Tire balancing is something that needs to be done as part of regular vehicle maintenance. However, there are certain situations where tires might need balancing sooner than once every one or two year (like if you’ve often traveled on tough roads). Balancing the tires is an important part of ensuring your prolong their lifespan, but it also helps you get the best performance from your vehicle. Today, we are going to talk more about tire balance, how you can tell when it’s needed, how long it takes, and answer some other pressing questions in the meantime.
Why Is Tire Balancing Required?
When the tires on your vehicle are balanced, you can benefit from a smoother ride and make sure that your tires are evenly subjected to common wear-and-tear. Driving causes your tires to lose balance, meaning that the distribution of weight around the tires is subject to change as time passes. When you drive, you will start to notice vibrations, particularly when your hands are on the wheel or when you’re seated in the driver’s seat.
When you take your car to a mechanic, they will use a calibrated spin balancer in order to test static and dynamic balance. Depending on the test results, the technician will properly balance your tires. This is usually performed together with tire rotation, which usually needs to be done every 5 or 6,000 miles.
Since modern-day vehicles are designed to be light weight, it became increasingly more important for people to balance their tires on a regular basis. Older vehicles (which are heavier) will apply enough pressure on the tires to smoothen out the ride and they help reduce vibrations in the process. There is more responsiveness in modern tire designs due to their lower profiles.
So, what happens if you don’t balance out your tires? They will make the car vibrate, making it uncomfortable for you to drive. When reaching higher speeds, the car will be very loud and could lose proper contact with the road. The vibrations that are caused by improper tire balance can also cause nuts and bolts to come loose, potentially causing the tire to fall because it’s wobbling too much.
When to Balance Tires
Balancing is part of regular auto maintenance, but the process is different from alignment, even if the two concepts are often confused for one another. When you align your tires, you are correcting their angles, so they can be properly positioned with each other and the road itself. The alignment process basically makes sure that your tires all move in the same direction and have the required amount of ground contact.
So how can you tell when it’s time to balance the tires? Here are the signs that it’s about time:
- Every 5,000 miles traveled.
- At least once every two years (if you often travel through tough roads, you are going to have to do it on a yearly basis).
- If the tires have uneven wear.
- You have to repair a tire due to a flat.
- There are noticeable vibrations of the wheel or your seat.
How Long Does it Take to Balance Tires?
As you can imagine, the time period isn’t exact science, but it usually takes between 40 minutes and two hours, depending on a series of factors. The condition of the tires is important, just like the weather conditions that your vehicle is exposed to. It also depends on why the tires need balancing (for instance, it will take longer to balance tires that have recently hit a porthole compared to how long it would take to balance them as part of the routine).
What Is Road Force Balancing?
This particular style of balancing tires comes from the need to cover other situations aside from tire wear and vibrations. This method is aimed at measuring the tire and the wheel to determine potential conditions that would cause road vibrations. This is typically achieved by pressing the tire against a large roller and determining radial runout and tire pressure by slowly spinning it. With this type of balancing, technicians can determine problems such as match mounting issues or belt separations.
It is very difficult to achieve the perfect balance between tires and wheels. When both these parts are measured, it is possible to move the tire on the wheel until the low spot of the wheel and the high spot of the tires are a match. This process often goes by the name of “match mounting”. If you notice small dots on the side of the tires, those are indicators of where the tire point should match the valve stem.
How Much Does Tire Balancing Cost?
As you can imagine, the price of balancing your tires depends on a series of different factors, such as the location you visit and how much warranty you get. In general, it costs around $40 to get your tires balanced, but prices can be as low as $15 or as high as $75 (based on the aforementioned factors).
Balancing your tires on a regular basis is important for safe driving. Improper tire balance can cause a series of potential accidents, as well as discomfort for those behind the wheel. What tire balancing actually does is make sure that the tire and wheel assembly are equalized up to a point where they can spin smoothly even if you drive at higher speeds. It usually takes about 40 minutes to balance all four tires on a vehicle, but it can take as long as two hours, depending on a series of factors, including the vehicle shop you decide to visit.