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What Is Tire Truing? The Dying Art of Shaving Tires

What Is Tire Truing? The Dying Art of Shaving Tires

Tires are literally where the rubber meets the road, and if something is out of whack, they can really ruin your ride. For various reasons, tires can lose their shape or come from the manufacturer out of round. We have had personal experience with this issue and had to learn the art of tire shaving, also called tire truing, to fix the problem.

So what is tire truing, and should you consider tire shaving for your vehicle? Let’s look and see!

Tire Truing Shaving
Yep that’s a tire shaving!

What Is Tire Truing or Shaving?

Tire truing is the process of shaving off the rubber on one side of a tire to make it perfectly round with respect to the center hub. A special machine mounts the tire to a rotating hub and then uses a blade to cut a very small amount of rubber from the tread. As the tire rotates, it creates a perfectly round tire by shaving excess rubber from one side and leaving it on the other.

It is also possible to true a tire on the vehicle. Portable truing machines can be placed under a tire that has been lifted off the ground and rotated. This trues the tire to the hub of the vehicle.

An out-of-round tire will cause shaking or wobbling in both the steering wheel and frame of the vehicle at higher speeds. It can also cause excessive wear on the tire and mechanical parts of a vehicle’s suspension.

Why tho would a tire be out of round? Well in the past, manufacturers had a hard time making tires round, and they would commonly come slightly imperfect. Thus tire shaving was a common practice. Today large off-road tires still frequently come from the factory out of round. As these tires are not designed for highway use anyone using them as such might end up with a nasty wobble. In fact, we experienced this problem ourselves with our set of military super single off-road tires we use on our overland truck. These tires came from the factory out of round and had a wobble above 50Mph that balancing alone would not fix.

off road 42 inch tires that needed truing
These specialized off-road tires on our truck needed truing to get them to run smoothly at speeds greater than 50Mph

Tires that have gone through the tire shaving process have rounder edges than other tires, which provides a smoother contact between the tire and the road surface. Due to the inherent risks and liability involved, most tire shops that previously offered tire truing services now instead recommend replacing the tires. However, it’s not impossible to find some shops that still offer the service, even on a brand-new set of tires.

Champion 4x4: What is Tire Truing or Tire Shaving?

Does Anyone Still True Tires?

Many tire shops want to maximize their profits and customer satisfaction by changing tires as quickly as possible. For these service centers, time is money, and the longer they take on a vehicle, the less money they make. While it wasn’t always like this, tire truing is a service generally unavailable at most tire shops these days.

While it does take a bit more skill and knowledge, the biggest hurdle for tire shops is the amount of time it takes. These days, shops would rather fix wobbly wheels by installing lead weights to address imbalance issues. However, this is a temporary solution to an actual problem with the shape of the tires that would have previously been fixed through tire truing.

Nowadays, tire truing is primarily only available at racing shops or semi-truck repair facilities. However, there are several first-hand accounts on YouTube where drivers share their experiences and where they’ve had luck with tire truing. You can still find some mom-and-pop type shops that offer the service. However, there’s practically no chance of any major corporate tire shops offering the service to customers.

Because the practice of tire shaving was common many years ago, it’s sometimes possible to find older shops that still have the equipment to shave a tire. However, because it’s so hard to find a shop that will do it, its pushed some vehicle owners to go to extremes and figure out how to do it themselves. In fact, this is what we had to do as well with our tires. Below is a video about an individual that needed tire shaving and went to the extreme to do it himself.

Fixed my 10 Lug Dually Wheel Hwy Vibration | DIY Tire Shaving last resort | Crosswind M/T Tire Issue

Pro Tip: Stuck on the side of the highway with a flat tire? Find out What to Do to Save Your Road Trip and get back on the road fast.

Is Tire Truing Safe?

When done right, tire truing creates maximum contact between your tires and the road. This improves grip and traction and helps eliminate the annoying vibrations the driver feels as their car soars down the highway. However, it takes tremendous skill and precision to do it right.

Removing too much rubber from a tire can be dangerous. Knowing when you should shave a tire should be essential to maximize safety. A technician could put whoever drives the vehicle in grave danger by truing a tire that ultimately needs to be replaced.

Luckily, most shops that offer the service hire extremely skilled professionals with tremendous experience in the craft. If a set of tires has reached the end of its life, they’ll recommend a new set of tires instead of risking a potentially serious situation for the driver and others on the road.

Mechanic tire truing on machinery
Tire truing shaves off excess rubber to ensure your tires are perfectly round.

Why Do Some Tires Need Truing?

Despite their best efforts, manufacturers and their fancy machinery aren’t perfect. From the factory, most tires aren’t perfectly round. Even if they were, they’d eventually lose their shape as they wear down while getting used.

Most of the time it’s specialized large tires used for off-road that are hard to get perfectly round. These tires have a lot more tread on them which also makes them ideal for the truing process.

Luckily, tire truing can help even the tires out and help them to be as perfectly round as possible.

Benefits of Tire Truing

While finding a shop that offers tire truing can be a hassle, there are a few reasons why you might consider tire shaving. Let’s look at a few of the benefits tire truing provides to drivers.

Maximize the Tire Life

Tire truing helps to ensure your tires wear evenly. As a result, this puts them in the best position to maximize the life of all the tires on your vehicle. Just because your tires have a 50,000 or 60,000 mileage rating doesn’t mean you can expect that kind of life from your tires. However, tire truing can help you consistently get the most mileage out of your tires.

Smooth Ride

Another major benefit of tire shaving is how it maximizes the comfort of your vehicle. A perfectly round tire makes it able to travel down the highways as effortlessly as possible. It may not be able to eliminate the bumps and potholes in the road, but you’ll enjoy a smoother ride after the tire truing process. A perfectly round shape eliminates the vibrations felt in the vehicle, which can be annoying to anyone in the vehicle, especially the driver.

Safer Driving

Safety should always be the driver’s top priority. Luckily, tire truing helps to improve the grip, traction, and stability of a vehicle’s tires. This gives the driver the ultimate control of their vehicle and helps ensure the driver can make any necessary maneuvers to stay safe while driving.

This is one of the primary reasons that tire truing is still widely used in auto racing. These vehicles rely on their tires to have peak performance while making difficult maneuvers. Auto racing requires a large amount of grip, traction, and stability between the tires and the road which tire truing can provide.

Pro Tip: Protect your tires by knowing When, Where, and How to Air Down Your Tires.

Tire Truing Blade
This is a tire truing blade that actually cuts the tire.

Drawbacks to Tire Truing

While there are many benefits to tire truing, there’s also a negative side to it. Tire truing involves shaving off the rubber tread on a tire. Just like routine surgery on a human, there’s always the potential for something to go wrong. There is a potential for damage to a tire in the process.

This isn’t a DIY task we recommend you do if you don’t know what you’re doing or don’t have the correct tools. You should only trust highly skilled and qualified individuals with your tires. If not, you could end up in a serious situation or have to replace a tire. 

Is Tire Truing a Thing of the Past? 

Sadly, tire truing is a thing of the past. However, as we’ve shown, some specialty shops are still offering the service. If you can find a shop that offers the service, having your tires shaved to be perfectly round can be worth the cost. You’ll maximize not only your comfort while driving but also the life of your tire. You don’t want to replace your tires prematurely if you don’t have to. Tires are way too expensive not to get the most life possible out of them.

Older female mechanic truing tire
Tire truing is a technique not commonly done by mechanics today.

Have you ever had your tires shaved? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
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Bob

Sunday 20th of November 2022

I used to watch tire shaving. It always looked to me like it was just a way of asking for a blowout. Scary!

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