If you’ve noticed your car pulling to one side of the road as you drive, or if you’ve been around the car and kicked the tires only to notice uneven wear, then you’ve probably figured out that some maintenance is required for your wheels. What kind of maintenance do you need exactly? Tire balancing and wheel alignment are the main services you need, but what is the difference between the two and how do you know which one you need?
What is tire balancing?
Properly balanced tires should distribute the weight of the car evenly, but they become imbalanced over time as the tread of the tires wears down. To correct this, a specialized machine will be used to spin the tires, assessing where the imbalances come from. Then, small counter weights are positioned around the rim of the wheel in such positions that the weight is rebalanced across the tires.
What is wheel alignment?
Wheel alignment corrects the direction and angle that your wheels point in as you drive, ensuring that your vehicle steers accurately in the direction you want it to. The camber, caster, and toe of your wheels are examined to ensure that wheels are parallel to each other and positioned at the correct angles. A mechanic will adjust the wheels to ensure that your tires are aligned properly based on this evaluation.
Which do you need?
If your steering wheel has started to vibrate as you drive, then your car most likely needs its tires balancing. If it has started to pull to one side on the road or is swaying from side to side, then you need wheel alignment. When it comes to uneven wear of the tires, either and imbalance or a misalignment can be at fault. It is advisable to take your car in to a mechanic so they can evaluate what the problem is and which service is required.
How often should they be done?
To avoid urgent problems from arising, it is important to have regular maintenance performed on your car, and this includes tire balancing and wheel alignment. It is recommended that you have your tires balanced every 3,000-6,000 miles, or every 6 months if this comes first. Wheel alignment is a less frequent job, recommended every 10,000 miles or every 2-3 years.
If you’re in need of a tire balance or a wheel alignment in the Piedmont Triad area, then you can book it in with us at our Winston Salem garage. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.