How Much Does Tire Balancing Cost On Average?
On average, it cost approximately $45-$100 to have a set of four tires balanced. While it might first appear as if this is a rather wide range between each end of the cost spectrum, this is for good reason. Not all balancing services are conducted in the exact same manner, and some services tend to be more accurate than others.
Of course, extremely accurate high-quality services always cost more than those with ball-park accuracy. However, I feel that it is best to opt for the more accurate of these services myself, if you are in a position to do so financially. This is especially true if you are concerned with getting the most comfortable ride possible out of your tires.
So what makes one form of tire and wheel balancing more accurate than the other? The answer to this question comes down to the type of balancing machine that is used.
Standard balancing machines measure the weight distribution of a vehicle’s wheel and tire as a whole while recording any discrepancies. This style of balancer then specifies the exact point at which a wheel weight should be placed to correct these discrepancies.
Road force tire balancing machines take this process a step further, by applying force to a tire’s tread, via the use of a specialized roller, in order to simulate the condition of a tire and wheel assembly while in service. Runout is then measured and recorded in several different ways, providing a more accurate picture of any imperfections that must be corrected.
What are the costs of labor?
When having your tires balanced, the vast majority of the total service cost is chalked up to labor. The average tire balancing service requires approximately 1-hour of labor for a service center or auto repair shop to complete. Therefore, this service is billed at a rate that reflects this use of time.
What are the costs of parts?
Most tire shops do not charge any additional fee for parts usage when balancing a customer’s tires. This is due to the fact that the only parts used during this service are wheel weights, which tend to be nominal in cost. Most shops account for this expenditure when setting the cost of their services.
When Should You Get Your Tires Balanced?
On average, a vehicle’s tires should be balanced every 7,000-12,000 miles. However, the exact interval for this particular service often varies by manufacturer. Details pertaining to the recommended frequency of this service can be found in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Alternatively, the shop that originally mounted your tires can make similar recommendations.
You might also consider having your tires balanced if you have begun noticing a pronounced vibration when driving at speeds of 40-60 MPH. It is at this speed that imbalanced tires often give off the highest degree of vibration.
However, it is worth mentioning that having your tires balanced will not cure vibrations that result from uneven tire wear that occurs because of poor wheel alignment. Uneven tread wear of this type will require alignment service and a subsequent tire rotation to control. By general rule, alignment costs far exceed those associated with tire balancing.
How Much Does Tire Balancing Cost At The Dealer Vs Other Places?
Generally speaking, there are few more expensive places to have your tires balanced than at the dealer. Unless you have a coupon at the ready, or were given a free tire rotation and balance with the purchase of your new tires, then you can expect to pay a hefty sum for such services. The average cost of wheel balancing services at most dealers is around $100.
Tire Balance Cost At Walmart
Walmart Tire/Lube Express Centers have served as an economical destination for tire mounting, tire repair, and other basic forms of automotive service for decades. The retail giant also offers tire balancing, for a reasonable price. At the current moment, Walmart charges $14 per tire, for their balancing service.
Tire Balance Cost At Discount Tire
Discount Tire is one of the nation’s most popular tire installation and service shops. Of course, each of the chain’s store-front locations also offers tire balancing services. While Discount Tire’s website stipulates that the cost of such service varies by region, it appears that the average cost of the company’s tire balancing services is somewhere in the neighborhood of $16 per tire.
Tire Balance Cost At Costco
Much like Walmart, Costco is a mega-retailer that offers convenient service at its automotive centers, all while you fill your shopping cart. The average car owner will be happy to hear that the retailer also offers tire balancing services. Costco currently charges $15 per tire for these services, unless you have purchased an additional warranty buying your tires from Costco.
Where Should You Go For Tire Balancing To Get The Best Price?
In my honest opinion, I feel that Discount Tire is one of the best all-around service centers to have your tires balanced. I come to this conclusion, based on a couple of observations. Discount Tire is known for its rigorous training, which ensures that all technicians are informed and qualified. Much of the same cannot be said for retail chain-based service centers.
On the other end of the spectrum, most dealerships offer stellar service, though it comes at a significant cost. Discount Tire provides many of the exact same services, and uses identical equipment (including road-force balancers), as most dealerships, yet does so for a fraction of the cost.
Essentially, I feel as if Discount Tire offers both quality and value, at an equal level. This is a notion that seems lost on many competing shops, which tend to either employ lax personnel, or charge astronomical hourly rates. At Discount Tire, it appears that consumers can truly have their cake, and eat it too.
How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off When Buying Tire Balancing?
It is important to only take your vehicle to a reputable shop when attempting to have your tires balanced. Automotive shops live and die by their reputations. Therefore, if a shop comes highly recommended by friends and family, there is little reason to expect anything less than stellar results.
A quick visual inspection immediately following service can be of significant value when attempting to make sure that you were not ripped off. Newly applied wheel weights should appear shiny and should be free of tarnishing and weathering that indicate a lack of replacement.
It is also important to verify that you do not have any two wheel weights mounted directly across from one another, on any single wheel face. This is known as counter-balancing, and is largely ineffective at improving ride quality, as the two opposing weights essentially cancel each other out. I have personally seen this done by less experienced tire technicians who did not know any better.
How To Save Money On Tire Balancing?
One of the best possible ways to save money when having your car’s tires balanced is to seek out coupons or watch for special promos. In many cases, new car dealerships and large chain-style service centers will offer discounted balancing services, when paired with an oil change.
This can be a great way to save a few bucks, while also getting caught up on all of your car care needs and service. In the grand scheme of things, promo deals of this type can cut wheel balancing costs by as much as 25%-30%.
Additionally, the vast majority of tire shops will offer free tire rotation, when having your vehicle’s tires balanced. While this will not save you any money, it will provide you with an opportunity to get a little extra bang for your buck.