Balancing Wheels and Peace of Mind

Properly balanced wheels have long been recognized to help provide improved ride quality, better gas mileage and reduced tire wear, making wheel balancing an important part of car care and maintenance.

For decades wheel weights have largely consisted of chunks of lead clamped to the wheel rim. Lead has traditionally been used to make wheel weights because it is cheap and heavy, allowing the use of relatively small weights to balance wheels. However, the highly toxic metal can cause brain damage and other nervous-system disorders in people.

Each year an estimated 70,000 tons of lead are used globally to manufacture wheel weights. (Source: Lead Free Wheels, a project of the Ecology Center) Banned by the European Union in 2005, lead weights are being phased out in Japan and South Korea, and will be phased out in California during 2009, with more states to follow. Zinc wheel weights also are being scrutinized, and a ban on these weights has been proposed in Washington State.

An Effective Alternative

3M, a producer of lead-free wheel weights and one of the first manufacturers of composite-based weights, offers a system that is specially designed to have less impact on the environment than lead wheel weights. It is also corrosion resistant so it doesn’t leave rust and stains on the wheel.

The material is flexible and can be custom cut to the exact weight required for precision-balanced wheels, which can help improve gas mileage and provide a smoother ride. The weights are attached with proven 3M™ Automotive Attachment Tape that has been used in the automotive industry for decades, building confidence that the weights will stay put for the long haul.

Next time you bring your vehicle in for wheel balancing, ask for the latest innovation from 3M and keep your wheels balanced the lead-free way.

For more information, click on

Vehicle Components and Systems: