When it comes to tire maintenance, wheel balancing is one of the most important things you can do. For this reason, I think firestone is a good pick. They are a little more expensive than most places but, in this article, I will go through all the reasons why I believe getting your tires balanced at firestone is the right choice. But first, how much does it cost?
Firestone will charge you around $65 to balance all four wheels. This is a little pricier than most places as prices vary from $15 to $75 at an average of $40. Though Firestone is more expensive you can be assured that their quality of work is good. Additionally, they offer some bonuses with every wheel balance.
Why Is Firestone Wheel Balance Worth It?
Firstly, Firestone shops are usually equipped with good quality equipment, which are well maintained, allowing them to perform accurate wheel balances. Additionally, Firestone provides the included service of a pressure check and guarantees the balancing under a lifetime warranty.
All of the above reasons coupled with the high degree of professionalism I have personally encountered with Firestone employees is why I think Firestone is worth the higher price of $65.
Why Should You Get Your Wheel Balanced?
There are two main reasons why you would want to get your wheels balanced. For one, unbalanced wheels can cause vibration to varying degrees. Sometimes the vibration is so little you don’t really know it’s there until you get the wheels balanced. Then all of a sudden, it’s like driving a new vehicle.
Other times the vibration is as bad as an unbalanced washing machine. A high amount of vibration is not only uncomfortable but can also cause damage to your vehicle. Secondly, unbalanced wheels will most likely shorten your tires’ life span.
Tread life is only as long as the most worn-out spot on the tire. If a wheel is unbalanced, it will no doubt wear out more on one or two places faster than the rest of the tire. Ensuring that your tires are properly balanced is key to maintaining your tires’ tread life.
Can You Tell If Your Wheels Are Out of Balance?
The easiest way to tell if your tires are out of balance is by the aforementioned vibrations. These vibrations are often felt in three different areas, the steering wheel, the seats, and/or the floorboard. Most of the time, however, you will either feel the vibration through the steering wheel or through the seat, typically one or the other.
The area of vibration will help you determine which wheel or wheels are out of balance. If the majority of the vibrations are coming from the steering wheel, then the out-of-balance tire is most likely one of the fronts. If the vibration is coming through the seat, then most likely the unbalanced tire is one of the rears.
A badly unbalanced front tire can, however, cause vibrations in all areas, but a badly rear wheel will rarely cause the steering wheel to vibrate. Either way, it is a good idea to get all of your tires balanced at the same time even if you suspect the vibrations are only coming from one tire. Additionally, Firestone notes that Vibrations are typically the worst around 55 miles per hour.
What Can Cause Your Wheels to Become Out of Balance?
There are a few different reasons which can cause a tire to become out of balance. Uneven tread wear is the main cause of an unbalanced tire which in itself can have several causes such as; unbalanced wheels, external damage, and miss alignment.
Yes, an unbalanced wheel can cause tread wear which further unbalances the wheel. Even more reason to get your wheels balanced, they get worse over time and lead to bald spots! Hitting a pothole or curb can also cause a wheel to go out of balance, mainly because balancing weights are lost in the impact.
Finally, flat spots can cause a wheel to become out of balance. Flat spots can be created in two ways. First, braking hard and locking up the wheels on a dry surface can cause an instant flat spot on all the wheels that lock up.
Lockups are often seen in Formula One and other racing series and usually happen when the driver brakes too hard going into a corner. The second kind of flat spot happens when a vehicle has not been moved or driven for a long time.
How Often Should You Balance Your Vehicle’s Wheels?
On average you want to get your wheels balanced every 5,000 to 6,000 miles. Different vehicle manufacturers will have differing recommendations, however, if you want what is best for your vehicle, you should consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
That being said, it is a good rule of thumb to have your wheels balanced when doing routine maintenance such as tire rotations or if you get a flat tire.
How Long Does Fire Stone Take to Balance a Set of Wheels?
Firestone will typically take around 45 minutes to 2 hours for all four wheels to be balanced. Though there is a big difference between 45 minutes and 2 hours there is a good reason. It all comes down to the condition of your tires.
If you have relatively new tires then the balancing should be closer to 45 minutes, however; if the tire imbalance is due to something like hitting a pothole, the balancing process could take a longer time. Other factors that impact your wait time are; driving habits, the local climate where most of the driving is done, and the condition of the tires themselves.
In conclusion, Firestone is a little more expensive than most places at $65, however, they provide a professional service with more benefits than most other companies which provide the same service. I feel much more comfortable with Firestone’s $65 job than I do with a company only charging $15.