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I recently dismounted/remounted (w/ hand tools) my tires (235/70) to refinish my aluminum wheels (sand/polish).

After completing the job, I brought them into the shop to get balanced.

Brought the truck home, but only at low speeds and didn't notice any issues. Week later, take the truck out on the highway and there's a bad shake in the steering wheel at >= 55mph.

Bring the truck back to the shop that did the balance and tell them about the shake. They take it for a test drive, confirm the shake - tell me it could be something else in the suspension and they'll check it out and re-balance to see if that fixes it.

They finish the job, test drive it, and the shake is gone. They tell me they balanced the wheels again, but they also noticed the front tires were warped so they rotated front to back, and doing so is what fixed the problem. They confirmed the shake is gone, and say I'll need new back tires.

My question is - do you think it's possible 2 warped tires were the cause of the issue or did they just do a bad balancing job the first time?

Additional notes:

  • After the first balancing, I noticed just one wheel weight on the outside of 1 of the 4 tires (forgot to look at the weights on the backside). After the second balancing, all 4 wheels had a weight on the outside of the wheels. If the balancing was done properly the first time, why would the weight setup be so different the second time?
  • There was no wheel shake before I began this project. What are the chances I "warped" the tires when dismounting/re-mounting them w/ hand tools? It's possible I had enough leverage to cause damage with the long tire lever, but I'm also only 125lb, so I can't exactly "manhandle" things like some people might be able to, in regards to causing damage. I did get a couple small gouges in the rubber on the bead wall on at least 2 of the tires. When remounting I used bead sealer.
  • When the mechanic told me about the warped tires, the truck was right next to us. If they were actually warped, wouldn't he have been able to visually show me? (I should have thought to ask)
  • They didn't charge me anything the second time, despite the issue being (supposedly) the fault of the truck, not their work. It's either just good customer service, or they know it was really their bad balancing job at the root of the problem and they're not telling me.
  • When driving now, I don't notice any bad shake coming from the back, but it's hard to say because it's a pickup so no one is sitting back there.
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Bottom line for me here from your description is ... if you don't feel any vibrations, your tires aren't warped. The extra weights you didn't see before are probably the actual reason you aren't having any issues with vibrations now. It sounds like the 2nd time around was a better deal.

Check for uneven wear on your rear tires to ensure there's nothing noticeable going on. If there is, then maybe he's right. To me it just sounds like he wanted you to buy some new tires.

On a separate note when you do stuff like this ... don't tell a shop what you've done. They don't need to know you changed the tires by yourself with hand tools. All they need to know is: I need to have my tires/wheels balanced. When you start throwing the caveats on things, they start seeing dollar signs. Remember, before there were machines to change tires, shops used hand tools to get it done. It's just a lot slower and takes a whole lot more effort. There should be no problem with doing it that way.

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