What’s the difference between a wheel alignment vs wheel balancing?

May 5, 2020

What’s the difference between a wheel alignment vs wheel balancing?

Wheel alignment and wheel balancing are both necessary for a smooth ride and extending the life of your tires as you drive throughout Fairfax, Virginia.

What Is A Wheel Alignment?

A vehicle that is out of alignment will experience:

  • Uneven or rapid tire wear
  • Uncentered steering wheel
  • Pulling or drifting when driving straight
  • Loose steering wheel handling 
  • Additional steering effort after making a turn

Wheel Alignment Is Used To Correct Three Types Of Tire Angles:

1) Camber – The angle of the wheel when viewed from the front of the vehicle

2) Toe – The direction the tires point, relative to each other

3) Caster – The angle of the steering pivot as seen from the side of the vehicle

a graphic depicting three types of tire angles

What Is Wheel Balancing?

Imperfections, blemishes in rubber and damage to a tire or rim can throw a wheel out of balance. This makes one section of the tire or rim heavier, which causes the tire to wobble or even jump as it rotates while driving. The bouncing can often be heard, as well as felt in the steering wheel. 

A vehicle that needs a wheel balance will experience:

  • Vibrating in the steering wheel, drivers seat and/or floorboard 
  • Slight humming or buzzing noise while driving
  • Scalloped or cupped wear patterns on the tires

an image of tire cupping

ABS Unlimited Auto Repair recommends wheels be balanced any time tires are rotated, patched or replaced. If you suspect that you need a wheel alignment or wheel balancing, call us at (703) 352-7770 to schedule an appointment.