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What Is the Difference Between Wheel Alignment and Balancing?

what is the difference between wheel alignment and balancing

If you are searching for “what is the difference between wheel alignment and balancing?” the wheel alignment refers to correcting the tires’ angles as they contact the road. On the other hand, wheel balancing refers to correcting any weight imbalance issues on the tires.

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Your vehicle's wheels are extremely critical components because they have to deal with how you contact the road and how you can successfully control your car. Each wheel must point a certain direction and roll out straight; otherwise, you can get in severe car accidents in seconds.

Maintaining the proper wheel direction and rolling requires specific wheel servicing, referred to as wheel alignment and wheel balancing. However, it can be tricky for some inexperienced drivers to differentiate between the two types of Services.

This article provides you with a detailed explanation of the main difference between wheel alignment and balancing. It also explains to you whether your car requires a wheel alignment or balancing. Finally, the article highlights rough estimates about how much it will cost you to perform vehicle alignment versus vehicle balancing.

What is the difference between wheel alignment and balancing?

Although wheel alignment and balancing aim to improve how your wheels perform and enhance the interaction with the roads, they are different services.

Let's take a closer look at the main difference between wheel alignment and balancing:

  1. Wheel alignment

Wheel alignment refers to the mechanic or the technician fixing and adjusting the suspension system to the wheels. In other words, wheel alignment has not involved any adjustment to the wheels or the tires themselves.

Typically, ignoring wheel alignment results in problems with vehicle vibration and car veering towards one side more than the other.

Common signs indicate that your vehicle is due for wheel alignment, including:

Troubles with a car pulling to one side more than the other

As we indicated earlier, whenever you notice that your car requires you to keep holding the steering wheel, so it doesn't go to one side more than the other, it's an alignment issue. Therefore, you must consult your mechanic and get the vehicles aligned immediately before getting involved in major car accidents if you let the steering wheel go without noticing.

Issues with the steering wheel balance

If you were driving on a straight road in a flat area, your steering wheel should be even positioned to the center. Take a closer look at the steering wheel and monitor its direction. If you realize that it's not right of the center, it indicates that your car is due for wheel alignment.

Problems with loose steering

The steering wheel should not be sloppy or loose, and whenever you notice any of these issues, it is most likely that your vehicle due for wheel alignment. However, keep in mind that a sloppy or loose steering wheel does not necessarily mean an alignment issue and could be linked to something else. Therefore, you cannot confirm unless you consult with the mechanic and have him perform a thorough inspection to confirm the issue.

Whether the issue is related to their steering wheel or the wheel alignments, you must take her care of it immediately because the steering wheel has to do with how you control the vehicle. If it's not doing its job, then there's a very high chance that you are dealing with safety issues.

Vibration in the steering wheel

Like the loose and sloppy steering wheel, if your stealing wheel is vibrating every time you are driving and accelerating, the problem can be related to issues with alignment.

Issues with uneven wear in the tires

To further confirm that you have equals do for alignment, you can take a closer look at the tires and monitor how the tire wear looks to you. The four tires must have similar tire wear. Otherwise, you might have a problem with vehicle alignment or probably issues with the tire pressure. Again, to confirm that the issue is related to the alignment, your mechanic needs to look in detail and let you know.

  1. Wheel balancing

Wheel balancing and tire balancing refer to the same type of service. When your mechanic performs wheel balancing, he corrects any imbalance issues on your vehicle tires.

Your vehicle's weight must be distributed evenly among all heels and, therefore, all tires. However, due to some bias issues and probably over time of use, this balance might get disturbed. As a result, you must consult your mechanic and perform the vehicle balancing.

When the vehicle does not have the right wheel balance, there is a very high chance that you'll deal with significant problems with the wheels themselves and the tires, the suspension system, and other important components.

Wheel balancing requires a specific type of tool that you might not have at home. As a result, most real balancing happens at either small independent shops or dealerships compared to being done at home, like common car maintenance and repairs.

During the wheel balancing process, your mechanic connects the wheels and the tires to a specific machine that spins the wheel assembly and the tires to determine the exact balance issues. With that, your mechanic uses the results from the machine to correct the imbalance problem until the vehicle is fully balanced.

What makes the difference between wheel alignment and balancing a little tricky is that the two jobs are typically done at the same service.

Interestingly, some of the common signs indicating that your vehicles are due for wheel balancing are similar to those indicating that your car needs a wheel alignment. Therefore, whenever you notice the following signs, you must consult the mechanic and confirm that your car needs wheel alignment versus bouncing.

Steering wheel vibration

When the weight is not evenly distributed among the vehicle tires, you will also notice some steering wheel vibration.

Troubles controlling the steering wheel

Another common symptom indicating that your vehicle is due for wheel balancing is when you are not comfortable controlling the steering wheel. In other words, you might find it a little tougher to control and steer the vehicle smoothly. But, of course, without fully controlling the car, there's a very high chance that you can get yourself involved in major car accidents and other safety issues.

Issues with uneven wear on the tires

When the car leans to one side more than the other or when most of the vehicles wait to go to one tire more than the rest, you'll see that this tire is worn out prematurely before the other tires. Thoughts, whenever you notice that it is important that's you perform vehicle balancing.

Keep in mind that when one tire goes bad, you will most likely either replace two tires at the same time or probably the four tires. So before, if you don't want to waste money on unnecessary repair balancing, you must do so and maintain the right wheel balancing.

Issues with fuel economy

The vehicle is designed so that the weight should be distributed evenly among all wheels and tires. When the vehicle doesn't have the right balance, there is a very high chance of stressing out the car and consuming more fuel than before.

Those, if you realize that you're visiting the gas station more frequently than before, you should consider inspecting the wheel balancing. However, consuming more fuel is not always linked to wheel alignment balancing issues, which means that you cannot immediately go ahead and perform wheel balancing without confirming.

Premature damages in the bearings and shocks

When the weight of your vehicles is not distributed evenly, there's a very high chance that some of the internal components of the suspension system might get damaged prematurely. Those components are typically the ones where the vehicle is leaning the most.

When the suspension system's important components like the bearings or the shocks are damaged, you'll notice some other symptoms bringing your attention to take immediate action and resolve the issue before it gets more complicated and requires higher repair costs.

How much does it cost to perform wheel alignment versus wheel balancing?

Interestingly, there is no huge difference between the costs for performing wheel alignment versus wheel balancing. Typically, believe alignment should cost somewhere between $65 and $100. In contrast, the wheel balancing should cost somewhere between $30 and $100.

It is important to note that costs differ significantly depending on where you get the job is done here. That's why many people get their wheel alignment and balancing done at a small independent shop versus going to a dealership.

However, if you're driving or laundry a vehicle, sometimes it might be worth having it done by experts who know the car and know the brand well. This way, you don't have to worry about anything introduced by mistakes that could damage the suspension system and therefore cost you a lot of money.

Unfortunately, wheel alignment and balancing is not something you can do at home because it requires certain machines and tools, as we indicated before. Thus, if you're thinking of eliminating labor costs, that could not happen, and this type of character

Can I drive my car if it needs alignment or balancing?

It is never a good idea to continue driving your vehicle if it has issues with alignment or balancing. There are many negative consequences that you might encounter, including:

  • You won't be able to successfully handle the car, which might put you in major car accidents


  • When the car is not fully balanced or alliance, a lot of stress is put on the suspension system and other components that might be more expensive than performing a simple car balancing or alignment


  • When balancing issues are very extreme, you might deal with some extreme damages in the steering system, which also require very high repair costs


  • Ignoring the vehicle alignment and balancing impact the vehicle's performance, which you'll notice every time you try to accelerate. This can be extremely critical if you're driving on the highways continuously


  • A vehicle that is not fully balanced or has issues with alignment uses more fuel, which means a significant reduction in the fuel economy without achieving the right level of performance



One of the first questions we received from new drivers is “what is the difference between wheel alignment and balancing?” Unfortunately, since the tool services target the same components, it can be tricky to differentiate between them.

Wheel alignment refers to the process where your mechanic fixes and adjusts the suspension system and how it's connected to the wheels. However, wheel balancing refers to the process where your mechanic adjusts the wheels and tires themselves. Both wheel balancing and alignment aim to enhance how your vehicle rolls and improves how your car's weight is distributed among the different wheels.

When your car has major mechanical problems, fixing the wheels and maintaining the right balancing or alignment might not be the best solution. In other words, if your car requires extremely high repair costs, it might be worth selling your vehicle and using its money towards a better car that doesn't have any issue.

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