difference between wheel alignment and wheel balancing

Difference in wheel alignment and wheel balancing

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Everyone having a car has to worry about its maintenance. Wheel alignment and wheel balancing are two terms that people generally misconceive as a single repair.

It is not so they both are different things related to repair.

So, have a look at each one of them.


Wheel alignment


Wheel alignment refers to the correction of angles at which the tires come in contact with the ground.

Wheel alignment is the proper alignment of your car suspension. Car suspension is a system that connects a vehicle to its wheels.

Wheel alignment is also known as tire alignment. The tires or wheels have nothing to do with wheel alignment; only the suspension needs some work.


How does the wheel alignment work?


Wheel alignment includes adjusting the wheel angles such that they are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to the other tire.


Wheel alignment includes checking for three angles-

  • Camber angle
  • Toe angle
  • Caster angle  

Let us understand everything in detail.


Camber angle

Camber angle is the tilt of tires either inward or outward when seen from the front of a vehicle. If they are tilted inwards from the bottom, then it is known as a positive camber angle. If the tires are tilted outwards from the bottom, then it is known as negative camber angle.

There is a trend nowadays to have a negative camber angle. Your car tire will bulge outwards from the lower part.

Camber misalignment may happen due to worn bearings or any other issue with your car suspension.


Toe angle

Toe angle is the angle that the tire’s toe makes with the perpendicular axis. When seen from the front of your vehicle, the tire’s toe may be going inward or outward.

The inward angle of the tire toe is known as Toe In, and the outward angle is known as Toe Out.

If you find it hard to visualize Toe angle, stand upright and angle your forefoot inwards now, this is Toe-In alignment. Again, angle your forefoot outwards now the angle of your forefoot is the Toe-Out alignment.


Caster angle

Caster angle is the angle of the steering axis when viewed from the side of a vehicle. Due to the caster angle, your steering wheel may pull to left or right.

In the case of a Positive caster angle, the steering axis will tilt towards the driver side. On the other hand, a Negative caster angle means your vehicle’s steering axis will tilt more toward the front of your car.

These are the three angles necessary for wheel alignment. Every mechanic will adjust these three angles for the proper alignment of tires.


Signs that your car needs a wheel alignment


  • Uneven tread and wear
  • Vehicle pulling to the left or right side
  • Driving in straight line still experiencing off-center steering wheel
  • Experiencing vibration of the steering wheel


Wheel balancing

This repairing refers to the balancing of any weight imbalance in the tire or wheel combination.

Wheel balancing and wheel alignment usually go along with each other.

There are two types of imbalances that need correction:



Static refers to a single plane. 

It refers to tire Balancing in vertical movement. This vertical movement imbalance causes vibration. The mechanic will balance the weights of the tire in an idle position.



A dynamic imbalance refers to the balancing of tires in both vertical movement and lateral movement.

Both of these imbalances need correction to attain a perfect wheel balancing. The mechanic will balance the weights of the tire while it is moving.


Signs that your car needs wheel balancing


  • You will feel a vibration in the steering wheel.


How often wheel balancing and wheel alignment is required?


Wheel alignment and wheel balancing both are equally necessary. Both of these enhance the performance of your tires. Proper balancing and alignment also increase the life of your tires.

Although both are equally important, wheel balancing is needed more frequently.  Wheel alignment is not required as often.


Factors affecting wheel alignment and wheel balancing


Driving off-road

Hatchbacks, sedans, and coups are not for off-road. They perform smoothly over on-road.

If you drive these on-road vehicles off-road, then this causes tire imbalance. Driving off-road may also cause wheel alignment.

As driving off-road, your tire has to bear much more tension which causes wheel imbalance.


Hitting a pothole

It is possible that hitting a pothole at high speed will leave your wheel imbalanced. Tires are made part by part, which means there are several possibilities that hitting the sidewalk can cause a wheel imbalance.


Hard braking

Hard braking also causes tire imbalance. If your vehicle is at high speed and you apply hard brakes, there are chances of wheel imbalance. This hard braking will cause near to total stoppage of tires.

But since your car has a lot of momentum, your car tires will slip over the road. This momentum causes an imbalance of tires.


Poor construction of tires

Poor construction of tires also causes tire imbalance. If the quality of tires is not good enough to handle the weights and tension, then the tire will experience weight imbalance very often.



Accident causes tire imbalance. 

During an accident, your car tire experiences a sudden jerk. Due to this sudden jerk, wheel weight gets imbalanced.

Poor alignment of wheels also causes wheel imbalance.




Wheel alignment refers to the alignment of the suspension of your car. On the other hand, wheel balancing means balancing tire weights.

Wheel alignment is not needed frequently, but wheel balancing is required more often.

Mukesh choudhary
Mukesh choudhary
Age may offer experience but my passion for cars brings me expertise. I am extremely good at one thing and that's writing about cars.

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