When do tires need to be balanced?

Your wheels are balanced at the factory when new tires are installed on the rims. Whenever you installing new tires in a repair shop, or at the dealer, tire balancing is also included. To balance a tire, a technician places the wheel onto a tire balancing machine.

Technician balancing a tire Technician balances tire on a tire balancing machine
The machine spins the wheel and calculates the amount of weight and its placement needed to compensate for the imbalance. The technician attaches clip-on or stick-on weights to the rim in places indicated by a tire balancer machine. Then he or she operates the machine to spin the wheel again to make sure the tire is balanced. Some of the tires doesn't require any weights, others may need larger weights to balance.

Should you balance your tires (wheels) in regular intervals? Tire balancing is not included in the car manufacturer's maintenance schedule. Tire balancing only needs to be done if you suspect that some of the tires might be out of balance.

Do tires lose balance over time? A tire might go out of balance due to uneven wear or if one of the wheel weights is lost. This happens, for example, when the rims are scraped against the curb. A tire (wheel) might also become unbalanced if the rim is bent (even slightly) after hitting a large pothole.
Another common reason that can cause tire vibration is the flat spots. If the car is sitting for several months without moving, especially in cold weather, tires might develop flat spots that will result in vibration when driving.

In normal circumstances, if you check all tires on a tire balancing machine after one or two years of driving, you might find that only one or two tires might be slightly off.
What are the symptoms of an unbalanced tire? The symptom of an unbalanced tire is the vibration felt at highway speeds. There are several problems that can cause vibration in a car, including faulty axles, wheel hubs, drive shafts, propeller shaft and other drivetrain and suspension components. Tires and rims are still responsible for 85-90 percent of the vibration complaints. Vibration caused by tires and rims doesn't change when accelerating or braking. It only changes with speed. You will feel it more pronounced at a certain speed, often between 50 and 70 mph.

How much does it cost to get your tires balanced? The price to balance your tires (wheels) vary between $60 and $100 for four wheels. It takes 30 to 40 minutes to balance four tires.

Can tire balancing fix all vibration concerns related to tires and rims? No, balancing a tire on a regular balancing machine can only eliminate vibrations caused by weight imbalance of the tire (wheel). If the tire has flat spots or hopping up and down or wobbling side to side, balancing the tire by adding weights won't fix the vibration issue completely. To better deal with this type of problems ask for Road Force balancing.

What is the difference between regular balancing and Road Force balancing? The Road Force tire balancer machine is more advanced and expensive. It's equipped with a roller that pushes on the tire to imitate the road force. This allows not only check weight imbalance but also measure tire uniformity. The Road Force balance can detect if the tire has flat spots or is out of round (hopping). In some cases, using the Road Force balancer, a tire might be repositioned on the rim to match low spots on the rim with high spots on the tire. Most of the larger repair shops and car dealers have the Road Force balancing machine. Some shops may charge a little extra for Road Force balancing.

Can ice buildup on the wheels cause vibration? Yes, the vibration in the car is one of the most common complaints after a winter storm or frozen rain. Of course, in most cases the vibration goes away as the ice on the rims melts.