Cars can be complicated to maintain properly. Often, owners do not fully understand the ways in which their vehicle works, and they are even more in the dark when it comes to the maintenance being done to their car.
You may have heard about balancing and rotating your tires. Maybe it has been recommended for your vehicle, but what does this mean? Why is it important? And how long does it take?
Let’s find out.
What Do Balance and Rotation Mean?
Understanding these terms is the first step in learning how to care for your tires correctly.
Simply put, balancing a tire means making sure its weight is evenly distributed around your vehicle. Although new wheels may appear perfectly round and symmetrical, they often have small imperfects.
For example, the tread could be slightly thinner in one area than another. Balancing them helps correct this kind of imperfection so that they wear evenly and last as long as possible.
When a mechanic is rotating your tires, they switch their position. In the end, each wheel will be in a new location on your vehicle. Where exactly each one will go depends on the type of car you have. The intention behind rotating tires is to extend their usable life by ensuring even wear.
What Does the Process Look Like?
To figure out the amount of time it takes to balance and rotate tires, let’s take a look at each step in the process.
The first step for a mechanic when balancing a tire is to remove it from the vehicle and load it onto a specialized machine. This machine will quickly spin the tire for a few seconds and provide the mechanic with an output. The output will show the mechanic precisely how much and where to add weight to the tire for it to be balanced. After clip-on weights are attached, they will be reinstalled to your vehicle.
How long does it take?
Depending on their age and condition, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to properly balance all four of your tires.
Consider checking: How Long To Mount And Balance Tires
There are three ways your tires may be rotated, depending on your car’s size and drive type. If you have a 4-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive vehicle, the mechanic will likely perform a rearward cross. First, the two rear wheels will move to the front. Then, the original front ones will move to the rear and switch sides.
The second way this can be done is called the X Pattern. Front-wheel drive vehicles like small trucks and sedans normally get this type. In this process, every wheel moves diagonally.
The final tire rotation option is for front-wheel drive vehicles. It is called a forward cross, and it is the exact opposite of the rearward cross. For a forward cross, the front tires move straight to the back. Then the rear ones switch sides and move forward.
How long does it take?
No matter which type of rotation your vehicle needs, this process should only take a mechanic about 15 to 20 minutes from start to finish.
Do Tires Need to be Balanced When Rotated?
While it is not absolutely crucial to balance wheels after they get rotated, it is a good practice. In fact, these two services often go hand in hand.
Most manufacturers recommend getting your tires balanced and rotated about every 7,000 miles, so if you get them done at the same time, you can make fewer trips to the mechanic. Plus, balancing and rotation are so often done together that a large majority of service shops have combination deals. Neither one of these maintenance checks are very expensive, and it is not uncommon for them to be complementary at times.
Both of these services are designed to extend the usable life of your wheels, so it is highly recommended to follow the manual for your vehicle.
It does not take a very long time to help keep your car running smoothly. When combined, balancing and rotating may take up to 2 hours and 20 minutes, or as little as just 1 hour. It is absolutely worth spending this time in your local service shop, especially when keeping in mind the costly damage that could occur without proper tire care.
To help you remember to regularly get these maintenance checks performed on your vehicle, we recommend asking your mechanic for a balance and rotation at every oil change. All three services need to be carried out around the same mileage, so use your oil change sticker as a reminder for all of them.
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