Learning the difference between wheel balancing and wheel alignment can give you a better understanding of your car and pinpointing when there are issues. Ultimately, there are warning signs for when your car wheels need to be balanced, and likewise there are different signs when they need aligning. Here, let’s take a look at the differences between the two.
Wheel balancing is the process undertaken to ensure the level of the tire material is balanced around the entirety of the wheel. While it is impossible to have the exact millimetre of tire thickness in all areas of the wheel, there is an unsafe difference and when this becomes apparent, the wheel balancing process is required.
You can pinpoint when you need your wheels balancing through different signals to when you need your wheels aligning. Essentially, due to the differences in weights when areas of the tire are significantly heavier than other areas, the wheel will vibrate. This vibration will get more prominent as you pick up speed.
To have your wheels balanced, you simply need to go into mechanics and they can take care of it for you. They render the problem through machinery that spins the tire to configure which areas of the wheel are lighter than the remainder. Bonding cement is then utilized to join lead weight, balancing the wheel.
In the majority of instances, when you replace your tires, they should also undertake wheel balancing. If you aren’t certain, request that the mechanic checks in the same service. It shouldn’t be at an additional cost.
Wheel alignment refers to the suspension system in your car, as opposed to the actual wheels. To put it simply, wheel alignment is the angle in which your wheels face. There are three different ways your wheels are aligned.
- Toe – This is a term used to describe your tire angles in relation to one another. The misalignment of one wheel in comparison to the remaining three happens more often than any other type of misalignment. A warning signal could be that you feel your car is being pulled to one direction when driving, or if your car veers off to the side slightly when you let go of the steering wheel.
- Camber – This is the angle when you analyse your car from the front. Your car has
misaligned the camber if the wheel tilts to one side as opposed to being level.
- Caster – This is the more difficult misalignment to notice. Caster angle is simply the angular displacement of the steering pivot when you view the car’s side profile. The most effective way to tell is if one wheel is slightly forward or back in the wheel well. If left unaligned, the wheel will rub when you drive over big bumps.
There are things to avoid in order to maintain your wheel alignment. Steer away from extremely sharp turns and instead go around corners at a wider angle. Sharp turns can put stress on the axle or wheel, resulting in altering the alignment. And ensure you slow your speed significantly when driving over bumps. Driving too fast can instantly push a wheel out of alignment.
Don’t be too alarmed if you notice warning signs of misalignment. It can occur as a result of driving your car frequently, similar to wear and tear. Simply head to a car mechanic to have your wheels aligned.
Absorbing the knowledge surrounding wheel balancing and wheel alignment is a sure-fire way to register when there are issues with your vehicle. This will lead to more prominent issues further down the line. While cars are complex and difficult to understand in some circumstances, this knowledge will save you the cost of replacing parts in the future.
If you leave wheels unbalanced, it will directly result in wearing down prematurely. As small as a quarter of an ounce difference between areas of the wheel can result in treads having off-balance pressure and therefore uneven tread wear. Ultimately, left unattended will mean you need to replace your wheels more frequently. It will also put stress on bearings, shocks and wheel assembly.
In the same manner, leaving your wheels unaligned will cause wear and tear. Additionally, the pulling sensation front the tire drag can directly increase your vehicle’s fuel consumption.
Most importantly, safety is the top priority and unfortunately, you can have an increased risk of accidents when wheels aren’t maintained. The vibration that occurs when your wheels are unbalanced can affect the control of the car, and suspension components, wheel bearings and steering components can be compromised.
While unaligned wheels will cause drifting of the vehicle as well as tread wear causing the inability to grip sufficiently. Sudden actions such as braking and swerving, which are required during emergencies, are more difficult to undertake.
With all this information in check, you will be a safer and more cost-effective car owner