Unbalanced tires are a common occurrence in older vehicles, cars that are frequently driven, and those who have undergone serious accidents. In addition, unbalanced tires can happen from just excessive driving without bringing your vehicle to a mechanic for the required check-in and tune-up. Let’s see why tires are so important, and how you can prevent unbalanced tires.
Why your car tires are so important
As you might know, your tires matter a lot in your vehicle. Keeping your tires and wheels in good condition is key to your car’s longevity and the smooth-riding of your car. There are four main reasons why you need to keep your tires in balance and prevent unbalanced tires.
First, your tires play an essential role in the safety of your car. If you have driven too long on your tires and they have broken down over consistent use, you might be putting yourself and passengers at risk of a crash. Each tire supports a quarter of your vehicle’s weight, so even if one tire is compromised, it can affect your vehicle very quickly and lead to unbalanced tires.
The second important function of your tire is the efficiency of your car. The tires have to keep your car moving smoothly. If your tires are worn down, it can cause you to waste a lot of money on fuel. When your tires are off, and you have unbalanced tires, it will be difficult for the tires to maintain consistent contact with the road.
In addition, when your tires have good tread and are properly balanced, you can feel that your car is running smoothly. However, if your tires are damaged, and you feel vibrations or pulling, this means that the performance of your car has deteriorated due to unbalanced tires. This causes the ride to be less smooth and causes a drop in performance.
Lastly, getting maximum traction on your tires affects almost everything that is related to driving performance. Mainly, it ensures that you stay in control of your car even when you are in severe conditions and prevent unbalanced tires.
Tire Balancing Procedure
Tire balancing corrects the uneven distribution of weight in your car and can help with unbalanced tires’ common problems. The tire balancing procedures help fix the wheels’ weight since imbalanced wheels can lead to excessive vibration, uneven tire wear, unbalanced tires, suspension damage, and other problems that become more severe and expensive over time.
During a tire balance service to remedy the unbalanced tires, your tires and wheels are both mounted onto a tire balancing machine. The machine spins the tire and the wheel assembly to measure the imbalance so that a technician can install the right size tire weights to get a properly balanced wheel and tire assembly. Usually, the wheel alignment and balancing happen during the same service to save some labor costs on the unbalanced tire procedure.
Signs your tires need balancing
Uneven tire wear and excess vibration in the steering wheel, the floorboard, or the seat can show that it is time for tire balancing to remedy the unbalanced tires. You might also want to have your tires balanced during a rotation, after a flat tire repair, or as a part of your scheduled maintenance and repairs. These signs can show that your tires are out of balance.
Usually, the part of your car that is vibrating and having the most movement indicates to the driver where exactly needs balancing. The fix’s location depends on the location of the vibrations, such as whether it is the front or back wheels. If the vibrations are occurring in the steering wheel, this is likely a sign that your front tires are out of balance. If the vibrations are originating from the setas, this shows that the unbalanced tires are in the rear of the vehicle.
How tires become unbalanced
Your tires can become unbalanced due to a wide variety of reasons, with one reason being the weather that you are driving in. Cold air causes tire deflation since the air particles have trouble with the tire contract and the tread wear. However, sometimes the tire can deflate so much that you are driving around on unbalanced tires.
Another huge reason for unbalanced tires is the loss of wheel weight. This can happen when you are driving at high speeds on the highway and hit uneven terrain, like a speed bump, a sidewalk curb, a pothole, or another object on the road.
What is a wheel alignment?
Wheel alignment sometimes can be referred to as tracking and is a part of standard car maintenance. A wheel alignment consists of adjusting the wheel angles to the car manufacturer’s unique specifications, meaning the exact wheel alignment will depend on what kind of car you have. This can prevent unbalanced tires in your vehicle.
Purpose of Wheel Alignment
The purpose of making a wheel alignment adjustment is to reduce tire wear, preventing uneven wear, ensuring that the vehicle is in line, and making sure the vehicle rolls straight and evenly. The wheel alignment makes sure the tires are not lopsided, leading to uneven tire wear and a quicker breakdown of the tires. Without this service, you will have unbalanced tires. This also can prevent the car from pulling to one side when you are trying to steer your vehicle in one straight line.
Wheel Alignment Technology
The alignment angle can be changed to accept the maker’s specifications and ensure that it goes with the right markers. More modern vehicles today have driver assistance systems like electronic stability, anti-lock brakes, lane departure warnings, and traction control, with these systems depending on and also aiding in mechanical adjustments and wheel alignments. This technology used in the wheel alignment ensures that your car does not have unbalanced tires.
Wheel Alignment Procedure
The wheel alignment process involves measuring and restoring the wheel alignment and the factory settings to three angles within your vehicle’s suspension system. The first angle involved in the wheel alignment is the Camber angle, with the vertical tilt of the wheel’s side in relation to the vehicle’s side. The Camber angle is instrumental in ensuring the unbalanced tires do not get any worse.
The second angle relates to the caster angle, which is the steering axis’s tilt when viewed from the vehicle’s side. The last angle is the Toe angle, which is the lateral tilt of the wheel’s side in relation to the vehicle when viewed from above. Both the Camber and Toe angles prevent the tires from being unbalanced and wearing unevenly.
These angles and the wheel alignment means that you will definitely need to take your car to a mechanic so they can obtain the factory setting angles for your car and ensure that you do not set your wheel alignment to the wrong angles.
Signs of Bad Wheel Alignment
There are many causes and signs that show that the wheel alignment is uneven.
- The vehicle pulls to one side, with the car driving in a crooked line when you don’t have your hands on the steering wheel.
- The steering wheel doesn’t return to the center after being led to one side.
- The steering wheel is in its resting position off-center.
- Excessive tire break down in certain spots due to the tires wearing down unevenly.
- Loose steering.
Causes of Bad Wheel Alignment
These following tread wear types are the reason for uneven wheel alignment and unbalanced tires in your vehicle.
The tires are “feathered” when the tread is smooth and even on one side, but sharp and uneven on the other. This is usually the cause of poor toe alignment and the wrong toe angle as we talked about, leading to unbalanced tires.
The inside or outside of the tread is much more worn than the very center of the tread. A poor camber angle can cause this type of wear, as you might have guessed. Paying for a wheel alignment cost can ensure this type of camber angle gets fixed properly.
-Heel and Toe Wear
This happens when one side of your tread blocks wear down faster than the other sides. When you feel the tread, it will look and feel very rough when viewed or felt from the side. The heel and toe wear can be a sign and reason of under inflation or a lack of turning and rotation in your wheels.
Symptoms of Unbalanced Tires on Your Car
Even though your tires are frequently overlooked, they are very important pieces of your car. Even though you might think that all tires are cylindrical and symmetrical without any faults, sometimes the tires can become unbalanced due to extreme wear and tear. Unbalanced tires can cause an unsmooth ride and cause the ride to feel very bumpy.
Luckily for the driver, it is usually apparent when your tires are unbalanced, as you will quickly notice signs.
If you have unbalanced tires, then one of the first signs and symptoms you will feel is the vibration in the steering wheel. Even just a little bit off-balance or uneven weight can cause the vibration to be noticeable to the driver. Not only will the vibrations be noticeable and annoying, but the tire imbalance will worsen as time goes on, leading to a worse vibration. This means that every passenger and the entire cabin will feel the vibrations through the floorboards and front seats.
Having unbalanced tires can create a bumpy and unsmooth ride, leading to an uncomfortable driving scenario for most drivers. This makes steering more difficult and delays the wheel’s response time, meaning you need to turn the car much sooner than you normally would. In addition, you will not be able to keep your car in a smooth line due to the steering issues from unbalanced tires.
Uneven tire wear
Unbalanced tires are synonymous with uneven tire wear, as the tire treads can break down at different rates. Looking at the tire treads can tell you why and how your tires are unbalanced. The unseen wear can be caused by unbalanced tires or by issues with the steering system or the suspension. If you let this go on for too long, the car is at a higher risk for a flat tire due to the thinner tires.
Poor Fuel Economy
Another sign that you have unbalanced tires is poor fuel economy. Since the unbalanced tires and uneven tire wear will place more strain on your car, the resistance creates a harder time for the car to move, leading to higher fuel consumption. When you start using more fuel than normal, you need to check your tires for any imbalances or underinflation issues. Make sure you check your tires, as sometimes the tire pressure light will not come on at the right time.
Bad Shocks and Bearings
The final sign of unbalanced tires is the components of the wheel assembly not acting correctly. If the tires are not fixed quickly, you will have to replace many other components, like the shocks, springs, and bearings.
As you can see, unbalanced tires can lead to numerous problems within your vehicle that can cause extensive damage. By checking your tires signs and listening to the signs of fuel economy, bad shocks and bearings, poor steering, vibrations, and uneven tire wear, you can prevent this issue from hurting other parts of your car.