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Is wheel balancing the same as wheel alignment?

20th October 2021

It is commonly assumed that wheel alignment and wheel balancing are different terms for the same service - however, there is a significant difference. Whilst both help ensure your tyres are performing at optimum levels, they are very separate services

In this informational guide, not only do we highlight the difference between wheel balancing and wheel alignment, we also explore the key indicators to look out for when diagnosing any issues with these motoring components.

What is wheel balancing?

Over time, wheels become unbalanced triggering a wide range of issues – this can be caused by general weather conditions, but can also occur after hitting potholes and curbs at high speeds. Wheel balancing is the process of redistributing the weight equally so that the tyre can rotate evenly on the roads - wheels are balanced by adding weights to the opposite side of the unbalanced tyre until an equal weight is achieved.

When is wheel balancing needed?

There are a few key signs to watch out for that indicate your wheels are unbalanced:

  • The steering wheel may start to vibrate at higher speeds.
  • Tyres become worn down and uneven quickly

Not only will balancing your wheels fix these issues, but you can also extend the overall life of your tyres by efficient wheel balance maintenance.

Is wheel balancing the same as tracking?

A common misconception is that wheel balancing is the same as tracking, however this is false. Tracking is actually another name for wheel alignment.

What is wheel alignment?

Wheel alignment ensures that the direction of the wheels are parallel to one another, so that they can be correctly positioned on the road. If your wheels are incorrectly aligned, wheel alignment can be tweaked by making changes to the tie rods and control arms to fix alignment.  

Misaligned wheels can be caused by various things such as hitting potholes at high speeds or by excessive wear to steering or suspension components.

When is wheel alignment needed?

You will know your wheels are misaligned when:

  • Whilst driving, you can feel your car dragging to one side
  • The steering wheel often vibrates
  • When driving at low speeds the car makes a screeching noise
  • Uneven tyre wear

Bad wheel alignment can also affect your fuel consumption, causing your car to consume fuel at a faster rate than usual, as well as cause issues with your braking distance.

If incorrect, both of these motoring components can become quite serious issues, and cause damage to your car if they are not addressed as soon as possible. After correcting these issues, you can enjoy a safer driving experience and a smoother ride. If your car is showing any signs of needing wheel alignment or wheel balancing, do not hesitate to get in touch with our specialist team.