The Importance of Proper Tire Balance
Like flat tires, most of us do not think about tire balance until it becomes an issue. An unbalanced tire can make a routine ride seem like riding with no shocks and no tire change service can fix it. You suffer until you take your car in to have the unbalanced tire balanced or rebalanced.
Here is why it is so important.
When a tire is unbalanced, its distribution of weight shifts during use and that can put sudden pressure on the wheel and axle. When that happens a vibration is caused, which can range from mildly annoying to dangerous, particularly if it causes you control issues. As your speed increases, the shifting increases, which causes the vibration to both increase in tempo and become erratic, moving that mildly irritating into a road hazard.
An unbalanced tire can cause stress and failure to:
- The suspension
- Ability to control the vehicle
- Steering column affecting the stability of correcting while driving and turning
- Brake efficiency
As mentioned, at first, most unbalanced tires create a shimmy that is annoying, but does not really affect your ability to control your vehicle.
As the shimmy increases, however, your ability to control the vehicle is reduced. In extreme cases, you cannot control your vehicle at all and you must slow down to regain control or you risk crashing.
Another risk is that the shimmy will cause something to disconnect, such as a hose or break, which can have catastrophic consequences for your vehicle, you and any passengers you have.
In extreme cases, where a tire is deformed, the only solution is tire replacement. When this is the case, it will be recommended that you purchase at least two tires for whatever end is affected. If the problem has existed for a while, all four tires might be degraded and need replacing. Balancing new tires is generally considered a service that is included in new tire installation.
In less extreme cases, a balancing machine pinpoints where the tire is unbalanced and a weight system can be applied to the tire to even out the distribution of air pressure and weight. The weight system is tested after each iteration of weight being added until the tire balancing machine indicates the tire is balanced to within an acceptable threshold. This can be done to each tire that is unbalanced.
Tire balancing is different than wheel alignment, which is a different issue altogether.
Tire balancing can be as important as having high quality tires on your vehicle and correct wheel alignment. If you experience a shimmy or vibration because of an unbalanced tire, call your roadside assistant tire change service and have them replace your troubled tire until you can get your vehicle in for proper service.