Every time a wheel is first mounted onto the rim with a new tire, it has to be balanced. The goal is to make sure the weight is even around the wheel.
Wheel balance is checked on a wheel balancing machine that can sense as little as 1/4 ounce difference in weight around the wheel. Why worry about 1/4 ounce on a wheel that weighs many pounds? That tiny amount of weight is traveling very fast around the axle: hundreds of times a minute. It creates enough momentum to cause serious vibration. And when you multiply by 4 wheels, the wobble really adds up. Unbalanced tires put uneven pressure on the treads. Tires get too hot and wear unevenly. Tire imbalance can also strain the wheel bearings and suspension system.
Often confused with wheel alignment, a properly balanced wheel is a beautiful, perfectly tuned wheel-tire combination. This is accomplished by placing measured lead weights on the opposite side of the “heavy spot”—the noticeable tread wear on your unbalanced tire.
To balance the tires, our technicians places tiny offsetting weights at specific points around the wheel.
Tire Rotation And Balancing Not “once and done”
The minute you pull away from the service station with your newly balanced tires, they begin getting out of balance again. Every bump and corner affects balance; so does tire wear. Over time, your tires get out of balance again. That’s why it’s important to have tires balanced regularly.
You’re most likely to notice uneven wear on the tires. Many drivers also notice vibration over 40 mph, especially if the imbalanced tires are on the front.
During typical use, it’s a good idea to have your tires rotated and balanced every 4,000 to 6,000 miles. Have them balanced any time a tire is replaced or patched.
Is your vehicle vibrating at certain speeds, say, between 50 and 70 mph? If so, chances are your wheel is out of balance. One section of your tire is heavier than the other because it’s endured more exposure to the friction and heat of the road. Most people are very satisfied with the difference such a simple and inexpensive procedure makes.
● Scalloped, erratic wear pattern on tires.
● Vibration in steering wheel, seat, or floorboard at certain speeds.
As part of the effort to increase awareness of the need to maintain proper tire pressure, the U.S. government has taken steps to make it easier for drivers to be aware of potentially unsafe low pressure in their tires. As of the 2008 model year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) now requires that all passenger cars and light trucks feature the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). In conjunction with the new requirements, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) has initiated a consumer safety campaign focusing on the importance of maintaining proper tire pressure.
TPMS is an automated system that monitors the air pressure in a vehicle’s tires. When air pressure in one or more tires drops 25 percent or more below the correct pressure, a warning indicator alerts the driver. TPMS typically delivers these alerts to the driver through one of two types of warning lights on the dashboard.
Tire pressure is monitored through one of two methods: direct or indirect. Direct TPMS monitors the actual air pressure inside each tire via a sensor mounted within the tire. Indirect TPMS measures tire pressure by monitoring the speed and rotation of each individual wheel. When a significant variation in speed and rotation is detected in one or more wheels when compared with the others, it is often an indication of underinflation. This information is then transmitted to the vehicle’s on-board computer, and the driver is alerted.
We service Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS)
Sources: NHTSA, AAM, Intelligent Tire Conference