Reasons For and Against Tire Balancing
You hear it all the time: “tire balance and rotation.” Heck, we’re guilty of it all over the service pages (and corresponding blog posts) of this website. When talking about tire service, balance and rotation are two words that are almost always uttered together. What is the difference between these two procedures, specifically? And is it absolutely necessary to balance tires when they’re rotated?
It’s not completely necessary to balance tires when rotating, but it is a good idea to do so. When performed by a shop, the balancing procedure is inexpensive, so its usually paired with the rotation. If you’re doing a rotation job yourself, it’s up to you whether you want to also balance. But there are several reasons that balancing is a good idea.
What is tire balancing?
New tires are fitted with small metal attachments clamped to the rim. There’s usually three of them. These attachments are used to balance out imperfections in a tire’s mass distribution.
To balance a tire, the tire is placed on a spinning machine that demonstrates how steady the tire’s spin is. The three pieces of metal are then moved along the rim until the spin of the tire is steady. Even a small difference in mass in part of the tire can cause big vibrations in your vehicle when driving over 50 miles-per-hour. And no tires are uniform in mass throughout.
If you haven’t noticed any shaking in your vehicle, that likely means that your front tires are still well-balanced. However, if you’re performing a tire rotation and moving the back tires upfront, you may notice shaking due to imbalances in your newly-front tires. This is why it’s so strongly recommended to perform tire balancing when you do a tire rotation, at least on the back tires that you’re now bringing to the front.