People understandably get confused between wheel alignment and balancing. So what is wheel alignment? Wheel alignment is simply making sure that all four wheels are pointing in the right direction. During the course of your car’s life it will have to make it over speed bumps, up and down curbs and across many pot holes! This can all affect the wheel alignment and if it is out by a few degrees it will cause uneven tyre wear. This means that your tyres are not correctly in contact with the road.
Another issue that could occur is earlier and more frequent tyre changes than you would normally require, and annoyingly only a quarter of the tyre may even be worn. Four wheel alignment is usually carried out using laser technology. All four wheels have a laser fitted and a measuring board indicates the wheel alignment. If the wheel alignment is out it is then adjusted at this stage. The adjustments will be visible on by the laser showing the technician when to stop or exactly how much adjustment is required.
Why is it important to have wheels balanced? When the tyres are fitted to the wheel they are not perfectly balanced. This means that if you had your new tyres fitted without the balancing in place you would experience a juddering sensation through the steering wheel. This can be uncomfortable and if the wheel balancing is a long way out the steering wheel will shake in your hands. This can obviously be quite dangerous and potentially lead to accidents! Therefore it is recommended that the wheels are balanced every time new car tyres are fitted.
The wheel balancing is a process that is carried out by a machine. The tyre technician will fit the new tyre onto the wheel and then clamp it onto the machine. The balancing machine then spins the wheel around and then calculates the weight required to counterbalance where the wheel is out. The weight is then fitted to the exact spot on the wheel and is then rechecked to make sure the wheel is perfectly balanced. The weights are either stuck on or clamped onto the wheel. If the vehicle is fitted with alloy wheels then the weight will be stuck to the wheel. This avoids damaging the wheel. The stuck on weight is generally fitted to the inside of the wheel so the aesthetic appeal of the alloy wheel is not lost in the process.