Now that your kids are back in school and settling into a routine, this is the ideal time to begin scheduling routine maintenance and also looking for problems that you start noticing when you begin the regular routes to school, work, and other places. For example, drivers start to feel when the wheel does not move like it did last week or the car shakes when braking.
Often the first problem that presents itself is the need for a wheel balancing. Here are a few things to look and pay attention to:
Not So Good Vibrations.
If you can see the steering wheel shaking, then you have at a minimum, a balance problem. Probably even more issues, but we’ll cover those in a future article. If the wheel isn’t shaking, but your passengers in the backseat are complaining about the vibrations causing them to spill their coffee, then you have a balance issue.
For some drivers, the noise from unbalanced tires is even worse than a shaking steering wheel. There is always some noise on the highway, but if it starts getting louder or if you hear it at slower speeds on local streets, then it may be time to take your vehicle in for a balance service. The noises to listen for are a buzzing or a humming that appears along with the vibrations. If it gets louder with acceleration, then you need to take it into your mechanic.
If you see a smooth tread, that means you don’t have much tread left, and you are at increased risk for a blowout. Even wear is okay, but that means your balance is good and your tires are just getting old. If the edges get smooth or only one side of the tread starts wearing down, then that tire and wheel are out of balance.
Always have each tire you purchased balanced before driving on it, regardless if you buy a new set, or if you only replace a flat. No matter how good they look, each tire has some minor imperfections when manufactured. It’s normal, and the only way to counter it is to have your mechanic run it, and the rim it’s mounted on, through the balance machine.
Construction and Potholes
If there is construction on your regular route, or if you drop a wheel deep enough to get out and check it for damage, take your car in to alleviate the effects of the additional wear and tear. Many garages will perform an inspection for free.
If your tires have different pressures, then tread wear is uneven, and it will quickly affect the wheel balance. Check your tire pressure at least once every two weeks. Better still, check it once a week as you fill your gas tank or plug into a charging station.
These may sound like easy things to look for, and that’s the point. If you do them regularly, then you prevent having to deal with some very hard problems later on. It’s worth a few minutes every week to keep and your family safe on the road.