Difference Between Tire Balance & Alignment

Tire Change

When it comes to keeping your tires in top form, two maintenance tasks need to be completed regularly: tire balance and tire/wheel alignment. While the names sound like they are the same procedure, they’re actually quite different from each other.

Our team at Jaguar Albuquerque will cover the main differences between tire balance and alignment. We’ll also tell you how you can get these maintenance tasks done near Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, and South Valley today.
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What’s a Tire Balance?

When tires are out of balance, it means that one section is heavier than the others. When this happens, you’ll feel the steering wheel, seat, or floorboard vibrate at certain highway speeds. Plus, you may notice scalloped or cupped wear patterns on the tire.

To rectify the issue, you’ll want to have a service technician balance your tires as soon as possible.

How Is a Tire Balance Performed?

Tire RotationThere are two basic types of tire balance:

  • Static: Otherwise known as Single Plane. This addresses balance on one plane, or the vertical movement that can cause vibration.
  • Dynamic: Otherwise known as Dual Plane. This is for balance on two planes: vertical and lateral movements.

Before either balance is performed, a service technician will mount the tire into the proper rim, inflate it to the appropriate pressure, and install a new valve stem.

Then, the tire/wheel assembly is attached to a machine that’ll spin the tire at a high speed to determine where it’s imbalanced and how severe it is. This signals to the tech how much weight should be added and in what spots. They’ll then add those weights to specific sides of the wheel to balance it out.

Once that’s done, the wheel gets spun again to be rebalanced. When everything is good to go, the tire will be installed back onto your Jaguar.
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What’s a Tire Alignment?

A tire alignment, otherwise known as a wheel alignment, doesn’t refer to the alignment of the tires or wheels themselves. In fact, you’re adjusting the car’s suspension, or what connects your Jaguar to the wheels.

By adjusting the angles of the tires, you’ll make better contact with the road and have improved handling overall.

What Happens During a Tire Alignment?

With a tire alignment, the angles of the wheels need to be adjusted, so they can be parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground.

Three types of alignment adjustments are done to help keep the tires in good condition:

  • Camber: Where the tire is angled in or out when viewed from the front of a car.
  • Toe: When the tires point in or out when viewed from above.
  • Caster: The angle of the steering axis when viewed from the side of an automobile.

By adjusting all the angles, you’ll help improve steering, stability, and cornering for a better overall ride.

Why Tire Balances & Alignments Are Needed

It’s vital to get tire balances and alignments done when necessary. If you don’t, it could lead to uneven wear along with potentially unsafe driving conditions.

By balancing the tires, you’ll reduce vibrations felt in the car and minimize tire bounce, giving you a smoother ride.

With a wheel alignment, you’ll help decrease wear and tear on the suspension, axle, and wheel mounts. You’ll also increase fuel efficiency since less energy will be wasted through friction and heat buildup.

When to Get Your Tires Balanced

Tires generally should be balanced every 5,000 miles, or every time you go to get them rotated. However, there are other factors that indicate when a balance is needed, such as:

  • Uneven tire wear
  • Getting new tires
  • Having a tire repaired after it goes flat

When a Wheel Alignment Is Needed

Wheel Alignment

Meanwhile, there’s no specific timeframe for a tire alignment. However, it’s recommended to get this type of maintenance completed every two or three years. Though it should be done whenever one of these instances occurs:

  • You’ve hit a large pothole or curb
  • You’ve gotten into an accident
  • You’ve received a new set of tires

When your Jaguar is out of alignment, it may start pulling to the left or right. You may also notice uneven tire wear.

Check the tire tread, and if one side is deeper than the other, it’ll need to be aligned soon. It’ll also need to be aligned right away if one side of the tread is smooth, but the other side is jagged.

Schedule Tire Service Today

To help keep your Jaguar remaining in peak performance, it’s crucial to get the tires balanced and aligned regularly and understand the difference between the two.

If you need work performed on your tires near Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, or South Valley, don’t wait. Schedule service at Jaguar Albuquerque today!

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