Imbalanced tires will affect your ability to safely control your vehicle and efficiently get to where you need to go. Be on the look out for these four main signs of imbalanced tires:
At sufficient speed, imbalanced tires will produce a noticeable vibration. The tremor is likely too insignificant to feel at low speeds, such as 30 – 40 km/h, but once you get above 60 km/h the vibrations will be felt by all the occupants of the vehicle.
The frequency and intensity of the vibrations depend on many things, including the size and weight of your wheels and vehicle, as well as the sensitivity of your vehicle’s steering. Out-of-balance tires are not the only possible cause of vehicular vibration, but any noticeable tremor is definitely a reason to take your car in for a check-up.
Your tires will eventually patch-wear if they are out of balance. This type of wear is completely random and will happen at different spots around the circumference of the wheel. Uneven wear is caused by the vibration and shaking that is produced by an imbalanced tire.
Checking tread wear is pretty simple – just do the “penny test” or use a tread depth gauge. Check around the entire tire so you can see if the rubber is wearing evenly. A difference of 1.5mm (1/16”) or more means that your tires are wearing unevenly, and are likely out of balance.
All elements of your suspension, such as bearings, shocks, and struts, are vulnerable to damage from the vibration caused by imbalanced tires. Suspension issues usually cause “cupping” – a type of tread wear characterized by even tread wear distributed around the circumference of the tire. Suspension issues can also cause partial traction loss. Either of these issues are reason for you to bring your car in for inspection.
The three signs described above are the most likely things you will notice that indicate imbalanced tires. Keep in mind that the vibration causing uneven wear, suspension issues, or increased fuel usage may not be perceptible to the driver. Just because you don’t feel vibration, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring your vehicle in.
In addition to the four main signs described above, be on the lookout for tire/wheel runout and alarming vehicle sensors (particularly ABS and the brake control module). Tire imbalance doesn’t need to be a huge problem – if it is caught and dealt with early enough, fixing the issue is simple and painless. As always, if you are noticing any of the signs listed above or something just doesn’t feel “right,” just give us a call or send us a message and we can help you stay safe on the road.