Archive for May, 2013

Tire Rotation, Wheel Alignment, and Tire Balancing: What’s the Difference?

Your tires are one of the most important components of your vehicle, and properly maintaining them is a must for ensuring a safe ride.  Like the shoes on your feet, tires are the car’s direct contact with the ground and can wear unevenly and eventually become too worn to do their jobs.  Proper maintenance measures like tire balancing, tire rotation and wheel alignment can address these issues and help your car reach its maximum level of performance and safety.  But what do these terms mean and how often should you get them done?

Tire Rotation

Tire rotation is simply the process of moving your tires to different locations on your vehicle, and it’s necessary to ensure even wear on your tires.  Tires wear unevenly through normal use of your vehicle, and can be affected by factors like front and rear axle weight differences, exertion applied from steering and braking, whether you have front-wheel, rear-wheel, or four-wheel drive, and the condition of your tires’ alignment and inflation.  Rotating the tires can evenly distribute this uneven wear.  Why is this important?  Evenly worn tires make for a smoother ride, improved handling, better braking, increased traction, and better gas mileage.  Not to mention, the tires will simply last longer, so you can achieve their maximum value.  Most manufacturers recommend tire rotation roughly every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, but check your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s specifications.

Wheel Alignment

Wheel alignment is the process of adjusting the angles of a vehicle’s tires to be perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other.  It involves precise adjustment to a vehicle’s suspension components to ensure that the suspension and steering systems are operating at their desired angles.  Wheels can become misaligned through normal wear or an unfortunate run-in with a pothole.  How do you know if you need an alignment?  You’ll feel your car pulling to the left or right, your car or steering wheel will vibrate at higher speeds, and tires will wear unevenly.  Getting your alignment fixed will improve handling and gas mileage and reduce wear on your tires and steering column.  Unlike tire rotation, which should be performed at regular intervals, wheel alignments are only necessary as a repair if you notice any warning signs.

Tire Balancing

Tire balancing is the process of ensuring that the mass of a tire is uniformly distributed around a car’s axle.  It is most important to perform this service when you purchase new tires or if an existing tire incurs damage and is repaired.  The most noticeable symptom of unbalanced tires is vibrations felt when driving at speeds over 40 mph.  Balancing your tires can make for a smoother ride and evenly worn tires, and reduce stress on your wheel bearings and suspension system.

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Chevrolet and Hyundai Named in Ward’s 10 Best Interiors List

WardsAuto has been a trusted information source in the automotive industry for over 80 years, so when it publishes a “10 Best” list, you can be sure it’s backed up with extensive and unbiased research.  With its famous “10 Best Engines” competition going on its 20th year, Ward’s has recently expanded its scope with a “10 Best Interiors” study, now in its third consecutive year.

Ward’s editors evaluated vehicles for this study by driving them during their routine commutes and submitting score sheets ranking each interior on materials, ergonomics, comfort, safety, value, fit-and-finish, technology user-friendliness, and overall design.  They paid special attention to details like straightness of seams, ease of climbing in and out of rear seats, safety concerns like blindspots and head restraints, and ease of technology features like Bluetooth and voice-activation systems.

The criteria are indeed steep, but 10 vehicles rose to the top of the pack of the 46 new interiors up for evaluation.  Two standouts are the 2013 Chevrolet Spark and the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, who held spots in the winners list alongside luxury competitors like Lexus and Acura.

Ward’s editors were impressed with the 2013 Chevrolet Spark‘s surprisingly well-equipped, fun and functional interior, which includes features like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, ample storage cubbies, heated front seats, head-curtain and side-impact airbags, 6-speaker high-end audio system, USB port and Chevrolet MyLink hands-free smartphone hookup.


Equally impressive was the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, which Ward’s deemed “well-crafted, tastefully appointed and affordable, despite a decidedly premium look and feel.”  Highlights of the Santa Fe Sport’s award-winning interior include an artistically charged instrument panel with butterscotch wood accents, distinctive angular vents, and a complex array of sloping surfaces and complementary colors and textures.


Also of note is that General Motors received 9 nominations, more than any other automaker, including the Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave, Buick Encore, and GMC Acadia.  The awards ceremony will be held on May 22 at the Ward’s Automotive Interiors Conference in Dearborn, Mich.

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