If your vehicle begins to behave differently or you notice extra noise or vibration coming from your tires, this is the first sign to be aware of when considering when your tires need balancing.
One of the most important aspects of car maintenance is knowing when your tires need balancing. A tire that is not balanced can cause all sorts of problems, from decreased fuel efficiency to premature wear and tear on your vehicle.
In this article, we will discuss the signs that indicate you need to have your tires balanced and how to go about getting it done.
How to Know When Your Tires Need Balancing
There are a number of common symptoms that you can look out for and will help you to know when your tires need balancing. If you notice any of the following signs, it is likely that your tires need to be balanced:
- Uneven or rapid tread wear
- Your car pulling to one side while driving
- A vibration in the steering wheel
- Vibration in the car that worsens the higher the speed
- Decrease in fuel economy
Why your tires need balancing
Tires need to be balanced because they naturally develop small imbalances as they are used. This is due to the weight of the vehicle and the way that it is distributed while driving.
Over time these imbalances cause your tires to wear unevenly. This can worsen over time and eventually cause the problems mentioned above.
Benefits of balancing your tires
Aside from avoiding the problems that can be caused by unbalanced tires, there are a number of other benefits to having your tires balanced on a regular basis. These include:
- Improved fuel efficiency
- Longer tire life
- Better handling
- Smoother ride quality
When should you get your tires balanced?
As a rule of thumb, you should have your tires inspected and balanced if needed every time you get your oil changed, or approximately once a year. This is typically every 5000 miles or so.
If you suspect that your tires need balancing, is always best to ask your local shop to check for you when having your yearly service. They will quickly be able to spot if your tires need balancing.
How to get your tires balanced
The easiest way to get your tires balanced is to take your car to your local shop as they will have the necessary equipment and expertise to get the job done quickly and correctly.
Balancing a tire is inexpensive and usually only takes around 5-10 minutes per corner with the correct equipment. You can expect to pay around $5-10 per wheel, or around $20-40 overall.
At a professional service center, the technician will first put your car up on a lift and take off the wheels.
They will then clean the rims and tires before mounting them to their balancing machine. This machine will spin the tire and this will measure the weight required and the required location on the rim to perfectly balance the tire.
Once the technician knows how much weight is needed, they will add small lead weights to the rim until it is perfectly balanced. The technician will then put the wheel back on your car and repeat the process for each remaining corner.
How long can you drive on unbalanced tires?
If you notice any of the above signs, it is important to have your tires balanced as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the imbalance will determine how much more damage driving on unbalanced tires will cause.
Driving on unbalanced tires for too long can cause damage to your car and your suspension system, as well as shorten the lifespan of your tires.
Can you balance tires yourself?
If you are experienced with car maintenance, you may be able to balance your own tires. However, this is almost always a job that it is easier and generally best to leave this to a professional.
Tires must be balanced with high precision using special equipment, and it is easy to make mistakes if you are not familiar with the process and do not own the necessary equipment.
If you do decide to try and balance your tires at home, you will need to purchase a balancing kit. These can be found at most auto parts stores. Once you have the kit, you will need to follow the instructions that come with it to balance your tires.
Rotating tires or having an wheel alignment
While you are having your tires balanced, it is also a good time to consider other maintenance services that can prolong the life of your tires. Rotating your tires on a regular basis helps to evenly distribute tread wear and can add thousands of miles to their lifespan.
An alignment ensures that all four wheels are pointing in the same direction and can also improve the handling of your car. This service is often done at the same time as a tire balance and can help to prolong the life of your tires even further.
If you think your tires may need to be balanced, the best thing to do is take your car to a qualified mechanic or tire shop. They will be able to quickly and easily determine whether your tires need to be balanced and, if so, how much weight they need to be balanced with.
Getting your tires balanced is an important part of maintaining your vehicle and keeping it running smoothly.
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