Your wheels have to roll straight, point in the same direction, and be evenly balanced all the way around in order for your car to drive as it should and provide a smooth ride to your destination. These services are known as wheel balancing and Wheel Alignment.
What is the difference?
The concept of wheel alignment simply refers to modifying the geometry of the wheels, which could get impaired due to poor suspension. This may happen when your car hits a grave deep pothole or it meets with an accident or when you put together a new set of tyres in your car. Wheel alignment corrects the angle of the wheels so that your car steers in the right direction while driving.
In simpler words, wheel alignment is the term for ‘how your wheel fits when it sits on the car’, and wheel balancing is what’s done to perfectly balance the weight of a tire and wheel assembly so that it travels evenly.
Surprisingly, and the more uncommon fact is wheel alignment has very little to do with your wheels and more to do with your car’s suspension system. It’s about what direction and angle your wheels roll along at.
There are three different ways your wheel is aligned in your car:
- Caster Alignment.
Now, in all its technicality wheel balancing is the method of maintaining the perfect balance between the tyre and rim for even distribution of mass. If there is an imbalance within the wheels, the driver feels vibrations on the steering and on the seats at a certain speed on the highway. Unevenness in a tyre or a rim could take the wheel out of balance. Without the correct wheel balance, the tyres and wheels cannot go round perfectly and will result in uneven wear of tyres.
This can be fixed by computerized equipment. The device checks the heavy spots on the tyre and puts the appropriate lead weight on the opposite side of the heavy spot.
Sometimes, a commonly ignored fact is there will always be some areas with thicker materials in the tyre and others that are thinner and lighter. When one side of a wheel is heavier or lighter than another, the wheel will vibrate as it rotates. The faster you go, the more pronounced this vibration becomes.
Let’s explore the most commonly asked FAQs:
How is the Wheel balancing issue fixed?
The technique uses precision machinery to spin each tire and wheel combo to test to see what spots on a wheel are heavier than others. From there, the technician conducting the balancing service uses bonding cement to attach small lead weights to the lightest area of your tyre. Sometimes these weights are grouped in one spot while in others there may be weights in a couple of different spots. Every tyre is different, even the four different tyres on the same car.
When should you check for Wheel Balancing?
Whenever you have your tires replaced, your technician should inform you that they will conduct a wheel balancing service as a part of the installation process. This is extremely important, as unbalanced wheels will ride poorly and add a lot of uncomfortable vibration. It’s also not uncommon for these small weights to fall off, either as the bonding cement wears out or when you hit a large bump. If your technician does not mention a tyre balancing service, enquire about the same. Most of the time, balancing is included with your tyre installation service, but you should still make sure.
What can cause a wheel to come out of alignment?
Several different things. Taking a turn too sharp and placing too much strain on a wheel or axle can cause the alignment to shift. Hitting a bump too hard can even tweak a wheel out of whack. Even just the stress and strain of driving day after day for years can eventually lead to one or more of our wheels falling out of alignment. It’s actually a fairly normal occurrence, even though it isn’t all that common.