What is The Difference Between Wheel Balancing and Wheel Alignment?
The world of car maintenance is full of technical terms. There’s little more confusing than trying to work out the difference between wheel balancing and wheel alignment. However, although they both affect your driving experience and if left unchecked, can even be dangerous.
If you’re unsure as to whether you need a wheel alignment service or whether you should be Googling ‘wheel balancing near me,’ let’s try and see if we can separate the two with our quick guide.
What is Wheel Balancing?
Wheel balancing ensures that the weight of the tyres and the wheels are equal as they rotate around the car’s axles. This makes sure that all of the tyre’s surface comes into contact with the road surface as you drive. Tell-tale signs of unbalanced wheels include uneven wear and tear on the tyres, wear and tear on the steering mechanisms and suspension, and uncomfortable vibrations when driving that travel up through the steering wheel.
Make a note of those vibrations, as they can give you a clue as to which wheels are unbalanced. Typically, if you’re driving between 40mph and 50mph and feel the steering column vibrate then it’s likely that the problems are with the front wheels. If the rear of the car is vibrating, the chances are that your back wheels need looking at. Unbalanced wheels are often caused by driving through potholes or over obstacles at speed.
If you take your car to a garage to get the wheels balanced, they’ll usually mount the tyres onto a wheel balancing machine. This machine spins the wheel to work out if there is any weight imbalance, and where the imbalance is. To correct it, small weights are added to the wheel in exactly the right position. The result is a vibration-free ride for you and your passengers. It’s recommended that you have your car’s wheel balance checked once every two to three years, or every time you change your tyres.
What is Wheel Alignment?
You’ll know if your wheels are out of alignment as the car will seem to pull to the left or the right, even though you feel as though you are driving in a straight line.
A wheel alignment service checks that all four of your car’s wheels are parallel to each other and are angled correctly according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Again, misalignment can cause your tyres to wear unevenly, and quicker than they should. It can also affect braking, so it’s important to get any misalignment sorted out as quickly as possible.
Your local wheel alignment service uses specialist machines with lasers and high-definition imaging to measure the angles of alignment on a vehicle’s wheels. You can choose to have either the front or back wheels assessed, or the full set of four. Most manufacturers recommend that you check-in for a wheel alignment service once every 10,000 miles.
If you have any questions about wheel balancing and wheel alignment, drop into one of our service centres and speak to our friendly staff. They’ll be happy to advise you as to which service you need and book you in to make sure your wheels are balanced and aligned properly for safer motoring.