If your steering wheel shakes or your car feels a bit bouncy while driving down the road, your vehicle may have tires that are out of balance.
If you take a close look at your car’s wheels, you may notice little metal squares lined up in a row on the inside of your wheel. These are wheel weights and are put on when your wheels are balanced. A balanced wheel results in smooth driving on the road and helps to maintain the longevity of your car’s tires and suspension.
WHAT IS WHEEL BALANCING?
Right before your new tires get placed on the car, they have to be balanced. Despite all the high-tech chemistry and science involved in making a tire they still have some weight imbalances, which are fixed by getting it balanced at a shop.
When you take your tires to get balanced, the mechanic will take the wheel to a wheel balancing machine. The machine will spin the wheel and bring out the unbalanced weight in the tire to the outer edge. The mechanic will then put weights on the opposite side of where the weight is in an effort to balance it. This is done on all your car’s wheels and results in a smooth ride when driving about.
WHY GET WHEEL BALANCING?
Balancing should be done every time you get a new set of tires. Each tire is unique in terms of weight and needs to be balanced properly. Balancing should also be done any time you get new wheels or rims. Even if the wheel and tire are balanced on their own, when you pair them together it can create an imbalance.
The amount of wheel weights used on one tire will not translate when it’s time to replace them, so it’s important to get the set of tires balanced again.
You’ll notice a weight imbalance the most at higher speeds, like on the highway. The most obvious problem the driver will sense is a vibration or shaking of the car.
Unbalanced wheels will wear unevenly and will either need replacing more often or require more routine rotation.
Often times tire balancing is packaged in with an alignment to ensure you get the smoothest ride possible. Motorists who have winter tires and summer tires on the same set of rims will have to pay extra each time they get their tires mounted in order to balance them. Having separate wheels for each set of tires will mean you’ll likely only have to get the tires balanced once (until it’s time to replace them.)
While improperly balanced and aligned tires will result in a shaky feel on the road, it will eventually result in costing you money, since all that jostling and bouncing around will be transferred to your car’s suspension, making those components wear out sooner as well.
SEE ALSO: Should you get a wheel alignment?
So if you’re feeling like your car is shaking and bouncing while on the road, it might be time to get your tires balanced. Even if you had your tires balanced before, wheel weights may have fallen off or a dented wheel could result in an imbalance, making it important to get your tires checked and balanced again. Typically, a wheel balance will cost around $10 per tire in addition to the cost of mounting.