Many drivers believe that these services do the same thing. Whilst these processes are very different, they are both extremely important.
Read on and find out what the difference is between the two, and why each service is so vital.
What's the Difference Between Wheel Balancing and Wheel Alignment?
It can be easy to mix up wheel balancing with wheel alignment, but they are actually very different services.
For your wheels to roll smoothly, they need to be perfectly balanced.
Even with today’s modern technology, it is impossible to make a tyre or wheel that balances all the way around.
The material which makes up your vehicle’s tyres may be lighter, thinner or thicker in places. This means that one side of your wheel can be heavier than the other, which in turn will cause the wheel to vibrate when rotating.
Wheel balancing is a process in which the weight of each wheel is checked and distributed evenly around the rim.
Using machinery which spins each wheel and tyre to determine which part of the wheel is heavier than the other, the technician can use bonding cement to increase the weight of lighter sections.
Wheel alignment refers to the position of the wheels. It is only necessary when your wheels are misaligned.
Wheel alignment isn’t an adjustment to your vehicle’s wheels or tyres like wheel balancing is, it is a modification of your vehicle’s suspension system – the system connecting a car to its wheel. This directly affects the angle and direction your wheels roll at.
Do I Need to Book These Services?
Both wheel balancing and wheel alignment can have a positive impact on the safety, comfort, performance and lifespan of your vehicle.
Whilst the symptoms of an out-of-balance wheel and a misaligned wheel are similar, knowing the cause of these distinct issues can help you to effectively diagnose issues with your wheels.
If your vehicle exhibits any of the following warning signs, then you should book a wheel balancing service:
- Vibrations in the steering wheel
- Vibrations in the seat
- Vibrations in the floor
- Uneven tyre wear
Vibrations in the steering wheel can signal that your front wheels need to be balanced, whilst vibrations in the seat could mean that the back wheels are out-of-balance.
Any hits to the kerb or potholes can knock your wheels out-of-balance, so make sure you drive sensibly to avoid this.
On the other hand, these warning signs can indicate that you need to book a wheel alignment service:
- The car pulls towards one side of the road
- The steering wheel tilts off-centre
- The steering wheel vibrates when you accelerate
- Uneven tyre wear
Wheel balancing and wheel alignment are crucial aspects of vehicle maintenance that you must book when needed.
You can enter your vehicle reg and postcode into the booking tool below to compare garages near you and save money on your car maintenance.
A mechanic will be able to advise you if your vehicle needs wheel balancing in addition to wheel alignment.
You can read more of Tim's articles on his website, OBD Advisor.