“Do tires need to be balanced when rotated” is a question we get relatively frequently. It doesn’t hurt, especially if you have a free, lifetime rotation and balancing plan.
That said, balancing is generally not required every single time tires are rotated, unless there are extenuating circumstances.
What are these circumstances? We cover them in detail below.
Why Rotate Tires?
Tire rotation is necessary because front tires wear more quickly on the shoulders (where the tread and sidewall meet) in day-to-day driving. This is primarily due to the fact that cornering is much harder on front tires than rear tires. Also, front-wheel drive vehicles put even more force on the front tires, accelerating wear even more.
Most manufacturers recommend rotating tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Be sure to check your owner’s manual. Many people get their tires rotated every time they have their oil changed. This can be a good system, although some synthetic oil and filters can go 15,000 to 20,000 miles between changes.
Why Balance Tires?
Balancing is a bit different. Tires and wheel assemblies can have relatively heavier or lighter spots in different locations. This can be due to uneven wear, manufacturing problems, missing lug nuts, scraping curbs, etc.
Even a small difference can cause tires to wobble, which in turn can cause vibrations to be felt inside the cabin. Vibrations tend to worsen in a particular speed range, such as between 55 mph and 60 mph.
Balancing tires when needed will both extend the life of tires and make for a smoother and vibration-free ride.
Do Tires Need to Be Balanced When Rotated?
The answer is generally “no,” unless you have free lifetime rotating and balancing or are experiencing problems. If you do have a free plan, always request for your tires to be checked.
If you suspect any problems at all, however, have your tires checked regardless. What are potential signs of out-of-balance tires?
- Noticeable wobbling or vibrations at moderate-to-higher speeds, e.g., 40 mph and higher
- Signs of uneven wear
- Damage or scrapes (need to check more than balancing in this case).
Here is a short video with some tips on how to recognize when you have a tire balance problem.
Other times to consider getting your tires balanced include when you have a flat repaired or buy any number of new tires.
How to Balance Tires
While it is possible to balance tires at home, our advice is to always let trained professionals test and balance your tires.
The process is relatively straightforward. First, the technician mounts the tire/wheel on a tire balancing machine. The wheel is then spun at various speeds and vibration measurements are taken.
These measurements will tell the technician if there are balance issues; how much weight needs to be added; and where that weight needs to be located.
In some extreme cases, the tire must be deflated and moved in relation to the wheel before rebalancing.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having your tires balanced frequently. However, unless you have a free lifetime plan, this can be prohibitively expensive for many drivers.
If money is a concern, know when tire balancing is needed. Vibrations that can be felt through the steering wheel are the main symptom. However, do not forget the other rules of thumb that we outlined above – every 2 years, after a flat, after purchasing a new tire, etc.
The benefits of a smoother ride, improved safety and longer-lasting tires are worth it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much does it cost to balance tires?
Clearly this depends on the cost of living where you live. The range is usually $20 to $70 with an average around $40. If your tires need this service, it is worth the investment.
Is it dangerous to not rotate and balance tires?
It can be. Failing to rotate and balance tires will cause uneven wear which results in weak spots that could theoretically lead to blow outs. Also, this could lead to poor traction and handling.
Are there any other consequences to unbalanced tires?
Yes, out of balance tires can cause damage to other parts of your car. The additional stress created can damage to shocks, bearings, and wheel assemblies.
Notes and Sources for “Do Tires Need to Be Balanced When Rotated?”
* Tire shoulders are where the tread and sidewall meet.