shops. The spin balancer was gaining popularity but many older shops still utilized their old balancers. Back then a tire change was about 5 dollars. The method worked well. Today I am in my 40's and have noticed the skill and experience of those days are gone. Go to an auto parts store and the lack of knowledge is very evident also. I have recently set my garage up to do all off my own general maintainence so I bought an older tire machine and bubble balancer. I have done my own tires now for over a year and I drive 500 miles per week on those tires. Bubble balancers are still quite accurate. It is always nice to do for yourself. I have been able to do things on my time frame without paying expensive rates.
Quite some time ago I was in Dale Earnhardt's pit prior to the start of the Daytona 500. A member of his crew was balancing his tires with a bubble balancer. I asked him why he wasn't using a computerized balancer and he said because they weren't worth crap compared to a bubble balancer.Not much more to say about the subject.
To echo many of the other statements our shop used a bubble balancer from 1967 to 1995,never had a complaint. We did go to spin balance,it was a nice selling point to have one. Perhaps we used fewer weights with this unit. I still have my own bubble balancer,it works great! 2b1af7f3a8