Wheel balancer shootout

When Ranger sent us at Vehicle Service Pros information on its brand new DST-64T wheel balancer, I was intrigued that the company was making a play to get into the mid- to high-end tire balancer market. After all, it needed a wheel balancer to complement its RX3040 touchless tire changer.

My curiosity was piqued when I received a huge surprise: Ranger sent my shop one of its DST-64Ts to put to the test.

My shop already has a tire balancer, perhaps you remember my blog where I complained about not making enough money doing tires. However, that balancer is not fancy. It is a basic computerized balancer, and I noticed that on some of the larger rims the machine did not seem advanced enough to prevent shaking at higher speeds. Would the new Ranger DST-64T offer a significant improvement?

Well, you decide for yourself. We video recorded our putting the balancer to the test. To make the competition "fair," we used steel rims from the same vehicle on both machines. Alex Portillo, who has eight years of experience balancing tires, used the old machine which we have been using for two and a half years. I used the Ranger balancer.

I have never balanced a tire using that machine before, and this was to my disadvantage. Furthermore, though I know how to balance tires, I don't do it very often. My last disadvantage was that I was farther away from the wheel weights than Alex was.

The result? Even with all my disadvantages, the Ranger DST-64T used less weight and operated much quicker.

How? First, the Ranger balancer measures the tire size automatically without user input. Instead, you simply touch both sides of the rim and its computer automatically calculates what size rim you are dealing with. This option on other manufactuers' tire balancers would offer the same dramatic time savings.

Second, its motor is much quicker at spinning and slowing down the tire during a balance.

Lastly, its foot brake has better bite and has the interesting function of turning on LEDs that make seeing under the rim easy. When doing steel tires this is not awfully important, but more and more rims require sticky weights these days and this is a nice feature.

In my mind, the results of a high-end wheel balancer speaks for itself. Shops that do a fair quantity of tire work will realize great time savings and reduced comebacks with such a piece of equipment.