Tire Balancing and Alignment Explained

Did you know that your vehicle’s tires should be regularly balanced and aligned? Tire balancing and alignment help create a smoother ride, improve fuel efficiency and extend tire life. But while these essential maintenance tasks are often performed together, they are two separate services.

Here’s everything you should know about tire balancing and alignment:

What is tire balancing?

In this context, “balance” refers to the distribution of weight across the tire and wheel. When tires aren’t properly balanced, they can have less traction and are more susceptible to premature failure.

Using special equipment, a technician can spin the tires, measure the imbalance and correct it according to manufacturer specifications.

What is tire alignment?

Alignment adjusts the car’s suspension so the tires are angled properly. When the tires are out of alignment, steering may become difficult. Often the steering wheel will vibrate and the car will pull to one side or the other. This misalignment happens naturally over time as the car encounters rough terrain, such as potholes or curbs.

When aligning tires, a technician must consider:

  • Camber: the inward/outward tilt of the tire when viewed head-on, which determines load distribution and even tire wear.
  • Caster: the front/rear tilt of the tire when viewed from the side.
  • Toe: the direction the tires are pointed when viewed from above.

Each of these items can be adjusted to manufacturer specifications using computerized alignment tools.

When should these services be performed?

Tire balancing and alignment should be performed every 6,000 miles or any time the tires are rotated, repaired or replaced. Both procedures should always be performed by a professional. It’s also a good idea to have both done at the same time.

For more expert insight and automotive advice, contact us today.

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