Our vehicles are not massage chairs. While we may enjoy a good vibration in an overstuffed recliner, drivers generally want as smooth a ride as possible in their vehicles. Perhaps one day, while getting up to speed on the highway, you notice a shudder in your steering wheel or your car seat begins to shake. While there could be many reasons for this problem, the most common cause is wheel imbalance.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
As the only part of your vehicle (that should be) touching the road, we can all agree your wheels and tires are very important. And since replacing tires is fairly expensive, you want them to last as long as possible.
There are three keys to long, even tire wear:
- Proper tire inflation
- Proper wheel alignment
- Regular tire rotation and balancing
The front tires on a car take the brunt of steering forces. As they push through turns, the shoulders of the front tires wear down more quickly than on rear tires. Rotating front and rear tires allows all four to wear at about the same rate. This is especially true of front wheel drive vehicles, where the front tires steer as well as put your engine’s power to the road.
Tire Rotation is Important
What kind of rotation do you need? For most vehicles, tire rotation is simply a matter of moving the front tires to the rear and vice versa. Some vehicles recommend a cross-rotational pattern. Other vehicles use asymmetrical tires, which means the right tires must stay on the right side of the car and the left tires on the left. Some vehicles use different sized wheels on the front and back of the car and should not have their tires rotated.
Your owner’s manual will have information about proper rotation of your vehicle’s tires as well as recommended mileage between rotations. For most vehicles, that’s usually every 5,000 miles. If you have any questions, your local, professional Kennedy Transmission service advisor can offer advice about tire rotation, and perform a quick inspection to determine whether your tires are due to be rotated.
Keeping Your Balance
When a tire is first mounted onto a wheel, it is usually out of balance. This means that as the wheel spins, there is a slight wobble in the rotation of the tire. For proper handling performance and safety on the road, drivers want to minimize this wobble as much as possible, so making sure their wheels are balanced is essential. To balance a wheel, a Kennedy Transmission tech spins it on a machine or drum to determine where it is off-balance. He then attaches weights that counter-balance the uneven weight. Most motorists are surprised at just how much balancing improves the smoothness of their ride.
High-quality tires generally hold their balance well. But over time, wear and tear take their toll, and even the best tires can become unbalanced. You can tell when a front tire is unbalanced from a vibration in the steering wheel. If a back tire is unbalanced, you’ll feel a vibration in your seat. Because these issues tend to develop slowly, you may not notice these vibrations until they get fairly serious – or until someone else drives your car or truck. If a vibration begins abruptly, you’ve probably lost a wheel balancing weight.
Preventing Tire Wear
Maybe the vibration doesn’t bother you. Maybe you’ve gotten used to it. Why should you bother balancing your wheels? Consider this: At 60 miles per hour, the average tire rotates at about 850 revolutions per minute. When a tire is out of balance, it actually hops down the road, rather than rolling. So at that speed, it’s slamming into the pavement 14 times a second. This is what creates the vibration, and causes tires to wear out more quickly. The lack of balance also causes extra wear on shocks, struts, steering components and critical suspension parts.
Getting your wheels balanced at Kennedy Transmission Brake & Auto Service in Minnesota or North Dakota can prevent pricey repair bills – even accidents – in the future. It will improve the safety of your car or truck, its handling performance, as well as increase your fuel efficiency. Remember, if you have a flat tire repaired or replace your vehicle’s stock rims, be sure to have your wheels rotated and balanced as well.
Let Kennedy Transmission Bring Balance to Your Life
Tires are a big investment for any vehicle. They’re critical for keeping you safely on the road. Though it seems like an unnecessary expense, the cost for regular rotation and balancing is more than made up in extended tire life. And, can you really put a price on your safety and that of your passengers?
Contact us to schedule a tire rotation and balancing appointment today!