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Why you should take your car for wheel balancing

If you are not bothered about going to a mechanic for your vehicle’s wheel balancing, it is high time you did.

We usually confuse wheel balancing with wheel allignment, yet the two are very different.

According to Wilson Mugisha, a mechanic in Kisenyi, wheel alignment consists of adjusting the angles of the wheels so that they are perpendicular to the ground and parallel with each other.

He says the purpose of these adjustments is maximum tire life and for the vehicle to stick in its lane. Wheel balancing, on the other hand, allows tires and wheels to spin without causing any vibrations. 

Mugisha says this is usually done by checking for any heavy spots on the wheel-and-tire combination, and compensating for it by placing a measured lead weight on the opposite side of the wheel from where the heavy spot is.

“Imbalanced wheels degrade the car quality, driver comfort and shorten the life of tires, bearings, shock absorbers and other suspension components. But noticeably, vibration is the most noticeable effect of wheel imbalances,” he adds.

These vibrations are caused by heavy or light spots which are classified into two: static or dynamic. Under static imbalance, the heavy or light spots in a tire make it roll unevenly and the wheel usually undergoes an up-and-down movement.

Dynamic imbalance happens when there is unequal weight on both sides of the tire which cause the side-to-side movement.

Mugisha explains that while driving, the effects of unbalanced tires become apparent between 60 and 70 kilometers, and the vibrations keep increasing in line with the speed. He adds that the vibrations are due to either poor bead seating on the rim or its components are poorly placed.

“Using improperly made wheels can lead to poor bead mounting. A slight miscalculation in the mounting is okay but when very poorly done, the beads cause vibrations which lead to excessive tire wear and discomfort,” he says.

Poor wheel alignment and balancing has its own perils since these two lead to unpredictable car behavior. For instance, driving in a straight line is hard since the car unexpectedly pulls or drifts away from its line; it wanders off a straight-leveled road which exposes one to accidents.

For starters, knowing if your car has a wheel problem is not hard. When driving, always look out for vibrations in the steering wheel, seat and floorboard.

Also, it is advisable to check the tires and when you see them cupped or scalloped, then it’s hightime you visited your mechanic.

Experts suggest that wheel balancing and alignment must be done periodically and that the best time should be when changing the engine oil. It is also recommended that after driving for at least 50,000 km, a car owner should visit the garage for wheel alignment or balancing.

High-end motor clinics do it at between Shs 40,000 and Shs 50,000. However, there are places where one can have their tires smoothened at a lesser fee.


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