Last Updated on 11 months by Ollie Barker
If you’re experiencing excessive wheel wear on your tires, or if your vehicle is pulling to one side when it drives, then you should probably get an alignment. However, the question “should I balance my tires before an alignment?” is often arisen when it comes to this matter. In this post, I’ll give you the answer and whether your car needs tire balancing or alignment.
Should I Balance My Tires Before an Alignment
Technically, it’s always recommended to balance your tires before an alignment. Wheel balancing aims to recover the tire balance, whereas, tire alignment is done to adjust tire angle to the correct position. But in most cases, after around 8000km, you should balance your tires at least once.
What is a wheel alignment service?
A wheel alignment service is a maintenance procedure that ensures that all of your vehicle’s wheels are properly positioned in order to ensure optimum handling of your vehicle. The main components of the car that are adjusted during this procedure are the wheels and the tires.
Usually, the wheels will be positioned based on their centerline, while the tires may be rotated so that they wear evenly. An inspection is done to ensure that all components such as tread depth, wear pattern and tire pressure are within their acceptable limits.
A wheel alignment service is usually done overnight. This enables the technician to finish the entire process in one single appointment which saves you both time and money.
What is wheel balancing?
Wheel balancing is a process in which a wheel balancer places weights on your tires, and manual or electric tire weights are then used to balance them. This weighting allows the wheel balancer to measure how much your tires have lost their static balance, allowing him or her to adjust the amount of weight forward or rearward so that they will behave properly when driving. Just like in an alignment, all wheels are also aligned with their centerline.
However, a wheel alignment just ensures that your wheels are all aligned with each other whereas a wheel balance aims to make sure that the weight distribution of your tires is even so that they will behave properly when you drive.
Typically, a tire will balance best using rubber powdered weights (also called lead or anti-roll weights) and the type of weight that is used depends on the type of tire.
How do I know if I need a wheel alignment?
You should get an alignment once a year and the ideal time to do so will vary from car to car. However, if you notice that your steering is either too free or too tight, or if you feel that one wheel is hitting the ground more than the other when you drive, then it’s a good indicator that you need an alignment. A wheel alignment will correct these findings and ensure optimum handling of your vehicle.
Also, if your steering is loose or the handling of your car is too off, then it’s worth going for an alignment even if you’ve got one recently.
Another indicator of whether you need an alignment or not is to look at your tire wear. If you notice that one tire is wearing out faster than the other, then it’s a good indicator that your wheels are not aligned properly. An alignment will take care of this problem and make sure all your tires wear evenly.
How do I know if I need balancing?
If you’re experiencing excessive wheel wear, your tires may bring too much weight – even if you have them properly aligned. This will cause parts of your tire to wear easily and faster than others.
Also if you notice that your steering is not as stable as it used to be, particularly when you’re driving at high speeds, then it’s time for a wheel balance. A wheel balance will ensure that each part of the tire is weighted equally and that they are all in the right position when they are driving. A wheel balance can be done in the same way as an alignment, but it will take a few hours to complete. Still, this is considerably faster than an alignment when you stay home overnight.
The main purpose of balancing your tires is to make sure that each tire wears evenly so that they all match over time. However, there are other benefits as well. By balancing your wheels, you can make sure that all of your tires are in the best possible condition and ready for the road at any given time.
How much does it cost to balance and align tires?
These services can be beneficial for your car, however, many will claim that the cost of tire balancing and alignment are not the same. The two processes are very different and creating a comparison between the two is not possible without factoring in some important information. One of the things you will have to take into consideration is the weight of your vehicle and where it is located. If you are located in a location that experiences high temperatures or if your vehicle weighs more than 6,000 pounds, then these services can become quite costly.
Tire alignment is more expensive than tire balancing. The cost ranges from $100 to $200, depending on if you need a computerized alignment or a premium alignment (which is the case for European cars).
On a related note, the amount of money you will have to invest in your tires will vary as well. If you are planning on getting your tires balanced, then you may be required to pay a higher amount of money than what you would have had to pay if they were not getting balanced back at all. However, this is not always the case and many times, tire balancing services may be free or it may cost you $20-$80.
Can tire balance affect alignment?
No, the effects of balancing tires do not necessarily affect the alignment as the symptoms of these two are similar. The only difference between a tire balance and an alignment is that balancing your tires will make sure that your wheels are balanced with each other, but it will not align them with their centerline.
On the other hand, an alignment will ensure that all wheels are aligned with each other, which includes the centerline. Without proper maintenance, your tire balance can be affected by unwanted wear.
Is it okay to drive a car with unbalanced tires?
If your tires are not properly balanced, then driving your vehicle may be dangerous. Without proper balance, your tires will move at different speeds and will cause you to lose control of the car or even get into an accident. Not only that, but it can also cause the wheel bearings to fail due to uneven tire pressures, which can lead to metal fatigue. If all wheels in a vehicle are unbalanced, then it will affect both straight and handling as the unbalance in weight distribution will result in uneven tire wear.
It doesn’t matter if you balance or align your tires first since they do not affect each other. Balancing and aligning your vehicle is really beneficial to ensure that your tires wear evenly and that you have a safer ride. However, this does not mean that it is necessary for all vehicles. On the other hand, if you are traveling a lot or you live in an area where there are plenty of road hazards, then it might be a good idea to make sure that your tires are properly balanced as they will provide greater handling while driving.