There's nothing more annoying than a vibrating vehicle, especially at highway speeds. Many people are not aware that an improperly balanced tire can produce such vibrations. Tires can become unbalanced due to many variables, including tread wear, adverse road conditions and any damage the tire may have incurred. Most car owners have a hard enough time rotating their tires for regular maintenance schedule intervals, let alone adding another task to the mix. However, the key to longevity for the tires on your vehicle is regular rotations and balances.
A True Tire
Why would a brand new tire need to be balanced? Because of slight unnoticeable differences in the tread weight of the tire itself. The rim it is being placed on could also have a slight deviation from its original state and placing the two together as a combined component can compound the problem. A computerized wheel balance will detect the area of the relationship between the tire and rim that has excessive weight to it and correct the problem by adding weight in the opposite position and properly balance the tire. This can occur on the outside or inside of the rim edge in a dynamic balance or within the inside of the rim for a static balance. Tire balance machines are designed to detect a 1/4 ounce of imbalance in a tire in order to correct it.
How a Tire Becomes Untrue
Simply driving on tires will effect the balance of them over time. Slight changes are occurring to the tires as they spin. At 60 MPH, the tread of the tire contacts the road four complete revolutions in one second. Add steering wear, bouncing, bad roads and road debris getting stuck in the tread or caked on the rims and it's easy to realize just how simple it is to unbalance a tire. 1/4 ounce of imbalance may be unnoticeable to the driver, or perhaps they have become used to the slight imperfections that happen so slowly over time. Most often, drivers don't fix something until there's a problem and that's not a good case scenario for tire maintenance and longevity.
Maintenance Schedule Recommendations and Beyond
Some repairs facilities and tire dealers may agree or disagree on when to balance tires. However, keep this in mind. Every time the tires are being considered for rotation, they should at least be checked and then adjusted for balance. Why? Rear tires that are slightly out of balance are going to wind up in the front axle. Perhaps the slight imbalance was unnoticeable to the driver located in the front left seat. Suddenly, after the rotation, an imbalanced tire is going to effect the steering wheel and the front axle becoming more noticeable. How often should your tires be rotated and balanced? To keep them in check with a regular maintenance schedule, have your tires rotated and balanced every other oil change -- 6,000-10,000 miles -- or unless you notice a vibration problem in between intervals.
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with help from an automotive technology professor in this free video on balancing car tires.