What is Tire Balancing?

If you are noticing a vibration at speeds of 45 mph or higher, you may have one or more of your tires that are out of balance. This happens when the distribution of weight for a tire and wheel assembly becomes uneven, which is common because, despite their appearance, tires and wheels are not truly round. When mounted, the slight imperfections of the tire and wheel assembly means its center of gravity is not the dead-center of the assembly. At speed, this miss-match causes a vibration which you may not notice at lower speeds but will become noticeable as you go faster. Tire balancing is the processes of adding weight to the tire and wheel assembly, and/or repositioning the tire on the wheel so that the assembly’s center of gravity matches the center point of the assembly as close as possible.

 Typically, if you can feel the vibration in the steering wheel, the tires that are out of balance are on the front axle. If you feel the vibration in the seat, then it’s likely the rear tires that are out of balance. This type of vibration is continuous (not intermittent) though you may only notice it when you hold the vehicle at an exact speed.

How are Tires Balanced?

If your tires are out of balance, they may develop unusual or premature wear patterns, and the constant vibration will cause your shocks and struts to work overtime, so you should get this fixed. Suburban Tire technicians balance wheels using state-of-the-art balancing machines. 

  • The tire and wheel assembly are mounted onto the spindle of the balancing machines and secured using a centering cone so that it is perfectly centered on the machine.
  • The balancer then spins the assembly at highway speeds and determines the high and low spots and checks for any side-to-side imbalance.
  • The balancer calculates the amount of weight necessary to compensate for the tire and wheel assembly’s imperfections and determines the ideal location on the assembly to attach two weights, one on the inside and one on the outside of the wheel.
  • The balancer tells the technician where each weight should be attached, and Suburban Tire’s technician will then attach the weights to the wheels in the proper location.

What is Road Force Balancing?

For luxury vehicles, low profile tires, and our more sensitive customers, we recommend that you have your tires balanced using our premium Road Force balancing process. It takes a bit of extra time, but the difference can be noticeable especially if you’ve having a vibration problem that standard balancing can’t fix.

Road Force balancing involves “Match Mounting” the tire’s position on the wheel. Match mounting is a process where the tire is mounted onto the wheel with the tire’s heaviest spot positioned adjacent to the wheel’s lightest spot. In this way, the tire’s position on the wheel is not left to chance but instead is specifically selected by our balancer to help minimize the assembly’s imbalance. The Road Force balancer simulates the force of the road on the tire and wheel assembly to determine if match mounting is necessary. If so, the tire is loosened from the wheel and spun into the ideal position as indicated by the balancer before being reinflated and double checked.

At Suburban Tire we use Hunter wheel balancers that can measure wheel runout and force variations under load. Using these machines, we can usually diagnose and fix any vibration problem related to wheel balancing.

What Type of Wheel Weights Are Used?

Suburban Tire is committed to being as environmentally friendly as possible. For decades most wheel weights were made from lead, which were compact, heavy, and malleable to the circumference of the wheel. Trouble is that lead causes all sorts of problems in the environment and in human health. That’s why many years ago we switched from using lead wheel weights to steel. And for further peace of mind, you should know that we recycle all the old weights that we strip off your wheels when you come in for new tires.

How Frequently Should I Balance My Tires?

Although most people only balance their tires after noticing a vibration in their steering wheel, modern vehicles are prone to imbalances due to their light-weight construction and low-profile tires. So, if the balance is off by only a ½ ounce, about the weight of 10 chocolate chips, it can cause a noticeable vibration.

Balancing your tires at regular intervals

  • Corrects vibration problems before they become noticeable
  • Extending tread life
  • Reduces wear and tear on vehicle suspension components

For these reasons, Suburban Tire recommends that drivers have their tires balanced every 10,000 miles, even if a vibration is not noticeable.

How Much Does Tire Balancing Cost?

For most cars and light trucks, we charge $19.99 for standard balancing and $29.99 for Road Force balancing. For tires that need to be match-mounted to correct an imbalance we charge $39.99 for standard tires, or $49.99 for run flat tires. For large truck tires that take a lot of weight, or that require bead bags we charge $39.99 to cover the additional cost of time and materials that these often take. Specialty wheel weights with chrome or painted surfaces are $10 additional per tire.

What Else Can Cause a Car to Vibrate?

Wheel balancing will normally fix vibrations that can be felt at high speed, but not always. Vibrations may be caused by:

  • A bent wheel
  • Worn suspension parts
  • A tire that is out-of-round
  • A bad driveshaft
  • Worn brake parts.

 Other retailers such as Discount Tire, Costco, or Amazon don’t have the ability to correct mechanical issues. It’s not part of their business model. Just another great reason to bring your car to Suburban Tire where our Master Technicians can diagnose and fix these less common vibration issues.