I just bought my first car, and I find it amazing how making your own payments on something will make a girl take a bit more interest in upkeep! I’m trying to learn a little more about how to take care of my car and my tires, and I’m a confused. I read your blog about checking your tire pressure and how important it is to maintain the proper pressure–I even bought a tire pressure gauge and checked it myself!–but I don’t understand balancing and rotating. How do you balance a tire and why? Why do I need to rotate my tires and how often?
Help a sister out here, Bree; I’ve never really bothered with this stuff before because my dad took care of it for me, but now that I’m on my own, I’ve got a lot to learn.
Leaving the Nest in Naples
My dear little bird,
Congratulations on the purchase of your first car! That’s a big milestone! And kudos to you for figuring out quickly that basic maintenance is the best way to extend the life of your car (and tires), and the best way to avoid expensive repairs. Glad to hear that you figured out how to check your tire pressure and you got yourself a gauge–good job! Now, on to your question!
Having balanced tires is important to enjoying a smooth ride in your new car, and it’s also key in tire wear. Unbalanced tires tend to make a car vibrate and wobble, and no one wants that. It’s uncomfortable and it unnecessarily strains and wears the wheel bearings, your car’s suspension and your tires. When you join your tire to the axle, you need to make sure that the weight is even around the axle. Even a half-ounce difference in weight around the wheel can cause major vibrations. It may not seem like much, but that tiny amount of weight is traveling really fast around the axle–hundreds of times per minute–and the momentum of it can cause a lot of vibration. Multiply that vibration by four (for each of the four wheels on your car), and you’re looking at a significant amount of vibration and wobble. Not good. When tires are unbalanced, there is uneven pressure on the treads; the tires also get too hot and they wear unevenly, and that’s not good either. Uneven wear on tires can mean that you have to buy new tires long before you would have had to if you’d just kept your tires balanced.
To balance a tire, technicians use small, off-setting weights at different points around the wheel. It’s a precise process, and the machines that technicians use are very exact and accurate. Unfortunately, this probably isn’t one of those things that you can learn to do yourself at home, but it is important to keep up with, so RNR includes FREE LIFETIME ROTATION AND BALANCE for as long as our tires are on your car.
Every time you drive away from the place where your tires were balanced, they begin to get out of balance again. It’s more or less impossible to keep them perfectly balanced forever. Curves, bumps and corners all contribute to your tires becoming unbalanced again. We recommend having your tires balanced every 4,000 to 6,000 miles or anytime you have a tire replaced or patched. Getting your tires balanced is like getting your oil changed–it needs to be done, so stay on schedule.
Hope this helps, little bird. Next week, I’ll tell you why rotating your tires is also an important piece of maintenance to keep on your schedule!