You can tell if your tyres need balancing or not with a few simple steps. Anyone who has ever bought a new tire for a car has heard the phrase “mounted and balanced.” It used to be included in the price of new tires. Tire balancing today is always a separate and additional charge.
Even if you have your new tires balanced, you can have vibration and wear issues due to out of balance problems. Sometimes, vibrations and wear can be the result of needing to have your car’s alignment fixed. The differences can be subtle. With a little knowledge and a good eye, you can learn what your car needs to fix the problem.
Most of the time vibrations at highway speeds are the result of balancing problems.
One or more weights can get lost from the wheel on your car. This will cause the tire to spin unevenly. At slow speeds, the variation may not be enough to notice. When you accellerate to 50 or more miles per hour, the vibrations will begin to increase. You may only feel your steering wheel vibrate, or the entire car may feel like a vibrating chair.
Examine the tires -When tires are out of balance, they often wear in a distinctive way. If you look at the outer and inner inch or two of the tire, you will notice that flat spots about one to two inches long will develop all of the way around the tire. If these are bad enough, you may have to replace the tire to fix the problem. If these areas are here and there around the tire, you may be able to simple have the tire rebalanced. Within a few miles of driving these areas will smooth out again.
Under inflated tires can mimic an out of balance tire -This is especially true in larger tires. Generally, tires that fit 16 inch wheels will have strong enough belts inside them to cause vibrations. These vibrations are not caused by out of balance situations, but rather by the flexing of the tire due to low air pressure inside. Restoring the tire to the normal air pressure will usually fix the problem. If you leave this condition for too long, it will weaken the sidewalls of the tire and lead to tire failure and a possible blowout at high speeds.
When your car needs a front end alignment, you will see a different wear pattern -Unlike an out of balance tire, alignment issues may or may not cause vibrations. If you have excessive wear in the ball joints, idler arms, or other front end hardware, these may allow some vibrations. Unfortunately, problems in alignment rarely create enough noticeable steering issues or vibrations to cause you to act.
Inspect your tires for inside or outside wear -If your tires show both inside and outside wear on the same tire, you probably have inflation problems. The tire is under inflated. If the tire is wearing in the middle faster than on the edges, it means that your tire is over inflated. Correcting the inside air pressure will help with both of these problems. However, if your tire is too worn to be safe, replace it.
Look for wear on the inside or outside edge of your tire but not both -Alignment concerns will wear the tire out prematurely on the inside or outside of the tire. What you will usually see is that the tire is very worn on one side but looks almost new on the other side of the tread. You can sometimes test for good alignment by driving your car down a straight stretch of highway and release the steering wheel. Do this by relaxing your grip but not removing your hands from the steering wheel.
You do not want to lose control of the car -If the car veers to the right or left, you need an alignment. By the time the wear shows up on the tire, you have driven your car at least a few hundred miles with a bad alignment.
When you install new front tires, have your alignment checked if you can before you drive away from the tire dealer -If this is not possible, you may want to make an appointment with a car dealer or good mechanic shop to drive straight from the tire dealer to the shop. Have them check your alignment. Most shops really want you to have new or almost new tires before they will do a front end alignment. This allows them to do a better job for you.