Tire Balance vs Alignment
Tire balancing and wheel alignments are an important part of your vehicle maintenance. Together, they keep the ride smooth and extend the life of your tires, but they are two different processes that have unique purposes.
To help out drivers in Mansfield, Attleboro, and Norton, the team at Station Chrysler Jeep put together this article about tire balance vs. alignments.
New tires have small metal attachments clamped to the rim, which are intended to balance out any imperfections in the mass distribution. The tire is mounted on a spinning machine to find vibrations, and the small plates move along the perimeter until the tire has a balanced spin.
Your tires may be knocked out of balance for a few reasons, including:
- Damage to a tire or rim
- Imperfections in the rubber
- Driving through heavy snow and ice
- Poor tire construction
- General wear and tear
When a tire is knocked out of balance, it means that one section of it is heavier than the rest. If this occurs, the tires aren’t as stable and can wobble on the road, which translates to a loud noise or a vibration in the steering wheel for you.
Tire balancing is a routine service but a complex and precise process. Technicians use a computer to identify where the weights are needed in the rim to counterbalance the heavy areas of the tire and to restore the balance and stability.
Ideally, your tires should be balanced whenever you have a tire repair or rotation; however, it’s also needed if your tires are damaged.
Over time, your vehicle’s wheels can become misaligned from rough roads or minor collisions. Tires that are out of alignment work against each other, causing extra stress on the axle, suspension, and wheel mounts, as well as decreasing fuel efficiency from the energy wasted. When this happens, it can cause uneven wear on your tires and significant damage to your vehicle components, which is why it’s always a good idea to keep up with your vehicle’s regular alignment schedule and correct any issues when they arise.
Some common signs of misalignment include a vehicle that pulls to one side, severe wear on the inside or outside of one or more tires, or uneven wear on the ball joints and suspension components.
To correct a misalignment, a technician uses computerized equipment to adjust the angles of the wheels to ensure they’re perpendicular to the road and parallel to each other. Mechanics adjust for three types of angles:
- Camber: The angle of the wheel itself, viewed from the front.
- Caster: The angle of the steering pivot from the side.
- Toe: The angle of the tires themselves as they relate to the rest of the vehicle.
A proper alignment gives you a smooth ride, improved fuel efficiency, and less wear and tear on your vehicle’s components, such as the tires and suspension.
Schedule Your Tire Service Appointment
As you can see, tire balance and alignment are two distinctly different services, but each one has its own role in your vehicle’s handling, fuel efficiency, and condition.
If your vehicle needs a tire balance or alignment in the area of Mansfield, Attleboro, or Norton, stop by Station Chrysler Jeep to schedule your service appointment today!