Achieving perfect tire balance
- Buying new tires, rims, or wheels;
- Rotating the tires;
- Repairing the tires;
- The car hits a large pothole.
Another thing to remember; tire balance is entirely different to wheel alignment, though the two concepts are sometimes confused. Aligning a set of wheels entails adjusting their angles so that they’re parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground.
Tire imbalance can develop over time as the tire tread wears down through regular use and the distribution of weight changes. But subjecting the tires to excessive stress by driving on poor roads, hard braking and cornering may hasten matters further. When one or more tires are out-of-balance on your vehicle, there are several common indicators:
- The car experiences vibration at high speeds;
- There’s uneven wear on the tread;
- There’s an increase in fuel consumption;
- There are issues with the suspension.
If you notice one or more of these symptoms – even if the tires are relatively new – then it’s possible your car has an imbalanced tire.
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How are tires balanced?
There are two methods for tire balancing performed at your local garage; static balance and dynamic balance.
1. Static balancing If there is only a slight imbalance to the tire, static balancing is the appropriate technique and is relatively easy to do; the wheel and tire assembly is placed onto a vertical supporting device with a spindle or equivalent to measure balancing on one axis. The heavier side will lean lower to the ground than the lighter side; once identified, the mechanic will place a small weight measuring fractions of an ounce 180 degrees across the plane of the tire, onto the flange of the wheel rim, until the balance is restored.
2. Dynamic balancing For more complex cases of tire imbalance, dynamic balancing is a technique using spinning computer balancers to measure the tire on all three axes. The mechanic places a fully assembled wheel and tire on a machine and rotates it at speed ranging from 16-25 km/h (10-15 mph) to 88-96 km/h (55-60 mph). As it spins, the sensors of the machine capture every single weight imperfection. With the analysis complete, the computer then specifies how much weight and where the mechanic should apply to balance the tire. The small weights – either clip-on or adhesive weights – are added to both the inner and outer sides of the wheel rim, to provide the highest precision and balance.