‘Wheel alignment’ is often confused with ‘wheel balancing’. Although they both affect ride and handling they are otherwise unrelated.
If a wheel is out of balance, it will cause vibration at highway speeds that can be felt in the steering wheel and/or the seat.
If the alignment is out, it can cause excessive tyre wear and steering or tracking problems.
Does your vehicle need a wheel alignment?
To find out if your vehicle needs a wheel alignment, you can check each tyre and look for uneven wear patterns. However, if you can already see wear, it may be too late to save that tyre. This is why it is a good idea to have your wheel alignment checked periodically.
Proper wheel alignment is important for a number of reasons.
Reduced tyre wear
Improper alignment is a major cause of premature tyre wear. Over the years, proper wheel alignment can add thousands of kilometres to tyre life.
A suspension system inspection is part of our alignment procedure. This allows us to spot worn parts before they cause dangerous and costly problems.
Does your car pull to one side? Does the steering wheel vibrate? Do you constantly have to move the steering wheel to keep your car travelling straight ahead? Many handling problems can be corrected by total alignment. With all the system components aligned properly, road shock is more efficiently absorbed for a smoother ride.
Front and rear wheel balancing
Most high-quality tyres will hold their balance fairly well and go out of balance very gradually. Out-of-balance tyres will cause a vehicle to vibrate at certain speeds, usually over 50 km/h. If you feel the vibration mostly in the steering wheel, the problem is most likely in a front wheel. If the vibration is mostly in the seat, the problem is probably in a rear wheel.
A tyre is out of balance when one section of the tyre is heavier than the rest. One ounce of imbalance on a front tyre is enough to cause a noticeable vibration in the steering wheel at about 60km/h. If you notice a vibration that wasn’t there the day before, it is possible that one of the lead balancing weights has fallen off.
To balance a wheel, our technician will mount it on a balancing machine that spins the wheel to locate the heavier part. He will then compensate for the heavy part by attaching a lead weight on the opposite side. Many people are pleasantly surprised at how smooth their car drives after balancing all four wheels.