Tire balancing, also called wheel balancing, is an important part of buying tires and getting more miles out of a set of tires—and also a very misunderstood car maintenance task. That’s why we’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions about tire balancing—and a few questions car owners don’t ask, but should.
What is tire balancing?
Tire balancing is the process of ensuring that the tires are spinning evenly (balanced). During tire balancing, the tires and rims are removed from the vehicle and analyzed on a specialized machine. Based on the data, weights are strategically attached to the rim to balance the tire. These weights are typically made of a metal alloy, such as lead or zinc. Tire balancing should be done by an experienced technician; contact a local mechanic with the tire balancing equipment to ensure the process is done properly.
Why do tires need to be balanced?
Tires and wheels, even when brand new, are never perfectly round. The combination of a not-perfect tire and rim creates an imbalance, causing a strong vibration at high speeds (such as on highways), loud ride, and uneven tire wear. Tires that wear unevenly can be prone to random flats and premature tire replacement. Put simply, tires that wear down to the tire tread bars on the outside or inside may need to be replaced even if the rest of the tire tread is adequate, costing the owner more throughout the life of the vehicle.
How often do tires need balancing?
Contact a mechanic to balance tires whenever purchasing a new set (use this guide to buy the right set of tires). Tires should be balanced throughout the life of the tires. Goodyear recommends that tires should be balanced every 3-6,000 miles.
How can I tell if my tires need to be balanced?
There are some obvious signs that a set of tires needs to be balanced. Drivers driving with unbalanced tires notice a shake in the steering wheel and floorboard when traveling at higher speeds. Mechanics can also notice uneven tire wear when rotating tires. Regular tire rotations are another important step car owners should take to get more miles out of the tires and ensure even tire wear; an appointment for tire rotation should be made every 5-8,000 miles.