Over time, tires develop uneven wear patterns that lead to several problems when they become unbalanced. Unfortunately, most drivers think about it infrequently, not realizing that it is essential to performance and safety. This article explains the importance of balanced tires and the easy steps to do it yourself or find help with this crucial maintenance task.
Why is Tire Balancing Important?
Regularly balancing your vehicle’s tires is crucial to maintaining a safe and efficient ride. The following are the most important reasons for doing so:
Even Wear: Well-balanced tires improve traction and prevent excessive vibrations, providing a smoother and quieter ride. Correctly balanced tires wear more evenly, adding to their overall longevity. Without regular checkups, misaligned tires may cause uneven weight distribution, prematurely wearing down your tire or damaging other suspension components.
Longevity: Balancing your tires routinely gets the most out of your tire investments. The more evenly balanced a tire is the fewer pressure points on its surface, resulting in less wear and tear, significantly prolonging its life.
Security: Maintaining ideal tire pressure and proper balance ensures a safe ride. Properly balanced tires reduce stress on your car’s suspension system, while enhanced tire pressure provides excellent resistance against puncture and tear. This extends tire life and gives peace of mind, as under-inflated or unbalanced tires can cause sudden or dangerous mishaps.
Fuel Efficiency: Properly balanced tires are integral to receiving the highest fuel efficiency on a vehicle. Unbalanced tires cause an increase in friction while driving, reducing your car’s overall efficiency and requiring more gas to propel forward. This is due to the uneven pressure on tires, affecting their grip on the road and causing them to work harder than necessary.
Comfort: Car owners must ensure their tires are balanced for a safe and smooth ride. An unbalanced tire may cause vibrations at certain driving speeds, resulting in an uncomfortable ride and even wear to your vehicle’s suspension components. Additionally, imbalanced wheels may cause steering shake, which is dangerous while driving.
Consequences of Unbalanced Tires
Not having balanced tires affects the driver’s overall enjoyment of the vehicle. Unbalanced tires may cause shaking in the steering wheel as the car speeds up. The increased friction between the tires and pavement from uneven weight distribution across the wheel makes it difficult to maintain vehicle control. As a car owner, you must ensure all four tires are balanced and in good condition to avoid serious safety risks on the road. Unbalanced tires also have lower fuel efficiency than properly balanced ones, affecting your wallet and the environment. Over an extended period, unbalanced tires may degrade parts of your car, such as the seat or floorboard, leading to further complications.
How to Balance Your Tires
Balancing your tires is a straightforward process, keeping in mind the following pointers:
- Before attempting to balance the tires, ensure no signs of damage or excessive tread wear.
- Lift each tire with an automotive jack and spin it to check for any imbalances resulting in vibrations when driving.
- Take the wheel off the car, place it on a balancing machine, and ensure the tire is seated correctly in the machine before taking any readings.
- Add small amounts of balancing weights until the readings on the machine match as closely as possible. Pay attention to which wheel sides need more weight concerning matching readings.
- Put the wheel back onto the car and conduct a test drive at highway speeds to ensure all vibrations have subsided before safe operation.
How to Maintain Balanced Tires for Longer Periods
Maintaining properly balanced tires is crucial for safe and smooth driving, as well as for maximizing the lifespan of your tires.
Tips for Maintaining Balanced Tires:
- Tire cleaning: Regularly clean your tires to remove debris or dirt that could affect their longevity and performance. Use gentle soap, water, and a soft-bristled brush to scrub away any grime without damaging the tires. Allow the tire to dry completely before driving on it.
- Proper maintenance: Rotate your tires according to your car maker’s manual and inspect tread wear regularly. Additionally, check the wheel alignment every 8,000 miles and ensure all tires have correct air pressure.
- Avoid overloading: Keep the load within the tire’s specification to avoid uneven wear and detrimentally impacting your vehicle’s performance.
- Double-check alignment annually: Check your car’s alignment annually to prevent imbalances, faster wear, and imminent tire failure. Look for uneven tire tread and unusual shaking or vibrations from your wheelbase when driving.
Benefits of Balanced Tires
- Even tire wear and maximum longevity
- Improved steering responsiveness, ride quality, and suspension performance
- Reduced overall road noise and vibration
- Increased stability, better control when handling curves and turns, and safer braking in sudden maneuvers.
Maintaining balanced tires is integral to being a responsible driver. Most auto shops can do it if you need help balancing your tires. Alternatively, follow the directions in your owner’s manual to do it at home and save money. By following these tips, you can ensure your tires are in top shape and enjoy a safe, smooth, and enjoyable driving experience.