Saving Money with Scheduled Wheel Balance and Alignment
We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again: your wheels are the most important link between you and the road. In fact, they’re the only part of your car that connects you with the road, so proper maintenance of your wheels isn’t just important; it’s crucial. Taking care of your wheels is relatively easy and inexpensive yet a shocking amount of motorists neglect their wheel balance and alignment.
The Difference Between Wheel Balance and Alignment
If you’ve heard of balancing wheels or tire alignment, you may have assumed they were the same service when they’re actually different animals. Wheel balancing will occur with more frequency than alignment services. It’s standard for cars to have their wheels balanced during a routine tire rotation, but your car’s manual will have specifics on when this service should be scheduled. There are actually two different types of balances measured during calibration: dynamic (motion) and static (immobile) wheel balance. Aligning the wheels pertains to a re-positioning of the placement of your tires so that they adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended wheel angle. Tire alignment services are typically recommended every 10,000 miles but, again, this will be specified in your car’s user manual.
The Risks of Relying on Tires with No Maintenance
Driving on tires that aren’t properly balanced or aligned is a constant strain on the wallet. That’s because the improper positioning results in unnecessary resistance which in turns costs you more in gas. Much of this owes to pressure from the wheels pushing against one another, fighting each other as opposed to working as a team to get you where you’re going. The unnecessary friction also leads to uneven wear on your tires, meaning you’ll end up burning through them more quickly. Wearing out tires also opens the door on a whole host of risks related to blow-outs and the futility of braking with bald tires.
Symptoms of Tires Out of Alignment
Arguably the most common method of determining whether your wheels are out of alignment is whether your car drifts to one side or another when you’re driving straight on a smooth road. You may have even noticed a pull on the wheel as you’re driving. Some motorists describe driving in a straight line while the wheel is slightly turned at an angle or, in severe cases, steering wheel vibration. These are the hallmarks of poor alignment. You can also check the tread on your tires. Is one side of the tire showing more wear than the other? If so, you’re throwing money down the drain whenever you get behind the wheel until you get your wheels properly balanced and aligned. Likewise, if your tires were all purchased at the same time but one is showing more wear than another, you most likely have an alignment issue that needs to be addressed.
Proper maintenance of your wheel balance and tire alignment is typically an affordable process. Modern methods employ machines that help mechanics assess balance and alignment with precision and then correct both to perfection quickly. Investing in scheduled wheel maintenance services stand to save you a significant amount in the long run while also adding to the safety of your car.