Some auto repair shop customers assume that wheel balancing and wheel alignment are the same things. It will often fall on you to explain that they are two completely different services, addressed with different kinds of procedures and equipment.
According to a 2021 survey, 66% of Americans have started driving a few times per week, double the number from the beginning of the pandemic. One-in-five Americans also admitted that they haven't done any maintenance on their vehicles with 70% of drivers failing to check their tire pressure.
As car professionals, it is important to let your customers understand proper tire and wheel maintenance. Let’s go over the difference behind both wheel services, when you can offer them, and how they can benefit your customers.
Explaining the Benefits of Getting the Wheels Balanced
Proper wheel balancing can provide a smoother drive and a safer vehicle. Wheels that aren't balanced can be more difficult to control especially at high speeds. Neglecting wheel balance can also affect steering components making it dangerous even at slower speeds.
It also prevents irregular tire wear. A balanced wheel helps improve tire life by 15% to 20%. This could save your customer an average of $100 to $300 worth of tire replacement.
Out-of-balanced car tires can also cause long-term damage to different parts of the vehicle. It puts undue stress on the car's shocks, bearings, and wheel assembly. It is good to point out that wheel balancing can save your customers an average of $475 to $504 worth of wheel assembly replacement.
Wheel Balancing Explained
Wheel Balancing or Tire Balancing is a service that corrects weight imbalances in the tires and wheels. The process involves mounting the wheel on a device called a car wheel balancer.
Both the tires and wheels are spun so the technician can precisely measure the imbalance. Small lead weights are then attached to the lightest section of the wheel to even out the weight.
It can also be explained that these weight imbalances can be caused by:
- Wear and Tear
- Worn Out Suspension Tires
- Sudden Impacts like hitting a curb
When Do You Offer Wheel Balancing Services?
A customer complaining about heavy vibrations on the steering wheel, floorboard, or seats are telltale signs of an imbalanced wheel. This is the perfect time to explain to them that they need to consider getting a wheel balance service.
Additionally, it is also helpful to remind them that Wheel Balancing services can also be done:
- Once every 2 years or annually if they drive rough roads.
- Every 3,000 to 6,000 miles (9,656.06 km)
- After repairing or replacing a flat tire.
- After purchasing and installing a new tire.
Average Cost of a Wheel Balancing Service
The average cost of a Wheel Balancing service is $10 — $12 per wheel with an estimated price of $24 — $80 for all four wheels. It is important to explain that these prices usually depend on local labor rates as well as the make and model of the vehicle. It is also more expensive to be serviced at a car dealership than at local tire and automotive repair shops. Car dealerships often charge $44 — $70 for all wheels and $13 for each wheel.
Explaining the Benefits of Getting the Wheels Aligned
Properly aligned wheels ensure a more reliable and efficient vehicle. It is also worth mentioning that a misalignment can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 10%. This is about 31 cents per gallon. This is because tires that roll straight have a lot less resistance than those that are misaligned.
Safety is also an important benefit to stress out when it comes to aligning wheels. Driving at high speeds with misaligned wheels can cause difficulty in steering.
Since the misaligned wheels tend to drag the car to the side, drivers are forced to keep a hard grip on the steering wheel. This also affects brakes and handles. This compromises the safety of the road.
Wheel Alignment Explained
Wheel Alignment is a service focused on adjusting a car’s suspension. It’s worth explaining to your customer that wheel alignment has very little to do with the wheels and more to do with the suspension system.
Unlike wheel balancing, which deals with weight, alignment is about the angle and direction the car rolls along. This is a great way to explain to customers the difference between the two services.
The process is usually done by hoisting up the car and using an alignment machine. This allows the technician or mechanic to accurately measure and adjust the alignment.
If customers ask what causes incorrect wheel alignments, it can be answered with these factors:
- Taking too many sharp turns
- Placing too much strain on a wheel or axle
- Sudden Impacts like hitting a curb or road bumps
- Driving over uncovered manholes and potholes
- Stress and strain of driving every day for years.
When Do You Offer Wheel Alignment Services?
One can offer wheel alignment services when a customer mentions their car drifts to one side of the road or notices the tires are wearing out unevenly or prematurely. A crooked steering wheel and heavy vibration can also be reasons for you to suggest an alignment.
It can also be recommended to get a wheel alignment checkup once a year and every time a tire is replaced. It is also wise to encourage your customer to get their wheels aligned every 3,000 to 6,000 miles (9,656.06 km).
Average Cost of a Wheel Aligning Service
A Wheel Aligning service typically costs between $20 — $100 with two-wheel alignment costing an average of $65. The pricing depends on the make and model of the vehicle, location of the shop, and the warranty.
It's worth noting that some European and high-end Asian vehicles may require special tools that can only be found at car dealerships. The average costs range from $75 to $400.
Properly explaining wheel alignment and balancing shows how knowledgeable you are in your profession. With road crashes as one of the leading causes of death in the US, it is also important for customers to know the value of proper car maintenance. Be sure to set up regular follow-ups with each provided service to keep your customer’s vehicle safe and maintained.
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