If you own a car you’re probably already aware that its tyres must be in good condition and have treads that aren’t worn, but you might not spend as much time thinking about your car’s wheels.
The wheels on your car are just as important as your tyres and need to be correctly balanced to avoid potential problems with your steering and suspension. Incorrectly balanced wheels can cause wear and tear to some of the other components in your car and can give you a bumpy and uncomfortable ride.
What is wheel balancing?
If you notice you have a problem with your suspension or you’ve never had your wheels balanced it’s a good idea to go to a garage or tyre specialist so they can take a look and solve or prevent any problems.
To balance your wheels, the mechanic will put your car on a machine that spins the wheels and a computer will look for any imbalances. If the computer finds your wheels are not balanced correctly it can tell the mechanic how to rectify the problem using weights.
What weights do they use?
Back when steel was used to make wheels, the weights were made of lead. These days however, most wheels are made from alloy, so lead weights are not practical. Instead, adhesive non-lead weights are used.
Why do they need to use weights?
To spin evenly a wheel must be the same all the way round. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to make an even wheel when you have to cut a hole in it for the air valve. You also need to take wear and tear of the tyre into consideration. Strategically adding small weights can counter these problems and keep your wheels balanced.
How do you know if your wheels need balancing?
One of the biggest tell-tale signs of incorrectly balanced wheels presents itself when you get the vehicle up to around forty miles per hour – if the car starts to shake at this point and the shaking gets worse as you speed up, it could be time to visit the tyre specialist for some wheel balancing.
When you get new tyres the fitter should balance your wheels for you as new tyres change the dynamics and can throw your wheels out of balance.
Will wheel balancing fix all vibration problems?
Not all vibration problems you experience when driving are caused by unbalanced wheels. If you’ve had your wheels balanced and your car is still shaking you could have a different problem. For instance, if you’ve hit a particularly bad pothole or mounted the kerb at speed you may have bent your wheel.
Why is balancing your wheels so important?
If you don’t keep your wheels balanced it can have a knock-on effect and cause wear and tear to your tyres and suspension. It can also affect the performance of your car, so it makes sense to ensure your wheels are always correctly balanced.