Would you like to drive a vehicle that provides you with a smooth, vibration-free driving experience and always remains under your full control? While there are many factors to consider towards meeting these driving aspirations, regular wheel balancing is top of the list – and one that will maximise the life of your tyres.
Wheels and tyres are never exactly the same weight all the way around. At high speeds, even a tiny weight disparity can become a large imbalance in outward force, causing the wheel and tyre assembly to spin in a heavy and uneven motion. This can result in uneven tyre wear, driving discomfort, and wheel damage.
But wheel balancing is a somewhat grey area for most drivers, and who are often not convinced about its importance. Let’s set your mind at ease and answer your most pressing questions.
Is it ‘tyre balancing’ or ‘wheel balancing’?
Both terms are correct, but technically, its the tyre-wheel assembly that is balanced when you take your car in to a service centre.
What’s the difference between a wheel and a tyre?
Wheels and tyres are different components made from different materials and perform different functions.
The tyre is a ring-shaped component wrapped around the wheel and made from fabric, nylon, and rubber. It comprises a tread and a body and contains the compressed air in an inflated tyre.
The wheel is the circular metal component bolted to a vehicle’s hub via an axle. It’s made from either steel or an alloy, and it comprises a rim and a disc. The wheel moves the tyre as it touches the road.
What does wheel balancing do for you and your car?
Wheel balancing helps ensure weight is evenly distributed around the entire circumference of the tyre and wheel. It corrects uneven distribution of weight in the wheels, preventing vibration, excessive tyre wear, and damage to the suspension. Therefore, a properly balanced vehicle will provide a smoother, more comfortable ride. It also promotes better fuel economy.
Do new tyres need to be balanced?
Yes. All tyres have minor imperfections in the rubber that occur during the manufacturing process and wheel balancing is necessary every time you fit new tyres. This ensures even weight distribution around the circumference and prevents uneven rotation.
What’s the difference between wheel balancing and wheel alignment?
Tyre balancing corrects the weight imbalance on your tyre and wheel assemblies. A wheel alignment corrects the angles of the tyres so that they make optimal contact with the road.
What causes tyres to become out of balance?
Some causes of wheel imbalances are:
- Manufacturing – tyres and wheels not made with the same weight all the way around their circumference
- A rim hitting hard object such as a pavement or pothole
- Road surface – poor road conditions cause wheels to bend
- Wear and tear – suspension, shocks, struts, tie rods, and ball joints become worn
- Leaving a car parked for extended periods where the tyres might develop flat spots
How do I know if my car needs wheel balancing?
Uneven tyre wear is a clear signal there is a tyre imbalance. You can inspect your vehicle for wheel imbalance symptoms by looking for rapid, uneven or scalloped cup wear which causes indents along the edge of your tyre’s tread.
Most symptoms only become apparent while driving, such as:
- Vibration especially at higher speeds
- in your steering wheel likely indicates imbalances in the front tyres
- floorboards or seats likely indicates imbalances in the rear tyres
- Vehicle pulls to the left and right
- Uneven or fast tread wear
- Squealing tyres
- Strange noises such as humming and buzzing that get louder with speed
- Car wobble
What are the benefits and importance of wheel balancing?
Wheel balancing is crucial for safe driving and money-saving as it:
- Reduces the chances of accidents caused by skidding
- Ensures a smooth and comfortable drive
- Prevents costly wheel bearing and suspension damage
- Improves fuel economy by promoting driving efficiency
- Increases tyre longevity due to reduced tread wear
- Reduced chances of accidents from skidding
- Lower maintenance costs related to premature tyre replacement
How often should wheels be balanced?
Schedule your wheel rotation and balancing at 15,000km intervals, or:
- Anytime you fit new tyres on your vehicle
- With every tyre rotation
- When you hit a hard object with enough impact
- When you repair a flat tyre
- When you notice uneven tyre wear
- When you feel steering or seat and floor vibration
What happens during tyre balancing service?
The wheel balancing procedure begins by removing any existing wheel weights from the rims and mounting your wheels on a static or dynamic road-force balancing machine. The technician will spin your tyres to identify the points which cause your wheels to wobble. Weights are fixed to the uneven sides of the wheel to help counteract heavy spots, which are the cause of the tyre’s imbalance.
Where can I get my car’s tyres balanced and aligned?
The benefits of a balanced wheel-tyre assembly are more than a smoother ride, less tread wear, or better fuel consumption. As with any type of car maintenance, it saves you money in the long run.
If you experience any of the above symptoms and suspect your wheels are unbalanced, find your nearest Supa Quick tyre fitment centre and book an appointment with our expert technicians for a wheel balancing service as soon as possible.
Supa Quick – dedicated to safety on the road.
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