How To Bring Some Balance To Your Life

Even if your vehicle is perfectly aligned and outfitted with state-of-the-art wheels, unbalanced tires will lack durability and performance will suffer.

“For driving comfort, unbalanced tires cause vehicle vibration,” said Joe Maher, product specialist for Continental Tire. “Long term, unbalanced tires can result in uneven or spotty wear which would decrease the life of the tire.”

Balance—the even distribution of weight—is why ballerinas can stand on the tips of their toes. Improper balance can cause them severe injury. In much the same way unbalanced tires hamper vehicle performance, causing the wheel to roll unevenly or shimmy.

But how are tires balanced?

The wheel is spun on a machine that determines the balance of the tire. Technicians discreetly place small weights on the wheel to counterbalance any negative effects.

Balancing is necessary because you have the axle and wheel, two bulky and independent pieces of machinery, coming together. The odds of the weight distribution being perfect the first time is astronomical.

Maher said a balance test isn’t required every time the tires are rotated, though that would be the best time to ask since they’re already coming off the vehicle.

Maher offers the follow advice about tire balancing:

  • Check your tires frequently for signs of wear. Alert your service advisor if tread wear looks uneven or you see bald spots, side wear or cracked sidewalls.
  • Check the air pressure and make sure the valves are covered properly.
  • Ask your service advisor if your tires need to be rebalanced. Tires are balanced during the initial installation on the wheel. They aren’t routinely checked and usually are not rebalanced during a basic rotation.
  • Uneven wear, flat spots or a vibration in the steering column are all signs your tires could be out of balance.
  • You’ll probably feel vibration in the steering wheel if a front wheel is out of balance. If the problem is in the rear, they vibration will come from the seat or floor.
  • Consider alignment when rotating tires. The system must be in balance to get the most value and performance out of your vehicle.