Wheel Balancing should be done with every maintenance cycle of your car. In other words, every 5000 or 10000 kilometers. When getting your timely oil change and spark plugs checked, pay some attention to your tire health as well.
Benefits of wheel balancing
Wheel balancing is a necessary maintenance task that:
- Extends the usable life of your tires.
- Improves ride quality and driving smoothness.
- Reduces wear and tear on your suspension.
When should I do wheel balancing?
Tires wear unevenly due to long hours of parking, pot holes, turning manoeuvres, skidding, off-roading, pot holes, punctures, cat eyes, speed bumps, rumble strips, and pot holes. Its also common to see the front tyres wear down quicker than the rear tires, especially if its a front wheel drive car.
After some usage, your tires are no longer perfectly round. These minor deformations are not visible to the eye, but cause the wheels to vibrate when they rotate. They also have some substantial mass that cause variations in the centripetal forces around the hub of the wheel attached to the car’s suspension.
The more your tires wear away and become imbalanced, the faster their deterioration also becomes due to the vibration and uneven wearing. Wheel balancing is therefore necessary to make them behave like they are perfectly round and symmetrical.
How is wheel balancing done
Wheel balancing involves placing small weights or counter-weights at various parts of the rim. This helps evenly distribute the centripetal forces around the hub when the wheel rotates. A wheel balancing machine helps technicians determine the additional weight required at different areas of the rim.
Do all 4 wheels need to be balanced?
Yes, all 4 wheels need to balance. A technician secures each wheel (one by one) onto the machine’s axle and pushes a button to make it spin at a high rotation speed. The machine then measures the level of imbalance and recommends the required weight to add (accurate to the nearest 5 grams) at a marked point.
The technician either glues the required weights to the inner side of the rim or hammers them between the tire and drum. The wheel is re-spun on the machine. This iterative process repeats until the machine shows the green screen indicating that the wheel is balanced.
Weights sometimes need to be removed depending on the condition of the tire and results of the machine. The technician judges whether the same balancing effect can be achieved by removing 5 grams of weight instead of adding 45 grams as per the machine’s recommendation.
See how this severly imbalanced tire required the application of four different weights.
The balanced wheels can now be bolted back onto the car.
Maybe its placebo, but the driver can detect a smoother drive after going through this process, especially if wheel balancing has never been done before.
Other ways to extend tire life
A typical set of tires can last between 80,000 to 100,000 kilometers depending on the tyre quality, driving behavior, tire maintenance, and road conditions. If the wheels are never balanced, some tyres could lose all their thread before reaching even 60,000 kilometers.
Swapping your front wheels and rear wheels every 30,000 kilometers is a good idea. This allows the front wheels, who are subject to turning friction, to get a break from wear and tear.
Your front tyres will wear out way before your rear ones if never swapped. This will causing you to replace all four tires as tire dealers rarely have the exact tires you want and coerce you into buying 4 new tires when you only need 2.
By swapping your wheels, all 4 tires can wear out evenly and you can therefore extract maximum possible usable life out of them.
Drive your car
Parking your vehicle for weeks at a time does not save your tires from ageing. Instead, it fatigues and deforms the tires. Tyres also get harder with age and exposure to the elements. To get the most mileage out of them, you have to keep them moving.