What is the difference between aligning and balancing?

Aligning & balancing

The terms aligning the car and balancing the wheels of your car are often confused with each other; what are the differences?

Aligning your car:

When aligning your car, it is not the wheels and tyres which are aligned, buth whether the suspension is correctly adjusted for the front wheels. There are adjustment points in the suspension so with special equipment the correct wheel angle positioning (different for each car) can be made. This positioning is adjusted from different directions. Each of these directions have a name. These adjustments are called camber, caster and toe. Together, these adjustments ensure the wheels are suspended correctly under the car. Cars are aligned if, for instance, the tyres wear incorrectly, or after a collision parts of the suspension have become damaged or been replaced.

Balancing the wheels:

Balancing the wheels is simply to balance the wheel and tyre, and is done after fitting new tyres. Balancing is done on a device which rotates the wheel at high speed so any imbalance can be seen. This is removed by placing zinc or lead tyre weights on the wheel rim so the wheel and tyre remain in balance at every revolutions per minute (RPM). The hub of the car, to which the wheel is fitted, is already balanced in the factory, so it is not really necessary to balance the wheel on the car. Balancing on the car itself is only done if there is resonance (vibration) while driving at a certain RPM.