If you own a car, you know you've seen this in your maintenance bill before. (unless you're new, in which case welcome to car ownership!) But what is it exactly? Why do we need it? And more importantly, is it worth paying for? To start with: Yes, wheel alignment and balancing go hand in hand when maintenance is underway. However, that is where the similarity ends. While both procedures help maintain wheel lifespan and car handling, they are actually fundamentally different.

Now, what IS wheel alignment?

Lets start with the most obvious fact, the car has four wheels. Now we know that each wheel must be positioned correctly in relation to other wheels. If one wheel went sideways while the others stayed in place, the car will feel a drop in performance, and in extreme cases (we're talking many years of negligence) you could lose the wheel. In less than extreme cases, you start feeling a slight jerk as the wheel that's out of alignment tries to run away but is now only held back by the nuts and bolts in your car, putting an unwanted strain on the tyre treads as well as your car suspension. So to keep your wheel from eventually eloping with the pavement, wheel alignment stabilizes the wheel and returns the wheel to it's original position relative to the other tyres through precise calibration. Remember, if you haven't re-aligned your wheels in a while then be careful when you ride over potholes and bumps as this is where you have a greater risk of damage.

Okay, and what about wheel balancing?

We can skip the obvious parts, we now know how many tyres a car has. We've seen how the wheels need to align themselves, now balance is a similar problem, but not the same. The car weight is distributed evenly across all four wheels. But through regular use and natural wear & tear, the wheels slowly start taking on different weights. One wheel may be taking on more weight than the rest. This means that wheel (or wheels) is under increased pressure and hence wears out faster than the rest. To prevent this, wheel balancing redistributes the car's weight. If your wheels aren't well balanced then your car steering will tend to move back and forth at higher speeds. This is very dangerous as weight shifting at greater speeds make manoeuvrability harder, increasing the chance of an accident.

We've got your back!

Of course, we tell you all this because we perform these services with the latest tech at Autodrome. Don't take our word for it, come by for a free check up and see for yourself!