Originally Posted by 325BH
Never understood the "dot" rationale. The tire manufacturer has no idea what wheels or stems will be used and has no idea how out-of-balance the wheel-and-stem assembly will or will not be... let alone WHERE the out-of-balance condition will be on the wheel-and-stem assembly.
This is the most descriptive answer I have in my files. It's from the pages of "Tire Business".
"The dots on new tires that have them are not critical but are intended to guide technicians when positioning the tire on the rim during the mounting process.
Since it is very hard to make a tire that is perfectly balanced, some tire manufacturers apply yellow dots that indicate the tire's light balance point and serve to help you balance the assembly while mounting the tire. The yellow dots should be aligned with the valve stem on both steel and aluminum wheels since this is the wheel's heavy balance point. This will help minimize the amount of weight needed to balance a tire and wheel assembly. So usually, whenever you see a yellow dot, match it up with the valve stem.
This is always true except in cases where a red dot also appears in the lower sidewall. The red dot indicates the high point for both radial runout and radial force variation. As I'm sure you know, not only is it hard for tire manufacturers to make a perfectly balanced tire, it also is very difficult to make a perfectly round tire.
Tires tend to have high spots and low spots. The difference between the high and the low is called radial runout. Radial runout changes the radius of the rotating assembly, causing it to raise and lower the vehicle as it rolls along. That gives the perception that the tire is ``hopping'' or ``bouncing'' down the road and ends up delivering a rough ride to the driver and irregular wear to the tread.
Radial force variation is similar to radial runout and is a result of a heavy or thicker area being manufactured into the tire due to variations in component thickness, placement and overlapping. Radial force variation applies more force against the road at the tire's thicker spot as the tire runs, which causes one sidewall to flex differently than the other. The result is tire/wheel assembly vibration and irregular tread wear.
To avoid or minimize these problems, whenever you see a red spot, match this up with the valve stem-unless you happen to have a steel wheel that has a dimple on the exterior side of the rim area. The dimple indicates the wheels' low spot and is spec'ed by some original equipment manufacturers so that they can match mount tires and wheels installed on new vehicles at the factory.
If you see both a red as well as a yellow dot on the tire, the red dot takes priority. An easy way to remember this is the phrase ``Red Rules.'' Ignore the yellow dot and match the red dot to the wheel low point dimple as some vehicle manufacturers do or, if no dimple is marked on the wheel, align the red dot with the valve stem."