Tire Rotation and Tire Balance

Here is the situation: I took the car to the dealer yesterday to get the 100K maintenance done. Part of that included the rotation of the wheels. As soon as I got out of the dealer I noticed the steering wheel shaking. I called the dealer and they tell me that the tires need to be balanced and that it will cost $25 to get it done. The price is not the issue but am I wrong to think that they should have done the tire balance as part of the 100k maintenance?

Normaly not. A rotation is a different beast than a balance.

Balancing takes more time and requires putting the wheels on a special machine. You won’t normally get it unless you ask for it. I use a tire shop that gives me “free lifetime rotation and balancing” when I buy tires from them. But this still means I have to ask for “rotate and balance” or just “rotate” when I go in.

But be aware that another reason to get the shakes is that one of the tires has developed an internal (hidden) tread separation. If you have a bad tire that was just brought from the back wheels to the front, balancing might not fix it. Good luck.

Many shops (not all) will do a wheel balance on the front wheels when they do a rotation. I guess this shop doesn’t routinely do it this way.

When I buy tires, I pay extra for “lifetime” balance and rotation, so I don’t have to pay each time. So no, I wouldn’t expect it to be included at the dealership.

What likely happened is that they rotated a wheel from the back to the front, and there is something wrong with one of the wheels, like tread separation, or a wheel weight fell off. Take the car to wherever you bought the tires and see if they will balance them for free.

I agree with everyone who’s posted, but particularly want to emphasize Strong’s comment about the possibility that balancing may not correct the problem. Once a wear anomolie has begun in a tire it can and often does prevent ever making it smooth again.

In addition, if you do have a wear anomolie you may want to have the shop try to determine its cause. Erratic wear can be because of a balance problem, alignment, damage, or even mechanical wear. It’d be good to have it looked at.

This happened to our minivan and the only “resolution” was to put the tires back where they were and live with it. Mostly my fault for not rotating them soon enough, but when the wear pattern sets in the they are hooked.

If you haven’t rotated the tires regularly, you could get irregular wear and rotating the tire moves the irregularly worn tires into a position where you can feel it. This is the reason why it is important to have tires rotated regularly.

I agree with Same, CapriRacer and Galant…and FWD presents it’s own particular set of problems. If you did not rotate regularly before this occasion and too much fwd wear variation occurred, you may never get a correct balance for the rear wheels. The wear pattern for the front wheels which have to drive as well as turn may never give you a satisfactory ride on the other wheels. It happened to me too. You may be better off putting them back where they were and running them “into the ground” and buying new, hoping the much less used rears are still serviceable.
I’ve gone many times the miles on rwd cars and trucks without balance problems than with stinky FWD cars.