Tire Balancing

What does it mean to “balance a tire”?

airdrie tire balancing
Example of a common wheel balancing machine.

Why do tires need balancing? What does that even mean? Let us explain: No tire (or the wheel that the tire is mounted on) is perfectly balanced. This means that as the tire spins, the “heavy spot” in the tire causes a vibration. (Think of how an unevenly-loaded washing machine shakes during the spin cycle.) Besides being uncomfortable, this vibration takes its toll on your vehicle – and even affects the life of the tire itself!

This is why it’s standard practice to balance new tires when they are installed. To accomplish this, we spin the tires on a wheel balancer; a machine that measures this imbalance and shows us where the heavy spots of the wheel/tire combination are. Then we attach wheel weights to the wheel, to cancel out these heavy spots and make the tire perfectly balanced.

How often should tires be balanced?

Most of the time, tires are balanced once when they are installed at the time of purchase, and no longer need attention after that. However, some tires’ centre of gravity will change a little over time as they wear, and they may need to be re-balanced over the following years. If a tire repeatedly comes out of balance, this usually indicates a structural defect such as a broken or shifting internal belt. 

Vibration at highway speeds?

airdrie tires
A balancing weight installed on a wheel. We only use premium weights, which are coated to prevent corrosion of your wheels.

How do you tell if your tires need balancing? The most common symptom of an out-of-balance tire is a vibration in your vehicle at higher speeds, such as on the highway. If your front tires are out of balance, you may experience a “shimmy” in your steering wheel at these speeds.

A high speed vibration may also be caused by a driveline problem such as a faulty axle shaft; worn universal joint; out-of-balance propeller shaft; etc. If your vehicle is shaking at higher speeds, we’ll probably start the diagnosis by checking your tire balance, but our skilled technicians will be able to rule out any other possible causes as well. 

Wheel balancing vs wheel alignment?

These two procedures are often mixed up. Wheel balancing involves correcting the balance of the tire & wheel, as described above. A wheel alignment is a process where we adjust your vehicle’s suspension, to prevent handling problems or uneven tire wear.

Many customers who are experiencing a high speed vibration or shake in their vehicle come to us asking for a wheel alignment, but this usually won’t fix their issue. These customers usually require a tire balancing instead.

Do trailer tires need balancing?

It’s common practice not to balance trailer tires in our industry. The thinking is, “Why bother? You won’t feel the trailer shaking.”

We balance all of the trailer tires that we install. Why? Besides the fact that it only takes a couple minutes, we feel that there are still benefits to balancing a trailer tire. A tire that vibrates up and down puts added stress on your trailer’s wheel bearings; bushings; and other suspension components. An out-of-balance tire can also start to wear unevenly, sometimes cupping the tread.

Balancing tires in Airdrie:

If you’re looking for a great quality tire balancing job in Airdrie, we can help! We use modern, accurate equipment to help ensure consistent measurements. Even more importantly, we achieve better-than-average results because our caring technicians take the time to make sure that the balancing job is perfect, not just “good enough”. Experience is another reason why you’ll usually receive a better balancing job from a journeyman technician at My Garage than you will at a department store or big name tire chain.