5 Signs You Have Unbalanced Tires (& the Cost of Tire Balancing)
While they’re often a bit overlooked, your vehicle’s tires are among the most important things you need to look after. While monitoring the tread life and the tire pressure are essential, you can’t stop there. Tire balancing is another important factor to be aware of.
It might not sound like much, but unbalanced tires can lead to a host of problems you don’t want to deal with. What can you do to determine if you have uneven tires? How much does it cost to balance your tires?
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know to keep your vehicle safe and on the road. Let’s begin with a quick look at the signs:
Unbalanced tires are most commonly symptomatic of excessive vibrations when driving at high speeds. If you examine the tires visually, you may notice uneven tire wear and rough steering. You can also damage suspension parts.
Below is a list that explains the signs and symptoms of tires not balanced.
Unbalanced Tires: Symptoms
1. Extreme Vibrations
It’s by far the most common symptom of unbalanced tires, and it’s also what you’re likely to notice first. If you’re driving down the road and feel an excessive amount of vibrations, it can be a host of problems.
The problem could be due to your tires not being balanced.
2. Steering with a rough edge
When you’re driving down the road, all four tires should exert the same amount of force on the ground at each rotation. If your vehicle has an unbalanced tire, you’re going to feel it while you’re trying to drive. While you’ll get excessive vibrations while you’re driving straight, you’re going to magnify those problems every time you try to turn.
Not only will the vibrations get worse, but you’re going to fight your vehicle through the turns a little more too.
3. Uneven/Unusual Tire Wear
While you might be willing to put up with the extra vibrations or even the rough steering, one problem you’re not going to want to deal with is the uneven or unusual tire wear. If the tires aren’t riding along the ground the right way, they’re going to wear abnormally.
What this means for you is that the tires will wear down quicker, and you’re going to need to replace them sooner than you would otherwise. Uneven tires aren’t just frustrating; they can be expensive too.
4. Don't Worn out Suspension or Steering Components
While your tires will wear out quicker when they aren’t balanced, they’re also going to put a lot of extra stress on your suspension and steering components. Those vibrations you feel as you drive don’t go straight to you; they travel through your entire vehicle.
The final vibrations that you feel are after they’ve traveled through your suspension system – and those vibrations are only worse at the wheels. Your vehicle's suspension system will wear faster if it isn't balanced.
5. Reduced fuel economy
You’re not going to see your fuel economy plummet off the face of the earth if you have unbalanced tires, but you are going to notice a drop if you pay attention.
Maintaining everything in motion takes a bit more effort from your engine which results in lower fuel economy. It’s just one more area you’ll be spending a little more if you neglect to balance your tires.
Why are unbalanced tires so common?
Unbalanced tires can be caused by a typical driving style. But the issue can start with the original tire installation. It is important to balance the tires each time you put new ones on your car. Small differences in the tire and/or rim can lead to a tire imbalance, and it’s perfectly normal. These small differences can be as little as one ounce, and you’ll feel them as you’re driving.
The tires can wear unevenly over time and lose their balance weight, particularly if they are not glued. This is common with aluminum rims.
Although these variations are often small, they can still make a huge difference. There are many shops that offer lifetime balancing for tires they have installed. It can help you save some money as well as ensure your tires remain balanced for the duration of their service.
What you should do to balance your tires
To improve your comfort and to save money, you should balance your tires. Getting your tires balanced isn’t that expensive, and when you compare it to the extra money you’ll save on fuel, suspension components, and new tires, you’re actually saving money by getting your tires balanced.
So, it’s not just about creating a smoother ride and your overall comfort, although those are compelling reasons too. Improve your vehicle’s performance, save yourself money, and get a more comfortable ride – it’s a win-win-win.
How much does tire balancing cost?
Balance a tire costs between $10-20 per tire. This means that for four tires, you could pay $40 to $80.
However, this is the cost for a standalone balancing – meaning that you’re taking your vehicle in and getting the tires balanced. If you’re getting new tires, the price can vary. Wal-Mart charges $15 for installation. This fee is applicable to all tires purchased and installed by Wal-Mart.
They’re far from the only store that offers tire balancing as part of their installation fee, which can drive down the cost. You might also find that some shops will reduce the cost of your tires if they are bought there. However, while you might not be seeing these costs upfront, they’re typically rolled into the tire’s price.
Keep in mind that while it might seem expensive to get your tires balanced, it’s actually saving you money in the long run by improving your fuel economy, extending your suspension’s service life, and extending your tire’s service life.
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