Tires go out of balance for various reasons. The most common is uneven wear. It causes one part of the tire to become heavier than others and makes the whole tire unbalanced. Another cause is under-inflation. As tires that have less-than-optimal air pressure for too long can go out of balance.
All of this is to say that you should never drive on out of balance tires. It is risky and akin to putting the safety of your vehicle’s passengers at risk. That is because such tires are in poor health and are at a greater risk of experiencing blowout at high speeds.
As if that wasn’t worrying enough, out of balance tires reduce your car’s fuel economy as well. They also place added stress on your vehicle’s shock absorbers and wheel bearings. That, in turn, leads to a noisier and bumpier driving experience. Hence why you should know how to balance a tire.
Before you balance your tire
Here’s what you need to know:
Types of tire balancing
Following are the three major types of tire balancing:
Static balancing involves the addition of weights across one line of the tire. That line is usually called a ‘plane’ and the addition of weights is carried out as if the tire was a disc. It is an old-school method and helps rectify minor imbalancing problems.
Mechanics that perform static balancing place the tire on a vertical supporter with the help of a bubble balancer or a spindle tool. That is followed by the heavier side automatically leaning lower to the ground, after which the mechanic places the weight on the lighter side.
Dynamic balancing involves the addition of weight across the entire tire (up-and-down, side-to-side) in a dual plane. Mechanics who perform this type of balancing use modern spinning computer balancers for the whole procedure. Here’s how they do it.
The technician mounts the out-of-balance tire on the machine and then spins it. The sensors attached to the machine measure all weight imperfections as the tire is spinning. They then guide the technician on how much weight they should add at which location to rectify the weight imbalance.
Road Force Balancing
Here is the latest technique to rectify the tire imbalancing problem. It involves a sophisticated roller machine that puts its entire weight on the dismounted tire. The weight applied by the machine is similar to the one the tire experiences from the vehicle.
The machine has sensors which detect irregularities in the tire’s imbalance as it’s withholding the machine’s weight. Aside from telling the exact spot where tire imbalance has occurred, the sensors also tell whether it is the tire or the wheel that is the root of the problem.
How to balance a tire
There are two methods using which you can balance a tire:
Method 1. How to balance a tire with a Wheel Balancer
Here’s how you can balance the tire with a wheel balancer:
What you’ll need?
- Two Jacks
- Flat-end screwdriver
- Lug wrench
Step 1: Lift the car
Find the jack point. You can find it in front of the back wheels and behind both the front wheels. Once you’ve seen it, slide your jack underneath that point. Then raise the jack by slipping the included rod tool through its hole and turning it to pull the jack’s sides inward.
Step 2: Remove wheels from the vehicle
Use the lug wrench to remove wheels from the vehicle. Make sure that there aren’t any weights on the wheel that you’re going to remove. Otherwise, the rebalancing process may end up giving unsatisfactory results.
Step 3: Clean the wheels
Wash the wheels to remove all the dirt from the tread area, the rim, and the rest of the tires. Then give the wheels enough time to dry.
Step 4: Put the wheel’s assembly on the balancer
Follow the machine’s manual to spin the wheels. If you’re using dynamic balancing, the balancer will tell you where the imbalance lies as the machine is spinning. If you’re using static balancing, you’ll have to wait for the machine to stop spinning before it could identify the faulty spot.
Step 5: Mark the spots where the addition of weight is required
Use chalk to mark the spots. Then put on the recommended weights and re-mount the wheel on the machine to recheck its balance. Continue to adjust the weight until the tire stay in a perfect line (in the case of static balancing) or move smoothly (in the case of dynamic balancing).
Step 6: Mount the wheels back on the vehicle
Self-explanatory. Don’t forget tightening the lug nuts and lowering the jack once you’re done putting the wheels back on the vehicle.
Method 2. How to balance a tire Without a wheel balancer
Here’s how you can balance a tire without a wheel balancer:
What you’ll need?
- Two Jacks
- Lug wrench
Step 1: Lift the car, remove wheels and clean them
Follow the instructions given in the first three steps of the previous method. Lift the vehicle using a jack, remove the wheels after removing all the additional weights, and clean them with water. Give the wheels enough time to dry completely.
Step 2: Reinstall the wheel
Once you have done that, add weight on the wheel’s 12 o’clock position. Start your car and start driving it on the road (at a speed of 10 – 20mph). If you still notice vibrations, take off the weight from the 12 o’clock position and install it at 45* from the initial position.
Step 3: Drive the vehicle
After the addition of the weight, once again rev your vehicle. If the vibration persists, add more weight to the spot where you’ve already added weight. Rev your vehicle again. If the vibration still hasn’t gone away, take off both weights and install them at 45* from the second position.
Final Step: Continue with the same procedure
Continue with the foregoing procedure as long as the vibrations persist. You’ll eventually find the spot where, after adding more weights, the balancing will be complete.
Experts recommend that you shouldn’t wait for vibrations to rebalance your tires. You should get rebalancing done after every 5,000 miles or two years and every time you buy new tires. The presence of uneven tread wear on the tire is another sign that it needs rebalancing.