Understanding the Differences Between Tire Balancing and Alignment for When You Become an Auto Mechanic
When it comes to cars, everyone wants as smooth a ride as possible, and bumpy or jolty handling isn’t ideal. Two possible causes may lie with the tires, specifically in their balance and alignment.
During your career as an auto mechanic, you may have more than your share of customers who believe that tire balancing and wheel alignment refer to the same thing. While they both do share similar components—namely, the tires themselves—they are actually distinct automotive concepts that require their own separate maintenance to keep drivers and their cars safe on the road.
If you’re interested in becoming an auto mechanic, read on to find out what you should know about tire balance and alignment.
Auto Mechanics Know Good Tire Balance Is Key to a Smooth Ride
As tires age, they can begin to distribute mass unevenly due to natural wear in certain areas such as the tread. This can lead to one of the most common signs of tire imbalance, which involves a vehicle shaking or vibrating at speeds over 80 kilometres per hour.
Fortunately, fixing an imbalanced tire is relatively straightforward, especially if you have the right automotive service technician training. Contemporary tires typically have three metal attachments in the rim, which are placed in specific locations to balance how a tire distributes its mass. In order to balance a tire, weights are placed in each of these attachments depending on their location in the rim.
The easiest and simplest approach when balancing tires is to apply inside and outside weights to the top dead center (TDC) of each rim plane. There are a few ways to attach these weights, however. A luxury car, for instance, may not be able to have an outside weight applied to it for aesthetic reasons, and instead a stick-on weight may have to be applied on the inside of the rim’s outer plane.
Proper Wheel Alignment Is Important After Automotive Service Technician School
A car’s wheel alignment is a crucial aspect that allows a vehicle to travel in a straight line, and it actually affects much more than just the tires.
Improper wheel alignment can cause a car to pull or drift away towards one side, and can lead to additional wear on components like the suspension, axle, and wheel mounts. Unaligned wheels can even lead to poor gas mileage and handling. Common signs of misaligned tires that you may see after automotive service technician school include wheel vibration as well as uneven tire wear and a steering wheel that responds in a crooked fashion.
Proper wheel alignment involves adjusting the wheels using the correct angles. The caster is the angle between the pivot line which runs vertically from the front to the back of a vehicle, while the camber is the angle that runs from the top and bottom of the tire to the axle. Ideally, wheels should be angled so they are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other, but each automotive manufacturer has a factory setting for the specific alignment to use.
Are you interested in taking the next steps to become an auto mechanic?
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