The Symptoms of Unbalanced Tires

by Hans Fredrick
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Tires must be in balance to operate properly. This is why wheels are placed on a balancing machine and weights added to the rim before a tire is installed on a vehicle. This ensures that everything is in balance. Out-of-balance wheels make for an unpleasant driving experience in a number of ways.


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Vibration is the sign most often noticed when a vehicle has unbalanced tires. Once the balance is disturbed, a vibration will start to travel through the chassis of the car and into the cabin. The extent of this vibration depends on the degree to which the balance is disturbed, the road conditions and the vehicle's speed. It can range from a small hum to a shake so significant that it makes riding in the vehicle extremely unpleasant.

Steering and Seat Vibration

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The type of vibration you experience provides information on which tire is out of balance. If the front tires are not balanced properly, most of the vibration and movement will be felt in your hands on the steering wheel. When the rear tires are out of balance, you typically feel most of the shaking in the seats.

Excessive Wear

When tires aren't balanced, the wheel spinning puts greater stress on specific portions of the tire. This uneven motion is what causes the vibration. It also leads that area of the tire to wear out more quickly. Compounding the problem is that the worn portions of the tire become weaker over time yet take the hardest pounding. Unbalanced tires with uneven wear are at a higher risk of going flat.

Increased Fuel Consumption

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If the fuel economy of the vehicle suddenly decreases, it could be due to the tires being out of balance. The extent of the decrease depends on the severity of the balance problem. If you drive the vehicle at high speed, you will notice a greater decrease in fuel economy than if the vehicle is operated mostly at lower speeds.

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