Wheel Balancing

By David Sholicar

All wheels become unbalanced to some degree over time. At speed, a small anomaly in weight distribution is enough to generate vibration, pull the steering, or cause extra wear to tyres and suspension. In some cases, it even affects fuel consumption and braking distance.

mechanic balancing wheel

Why do wheels become unbalanced?

Even high-end cars with new premium tyres never have 100% uniform weight distribution. Anomalies as small as the air-valve ensure a degree of uneven mass, so from the outset wheel and tyre assemblies are checked for balance. Small weights are added and the tyres rotated to even out the imperfections.
As soon as the tyres are on the road they begin to wear and suffer impacts which introduce new imbalances. Just parking for extended periods can flatten tyres on one side.
Our tyre professionals never advise you to buy unbranded tyres or retreads. They often introduce weight anomalies due to imperfect internal bracing or because they aren’t entirely round. Replacement tyres always have a different weight distribution, so should always be rebalanced.

Signs you need a rebalance

You may a vibration, pulsation or less comfortable ride at particular speeds. Sometimes it becomes noticeable only at speeds over 60, but it is also common to encounter it between 40-50 mph and it then disappears at higher speeds.
Good suspension can conceal the fact that your wheels are becoming unbalanced. For that reason, have them checked every 10,000 miles, or annually. Even if a more serious cause is discovered, early remedial action can save you money long-term by preventing worse tyre and suspension degradation.
Wheel imbalance can also give itself away when you check your tyres as it often causes uneven tyre wear. Both the original imbalance and the worn tyres then accelerate wear on bearings and tie-rods, reduce your fuel economy and degrade your steering and braking performance. Our tyre professionals are always happy to provide quick tyre checks without charge.

Book front toe wheel alignment online with Protyre

Protyre offer wheel balancing at many of our garages. Click the button below to book your vehicle in today.

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Some people will tell you that you can balance your own wheels at home by applying a single weight to balance a wheel’s light spot. This is only true on narrow wheels such as those on vintage cars or smaller motorcycles. Modern car tyres need dynamic balancing to rectify both vertical and lateral anomalies. This involves locating at least two counter-weights and requires modern equipment to do successfully. The exact position for the weights is usually determined with laser guidance. Occasionally wheel balancing can also involve repositioning a tyre on its rim.

Upgrading tyres

Better tyres are generally better balanced to begin with, but tyres optimised for handling performance are not always the most hard-wearing. Tougher tyres will resist uneven wear for longer. Nevertheless, if imbalance seems to be a recurring problem a tyre upgrade could be part of your solution.
Michelins have a good reputation for durability but are expensive. Falken tyres such as the ZE912 and ZE310 will offer higher mileage per pound. The Falken Ziex ZE310 Ecorun is XL rated and this usually goes with better durability. The Falken Sincera SN832 Ecorun is another one to consider.

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Wheel alignment

Wheel balance and wheel alignment are not the same thing, but can cause similar symptoms. It’s a good idea to have your alignment checked before you have them balanced.

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About the author

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By David Sholicar
David is the National Retail Operations Manager for Protyre. One of David’s areas of responsibility and expertise is dealing with the DVSA and MOT’s for Protyre. As the Authorised Examiner Designate Manager ( AEDM ) David deals with applications for changes to the many Vehicle Testing Stations ( VTS’s) including managing the growth of the Number of MOT testing stations that Protyre operate, allocating MOT tester roles, and monitoring the MOT Test logs to ensure that Protyre MOT standards are maintained as the best in the industry.
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