when to do wheel balancing and alignment? Expert Guide

Wheel balancing is a important car maintenance procedure that often goes unnoticed but plays a crucial role in ensuring the car tires safety, longevity, and efficiency.

Whether you’re an experienced motorist or a novice, understanding what wheel balancing is, when to do wheel balancing and alignment and why it’s necessary can help you make informed decisions about the care of your vehicle.

when to do wheel balancing and alignment?

Why Wheel Balancing Needed?

Why Wheel Balancing Needed?

Before delving into the specifics of wheel balancing, let’s grasp the essence of this requirement. When your car’s tires are mounted on the wheel rims and set into motion, an imbalance can occur. This imbalance leads to wobbling or vibrations, and with each rotation of the wheel, it’s like the suspension is being pounded with a sledgehammer. Over time, this unevenness can cause damage to the chassis and significantly reduce the comfort of your driving experience.

In essence, wheel balancing involves ensuring that the weight distribution of your vehicle’s wheels is even. This ensures that your car’s suspension operates optimally and minimizes vibrations or wobbling during motion, enhancing safety and overall driving comfort.

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when to do wheel balancing and alignment?

The frequency of wheel balancing largely depends on your driving habits and the condition of your vehicle. Here are some common scenarios that necessitate wheel balancing:

1. Changing Car Tires

Whenever you change your car’s tires, it’s essential to have them balanced. This is because even brand-new tires can have subtle balance flaws.

2. Aggressive Driving

If you engage in aggressive driving, such as high-speed cornering or abrupt stops, it can lead to uneven tire wear and affect the balance of your wheels.

3. Impact with Potholes

Hitting a deep pothole or other road imperfections at high speed can throw your wheels out of balance.

4. Installing New Disks

When you replace your wheel rims with new ones, it’s advisable to perform wheel balancing. New disks can have balance issues that need to be corrected.

5. Routine Diagnostics

Regular diagnostic checks can reveal any imbalance issues that require immediate attention.

6. Serious Impacts to the Suspension

If you’ve experienced a significant impact to your car’s suspension, such as an accident or hitting a curb, it’s essential to check the wheel balance.

7. Chassis Repair

After any chassis repair work, ensure your wheels are properly balanced.

8. Visual Damage to Tires

Inspect your tires for wear on one side or other visual damage, as this can be a sign of imbalance.

If you notice vibrations in the steering wheel or hear uneven or monotonous noise from the chassis, it’s a clear indicator that your wheels may be out of balance, and you should consult a mechanic for a wheel balancing service.

How Often Should Wheels Be Balanced?

How Often Should Wheels Be Balanced?

The frequency of wheel balancing depends on the operating conditions and the roads you typically drive on. In ideal conditions with smooth asphalt, smooth acceleration, and braking, performing wheel balancing once a year is recommended. However, in more challenging road conditions, such as those commonly found in Russia, it’s advisable to perform wheel balancing 2-3 times a year. The constant exposure to rough roads and potholes can cause weights to dislodge, resulting in imbalance.

Do New Tires Need Balancing?

Yes, even new tires need balancing. Each tire, regardless of its brand, leaves the factory with balance flaws. Trusted brands may have a greater error than budget options. When a new tire is mounted on a wheel rim, these balance issues are transferred to the entire assembly. This imbalance can result in suspension runout or steering mechanism vibrations.

For this reason, experienced motorists make it a practice to have all wheels balanced when purchasing a new set of tires. This ensures that any balance issues in the tires are corrected, and old weights or marks are removed from the rims.

Is Balancing the Rear Wheels Necessary?

Proper weight distribution of the front and rear wheels is essential for the adequate operation of your car’s suspension. Incorrectly balanced wheels can cause damage to the vehicle, irrespective of their location on the car. Therefore, it’s crucial to perform wheel balancing for all four tires installed on the vehicle.

How to Perform Wheel Balancing Yourself

If you’re a hands-on car enthusiast, you may be interested in performing wheel balancing yourself. It’s possible to balance your wheels at home using a few different methods.

1. Balancing Without Removing the Wheel

  • Raise the wheel you want to balance using a jack.
  • Thoroughly clean the wheel to remove any debris.
  • Prepare weights ranging from 10 to 50 grams.
  • Rotate the wheel in the opposite direction of the machine, and mark the highest point when it stops.
  • Repeat the process, marking a second point. The midpoint between these two marks is the lightest spot.
  • Install weights on the wheel so that the lightest side is at the bottom.
  • Perform a static balance by moving the weights 2-3 cm from the center and rotating the wheel in the direction of travel.
  • After the wheel stops, spin it again. If necessary, adjust the weight positions to ensure that the wheel stops in different positions each time.

2. Balancing With the Wheel Removed

  • Secure a balancing cone in the center of the wheel hub.
  • Place the wheel on a stump or brick in a vertical position, with the cone on the bottom.
  • Add weights to the part of the rim that is higher than the rest.
  • Slightly tap the tire to make it stop moving.
  • If needed, add more weights to achieve balance.
  • Ensure that the wheel is positioned horizontally.

3. Using Balancing Granules

Some enthusiasts use special granules to balance wheels. These granules are poured into the tire and distribute themselves throughout the cavity. The lifespan of these granules is equal to the tire’s life, but they are not commonly used in Russia and CIS countries due to their cost.

Do I Need to Wash Wheels Before Balancing?

Before balancing wheels, it’s crucial to thoroughly clean them. The wheel must be perfectly clean when it’s mounted on the balancing machine. Even small stones stuck in the tire’s tread or dirt can affect the accuracy of the balancing process. This rule applies to wheels of all sizes, from compact cars to larger vehicles.

How to Perform Balancing in a Car Service Center

How to Perform Balancing in a Car Service Center

Most modern service stations use specialized equipment for wheel balancing, such as a Civic machine or its equivalent. Here’s the sequence for correct wheel balancing in a service center:

  • Thoroughly clean all wheel parts and remove any debris, especially from between the tire’s spikes.
  • Apply a special paste to the inside of the wheel lock during tire fitting to create a seal between the tire and the metal, facilitating the tire’s correct positioning in the rim lock.
  • After tire beading, inflate the tire and check how well it sits in place.
  • If everything is in order, mount the finished wheel on the balancing machine, where the balance is displayed.
  • Attach the weights as needed and place the wheels back on the car.

Some service stations offer finishing balancing, which addresses issues with suspension elements, hubs, and shafts. Even a perfectly balanced wheel can wobble if the axles are misaligned. During this procedure, a mechanic removes one side of the vehicle and connects it to a mobile machine that checks the weight distribution. The process beyond this point is similar to standard wheel balancing.

conclusion

Wheel balancing is a vital aspect of car maintenance that should not be overlooked. It plays a critical role in ensuring your vehicle’s safety, extending tire life, and enhancing your overall driving experience. By understanding when to do wheel balancing and alignment, the signs of imbalance, and the benefits of regular maintenance, you can make informed decisions about caring for your vehicle. Whether you choose to balance your wheels yourself or visit a service center, the key is to prioritize this essential maintenance procedure to keep your car in optimal condition.

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