Tyre balancing consists of distributing the weight of the wheels evenly and precisely around their axis of rotation. This operation is only carried out by a professional in a car centre when new tyres are fitted. However, certain symptoms may indicate a balancing problem and require intervention. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and learn some things you need to know about tyre balancing.
1. What does balancing a tyre involve?
Tyre balancing is the process of distributing the weight of a wheel evenly around its axis of rotation. The distribution of a tyre’s mass is never perfect, and this is true for all makes of tyres. In concrete terms, balancing is carried out by a car professional who mounts counterweights on the rim of your tyre in order to compensate for any imbalance.
This is not to be confused with wheel alignment, which is the adjustment of the angle and alignment of a wheel. Balancing and alignment are, however, part of the set of interventions related to the geometry of your vehicle.
2. How is a tyre balanced?
Tyre balancing is done with a machine called a balancing machine. This is a professional tool: you cannot balance your tyres yourself. In order to counteract the imbalance of the wheel, the mechanic will mount weights on your rim. The balancing machine will detect the unbalance of the wheel by rotating it. The place where the weights are to be fitted is marked with a laser beam. After this, the mechanic can then proceed to balance the tyre.
3. When should a tyre be balanced?
A tyre balancing is always carried out when you buy new tyres or change a tyre after a puncture. To maintain them correctly, it is preferable to have your tyres, and their geometry (parallelism, balance…) inspected every year or every 15,000 kilometres on average, but their condition will depend above all on your driving.
4. What are the symptoms of a defective tyre balance?
Balancing is done at the time of tyre change, but there are some symptoms that may indicate a balancing problem that needs to be addressed without delay:
- Premature wear of your tyres, steering or suspension.
- Vibrations when you drive: If the vibrations are coming from the steering wheel, it means that the problem is with the front tyres. If the vibration is coming from your seat, it’s the rear tyres.
If you experience these symptoms, go to a garage to check your alignment and tyre balance. If necessary, the mechanic will intervene to fix the problem.
5. Why balance a tyre?
Balancing a tyre means optimizing its performance and avoiding premature wear. A new tyre always has some sort of mass that unbalances the whole wheel, moving its centre of gravity. If not balanced, the mass will cause the wheel to vibrate when you move. These vibrations can affect not only your tyres but also your suspension or steering system.
In addition to affecting your driving comfort, improper balancing can put you at risk. You will not be able to do this yourself, as it requires special tools and machines that are only available in a garage or car centre. There are two methods of balancing:
- Static balancing: this technique consists of installing counterweights opposite the mass causing the imbalance. However, it has its flaws, as the wheel can still be out of balance once it is rotating.
- Dynamic balancing: This technique requires the use of a balancing machine, which tells the mechanic which weights to use and where to place them depending on the type of rim (iron or aluminum).
On iron rims, the weights will be installed on the rim near the tyre joint, while on an aluminum rim, they will be placed on the inside.
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