Reasons To Get Tires Balanced and Wheels Aligned
Posted on January 18, 2022
Many of us start out our driving experience the old-fashioned way, in “beaters”. Perhaps cars our parents or siblings were ready to get rid of so they could get a new one or maybe the only one available on a used car lot in our price range. If this is true for you, it may also come to you as a surprise that cars going over 90km/h shouldn’t vibrate and bounce, nor should you need to hold your wheel to the left so hard to keep it straight on the highway that you develop tendonitis. The early signs that it is time to search for “tire balancing and wheels alignment near me” in Google.
Oh just me… guess that Plymouth Reliant K should have gone to the scrappers after the odometer fully rolled over the 4th time (there were only 5 dials).
Alright, now that I’m done aging myself; if you haven’t guessed yet, the following is a brief education on tire alignment and wheel balancing - what they are and why they are important for your regular car maintenance.
Let’s start with wheel balancing (aka tire balancing or balancing the tires) - what is wheel balancing? To ensure a smooth and even ride, your tires need to have evenly distributed weight to them once installed. To make this happen, tires have little weights on them that are adjusted in order to, you guessed it, balance them.
In other words, tire balancing is balancing the weight of your tire, using weights (isn’t the English language fun?).
Why is it important to balance your car tires?
- For a smoother ride. This first reason is also the first sign you might need to balance your tires. If there is any vibration you feel in your steering wheel, it is likely time for balancing.
- Optimize the life of your tires. Unbalanced tires can cause uneven wear which alone is often a cause to purchase new tires. Furthermore, the vibrations put your tires through more wear and tear, also potentially causing them to require replacement sooner.
- Improve fuel economy. That uneven wear and vibration due to improper tire balancing can impact the efficiency of your vehicle and therefore your fuel consumption.
- Decrease wear on suspension components. Those vibrations don’t just potentially impact the wear of your tires - it also puts added stress on your other suspension components. Wheel balancing is a relatively inexpensive maintenance service, whereas replacing suspension components can run quite expensive
Wheel balancing is typically a quick service and most tire suppliers will include the initial balance in the cost of your purchase. It’s also a service performed when changing your tires for the new season (for example changing winter to all-season tires).
Wheel alignment (aka tire alignment or alignment of wheels) is the adjustment of your car’s suspension to ensure the angles of your tires meet the road for an appropriately safe ride. When your suspension is being aligned, there are 3 angles being checked: (1) the Camber (or vertical centerline of your tire to make it perpendicular to the ground; (2) the Tow (or inward/outward angle when looking at the tire from above - think pigeon or penguin toed feet), and; (3) the Caster (or the tires pivot point when the driver turns the wheel)
When should you get a tire/wheel alignment? Tire alignment isn’t considered a regular maintenance item with a recommended schedule. Instead, you should have a tire alignment when you (a) have replaced suspension parts or (b) are experiencing signs of misalignment. Signs of misalignment include your vehicle pulling to one side as you drive or your steering wheel being at an angle when you are driving straight and any major tire wear that occurs rapidly or very unevenly. This service is also done when a seasonal tire change is done.
How to do a tire/wheel alignment? It is only possible to do a tire alignment with an alignment machine and an experienced individual. There is no DIY option for wheel alignment and many private shops don’t even have an alignment machine (or one that works for all vehicles).
How much do tire balancing and wheels alignment cost? How long does a wheel alignment take? Completing a tire alignment typically takes about an hour on the machine but the time and cost can vary depending on your vehicle make and model. It is important to note that each vehicle will have a specific specification for their alignment and some models may even have custom tools and computers required to complete an alignment.
Tire balancing and wheels alignment need expert professionals to handle the procedure with the knowledge of tools. Improper alignment can give negative results and degrade car performance. For accurate information on tire balancing and wheel alignment for your particular vehicle(s), please reach out to one of our trusted Service Advisors at carhub.ca/service.
Just remember folks, you don’t need to live with a vehicle that has “quirks” as I did. Keeping your tires balanced and your wheels aligned increases the life of your tires and is, therefore, a sound investment as well as improving the safety of your vehicle in all weather conditions. It’s basically a no-brainer… Now if only someone could tell teenaged-me this advice.
Sharon has been in the auto industry since 2005 and has worked both in the Sale and Service Department of various New, Used, Domestic and Import brands.