Want to get the best mileage and handling out of your vehicle, all while increasing the lifespan of your tires? You’ll need to get tire alignments and tire balancing on a regular basis.
A lot of people don’t realize that alignment and balancing are two different things - but they both serve important purposes. In this article, we’re going to look at the difference between the two, and the reasons why both tire balancing and tire alignment are crucial for tire health. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get moving.
What is tire balancing?
Over time, the wheels and tires on your car will stop weighing the same amount. This is caused by regular wear and tear, as well as through manufacturer defects and quirks - sets of wheels and tires are unlikely to weigh exactly the same amount.
This imbalance can lead to a lot of problems, including loud vibrations in your vehicle. When there’s an imbalance, some wheels will wear faster than others. There may be uneven wear patterns that are made worse by the imbalance.
Tire balancing is the science of getting wheels to spin at the exact same rate by ensuring they weigh the same. Small weights, which can weigh fractions of an ounce, are added to the wheels in order to correct any imbalances.
What is wheel alignment?
Wheel alignment is a bit of a confusing name. Your tires and wheels aren’t being adjusted in a wheel alignment - your suspension is.
Bad alignment can be caused by almost any impact on your vehicle: Potholes, collisions, and hitting curbs too quickly can all cause misalignment. Misalignment may also develop because of technical problems with modified suspensions, faulty suspension parts, and other manufacturing and installation errors.
If your vehicle is shaking or vibrating when you drive or constantly pulling to one side, your wheels may need to be aligned. Bumpy rides and uneven wear and tear on your tire treads are two other signs you should check your alignment.
Because the signs of wheel misalignment can be similar to those of tire imbalance, your mechanic may check both when servicing your vehicle.
Why you should get your tires balanced and your wheels aligned
Whether your tires are unbalanced or your wheels are misaligned, the end result will be the same: Your tires will begin to wear unevenly and more quickly. This leads to a much shorter life span for your tires.
Misalignments are more important to address than tire imbalances - though you really should get both looked at. Bad alignment, however, will lead to higher fuel consumption and less control over your vehicle.
We highly recommend you get your wheels rebalanced and aligned regularly. Typically, you’ll want to take your vehicle in for a rebalance and realignment every 10,000 km, though if you’re driving on particularly rough terrain, it’s a good idea to come in more often. Visit one of our tire shops in Kelowna - we’ll be happy to balance and align your tires and wheels for you!