Wheel alignment and Wheel balancing are often confused as the same by many people.

Wheel Balancing

This is the use of small weights to smooth out weight distribution in the rotating wheel and tyre assembly.
If wheels are not balanced:

  • Driving can become uncomfortable due to vibration – which happens because of the structure of a wheel assembly. Two slightly imperfect units are joined to form one complete assembly, and there is usually uneven weight distribution – heavy spots cause the wheel to wobble from side to side.
  • Premature wearing of suspension and steering components, rotating parts and tyres occurs.

Noticing wheel imbalances:

Steering wheel starts to wobble above a certain speed is often the first sign. Imbalance on the rear wheels may be sensed by vibration in the seat or back floorboard above a certain speed, vehicle weight can dampen the sensing of imbalances.

Balanced wheels:

  • Should notice a smoother drive.
  • Better wear from your tyres and steering system, saving you money.

Wheel Alignment / Car Tracking

This consists of adjusting the angles of the wheels so that they are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other.

The symptoms of a car that is out of alignment are:

  • Tyres show uneven wear patterns on either edge, rapid front tyre wear.
  • The vehicle may drift/pull to the left or right.
  • Steering wheel is off-set when the vehicle is travelling on a straight and level road.
  • Car wanders/runs slightly sideways on a straight level road (known as crabbing).

Common Causes of Wheel Alignment Problems Are:

  • Driving over potholes
  • Clipping or driving over kerb edges
  • Driving over speed bumps too quickly

To find out if you need an alignment, for each tyre take a coin and insert it in the tread at the inside, centre and outside.

In the following, the first two conditions do not call for a wheel alignment, but the second two do

  • If the tread is deeper on the edges than in the centre, the tyre is over inflated.
  • If the tread is deeper in the centre than the edges, the tyre is under inflated.
  • If the tread is deeper on one side than the other, have your wheel alignment checked soon.
  • Run your hand back and forth across the tread, if the tread is smooth in one direction, but jagged in the other you have a “saw-tooth” wear pattern which is caused by a toe-in problem. Have the alignment checked as soon as possible as this condition causes rapid tyre wear.

Aligning Your Vehicle:

  • Camber – the inward or outward tilt of the tyre
  • Caster – the forward or rear tilt of the steering axis
  • Toe – the amount that wheels point in or out
  • Thrust – uneven toe
  • Setback – where a wheel on one side is further forward than the opposite side

The purpose of these adjustments is to get maximum tyre life and a vehicle that tracks straight and true when driving along a straight and level road.

Tyre Punctures

The good news is that about half of all flat tyres caused by a puncture can be repaired safely and cheaply without the need for a replacement tyre.

The most important thing that you can do to help the chances of your puncture being repairable is not to drive on it when it is flat – driving for even a few hundred metres on a flat tyre can damage it and make it un-repairable. So as soon as you notice it is flat, either put the spare wheel on, or call Tyre King who can visit your home or work to either repair the puncture, or fit a new tyre.