Rock Talk

What’s a Wheel Balance? Here’s What You Need to Know

Last updated on November 22, 2019 at 09:00 am

Has your mechanic ever asked you if you would like your wheels balanced? Ever wonder what a wheel balance does?

If you’ve ever had your steering wheel vibrate, shake, shimmy or tremble at highway speeds, it may be time to have your wheels balanced. Over time small defects, uneven wear, and damage to your tires and wheels (the metal part) can throw everything out of balance causing them to wobble or bounce. An unbalanced tire can lead to decreased tread life, according to the tire experts at Michelin.

My mechanic once put it to me like this: “Your tires aren’t round anymore.”

I never actually knew what wheel balancing was – I always just said OK when the mechanic asked me. I never really thought much of it – the fee was something like $25. But one day, I finally asked, and he showed me.

When the shop balances your wheels, they take them off and put them on a machine to take measurements and look for damage. The machine spins the tire around and recommends weights to put on the tire to correct any imbalance and cancel out heavy spots.

If an unbalanced wheel was the cause of your steering wheel shimmies, balancing it should cure it. The folks at Goodyear recommend balancing your wheels every 3,000 to 6,000 miles (or whenever you’re experiencing a problem).

Keeping your wheels balanced is part of a good preventative care plan for your car, which includes other things like rotating your tires, changing your windshield wipers and regularly changing your oil. Plymouth Rock Assurance has do-it-yourself car care tips for drivers. What’s part of your regular car maintenance? Share your tips or maintenance plan in the comments.

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