If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about your car’s tires all that much. You might check the pressure now and then. Other than that, you just assume they’re doing their job. Well, let us point out another major issue with tires: wheel balancing.
Unbalanced tires can cause several problems for your vehicle, including uneven and premature wear on the tires, reduced fuel economy, decreased handling and stability, and increased vibration in the steering wheel, seat, or floorboard.
Ignoring these symptoms of unbalanced wheels could expose your car’s suspension system to bigger problems. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of unbalanced wheels and what you can do to fix them.
Table of Contents
What is the Meaning of Unbalanced Tires?
The term “unbalanced tires” refers to a situation in which the tire’s weight is not evenly distributed around the tire’s circumference. The science behind this is that when a tire is unbalanced, the heavier side will tend to pull down on the road more than the lighter side.
This can cause the tire to “walk” or “wander” across the road surface, leading to problems such as premature wear, reduced fuel economy, and even loss of control of the vehicle.
Unbalanced tires are a serious safety hazard and should be corrected as soon as possible. The best way to prevent unbalanced tires is to have them balanced properly when installed on your vehicle.
Tire balancing is the process of equalizing the weight distribution around the tire so that it rolls evenly. This is typically done by adding small weights to the outside of the tire rim.
What are the Symptoms of Unbalanced Tires?
Unbalanced tires reveal themselves in several ways; the most common ones are:
- Vibrating Steering Wheel
- Uneven Tire Wear
- Poor Fuel Economy
- Vehicle Pulling to One Side
- Car’s Suspension System Issues
- Buzzing Noise
For more in-depth understanding, below are the symptoms of unbalanced tires in detail:
1. Vibrating Steering Wheel:
If you feel a vibration in your steering wheel while driving, it could be a sign that your tires are unbalanced. The vibration is caused by the heavier side of the tire pulling down on the road more than the lighter side.
This is usually most noticeable at higher speeds, such as when driving on the highway. This happens because the heavier side of the tire is trying to “catch up” to the lighter side, and this causes a vibration in the steering wheel.
2. Uneven Tire Wear:
Another symptom of unbalanced tires is uneven tire wear. One of the most common ways that unbalanced tires cause uneven tire wear is by causing the tire to vibrate. This vibration can cause the tread on the tire to become worn down unevenly.
Which can lead to one side of the tire wearing out faster than the other. Additionally, unbalanced tires can cause the vehicle to shake or pull to one side, leading to uneven wear on your tires.
3. Poor Fuel Economy:
One of the most surprising symptoms of unbalanced tires is poor fuel economy. This is because the vibration caused by unbalanced tires can cause your engine to work harder, which in turn uses more fuel.
This is because the rolling resistance of a tire causes it to resist motion. When a tire is not properly balanced, the contact patch of the tire is smaller at places where the tire is light.
On the other hand, there is more surface area in contact with the road where tires are heavier. Thich causes increased rolling resistance and therefore decreased fuel economy.
4. Vehicle Pulling to One Side:
If you feel your vehicle pulling to one side while driving, it could be a sign that your tires are unbalanced. The main reason is that unbalanced tires create an uneven weight distribution on the vehicle.
This unevenness can be caused by several things, such as one tire being heavier than the other, having different amounts of air pressure in each tire, or a bad sway bar link. When this happens, it causes the vehicle to pull to one side or the other, depending on which way the weight is shifted.
When tires are unbalanced, they create a force that causes the vehicle to veer in one direction or the other. The severity of this pulling depends on how unbalanced the tires are.
5. Car’s Suspension System Issues:
One of the less obvious symptoms of unbalanced tires is problems with your car’s suspension system. This is because the vibration caused by unbalanced tires can cause stress on your car’s suspension components.
Bad tires can lead to several problems, such as premature wear, reduced performance, and even complete failure of the suspension system. Additionally, this vibration can cause other parts of your car to loosen or break over time.
For example, if you have ever noticed that your steering wheel seems to vibrate more after driving on a rough road, it could be because the vibrations from the tires have caused something to come loose in your steering system.
6. Buzzing Noise:
Another symptom of unbalanced tires is some weird noises. The main reason for increased road noise when driving on unbalanced tires is that the treads are not even touching the ground. This causes them to vibrate and create a humming sound.
Another reason is the vibration is caused by the tire treads hitting the pavement unevenly. The vibration creates a “thumping” noise that can be quite annoying, especially at higher speeds.
Tire Balancing Cost
The cost of tire balancing depends on the size and weight of the tires, as well as the type of vehicle. Most passenger cars and light trucks will cost between $15 and $80 per tire to be balanced. Some luxury vehicles might cost slightly more than that.
The materials for tire balancing generally range from $5 to $20 per tire. The labor cost is usually between $10 and $60 per tire. Some shops may charge a flat rate for balancing all four tires on a vehicle. You should consider that as well.
Unbalanced tires can cause several problems for your car, including uneven and premature tire wear, reduced fuel economy, and a less comfortable ride.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, your tires are likely unbalanced. Get them balanced to avoid further damage to your vehicle.
Tire balancing is not a difficult or expensive process, so there is no reason to delay. Most tire shops will be able to balance your tires while you wait, and the cost is generally quite reasonable.
We hope this article has helped you learn more about the symptoms of unbalanced tires and why it is important to get them balanced. Do you have any other questions about tire balancing? Let us know in the comments below!
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if you drive with unbalanced wheels?
If you drive with unbalanced wheels, it can cause several problems. The most common problem is that the vehicle will vibrate, which can be very uncomfortable for the driver and passengers.
Unbalanced wheels can cause premature wear on your tires, suspension, and steering components. In extreme cases, unbalanced wheels can even cause the vehicle to lose control. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that your wheels are properly balanced.
What causes out-of-balance tires in the first place?
One of the most common causes of unbalanced tires is incorrect tire pressure. If your tires are underinflated, they will tend to flex more as you drive.
This can cause them to become unbalanced. Overinflated tires can also cause problems. They will be more likely to bounce on the road, which can also become unbalanced.
Another common cause of unbalanced tires is uneven wear. This can happen if you hit a pothole or curb or have an alignment problem. Uneven wear will cause your tires to lose their round shape, leading to imbalances.
What does an unbalanced wheel sound like?
An unbalanced wheel can produce a range of sounds, from a light humming noise to a loud, vibrating roar. The severity of the sound will depend on how out of balance the wheel is. Generally, the louder and more severe the noise, the greater the imbalance.
The reason an unbalanced wheel produces noise is that the heavy spot on the wheel causes it to wobble as it spins. This wobbling motion sets up a vibration that travels through the entire vehicle, causing the noise you hear.
How to fix unbalanced tires?
If you have a slight vibration, you may be able to get away with simply rotating your tires. This will help redistribute the weight of the tire and should help reduce the vibration. However, if you have a more severe vibration, you may need to have your tires balanced by a professional.
This process involves adding weights to the outside of the tire so that it is evenly balanced. In some cases, you might have to repair damaged suspension components causing unbalanced wheels in the first place. This might include replacing damaged shocks or struts.
How is wheel alignment different from tire balancing?
Wheel alignment and tire balancing are two different things. Wheel alignment is the process of adjusting the angles of the wheels so that they are pointing in the same direction. This is important for ensuring that the vehicle drives straight and does not veer to one side or the other.
Tire balancing, on the other hand, is the process of ensuring that the tire’s weight is evenly distributed around its circumference. This is important for providing a smooth ride and preventing premature wear on the tires.
How to balance an unbalanced tire?
There are a few different ways that a mechanic may go about balancing an unbalanced tire. The most common method is to use wheel weights. Wheel weights are small metal clips applied to the outside of the wheel to balance it out.
Another method that can be used is dynamic balancing, where the mechanic spins the wheel and uses sensors to determine where the weight needs to be added to achieve tire balance.
Finally, there is static balancing, which is where the mechanic balances the wheel while it is not moving. Whichever method is used, the goal is always to add weight to the lighter side of the wheel to achieve balance.
How often should tire balancing be done?
Most tire shop experts recommend that you have your tires balanced every time you get a new tire. This is because it is very easy for a new tire to become unbalanced, and it is much easier to balance a tire that is not yet mounted on the vehicle.
However, if you are not getting new tires, you should have your tires balanced at least once a year. This will help ensure a smooth ride and prevent damaged tire.
Is it necessary to get all four tires balanced together?
It is not strictly necessary to get all four tires balanced at the same time. However, it is generally recommended, as it will help ensure that your vehicle handles evenly and does not pull to one side or the other.
If you only have one or two tires balanced, make sure to have the ones on the same axle balanced. This will help keep the vehicle handling properly, increase the tire life, and protect wheel assembly.