Your car’s owner manual may have specific instructions regarding the right tire balancing and alignment frequency. These two terms might often confuse you.
Besides, car owners wonder whether they should balance or align the wheel first. With a properly aligned and balanced tire, you can prevent uneven wear.
In case you are wondering whether you need to get the tires balanced before you align them, we have come up with the necessary answer in this article.
Should I balance my tires before an alignment?
Wheel balancing and alignment involve two separate processes. While properly balanced wheels minimize vibration, the right alignment of the tires ensures that the car would move straight on the road. However, there’s no need to get your tires balanced before you go for wheel alignment.
Although you need not balance the tires before aligning them, both unbalanced and misaligned tires can lead to uneven wear and tear. Experts can detect whether you need wheel balancing or aligning by observing the tire wear pattern.
This ensures that you won’t unnecessarily shell out additional money for wheel balancing and aligning. However, if you are unsure of the cause of uneven wear, you can balance the tires before aligning them. This way, you can address both these problems.
How Do I Know if My Tires Need to be Balanced or in alignment?
By observing the symptoms that we have mentioned, you can determine whether your tire needs balancing or aligning. Some of these symptoms are common for both aligning and balancing your tires.
- Your car had a flat tire
- There is a vibration in the floorboard, steering wheel, or seat
- You detect uneven wear of the tire
- You have already driven the car on rough roads for 1 year or plain roads for 2 years
In case you detect any of these issues, make sure to get the issue diagnosed soon. A well-balanced and aligned set of tires can help you mitigate other issues and ensure a smooth journey.
Symptoms when Your Car Needs Alignment
You need to get the tires of your cars properly aligned to ensure a comfortable ride. You must observe these signs, that can point to a necessary wheel alignment service.
1. Pulling in one direction
Have you noticed your vehicle pulling in a particular direction? This pull might be mild or sharp. In case you do, the wheels need proper alignment.
However, this issue might also happen in case the inflation of the tires is insufficient. So, you need to inflate the tires first. If the problem persists, it implies that you must get the wheels properly aligned. The extent of pulling depends on how poorly you have your tires misaligned.
2. Vibration in the steering wheel
Misaligned tires can lead to vibration in the steering wheel. This happens when the wheels pull in different directions when you drive.
3. Steering wheel getting off-center:
Did you notice your steering wheel getting off-center? You might have misaligned wheels in your car. In these situations, you need to align your wheels properly.
4. Uneven wearing of tires
Inspect the tires at the front and rear of your car and try to detect patterns showing uneven wear. If you find that the wearing seems uneven, it indicates that the tires need a proper alignment.
Once you visit a car repair center, you can align the wheels in just half an hour. In case some components of your car have excessive wear, or the suspension system has corroded, the process might take longer.
With a properly aligned wheel, the intensity of the wear would be low. In most vehicles, properly aligned wheels ensure better comfort and safety for the passengers. A properly aligned set of tires can also mitigate the consumption of fuel.
Symptoms when Your Car Needs balancing
Driving with unbalanced wheels wouldn’t be a good idea, as it affects the ride quality and safety of the driver. Check out these symptoms pointing to unbalanced tires in your car.
1. Vibrations in the steering wheel
If your car tires are unbalanced, you would feel some vibration in the steering wheel. Remember, unbalanced wheels can damage the tire, which causes these vibrations. So, you need to inspect the wheel assembly at the earliest. It’s imperative to get the wheels balanced to ensure proper ride quality.
2. Issues with steering your car
Your driving experience would be unpleasant in case you have unbalanced tires. Particularly, it would be challenging to steer your car. Besides, drivers might experience delays while they try to control the car.
Moreover, it would be tough to steer the car smoothly in a particular direction. In a nutshell, the vehicle would turn out to be unresponsive.
3. Uneven wearing of the tires
Uneven tread wear is one of the most prominent symptoms of unbalanced tires. Once you visually inspect the front and rear wheels, you can detect this uneven wear.
This would also lead to your car pulling in a particular direction. The intensity of this pulling would depend on how bad the balance of your wheels is.
4. Low mileage issues
Without proper balance in your tires, your car’s engine would come under stress. Besides, the vehicle would be draining its fuel faster than it should.
So, you would encounter low-mileage issues with your car if it has unbalanced wheels. Leaving the problems unchecked would simply lead to more expenses on fuel.
5. Stress on bearings or shocks
If your car doesn’t have properly balanced tires, there would be a lot of stress on the springs, shocks, bearings, and other components of the wheel assembly. Therefore, unless you address the issue immediately, you would end up forking out even more bucks on replacing these parts later on.
In general, it would take one to two hours to get your tires properly balanced. This duration depends on several factors like your driving habits, condition of the wheels, weather conditions, and other aspects.
Make sure to wash the tires of your car before you balance them. The reason is, it would be difficult to balance the wheels if you have the rims or tires covered with dirt. Remove pieces of rocks that might be clogging the rubber tread.
What’s the cost of Wheel Alignment?
You can expect the average wheel alignment cost to be around $100 to $200.
The wheel alignment cost largely depends on the model and the experience of the professionals at the mechanic shop. In most mechanic shops, you will come across premium and computerized wheel alignment services.
In case you go for premium wheel alignment services, it would cost you around $200. On the other hand, computerized wheel alignment services would cost you around $100.
While computerized wheel alignment services are perfect for most models, you might need premium wheel alignment services if the model is of European make. The steering, computer, and suspension systems in these vehicles are more complicated.
What’s the cost of Tire Balancing?
In most tire repair shops, the experts would charge anything between $5 and $20 to balance each tire. Therefore, the cost of balancing all the four tires of your car would range between $20 and $80.
However, if you approach the repair center for other services, they might also provide you with a complimentary tire balancing service.
Unless you get the issue addressed, you might face difficulty in steering and experience a bad fuel economy. Besides, the tires would wear off unevenly, and the bearings would come under stress.
Benefits of regular Balancing And Alignment of Your Car
Both wheel alignment and balancing have their respective benefits, which you can realize when you drive your car. In a nutshell, you would enjoy safe and smoother rides. Here are some of the benefits of wheel alignment.
- Properly aligned wheels ensure better fuel economy. When you have misaligned tires, the engine would come under stress. This takes a toll on the fuel economy of your car. With properly aligned wheels, the stress on your engine would be lower.
- The lifeline of your wheels would be higher if you drive with properly aligned wheels. This would also reduce the chances of uneven wearing of the tread. This, in turn, minimizes the possibility of flat tires.
- When you properly align your wheels, you would save more on mechanical repairs. This is because there wouldn’t be any damage to the mechanical parts due to misaligned tires.
Here are the prime advantages of balancing the wheels in your car.
- You would gain better traction on the road with a properly balanced set of tires. This would enhance your drive quality significantly.
- With well-balanced wheels, you can also do away with uncomfortable vibrations in your car.
- The wear and tear on your wheels would be even, that reduces the chances of other issues like a flat tire.
- You would experience a smoother ride, that would enhance the satisfaction from the ride quality.
- Lastly, balanced wheels ensure better fuel economy. So, when you invest in balancing your wheels, you wouldn’t be shelling out unnecessary costs while refueling your car.
If you frequently drive for long distances or take on rough terrains, the tires come under significant damage. So, it would be wise to align the wheels twice a year. As a thumb rule, you can visit the car mechanic every 6K to 10K miles.
The experts would inspect the condition of your tires and recommend the needful. The same applies to tire balancing.
In this case, you can visit the car repair center every 8k to 10K miles, depending on your model and car use. This ensures that you can optimize your car’s operation, fuel economy, and performance.