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Wheel Alignment vs. Tire Balancing: What’s the Difference?

Maxi Auto Repair and Service| Image of wheels alignment camber check in workshop

Wheel alignment and tire balancing are two very different things. Both are essential parts of wheel maintenance. You have a four-wheel alignment check at least once per year unless you notice that your vehicle shows signs of misalignment. Balancing is equally important and should be checked every time you have an oil change. Since the auto technician at Maxi Auto Repair and Service in Jacksonville FL will have the tires off the vehicle for tire balancing, always ask to rotate the tires.

Wheel Alignment

A vehicle’s suspension keeps the tires on the road. It also connects the body to the chassis. If the suspension is out of alignment, the wheels are also out of alignment. When you have an alignment done, you are actually adjusting part of the suspension. Aligning the wheels keeps your vehicle from veering to the left or right when driving in a straight line.

The suspension also affects how your vehicle handles and minimizes the road vibrations carried through the tires. You know when part of your vehicle’s suspension – usually the shocks, struts or springs – are worn when you start feeling every bump in the road.

The parts of the suspension that affect wheel alignment are the inner and outer tie rods, bearings, ball joints and bushings. While you can adjust tie rods unless they are completely worn out, other parts must be replaced if they are causing misalignment.

Signs Your Vehicle Needs a Wheel Alignment

The wheels can be knocked out of alignment if you hit a pothole or curb or are in a car accident. You can tell if your vehicle needs a wheel alignment if:

  • The vehicle pulls to one side of the road when driving in a straight line on a level road.
  • The tire tread wears unevenly – on one side or the other, or if the tire tread “scallops.”
  • The tires squeal.
  • The steering wheel is not centered when you are driving in a straight line.
  • You feel a vibration in the steering wheel when you accelerate.

Tire Balancing

Tires must be in balance to give you a smooth ride and to extend the life of the tires. When you mount a tire, it may not be perfectly round, whether because of the manufacturing process of the tire or because the rim is not perfectly round. Tire balancing corrects any uneven weight distribution caused by imperfect roundness.

An experienced tire technician at Maxi Auto Repair and Service in Jacksonville FL removes the wheel from the vehicle and puts it on the machine, spins the wheel and detects any imbalance. The tech places weights on the rim at the point where the tire is not in balance.

When you have the vehicle’s tires balanced, it is the perfect time to rotate the tires, which also extends the life of the tires.

Signs Your Vehicle Needs Tire Balancing

The most common sign your tires are out of balance is a vibration in the steering wheel, usually when you’re driving at about 55 to 65 miles per hour. If you feel the vibration in the seat, it is most likely a rear tire that needs to be balanced. If you feel it in the steering wheel, it’s usually one of the front tires that need to be balanced.

Your vehicle’s tires can become unbalanced if you hit a curb or a pothole and scrape or bound the weight off. If you leave your vehicle sitting for long periods of time, you may notice a vibration – that is most likely due to a flat spot in the tire. If you must store your vehicle, it’s best to set the car on blocks and remove the wheels.

Contact Maxi Auto Repair and Service in Jacksonville, FL.

If you have problems with vibrations or notice the tire tread is not wearing evenly, contact Maxi Auto Repair and Service at 1-904-646-4000 for an appointment. We are conveniently located at 10200 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville FL 32246, for an appointment.


Look no further if you’re looking for a reliable and trustworthy auto shop. At Maxi Auto Repair & Service, our team of experts, state-of-the-art equipment, and commitment to quality and customer satisfaction make us your number 1 choice for your repair and maintenance needs in Jacksonville, FL, and nearby areas.

Visit one of our locations today. Or give us a call for your inquiries or to schedule an appointment.