What is Corner Balancing and Why is it Important?
The basic principle of corner balancing is getting the car to have even pressure on each of the wheels. A good analogy for this is a table with four legs. When the table’s legs are all exactly the same height the table is solid. However, if one leg is shorter than the rest, that leg will have less pressure on it and the table will wobble. Now, let’s take that same table and pretend its legs are springs. If all the springs are the same height, the table will be level and each spring will have even pressure on it. However, if you put something heavy on the corner of the table, one spring will now compress, and the spring across from it will decompress, like a see-saw. This is what happens in a car as well. There are almost no cars in existence that are perfectly balanced in all directions. Only purpose built formula cars that are perfectly symmetrical in every way may get close to this level of balance, and even formula cars are corner balanced to make sure. Balancing a car can also promote even tire wear and make your tire budget last a little longer.
Why Corner Balance your Car?
If you want your car to perform its best during acceleration, cornering and braking, corner balancing is a must. By making sure each wheel has even loading on it, the car will handle predictably when turning. Likewise, if the front and rear weight distribution is equal, the front tires, and rear tires will have the same amount of grip. This will allow the car to brake (front wheels loaded) and accelerate (rear wheels loaded) equally well. When Porsche developed the 911, they’re idea was to put the engine as far back as possible in order to maximize grip during acceleration by keeping weight on the rear tires. The idea worked perfectly… until the driver tried to turn. Early Porsches were notorious for massive amount of oversteer in corners, due to that gigantic pendulum of an engine hanging on to the rear bumper. This was a problem with the cars’ balance. If you look at modern race cars, most of them have both the engine and the driver as far towards the center of the vehicle as possible, furthermore, the wheels are in the outermost corners of the car, so that there is no overhanging “pendulum-type” weight. These are all efforts to maintain the cars balance. Large efforts have been made to balance cars simply because it is THAT important.
How is Corner Balancing Done?
One scale is placed under each wheel of the car. These scales are generally nothing more than heavy duty bathroom scales. They don’t balance the car, they just provide you with a weight on each wheel. Once we have this information about the car, we can calculate some important values. The ratios between front and back, side to side, diagonals, and of course total weight of the car.
Lets start with the easiest one. Total weight- All of the weights from each wheel are added up, and that is what the whole car weighs. For example a perfectly balanced car could show exactly 500lb per wheel 500lbs+500lbs+500lbs+500lbs=2000lbs Front vs rear ratio – The weights of the front wheels are added, and the weights of the rear wheels are added, then they are compared to the total weight of the car. For example: FR(500lbs)+FL(500lbs)= 1000lbs. RR(500lbs)+RL(500lbs)= 1000lbs. We already know that the total weight of the car is 2000lbs. [Front weight (1000lbs)/ Total Weight (2000lbs)] X 100= 50% front, hence the rear is also 50% This would be a perfect balance front to back Left to right ratio – Exactly the same as front to back, except you add the front left to the rear left then compare to the total weight. Cross ratio – Still the same calculation, but now you add the front right to the rear left and compare to the total weight. Luckily, newer scale systems have a central computer that calculates all of these ratios and weights and displays them, which takes the math right out of the equation, and puts the fun right back in. So what do all these numbers mean? The idea is to get the numbers to be as close as possible to the same on each wheel and to get all of the ratios to be 50%-50%. Say that the car is showing 600lbs on one wheel and 500 on all the rest, we would turn the spring perch on a coil-over down, to reduce the pressure on that wheel until it matches all of the rest. we are basically redistributing the load that that wheel carries to the other wheels, so that they all share it evenly. It is a lot of guess and check, but with a little patience, all the weights can be brought close to each other.
Where can you have Corner Balancing Done?
Right here at AutoXTimes! There aren’t many shops around the Michigan area that can provide this service since it requires fairly expensive equipment and a lot of time, knowledge and patience. This is why many shops charge upwards of $300 for the service. We are a group of enthusiasts like yourself who aren’t doing this for a living, and aren’t trying to get rich off of your passion like most shops seem to. We will take the same care of your car as we would our very own.
When Should I get my Car Corner Balance?
Generally speaking, as soon as you decide that you want to get the most out of that expensive suspension and tires you bought. Ideally, the car needs to have coil-overs, or some type of ride-height adjustable suspension on it. It is also recommended that you get your car balanced after you are done moving larger weights around (gas-tank, battery, seat positions etc…)
What are the Limitations of Corner Balancing?
It is important to realize that not all cars can be brought to a perfect 50-50. If you drive a front engine front wheel drive car for example, and you have done a fair bit of weight reduction to it, the front will inherently be heavier that the rear. There is no amount of adjustment that can correct that, but side to side, and cross numbers should still be able to be brought close to 50-50, and will still make a drastic improvement to the cars performance.