According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of all car crashes caused by mechanical failure, at least 35% are linked to tire problems. Improper maintenance of your car’s tires puts you and your passengers at risk while on the road.
However, tire maintenance goes beyond inflating tires and checking treads. Tire alignment and balancing are also essential aspects of car maintenance.
What exactly are tire alignment and balancing? This article will discuss these two car maintenance activities, so you’ll know which one your car needs.
What Is Tire Alignment?
Tire alignment (commonly known as wheel alignment) involves adjusting or aligning your vehicle’s suspension system. Despite the name, it has little to do with the actual tires. What tire alignment does is reset the angle of the wheels to its default position of pointing forward by adjusting the car’s suspension.
When Is Wheel or Tire Alignment Needed?
Tires tend to misalign over time and after frequent usage. Placing too much strain on the car’s axle, taking too many sharp turns, and driving over potholes are common causes of tire misalignment. Some of the signs associated with misaligned tires include:
- Constantly veering to the right or left
- Tire treads are wearing out quickly and unevenly
- Vibrations on the steering wheel while driving
- The steering wheel is off-center.
Consider getting your vehicle checked immediately after noticing any of these signs to prevent accidents or any further damage to your car. It’s also best practice to have your vehicle aligned after getting new tires and at least once every two years.
How Long Does A Wheel Alignment Take?
On average, wheel or tire alignment can take at least an hour to complete. The time varies depending on any other car issues that need to be addressed. The process itself is straightforward. It involves a few minutes of tire and suspension check-ups. Your car will then be hooked to a wheel alignment machine, and the mechanic will proceed with aligning the tires.
How Much Does Tire Alignment Cost?
Tire alignment may range from $100 to $150 for a four-wheel alignment and $50 to $75 for front-end alignments. The price can vary depending on the type and brand of your car. Some car care facilities may offer a lifetime package for $200, which lets you get a scheduled alignment every 6,000 miles. Consider asking your trusted auto care professionals if they provide this service.
What is Tire Balancing?
Tire balancing is about correcting the uneven distribution of weight present in your car tires. If balanced correctly, your wheels will roll efficiently and make your driving experience smoother. Tire balancing will also help your wheels wear naturally and evenly, making them last longer.
Frequently changing and repairing wheels can be a sign of an unbalanced tire.
When Should You Balance Your Tires?
Frequently changing and repairing wheels can be a sign of unbalanced tires. Significant weight imbalances can put pressure on some of your tires and cause them to wear faster than usual. Violent vibrations in your car’s steering wheel and floorboards can also be signs of an imbalance.
Daily vehicle wear and tear contributes to wheel imbalance, so it’s recommended to have them balanced every 5,000 miles or at least once every two years.
How Long Does Tire Balancing Take?
Tire balancing can take at least 1 to 2 hours and even longer, depending on the quality of the wheels. Tire balancing is a precision-based service that makes sure the weight is as balanced as possible.
The process involves mounting your wheels on a tire balancing machine. The machine will spin the tires to measure the imbalance. Based on the results, the mechanic will carefully balance the tires by adding weights. New tires tend to be easier to balance compared to older and used tires.
How Much Does Tire Balancing Cost?
Most auto care services charge $6 to $20 to balance one tire. You can expect to pay $24 to $80 to have all four tires balanced. Depending on where you bought your new tires, some stores offer free tire balancing services with their partner auto care shops. It may be helpful to inquire about the availability of this service first.
Properly maintaining your vehicle’s tires is essential to having peace of mind on the road. If you notice any of the symptoms of a problematic tire, visit a trusted auto care professional to correct any issues immediately.
Auto Works of Brandon has experienced and certified technicians who can help you with your car tire problems. If you plan to have your tires aligned or balanced, contact us today to set an appointment and have our experts bring your vehicle back in tip-top shape.