Why is Balancing your Tires Important?
Balancing your tires helps to provide a smoother driving experience, assuring that your tire weight distribution is causing even treadwear on your tires. It also reduces vibrations that may be felt in your steering wheel, seats and floorboard. This highly recommended service is typically done every 3-7,000 miles or six months. However, it can vary depending on how frequently you drive and what your typical driving conditions look like.
Not only is it important to balance and rotate your tires for safety reasons, it also increases the efficiency of your time management. Having balanced tires ensures that they wear down at an equal rate, allowing you to wait to purchase a full set of four tires instead of two at a time.
How Do Tires Become Unbalanced?
So how do your wheels get out of balance? Often, rough roads and driving conditions can knock them off balance over time. Some signs that your tires are off balance include unusual wear patterns, a bent wheel, a tire moving off a rim or unusual deposits like mud on the wheel.
There is a strip of weights between your tires and wheels that largely goes unnoticed by the average vehicle owner. Over the lifespan of your wheels, these weights begin to shift and cause wheel imbalance. This can cause side-to-side vibration and turbulent forward rotation, resulting in rapid treadwear that will have you purchasing new tires more frequently.
Tire Balance vs Rotation
Vehicle owners often mistake tire balancing with getting their tires rotated. These are two different procedures. Tire rotation is the action of removing your tires and reattaching them at different positions, so they wear evenly. While this should be considered regular maintenance, it is a good idea to remind your mechanic to balance the tires when rotating them. This should be done at least every two years.
How to Balance
If you are experiencing tire imbalance, it is recommended that you take your car in to be professionally serviced. This will ensure that the process is executed with the proper equipment. Your mechanic will use a wheel balancing machine to determine where the weight should be distributed around the axle and replace the weights on each wheel to regain balance. Sometimes they use “road force” machines to simulate the force applied while driving. This method can produce more precise detail when balancing your wheels.