Ever been driving along and felt slight vibrations on the steering wheel? Maybe you’ve noticed it occurring as you travel around corners, or more often at high speeds. These are typical signs that your wheels are not properly balanced.
Over time, and if left unchecked, unbalanced wheels can leave your vehicle vulnerable to wear and tear which may put you at increased risk of an accident.
Before you race down to the service centre, let’s take a closer look at what wheel balancing is and why it is so important for the proper maintenance of your vehicle.
What is wheel balancing?
You would be forgiven if you’d never heard of wheel balancing before.
Wheel balancing is the process of ensuring that the weight distribution on each of your wheels is even. To maintain the appropriate wheel balance, qualified technicians will ensure that the weight of each wheel is correctly balanced to the required specifications of your vehicle.
Why Wheel balancing is important?
Wheel balancing is important for several reasons, chief among them the safety and longevity of your tyres. Unbalanced wheels can gradually undermine the mechanical integrity of the wheels themselves and even cause difficulty in steering the vehicle. If your car has suffered damage from an accident, or from driving over a pothole, you may find that unbalanced wheels are only the beginning of the issues you’re facing. If you’re worried that your wheels are unbalanced to a collision, then it’s also worth checking that your wheel alignment is also properly centred.
How do wheels become unbalanced?
Wheels can become unbalanced in a variety of ways. First, it’s worth remembering that wheels are never actually completely balanced all the way around – some sections reduce the weight in certain areas – like the cut-out for the air-valve stem – and other small anomalies contribute to a wheel that is never completely evenly weighted. Accidentally hitting a curb, driving over an unexpected pothole, or an accident can also cause your wheels to become unbalanced.
Combine that with high speeds, and months of driving time – it’s easy to see how the wheel weights may slowly become unbalanced over a longer period. It’s only a matter of time before any wheel – no matter the quality of the vehicle – will become unbalanced. Proper wheel assembly is therefore important in ensuring your wheels are checked for these anomalies – and ensuring your safety on the road.
Signs your wheels are unbalanced
While unbalanced wheels usually creep up slowly on drivers, that doesn’t mean you can’t diagnose the issue by identifying some tell-tale signs. Here are some common signs to watch out for:
- Vibrating feeling when driving at high speeds
- Uneven wear and tear on one or more of your tyres
- Increased vibration when taking a corner
How are wheels balanced?
The wheel and tyre are placed on a computer-controlled machine that will measure how much weight is needed and where it should be fitted on the rim of the wheel. Then small weights are added that counter any weight imbalance according to the manufacturer’s specifications. On many cars, only the front wheels are balanced, but on Subaru cars which are all wheel drive vehicles, all the wheels will be re-balanced to ensure ultimate safety and a smooth ride.
Do second-hand cars need their wheels re-balanced?
A question many buyers might be asking is whether a second-hand car bought on the private market will need its wheels rebalanced.
The answer is most likely yes.
Second-hand cars are usually more prone to having unbalanced wheels given their long lifetime. Unfortunately, private sellers are usually not too concerned with more long-term issues that are not so obvious to the buyer’s eye. Tyre balancing is probably not on their to-do list – especially if they’re looking to maximise their sale price.
Do dealerships re-balance wheels?
Yes, they can and they will.
Dealerships are the ideal place to rebalance your wheels with the help of a qualified technician. If you’re buying a new car or purchasing a second-hand vehicle from a trusted dealership, the car’s wheels will come pre-balanced, but that shouldn’t stop you from double-checking with the seller to double check. Ensuring your car’s wheels are properly balanced before you buy can save you adding that job to the next service.
Get your wheels balanced with a Subaru service
If you are looking to ensure your wheels are fully balanced, book a Subaru service at City Subaru. Our Subaru service centre is staffed with Subaru-trained technicians, and we only ever use genuine Subaru parts. Our mission is to ensure that your car is running at the optimal level for performance, comfort, and safety. You can book your car in by visiting our website and if you have any further questions our sales team will answer them for you.