How Are Tires Balanced?

Modern Car Wheel Balancing by Professional Vulcanizer Worker.

Car owners are no strangers to bringing their vehicles to the garage for routine maintenance, tire service and inspections. But do you know what actually happens to your car after you hand over your keys to the mechanic? If you’re like the majority of drivers, the answer is probably not. There’s no shame in that. We all rely on the expertise of others to get through much of our lives. When you hire roofing contractors, you don’t need to know every single detail about how they complete the job. You just need them to finish.

When it comes to your car, the same concept applies. You don’t know what goes on in the garage, but you trust the mechanics’ expertise to do what they need to do to keep your vehicle safe. However, it never hurts to learn, and knowing what your car goes through can give you peace of mind when you drive home after getting some maintenance done.

In today’s informative article, we break how tires are balanced and why it’s so important.

Why Do You Need To Balance Your Tires?

Cars are like bodies; everything is interconnected. If you sprain an ankle or pull a calf muscle, it affects how your entire body works. The hip bone is connected to the thigh bone, right? Walking is suddenly much more difficult, and other parts of your body strain to compensate to keep you moving normally. This same concept applies to your car. If your tires are unbalanced, that can cause negative effects on the rest of the car. Some effects are minor in nature like your tires could wear out faster. But, other problems are much more severe, like destroying your suspension.

Usually, you can tell with your naked eye when someone is injured because they will walk with a limp or some other notable impediment. When it comes to cars, however, you can’t visually tell when your tires are unbalanced. That’s why it’s important to bring your vehicle in for regular inspections to catch any problems before they fester and cause more serious problems.

What Is Tire Balancing?

When something is off-balance, it means there’s an uneven distribution of weight. Think about what it would be like to bench press with 20kgs on one side of the bar and 5kgs on the other. It would be near impossible to maintain proper balance. That’s the concept. Tire balancing, sometimes called wheel balancing, is the process of correcting the uneven distribution of weight on your tires.

Measuring The Imbalance

So what happens when you bring your car in for tire service? In order to accurately balance your tires, the mechanics need to know exactly how much the tires are imbalanced. There are special tire balancing machines designed specifically for this purpose. During the tire balancing process, your wheels and tires first get mounted onto the tire balancing machine to measure the imbalance. These modern machines will spin your tires at highway speeds while a computer takes the measurements and determines where the mechanics need to add more weight to the tires.

Fixing The Imbalance

After the measuring is done and the mechanics know where to add weight, it’s their turn to get to work. Their job is to add balance weights to the tires to ensure the balance is properly adjusted. The weights are thin metal pieces that get fitted to either the rim, inner flanges, or outer flanges of the wheel, depending on where the computer indicates—these metal weights as a counterforce to the heavier areas of the wheel, leading to perfect balance. Once the weights are safely fitted, the mechanic will once again measure the imbalance with the machine to ensure the wheels are properly balanced.

Signs Your Car Needs Tire Balancing

Most car owners get their tires balanced during routine tire service, but sometimes you’ll need to balance your tires in between your regular inspections. Below are a few of the most common signs you need to get your tires balanced.

Excessive Vibrations

It doesn’t take professional tire service to notice when your car starts vibrating. When driving at slower speeds, you may not notice, but unbalanced tires can cause unusual vibrations even at moderate speeds. Oddly enough, once you get up to highway speeds, the vibration will usually stop. If you notice this happening on your drives, head over to the local auto shop to get tuned up.

Unusual Change In Gas Usage

Keep a close eye on your gas mileage. Strange fluctuations in your gas mileage can be a symptom of various issues like underinflated tires. But, it could also be due to your unbalanced tires causing serious wear and tear on the treading. If your car is vibrating due to unbalanced tires, that can also cause an increase in your fuel consumption.

Worn Down Suspension

Your car’s suspension can be severely damaged if you drive too long with unbalanced tires. The vibrations from unbalanced tires don’t just affect your comfort, it also affects your wheel bearing and shocks, which are part of the suspension system. When this happens, you may notice your vehicle is harder to handle and is less responsive to your commands. Sometimes you can even hear weird noises coming from the bearings.

Strange Tread Wear

Naturally, when your tires are unbalanced, the tread is going to wear down unevenly. That’s because some areas of the wheel will make more contact with the pavement. The worn-down regions often don’t have a consistent size or shape to them; they look random. Unusual tread wear can lead to a host of other problems and should be seen as a sign that it’s time to take your car to a garage.

Getting Your Tires Balanced

The presence of the signs, as mentioned earlier, of unbalanced tires means it’s time for you to get those wheels on the right track. Finding a reliable company that offers high-quality tire service can sometimes be difficult, but all you need to do is take a little time to research. You probably have several auto shops in your area, but vet them first instead of driving to the one nearest you. Click this link to see an example of a website of a reliable tire service business, Compare this website to your local auto shops to see if they have the same level of professionalism and attention to detail. If they do, your good to go!

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