Guest Column | September 7, 2023

5 Reasons Why Tire Balance And Alignment Increase Tire Longevity

By Emily Newton, Revolutionized


While maintenance is one of the biggest expenses of any fleet, costs will go even higher without it. Still, some fleets overlook some less frequent maintenance needs to save money in the near term, but this has severe consequences. Tire balance and alignment is the perfect example.

Tire maintenance doesn’t need to happen as frequently as things like oil changes and may not seem as urgent at first. Consequently, it’s easy to delay to minimize downtime and costs. However, proper balancing and alignment will save time and money in the long-term by increasing tire longevity. Here’s why.

1. It Prevents Irregular Wear

An unbalanced tire will bounce or shake as drivers travel. This motion will cause some parts of the tire to wear out faster than others. That irregular wear, in turn, makes the tire as a whole degrade and requires replacement sooner.

Improper alignment has a similar effect. More weight will rest on one or two tires than the others, causing them to wear down faster. Any savings fleet owners were hoping to achieve by skipping alignment will go away when the fleet has to buy expensive replacement tires.

Tires are often the third or fourth most expensive item per mile for commercial fleets. When they don’t wear out evenly, fleets don’t get the advantage of bulk discounts they get when replacing all tires simultaneously. As a result, this lack of longevity quickly becomes expensive.

2. It Stops Accidents

Regular tire balance and alignment also increase longevity by preventing serious accidents. Ongoing wear and tear may be a more common issue to encounter, but out-of-balance or unaligned tires also make larger, costlier crashes more likely.

Unaligned tires can cause trucks to pull to one side, especially at highway speeds. As a result, drivers are more likely to run into other vehicles on the road. Similarly, unbalanced tires can cause shaking throughout the vehicle, making it harder to control. That loss of control can end in a costly accident.

Traffic accidents are often unpredictable, but they’re far less likely with regular maintenance. While you can’t control the conditions of the roads drivers may face, proper balance and alignment will equip them to manage poor conditions better. Their tires — and their well-being — will be safer as a result.

3. It Protects Related Vehicle Components

Extending your tires’ longevity is also a matter of keeping related parts like suspension and steering systems in good condition. Balancing and alignment protect these components, too.

Balancing your tires ensures they wear evenly, preventing bouncing or shaking while driving. That reduction of motion prevents excessive wear and tear to the axle and other wheel-end components. Conversely, failure to avoid that stress will cause these other parts to move more violently, accelerating damage to the tire.

Similarly, unaligned tires will put unusual strain on trucks’ suspension. When your suspension wears out, the road will impact your tires more heavily. Consequently, the tires will wear out faster, apart from the direct effects of irregular wear on your wheels.

4. It Improves Driver Comfort And Focus

Proper tire balance and alignment also will make driving a more comfortable experience. At first, that may not seem related to tire longevity, but a comfortable driver has fewer distractions, leading to better driving behaviors.

Failure to balance or align truck tires will cause driving frustrations like steering issues, drifting, or excessive vibrations. These distractions make it harder to focus on the road, which can lead to behavior like harsh emergency braking or hard turning. In addition to causing road safety issues, these behaviors lead to shorter tire life spans.

Studies show harsh braking and acceleration cause more tire wear than any other driving pattern. While unbalanced or unaligned tires may not be the only causes of these actions, they make them more likely.

5. Other Issues Become Easier To Spot

Another important aspect of balancing and alignment is that they improve other tire maintenance processes. These are some of the most pressing tire repair conditions to monitor, but they’re not the only ones. Fleets must also look out for any other, less common issues that may arise, but that’s harder if the ride is bumpy and uneven.

Excessive shaking, drifting, or other driving issues caused by unbalanced or unaligned tires make the ride as a whole more distracting. As a result, other problems may not stand out as much to drivers. That loss of perception can let smaller issues grow into larger, costlier problems before anyone notices.

In contrast, if all a truck’s tires are balanced and aligned, drivers will be able to tell when something else is off. That way, they can inform other employees about tire issues like punctures or inflation problems while they’re still easy to fix.

Tips For Tire Balancing And Alignment

In light of how tire balance and alignment increase tire longevity, these practices should be regular practice in fleets. A few best practices can help reduce the costs and downtime necessary for this process, too.

Larger fleets with in-house maintenance can save money by using the right repair equipment. Air-cooled industrial shakers cost significantly less than water-cooled alternatives yet offer high enough performance to determine tire balances. They also require less maintenance over time, so using them instead of higher-end water-cooled shakers can reduce tire balancing costs.

You can reduce the need for frequent tire balancing and alignment through better driving behaviors. Train drivers to avoid potholes, curbs, and other minor obstacles at high speeds to prevent misalignment. Ensuring you drive every vehicle in your fleet regularly — leaving none parked for extended periods —will prevent balance issues.

How often you should undergo balancing and alignment depends on your specific situation. You can make the most of these uncertain timelines and reduce repair costs through predictive maintenance. This practice, which uses sensors to alert you when an issue arises, can be 30 to 40% cheaper than running to failure over time.

Take Tire Balance And Alignment Seriously

Tire balance and alignment may not be at the top of every fleet’s maintenance checklist, but they deserve attention. Even if these adjustments aren’t necessary as often as other repairs, overlooking them can seriously impact your drivers’ safety and the fleet’s bottom line.

Proper balancing and alignment will ensure your tires last as long as possible. The resulting savings and safety will offset anything you spend on the maintenance itself.

About The Author

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. She regularly explores the impact technology has on the industrial sector.