Do you know the difference between wheel alignment and balancing? Although similar, it’s useful for drivers to understand the differences between these two systems.
As a car owner, it’s essential to carry out regular checks on your car to ensure that everything is working correctly. Your car is a complex system that works almost like a body; every part is connected. Thus, damage to one part of your car can eventually spread – it’s only a matter of time.
We often pay a lot of attention to parts like the engine and engine-related issues and forget to look at those rubbery circles that enable us to keep moving. The wheels affect almost every facet of a car, from ride experience to overall vehicle health. Worn tyres can cause dire consequences, like accidents.
In this post, we discuss two standard wheel procedures: wheel alignment and wheel balancing. Then, we explain how they are different from one another.
What is wheel alignment?
Oddly enough, aligning the wheels of a car is done by adjusting the suspension, not altering the wheels themselves. It has to do with the angles of the tyres and how the tyres make contact with the road – improper wheel alignment leads to faster erosion of the tyres and more problems down the road. You can imagine that if the car were slanted, more weight would be on one side, thus leading to more wear and tear on said side.
There are three significant aspects to a vehicle’s wheel alignment. They are:
#1. The Camber: This refers to the inward or outward angle of a tyre when looking at it front on. The camber must not tilt too much, either inwardly or outwardly. Too much inward or outward tilt indicates improper alignment. This means that the wheel needs adjusting.
#2. Toe alignment: This refers to the extent to which your tyres turn inward or outward when you look at them from above. If the tyres angle inward, it is called toe-in alignment. Toe-out alignment is when the tyres angle outward. Both require adjustment.
#3. The Caster: This has to do with the balance of your steering. It also relates to your vehicle’s cornering. If you have a positive caster, the steering axis will tilt towards the driver. If you have a negative caster, it means that the steering axis tilts towards the front of the vehicle.
There are several causes of improper wheel alignment. They are as follows:
- Sudden impact
- Uncovered potholes
- Hitting a curb
- Worn bearings, ball joints, and other suspension parts
If your car pulls to either side, you may have an alignment issue.
Wheel misalignment can also be caused by a situation where one tyre is more worn than the others, for example, if not all four tyres were changed at the same time. This will affect your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and, more importantly, your safety.
Wheel alignment machines essentially clamp onto your tyres and connect to a computer, measuring all these factors for you – and at Corghi, we only manufacture the best.
What is wheel balancing?
If your vehicle vibrates while on the road, you likely have a case of wheel imbalance on your hands. Also known as tyre balancing, wheel balancing corrects the tyre/weight imbalance.
Wheel balancing equalises the weight of the tyre and wheel assembly. This in turn ensures that the tyres spin smoothly at high speed. The process involves putting the car on a wheel balancer; the balancer then centres the wheel and spins it to determine how to distribute the weight.
Wheel imbalance occurs when the weight of a tyre’s materials is not distributed evenly throughout the tyre (think of a thin spot after hitting a pothole). This results in a situation where the tyre is heavier on one side than on the other.
One of the primary causes of wheel imbalance is simple manufacturing issues. For example, if the manufactured wheels are mounted improperly, they will need to be rebalanced.
Every time you mount a new tyre on a vehicle, it must be balanced. The goal is to ensure the weight is evenly distributed throughout each wheel and tyre on a vehicle. This is why you should always replace all four tyres simultaneously, or at least the two opposite one another.
This process evens out the heavy and light spots in a wheel and causes it to rotate smoothly. But, if you need an excessive amount of weight to balance the tyre, it may signify that the tyre is defective.
Also, proper wheel balancing prolongs the life of a tyre. The imbalance of a wheel creates an outward force. This force can make the wheel and tyre assembly spin in a heavy and uneven motion. In the long run, this causes damaging wear on the tyres, traction loss and worn suspension and steering parts.
Now that we have looked at both wheel balancing and wheel alignment let’s run over the differences.
So, what is the difference between wheel alignment and wheel balancing?
Although similar, wheel balancing and wheel alignment are not the same. Both are integral to smooth driving, but while wheel balancing has to do with making up for any weight imbalances in the tyre/wheel combination, wheel alignment has to do with adjusting the angles of the tyres in relation to how they meet the road.
Wheel balancing has a narrower scope than wheel alignment. Wheel balancing focuses on the tyres and wheel combination, but wheel alignment goes beyond, to the vehicle’s suspension system.
Wheel alignment is vital for safe driving. It reduces the stresses and strains on a vehicle’s suspension components and improves the handling by ensuring the tyres meet the road at the correct angle. However, wheel balancing also affects the safety, tyre wear, and stability of the car.
External forces usually cause wheel misalignment, but the causes of wheel imbalance are generally within the tyres. Improper wheel alignment and balancing both affect your tyre tread and stability. This will significantly reduce your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and cause the car to perform poorly.
Your one-stop shop for wheel aligners and balancers
Wheel alignment and wheel balancing are necessary processes that your vehicle must go through if you want to maintain optimal performance. A weight imbalance is pretty much inevitable at some point because of tyre wear and tear.
At Corghi, we manufacture a wide range of automotive workshop equipment, and tyre and motor vehicle service equipment. Corghi is a leading manufacturer of premium wheel balancers and wheel aligners, so be sure to check out our range today.
Corghi Australia services all regions of Australia, including rural and urban areas. Our engineers are experts at what they do, and we assure you of the best possible equipment for your automotive business. When you choose our tyre and motor vehicle automotive workshop equipment, you are guaranteed extreme professionalism.
Don’t delay in getting the best wheel service equipment for all ranges of wheel balancers and aligners. Contact us today.