Balanced Wheels – How They Affect Vehicle Health



Balanced wheels are essential to car health. That said, cars are similar to human beings.

Both are complex machines that require constant maintenance and upkeep to perform well. Similarly, when something goes wrong in the complex systems of either, symptoms often arise to indicate a problem. 

Of course, the common problem with symptoms in both cases is that they are vague; a human cough can indicate multiple kinds of lung disease, just as ‘shakiness’ while driving a car can point to numerous problems that share the symptom. 

Since we are focusing on cars, it is essential to know what kind of shakiness of the wheel, frame, or overall ‘ride’ of a vehicle.

Suppose you notice vibrations suddenly where there shouldn’t be. In that case, it is most likely related to either wheel balance, wheel alignment, or degrading brakes.

Balanced Wheels vs Unbalanced Wheels

a mechanic balancing a wheel

Balanced wheels are a regular aspect of car health


It is essential to distinguish between terminology here. Unbalanced Wheels and Unaligned wheels are two separate maladies, though they are caused by the same issue: Time. Specifically, an unbalanced wheel will naturally occur over time through wear and tear. 

The wheel hub will slightly shift in conjunction with the tire. Imagine a puzzle piece that does not fit perfectly well; The wheel hub will only change in small enough increments. 

The danger lies in that minuscule shift in weight toward one side. If left unattended, that slight weight difference will become very noticeable, given away by vibrations.

What are Balanced Wheels?

Wheel balancing is a regular procedure done on cars, much like rotation and swapping seasonal tires. 

The process includes a mechanic using a fast-spinning machine to locate the heftier end of the wheel. After, the mechanic will hammer in a counter-weight on the side of the wheel to ‘balance’ everything out. 

These weights are nowhere near as heavy as dumbbells, of course, as they are precise micro-weights designed to alleviate incremental shifts. 

The result should have your car driving smoothly again until time inevitably wears away at your tires. It is common to routinely re-balance the wheel every two years while performing wheel rotations in terms of frequency. 

This is course does not apply if you notice vibrations. It is always better to get them balanced instead of ignoring the problem.

What is Wheel Alignment?

Improper wheel alignment also causes odd vibrations in the ‘ride’ of your car. Still, in this case, it has nothing to do with disproportional weight shifts. Instead, wheel alignment refers to the ‘angle’ of the wheel about the car’s hub. 

In essence, car wheels are attached to a complex system underneath its body, which controls steering, among other things. If you go over a nasty speed bump, or worse, drive into a rather deep pothole, then it is likely to damage this mechanism. 

This then shifts the ‘angle’ of the wheel, causing vibrations, drifting, noises, and difficulty steering. An example would be like imagining someone standing upright, but over time slowly begins doing the splits.

Re-alignment-

An experienced and well-equipped mechanic must test the wheels’ alignment through the use of specific machines. This is also a regularly performed procedure on cars and is well worth checking up on at least once every year. 

The benefits of properly aligned wheels include a safer driving experience and less damage to tires (meaning you will not have to replace them as often).

Faulty Brakes- 

A third potential problem that causes vibrations is known as an ‘out-of-round brake.’ Wheel balance effects other components of a car, as shown in our definitive guide

Brakes utilize a steel wheel (the rotor), which is then pressed with the actual pads to create the friction needed to stop the car. 

Furthermore, the issues with vibrations (usually felt in the steering wheel) are caused by the rotor becoming warped and deformed. 

This can occur due to frequent or harsh braking, which can produce enough heat to cause said deformities. This then leads to brake pads being forcefully closed on an uneven surface, which causes the vibrations. 

Time is also a factor as usual, which is why it is essential to monitor and check your car when it starts displaying troubling symptoms like this. Changing faulty brakes can be relatively expensive (approx. 150-or more $). 

However, it is worth the price since it guarantees safety. Warped brake rotors can eventually wear away at brake pads to the point of failure.

This has been a list of only three possible brake problems your car may experience as a result of this one symptom, meaning that there is much more to think about. This isn’t meant to create paranoia as it is a suggestion to treat your car like you would treat your own body. Take it to the doctor occasionally, and it will reward you with a long life.