Does your vehicle vibrate when driving, especially at the steering wheel or does it tend to pull to the left or right? Do your tyres seem to wear unevenly, with more pronounced wear on certain parts of their surface? If so, you may have a balancing or alignment problem. In this guide, we tell you how to detect this kind of problem and what to do about it.
What is the purpose of balancing?
Wheel balancing is carried out when your tyres are fitted and aims to prevent vibrations when you are driving. This is not only for your comfort; it also prevents premature tyre wear and wear on your vehicle's mechanical components (suspension, steering and bearings).
How is a wheel balanced?
To prevent vibrations, the weight of the tyre must be evenly distributed around its rotation axis. Balancing simply consists of placing small weights on the tyre to obtain an even weight distribution.
Wheel balancing is done when you fit new tyres and may have to be repeated at a later date. Wheels can go out of balance gradually over time or due to a minor accident such as hitting a pavement.
Signs of poor balancing
Here are some signs that could indicate your tyres are not correctly balanced:
- Vibrations can be felt in the steering wheel when you are driving.
- The tyre tread seems to wear unevenly (a defective wheel balance that is not quickly repaired can result in uneven tread wear).
If you notice either of these problems, you should take your vehicle to a specialist to get your wheels re-balanced.
What is alignment?
To set the alignment of your car, the angles of the wheels are adjusted so that they are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. This aims to ensure better road holding and prevent premature tyre wear. It is carried out by a tyre specialist on the basis of your car manufacturer’s alignment specifications.
Do not confuse alignment with parallelism
The terms alignment and parallelism are sometimes used interchangeably, but are not quite the same thing. Parallelism is one of the 3 main alignment adjustments, along with camber and the caster angle.
Parallelism is the alignment of 2 wheels on the same axle. When not properly aligned, tyres wear quickly and unevenly, forming burrs which can be felt when you run your hand over the tread.
Camber is the vertical tilt of the wheel in relation to the ground. If there is too much tilt, the tyre will tend to wear on the sides.
The castor angle is the difference between the wheel pivot axis and the vertical. It impacts the vehicle’s handling and steering.
Signs that the alignment needs to be corrected
Your wheel alignment may be altered following an impact (pavement, pothole, collision etc.) and thi could affect your vehicle’s handling.
Here are some warning signals that you shouldn’t ignore:
- Your vehicle tends to pull to one side.
- Your steering wheel is not straight when you drive in a straight line or does not return to its normal position after a corner.
- Your vehicle’s handling performance seems to have deteriorated.
- Your tyre tread wears more quickly than normal or unevenly.
Tips and advice from rezulteo:
If you hit a pavement or drive over a pothole, remember to check the state of your tyres for any signs of damage (bulge, tear…) as well as symptoms that may indicate your wheels are not correctly balanced or aligned.