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Tire balancing vs Wheel alignment

Got my newly suspension fitted Sentra out on the drive on I-95. This is primarily a local vehicle but wanted to see how new suspensions perform at speed, so took out for a drive this morning.

As far as I recall, the vehicle used to vibrate at 55+mph speeds, but the vibrations were tolerable. Today, it vibrated really bad. I am pretty sure, it needs tire balancing and/or wheel alignment but I am curious if this can be related to new suspensions as well. The mechanic has performed steering alignment, if that matters.

Looking for advice on how to proceed? Should I get tires balanced first because its rather cheap compared to wheel alignment?

Thanks in advance.
(P.S. - Can someone please confirm the right terminology, tires balancing and not wheel balancing, right?)

You can use either tire and or balancing. Shops balance the tire on the wheel, they are balancing both. You need an alignment and tires balanced for proper wear , handling and reducing vibration. A properly aligned car with tires out of balance will vibrate. If your mechanic did a ‘steering alignment’ they probably did a wheel alignment. Take a look at your invoice or ask them. I am surprised they did not balance their tires at the same time.

I actually asked him abt steering alignment as I heard that for the first time from fellow readers of this board. I asked him how it is done and he showed me a bolt behind each wheel that needs to be adjusted for steering alignment. I doubt he dealt with the wheel per se.

They rotated the wheels but didn’t do anything to the tires. Actually, its good that they didn’t do because I wanted to see how the vibrations works (as it is an old problem). Today, it felt more pronounced, may be because I took it on the highway after more than 2 years.

There is a section of I95 where I live that has ripples in the pavement that results in a noticeable vibration, especially at certain speeds. It’s about a 20 mile section that was previously ground down. I thought it was my vehicle but drove a different one and same thing happened. When they did a surface repair, I thought it might get rectified but like sheet vinyl flooring, the defects below were transmitted through the fresh topping. My theory is that the grinder left these repeating dips and rises and now it will always be that way until it’s ground down again. At any rate, be sure it’s not the road…

Have all four wheels and tires balanced and it is possible that your tires may be old enough that replacing is a good idea.

Edit; I hope all this repair was done and all you needed to start with was new tires and balancing.

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Curious about “new suspension”, what was done?
As to the vibration, Yes get the tires balanced. If that doesn’t correct the problem there are other possibilities between the tread and the radial plies of a tire there are belts, these can slip but at low speeds car will seem to wobble, belt slippage is rare but does happen. Really rare with radial tires an out of round tire.

Actually, the tires are new with about 4000 miles on them. Last Nov, I replaced all of them. They are not high-end tires (They are Fuzion Touring) because that time we planned to get rid of the car ASAP. The situation changed in March this year and we decided to keep this vehicle for few more years.

Entire suspension assemblies were replaced by Gabriel ReadyMounts (not impressed by their performance so far).
The car does not wobble at low speeds, seems pretty perfect at speeds upto 40mph. The vibration starts above 55mph.

Because that’s where the tire’s and the suspension’s natural frequencies meet. Unbalanced tires don’t mean the tires “wobble” at low speeds. If they wobble at low speeds you have other problems - broken belt in the tire or bent wheels. Vibration at highway speeds is a dead giveaway for tire balance. If you have a good tire tech, and there are some, they will watch for bent wheels or damaged tire belts when they balance the tire.

Technically, the balance is on the tire/wheel assembly - but in normal conversation people use all 3 of those terms interchangeably.

When you changed the suspension, you tightened up every thing. That’s going to make any wheel end vibration feel worse. So you need to balance the tires AND get an alignment, because no matter how careful the stuff was assembled, it will never be in exactly the same position.


On I-287 South, in the southern part of Morris County and the northern part of Somerset County, there is a section–also ~20 miles long–that used to produce a very disturbing vibration in both the steering wheel and the car itself. The vibration was of the type that actually caused my hands and arms to start feeling numb after a few minutes, and the effect was…not good…to say the least. Even road force balancing did not eliminate this problem. Then, when I replaced the original crappy OEM Continental tires with Michelin Defenders, I no longer felt the vibration.

So, the problem can be due to a combination of a bad road and bad tires.

This is NOT the entire suspension, just a part of the suspension.

My bad, what constitutes entire suspension system? A diagram or something similar would be of immense help to understand.

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This was definitely not necessary. You could have chosen not to answer, absolutely no need to be an a**. I have searched enough, went through the factory service manual but I could not find how do they define complete suspension system. Hence, I made a mistake of asking.

For my future posts, I will encourage you not to post comments because I certainly don’t need such BS. I post here to learn and I see there are enough number of decent members who are willing to share knowledge instead of giving a knee-jerk reaction.

OK, I’ll post the total rear suspension diagram. Note the strut assemblies showing the sprint wrapped around it on each side. That attaches solidly to the knuckle. Also attached to the knuckle with rubber bushings are 2 lateral (called parallel links). The U-shaped thing is both the stabilizer bar and a training link in one part to support braking loads, making this suspension technically a “3-link strut” design. You replaced the strut assemblies. The rest of the suspension is all the stuff you didn’t replace. And there is a fair amount of stuff that wears out and causes problems.

And the front suspension is similar but not exactly the same. The front has one lower A-arm (or L-arm) with a ball joint and a steering arm to replace the 3 rear arms. Hope that helps.

First of all Noelm, when asking questions on an internet forum you will get all kinds of replies. There are those who will give correct answers, those who give wrong answers or just plain guess. You are to sort those yourself. It seems you are being a little sensitive about Mr. Public posting a link that might be helpful or not.

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Thank you @Mustangman. This is very helpful. Makes it crystal clear to understand. Thanks for taking time to explain.

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Lighten up. Not everything is about you. It’s called humor. If you don’t get it you just don’t get it. Just because you don’t see the humor does not mean any anything.

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Oh, thank you so much for the enlightenment.
What a waste of bandwidth…