What Is Tire Balancing?
Tire balancing, also known as wheel balancing, is the process of equalizing the weight of the combined tire and wheel assembly so that it spins smoothly at high speed. Balancing involves adding small balancing weights to the rim to counteract weight differences in the tire/wheel combination.
When performed correctly, it not only guarantees a smoother ride but also extends the life of your tires and improves fuel efficiency.
Why Is It Important to Balance Your Tires?
Balancing your tires is crucial to ensure even tire wear, extend the lifespan of your tires, and maintain fuel efficiency. It prevents vibrations that can lead to driver fatigue and reduces stress on the vehicle’s suspension. It also contributes to a smoother and safer driving experience. Neglecting this maintenance can result in poor handling and potentially costly repairs down the line.
Common Causes of Imbalance
Tire imbalance can result from everyday driving occurrences such as hitting potholes and normal wear and tear. Additionally, manufacturing defects or improper tire installation can contribute to uneven tire wear, necessitating a rebalancing of the tires.
Signs Your Tires Need Balancing
Several symptoms may indicate the need for tire balancing. These include uneven or rapid tire wear, deterioration in fuel economy, or vibrations felt in the steering wheel or floorboard, especially at higher speeds.
How Often Should the Tires Need Balancing?
Experts recommend tire balancing approximately every 6,000 miles or if you begin to notice any signs of imbalance. Regular balancing not only contributes to a smoother ride but also optimizes tire performance and longevity. It can save you money and prevent further mechanical issues down the road.
DIY vs. Professional Balancing
While attempting tire balancing at home is possible, it requires specific equipment and expertise. The process can be labor-intensive and prone to errors without the right tools. For most, professional service is the recommended route to ensure precise balancing, with the added benefit of specialized mechanics’ expertise.
How to Perform Tire Balancing?
- The tire, already mounted on the wheel, is attached to a tire balancing machine.
- An adaptor helps to center the wheel as the balancer’s spindle slides through its center bore.
- The technician activates the machine and spins the wheel. While observing for any vibrations or imbalances during its rotation, he can pinpoint the heaviest area.
- The balancer then suggests the best spots for placing compensating weights.
- In case of an imbalance, the technician opts for weights, either zinc or steel to achieve a balance.
- For wheels with lip contours, clip-on weights are employed. Whereas smooth-surfaced wheels necessitate the use of adhesive weights.
Tire Balancing Costs: How Much to Balance Tires
The cost of wheel balancing varies based on your location, vehicle, and severity of the issue. Generally, in the U.S., wheel balancing costs range from $20 to $75. Standard balancing is less expensive than specialized types such as Road Force balancing.
Tire Balancing vs. Wheel Alignment: Understanding the Difference
It’s important not to confuse tire balancing with wheel alignment. While both services are crucial for proper tire maintenance, they address different issues. Tire balancing corrects imbalances in the wheel assembly’s weight distribution, whereas wheel alignment adjusts the angles of your tires, ensuring that the vehicle travels straight and reduces tire wear.