What Causes Tires to Be Out of Balance?

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Mechanic balancing a tire in auto repair shop
Tires become unbalanced when one part of the tire becomes heavier than the other parts of the tire. But how do they get this way? In this guide, we will go over all different kinds of information about unbalanced tires.

Drivers should read ahead to learn more about how tires become unbalanced, and how to get your vehicle running at optimal performance after noticing these signs.

Signs of Unbalanced Tires

If your tires are out of balance, there are a few key ways to detect it. Some of the most common signs that your tires are out of balance include:

  • Vibrating throughout the vehicle - These vibrations can be felt at most speeds if you're paying attention. But they're most noticeable at highway speeds like 50 and higher mph.
  • Unusual tire wear patterns - Some instances of tire imbalance can cause scalloping or cup-shaped divots along either the inner or outer edge of your tires.
  • Strange noises coming from your vehicle - Tire imbalance can often cause humming, buzzing, and similar noises that become louder the faster you drive.
  • Decreased fuel economy - Sudden drops in your fuel economy can be indicative of unbalanced tires because your vehicle has to work harder to make up for your tires being unbalanced.
If you're experiencing any of these things, it's likely that your tires are out of balance.
How Tires Become Unbalanced

Tires can become unbalanced in a variety of different ways starting with the weather. Cold air causes regular tire deflation because of the way the air particles inside the tire contract. However, sometimes the tire can deflate so much that your tires become unbalanced.

Another common reason for tire imbalance is the loss of a wheel weight. This can happen when you're driving at high speeds and hit either a speed bump, a sidewalk curb, a deep pothole, or any type of object on the road. Hitting a bump or hole can also cause one or more of the steel tire belts to break.

Tire Balance vs Wheel Alignment

Another common problem that can happen with your tires/wheels is that your wheels can come out of alignment. However, these two problems are treated completely differently. Tires are balanced by adding more weights to the tire in order to make it spin correctly. Wheel alignments, on the other hand, straighten out the wheels so they're all driving in the same exact direction.

Some drivers often confuse these two problems because they share a few symptoms in common including uneven tire wear. This is actually the most common sign of wheel misalignment. So, when you take your vehicle into the shop to be checked for unbalanced tires, they'll first rule out wheel alignment issues.

Need Your Tires Balanced?

We hope this detailed guide answered all of your unbalanced tire questions. If not, we're happy to answer more questions or get you to schedule for a service appointment. Drivers should give us a call today to have our team help them balance their tires and get them back on the road at optimal efficiency.