What is the difference between wheel alignment and balancing?

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As mentioned in our previous article exploring the intricacies of wheel balancing and wheel balancers, we mentioned that it can often be confused with wheel alignment. We, at Mechanic Outlet, wanted to clear the air and help you understand the value of each of these units and the benefits they can bring to your shop. It’s a good idea for full-service shops to have both, but let’s take a look at each, so you can prioritize your shop upgrades and pick the best unit for you.

Wheel Balancing

Wheel balancers works by dismounting the wheel from the vehicle and placing it on a spindle going through the center of the wheel and locking in place with a cone designed for the vehicle type and wheel size. Wheel balancing machines spin the mounted wheel and tire at high speeds to detect imbalances during the wheel’s rotation and assist mechanics in placing a counter-weight to offset any balance issues.

Wheel Alignment

These units differ in more ways than one, starting with their method of use. Where balancing requires the wheel and tire be mounted to a machine, wheel alignment machines are used while they are still affixed to the studs. Alignment is used to adjust caster, camber, and toe in/out, that will ultimately affect the evenness of wear and if the vehicle will have any inherent drift to the left or right.

Knowing When To Use Each

Both wheel balancing machines and wheel alignment machines have their purpose and we believe that it’s a good idea to ultimately have both as part of your arsenal of shop machinery, but it’s important to know when to do wheel balancing or alignment. A wheel balancer is employed when the customer notices road vibration at certain speeds and generally addresses the entire issue, however, take note there are other causes of road vibration if the problem persists. Alignment is often the best option if you or the client notice uneven wear on the inside or outside edge of the tire, in addition to aforementioned drifting when releasing the steering wheel. It’s also necessary whenever completing work on any parts associated with front end assembly.

We hope that we helped you sort which piece of equipment to pick up first to start increasing the number of jobs at your shop – or you could pick up both using our convenient financing options. If you have any questions, the friendly customer support here at Mechanic Outlet is unrivaled, and will be sure to help you get the right one for you!

Featured Image Credit: Nejron Photo/Shutterstock.com

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