What’s the difference between a 4 wheel alignment and a rotate & balance of vehicle tires?

All the time we hear, “My car shakes, I think I need my tires aligned.” Or, “My car keeps pulling to the left, I need my tires Balanced!” It’s very easy to not know the difference between these two different services.

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We are going to make it easy for you in this post! Below, find how balancing and alignments are different, what they involve and how to tell if your car needs one.

Tire Balance Wheel Alignment
• Weights are applied to planes on the tire rim, inside and out. • Adjusting angle of wheels, including caster (angle between upper and lower ball joints) and camber (the angle between the tire and the axle).
• Sign it’s time for one: Shaking or vibrating at 60 – 70 mph. • Sign it’s time for one: Severe wear on outside or inside edge of tire.

What a Tire Balance entails: Balancing a tire involves the application of zinc, lead, or non-lead/composite weights to each plane of the rim—the inside and the outside. However, since there are many different styles of rims, there are several different weight applications used to balance.

What a 4 Wheel alignment entails: Obtaining a wheel alignment for your vehicle could be necessary for many reasons. In fact, several maintenance and repair jobs require wheel alignments when completed due to the obstruction of the caster and the camber.

  • The casteris the angle between the pivot line (an imaginary line that runs vertically through the center of the upper ball joint to the center of the lower ball joint) from the front to back of the vehicle.
  • Camberis the angle from the top/bottom of the tire to the axle. If the top of the tire sticks out farther than the bottom (farther away from the axle), it is a positive camber. If the bottom of the tire sticks out more than the top, it is a negative camber.