January 26, 2012  |  Comments
Balancing act: New tires only solve part of the problem

Photo By  echoforsberg

Creative Commons photo via Flickr.

Balancing act: New tires only solve part of the problem

You just purchased new tires. Should you get an alignment and tire balance, too?

This is a common question. Although the added cost on top of the new tires you’ve just purchased might make you cringe, you should get both done each time you get new tires. They’ll help prolong the life of your new tires (and the rest of your car, too).

Despite advanced manufacturing processes and the new rubber compounds used today, some weight imbalance can still be found in new tires. All new tires should be balanced, using wheel weights to achieve smooth rolling of the tire as necessary. More responsive tires with lower profiles, which send more road feedback to the driver, are being used in today’s style- and performance-oriented vehicles. As a result, the slightest imbalance (as little as half an ounce!) can be felt in most modern cars. For those who have super-sized tires and wheels, balancing is even more critical.

Photo By Latemodel Restoration Supply

A spin-balancer determines the amount and angle of imbalance in a tire. Weights are then fitted to the wheel to counteract the imbalance.

Keep in mind that a tire is balanced based on the mass of rubber present at the time of its first balance. As the tire is driven, rubber wears off. Over time, all tires become imbalanced. For this reason, when the tires on your vehicle are rotated, they should be checked and rebalanced as necessary.

Price considerations

The average price of a newly mounted and balanced tire with a new valve stem is roughly $125 per tire or $500 for the set of four. If your wheel alignment is off, you could lose that money quickly as the life of your new tires may be significantly decreased.

Regular wear-and-tear affects tire wear

Every time you drive, the steering and suspension components on your automobile are jostled and hammered from the roadway. This produces wear in the bushings, ball and socket joints, and various mechanical links causing the alignment to eventually go out from factory specifications. Inevitably, uneven road surfaces result in poor cornering and handling and a significant increase in tire wear.

Considering the hundreds of dollars you spent on your new tires, alignment and tire balancing is a smart choice. If your vehicle is out of alignment, have it realigned or you could be faced with paying the price of another set of new tires sooner than you would probably like.

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  • garage equipment

    Out of balance units on a vehicle can be detected by a vibration when driving. Generally, the front is involved if it is felt in the steering column and the back if felt in the floor or seat. It is usually felt at speeds of 40 and above. This can cause problems with controlling the vehicle, sliding, and, also, wears the tire out much faster than normal.