The Difference Between Tire Balancing and Alignment

It’s easy to get tire balancing and alignment confused. After all, they both sound like they would do the same thing. But in reality, they are very different services. In the simplest terms, tire balancing uses weights on your wheels to keep your vehicle from vibrating, while an alignment keeps all of your wheels pointing in the same direction for safety and performance. Here’s a quick look at which service you might need for your vehicle.


What is Tire Balancing?

Tire balancing ensures that the heavy spot in your tire and wheel assembly is counteracted to eliminate vibrations and provide a smooth ride. This is done by attaching small weights to the wheel. When your assembly is balanced, it can result in a smoother ride, as well as less wear on your tires, chassis, and drivetrain.

Wheel weight on a tire

The most common symptom of an out-of-balance tire is vibration felt in the steering wheel, floorboard or seat. If left uncorrected can also lead to uneven tread wear, which means your tires could wear out faster. If a front tire isn’t properly balanced, you’ll likely feel that vibration in the steering wheel. If the problem is in the rear, you’ll feel it in the seat or floor. This vibration can change depending on the speed you’re traveling.

Check out our article How Do I Know If My Tires Need to Be Balanced.

Every time you buy a new set of tires or wheels at Les Schwab, we will balance the assembly. We also offer lifetime rebalancing, because as your tires wear, your balance can change. This is all part of our Best Tire Value Promise.


What is an Alignment?

An alignment is the process of adjusting the angles of your vehicle’s wheels so they are all working together on straightaways and corners. Everyday driving can cause your wheels to get slightly out of sync from one another. Especially if you hit a few curbs or potholes.

When one or more of your wheels isn’t pointing in the same direction, your tires are essentially scuffing on the road as you drive. This can lead to faster tire wear, pulling to one side or the other, a steering wheel that’s off-center, and loss of fuel economy.

Les Schwab Tip: If you notice one or more of your tires wearing more quickly than the others, your vehicle could be out of alignment.

If you can, it’s a good idea to get your alignment checked twice per year. We suggest early spring and early fall. If you can only do it once per year, stick with early spring.

See our article When to Get Your Car Alignment Checked for more.

Stop by Les Schwab if you feel your vehicle pulling to the right or left on a straight and level road, your steering wheel is off-center, or if you see uneven tire wear. If your vehicle needs to be aligned, we’ll show you your options and help you get safely back on the road.


Les Schwab Tire Balancing and Alignment

Your Local Les Schwab is here to check your alignment and get your wheel-tire assembly balanced so that your vehicle performs the way it was designed. While we’re at it, we can check other important safety components to keep you and your family safe.


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