U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006-1111

Published 2006
Online only
Version 1.0

Stocks and Flows of Lead-Based Wheel Weights in the United States

By Donald I. Bleiwas


Lead is used in many widely known applications, such as automobile batteries and radiation shielding. Another lesser known, but long-term, use of lead is in automotive vehicle wheel weights. Lead weights have been used to balance wheels since the 1930s (Mike Astorino, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Perfect Equipment Incorporated, oral commun., July 26, 2005) because of its high specific gravity, low relative cost, and its malleability. Out-of-balance tires tend to "cup" and vibrate and as a result cause excessive wear on tires and vehicle suspension components and result in compromised handling, especially at high speeds. The mass, number, and style of weights needed to balance a wheel depend on the tire's size and weight and on the type and condition of the wheels (rims) on the vehicle.



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