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  • Writer's pictureBig Wheels

The difference between wheel balancing & wheel alignments

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

While many people get the two confused, wheel balancing and wheel alignments are very distinct mechanical issues that require distinct treatment in order to maintain optimal driving performance.

To make things more confusing, they even share some of the same indicating issues which can make it difficult for untrained persons to identify where the issue is coming from.

To help you determine whether your vehicle requires wheel balancing or a wheel alignment, let’s take a look at the definition for each issue and how to tell whether your vehicle is experiencing their symptoms.

What is wheel balancing?

Wheel balancing is the process of balancing the weight of your wheel to ensure that it travels evenly as it rotates around itself. There are two planes your wheels may be unbalanced from; the rotational plane (which, when unbalanced, will cause the wheels to bounce up and down) and the lateral plane (which will cause the wheels to bounce side to side).

Benefits of tyre balancing

· Reduced vibrations for a smooth ride

· Improved traction when driving

· Even wear on front and rear wheels

· Improved fuel economy

· Safer driving

How to tell if you need a tyre balance?

Unbalanced wheels experience uneven weight distribution, resulting in a vibrating steering wheel when travelling at high speeds or a particularly bumpy ride when driving on smooth surfaces. You may also notice uneven or unwarranted wear on your tyres.

If you’ve noticed the above-mentioned signs, there’s a good chance that your vehicle requires balancing. However, it’s important to note that a wheel imbalance is not always detectable by simply driving your vehicle, so it’s advised that you get it looked at by a professional at regular intervals.

At Big Wheels, we use both on- and off-vehicle wheel balancing machines in order to statically and dynamically balance wheels and rims. We’ll also thoroughly inspect the vehicle to determine if an underlying issue is causing the wheels to become unbalanced.

With the ability to service tyres up to 46” and rims up to 26” diameter, Big Wheels can handle balancing needs of 4WD’s right up to large commercial freight trucks.

Depending on the type of vehicle you have and the frequency at which it is driven, we recommend having your vehicle balanced around every 10,000kms or 6 months. However, it’s always beneficial to speak with your local Big Wheels store to get more specific information for your vehicle.

What is a wheel alignment?

While wheel balancing refers to the rotation of your tyres, a wheel alignment involves adjusting your steering wheel and tyres to operate in a forward-facing position.

Benefits of wheel alignments:

· Improved fuel economy

· Extended life of tyres

· Reduced wear and tear

· Reduced mechanical repair frequency and costs

· Better stability when driving

· Reduced stress on your vehicle

How to tell if you need a wheel alignment?

There are a number of ways to tell that your vehicle requires an alignment, although some will be more apparent to the driver than others. To help identify a required wheel alignment, look out for things like steering pulling to one side, uneven or disproportionate tyre wear, vibrating steering wheel and loose or unsteady steering and suspension.

If any of these signs sound familiar to your vehicle, it is recommended that you get your wheel alignment checked as soon as possible.

Our state-of-the-art wheel alignment system allows us to calibrate your alignment to exact degrees for a more accurate service. Using laser alignment equipment, combined with a comprehensive safety and suspension audit of your truck or machinery, our expert team can guarantee the quality of your alignment every time.

To ensure the wheels remain in good working condition for longer periods of time, we recommend having a wheel alignment service around every 8,000kms or every 6 months. As always, driving conditions and frequency of use will alter this average, so it’s a good idea to chat to one of our experts for more specific information about your vehicle.

Big Wheels Truck Alignment has been balancing and aligning wheels since 1984, making us one of the oldest and most experienced alignment companies in Australia. Chat with one of our Australia-wide locations and keep your vehicle on the road longer with a specialised wheel alignment or wheel balancing service.

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