When you feel vibrations in your automobile when driving on a smooth road, you might assume it's a tire or wheel issue. And rightly so. Since your tires are what connects your car to the road, they are the usual suspects when things start shaking. To fix the problem, you know you are going to need a wheel service. But which service do you need? Alignment? Balance? Wait a minute—is there a difference?
Is wheel alignment the same as wheel balancing?
There are many ways tires and wheels get out of whack. Depending on the issue, you might need a wheel alignment or a wheel balancing service. Or both.
It's easy to get these two services confused. Let's break it down.
What is a wheel alignment service?
A wheel alignment is also called a tire alignment. However, both terms are misleading. It's actually the suspension system that is adjusted in this operation. But it does influence the tires significantly. Your car needs to be in proper alignment to get the longest life out of your tires.
The intent of a wheel alignment service is to angle the wheels so they are: 1. Precisely parallel to each other and, 2. Perfectly perpendicular to the ground.
Camber, Toe, and Caster
As three-dimensional objects, wheels can vary from the ideal angle in several ways. When performing a wheel alignment service, your service professional will check three different measurements: camber, toe, and caster.
Camber is the angle of the wheel from the perspective of the front of the car. If you were looking at your car from the front and the tires tip in toward the center of the vehicle, it would be a camber issue.
Caster is the angle of the steering pivot from the perspective of the side of the automobile.
Toe is probably the simplest to understand. It refers to the direction the wheels point, in relation to each other. You can imagine this angle by moving your toes to point to each other or away from each other.
What is a wheel balance service?
The goal of a wheel balance service is to cause the tires to revolve without any shaking or vibration. This is accomplished by making sure the weight is distributed evenly around the axle.
Call I-86 Truck & Auto Repair in Falconer if you need either of these services. When wheels are correctly aligned and balanced, your tires will last longer, you will get better MPG, and you will enjoy a smoother ride.