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What’s the Difference between Wheel Alignment, Tracking & Balancing?

Tyre alignment on car

When it comes to the tyres on a vehicle, one of the most common questions is: what’s the difference between wheel alignment and balancing?

While on the face of it these two services may seem like the same thing, in actual fact there is a significant difference between them which can affect how smoothly your vehicle drives and your safety on the roads. As a driver, making yourself familiar with all of your vehicle’s parts and how they operate will ensure that you know exactly what to look out for should its performance start to deteriorate.


What Is Wheel Alignment?

Wheel alignment assesses the positioning of each tyre on the vehicle in relation to the road and each other to make sure they are all set according to the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications.


How Do I Know If My Tyres Are out of Alignment?

If you have noticed that your vehicle has started to pull or drift to one side, then there’s a chance that your tyres have become misaligned. In particular, you may notice handling issues whilst driving – your steering wheel may have become difficult to control or it has started to turn in one direction causing your vehicle to veer off to the left or right. Uneven tyre wear and unsteady braking can also be an indicator of misaligned wheels.


How Do Wheels Become Misaligned?

The condition of the roads is one of the main reasons wheels may become misaligned, as hitting potholes or kerbs can alter the positioning of the tyres. Little nudges happen to most drivers, so it’s recommended that you have your tyre alignment checked at least once a year to keep the running costs of your vehicle down and ensure you are driving safely on the roads.


What Does the Process of Tyre Alignment Entail?

For full functionality and safety, wheels must be accurately aligned in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. Using specialist technology available at most reputable autocentres, a laser based system is used for just the two front wheels, or all four of the wheels; the latter is recommended to ensure optimum performance, safety and comfort when driving, as well as increasing the longevity of the tyres.


What Is Wheel Tracking?

‘Tracking’ is another term used to describe the process of wheel alignment, in which your vehicle’s wheels are set to the correct position according to the manufacturer’s specifications.


What Is Wheel Balancing?  

As the name suggests, wheel balancing looks at how the weight of the vehicle is distributed around the wheel to check whether it rotates evenly while the vehicle is in motion. If the assessment indicates an imbalance towards one side of the wheel, small balancing weights are added to the rim to even out the weight distribution.


How Do I Know If My Tyres Are Unbalanced?

If you have noticed a vibrating feeling through the steering wheel, or indeed the whole car, when you reach a particular speed during journeys, it may be due to incorrectly balanced wheels. Not only does this make for uncomfortable driving, but it can also cause your tyres, suspension and steering to wear prematurely.


How Do Wheels Become Unbalanced?

Similar to misaligned wheels, unbalanced tyres can be caused by your vehicle hitting potholes or kerbs, resulting in uneven tyre wear – this can impact the positioning of your tyres, leading to an uneven distribution of weight.


What Does the Process of Tyre Balancing Entail?

The tyre is mounted onto a specialist wheel balancing machine which rotates the wheel to calculate any weight imbalance. If it does detect an uneven distribution of weight, the balancing machine will identify exactly where a counter weight needs to be added and what size the weight needs to be.


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Mr Tyre proudly offers a high quality, thorough wheel balancing or wheel alignment service for customers throughout Central England. We pride ourselves on the quality of our workmanship and our competitive prices, ensuring we get you back driving safely on the roads in next to no time. For further information or to arrange an appointment at one of our many tyre centres across the region, don’t hesitate to get in touch today.


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