Last week, we learnt about wheel balancing, which is about the aligning the wheel angles so that they are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. Now, our attention must turn to wheel balancing which is often confused with alignment.
According to Safari Ndikumana, an engineer, wheel balancing provides a smoother ride by minimizing tyre bounce. This helps improve traction, steering control and extends the life of the tyres. But no matter how carefully wheels and tyres are balanced, they will eventually lose their balance.
Wheels that are out of balance generally produce a vibration that is uncomfortable to drive and results in premature wearing of suspension and steering components, rotating parts and tyres.
The speed at which the vibration first becomes apparent will vary depending on the size and weight of the tyres and wheels though usually between 50 and 70 mph.
Most high quality tyres will hold their balance fairly well and go out of balance very gradually. If you notice a vibration that was not there the day before, it is possible that one of the lead balancing weights fell off.
If you feel the vibration mostly in the steering wheel, the problem is most likely in a front wheel. A driver may not always sense an imbalance at the steering wheel. It could be present with but dampened by the vehicle weight.
This is why balancing is equally important for both front and rear wheels. The light weight of modern cars means that they do not dampen down the vibrations caused by spinning wheels in the way that older, heavier vehicles could.
Correctly balanced wheels help to eliminate vibration and avoid premature wear caused by an imbalance in the rotating wheel and tyre assembly.
As a result of wheel balancing, you should notice a smoother ride and better wear from your tyres, again saving you time and money.
However, feeding your car with new tyres every 10,000 to 30,000 miles is equally important. The wheel will consume the tyre tread over a period of time dependent upon its hunger level.
If you drive the car rather actively, the wheel will get very hungry and eat the tread very quickly. If your driving habits are more conservative, then your wheels will have less of an appetite and only pick at the tyre.