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What is the difference between Wheel Alignment vs Wheel Balancing?

Wheel Alignment

Wheel Alignment is the process of adjusting the angles of the wheels so that they are making contact with the ground evenly as well as parallel to each other. Why align the wheels? The purpose of these adjustments is to maximize tire life and to keep the vehicle tracking straight when driving.
Wheel Balancing insures that the tires and wheels spin correctly and without vibration. Balancing is accomplished by checking for any heavy spots on the wheel and or tire and making allowances for it by placing weights in specific spots on the wheel.

    The sign of alignment problems are:
  • Uneven or accelerated tire wear
  • Pulling or drifting from a straight line
  • Wandering on a straight level road
  • Steering wheel off center while driving on a straight, level road.
    The signs of a balance issue are:
  • Steering wheel vibration at certain speeds.
  • General vibration at certain speeds.
  • Scalloped or cupped wear on the tire surface

Wheel Alignment: Check each tire for uneven wear patterns. Some times visible patterns can indicate that it may be too late to save the tire. We recommend regular alignment checks to avoid this issue.

  • At each tire, take a coin or small ruler and insert it in the tread at the inside, center and outside.
  • If the tread is deeper on the edges than in the center, the tire is over inflated.
  • If the tread is deeper in the center than at the edges, the tire is under inflated.
  • If the tread is deeper on one side than the other, your alignment is an issue, have it checked immediately.

Run your hand back and forth across the tread, checking for uneven surfaces. If the tread is smooth in one direction, but jagged in the other you have what is called a "feathered" wear pattern caused by incorrect alignment angles. Check alignment as soon as possible to avoid rapid tire wear.

If wear patterns are pronounced ask your alignment specialist for advice. Aligned and balanced wheels are critical to the maneuverability of your vehicle as well as your safety on the road. Save money, save time, keep safe.

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