Mounting and balancing tires is an essential part of car ownership. Imperative, actually.
Imbalanced tires will wear the rubber out too quickly, leading to an uncomfortable driving experience.
Unmounted tires? Well… they’re not on your wheels… or your car. So you can’t go anywhere.
Thus, mounting and balancing tires is crucial. But how much does it cost? Each shop charges its own rates, but expect to pay around $20 to $30 per wheel.
Read on to find out more.
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What Is Tire Mounting?
Mounting tires is a fancy way of saying, “putting your tires back on your wheels and your wheels back on your car.”
Mechanics will use a breaker bar and socket to remove the wheels. They’ll then use a hydraulic or pneumatic tire changer to remove the old rubber.
With a roller, a crowbar, and several guards to protect your wheel, they’ll lever the new tire on. In the process, they’ll install a new valve too.
Next, the tire gets blown up with air to the recommended pressure (psi).
After balancing (see below), the combined wheel and tire are replaced on the hub. The wheel nuts are then spun back up, and a torque wrench is used to tighten them.
What Is Tire Balancing?
Tire balancing is the process of making sure the wheel turns “straight” and even.
A good comparison is taking a roll of tape. It might rock from side to side as it turns when you roll it across the table. A combined wheel and tire shouldn’t do this when secured to your car, so small weights (5g to 50g) are attached on the inside and outside to compensate.
Mechanics use a specialist tool, imaginatively named a wheel balancer. Using lasers and all sorts of clever technology gives precise instructions on where to place wheel weights.
With steel wheels, weights will be hammered onto the rim lips. Alloy wheels – being more sensitive – have weights stuck onto the cleaned rims themselves.
Once the machine shows a negligible wobble (5g or less on either side), the tire is considered balanced. It’s then mounted to your car.
Cost Of Mounting And Balancing Tires
Shops will set their own rates for mounting and balancing tires. However, you shouldn’t ever expect to pay much more than $30 per tire for both combined services.
There are very few material costs. Wheel weights can be bought in bulk for very low prices. Beyond that, the shop’s only expenses are the flat purchase of the (expensive) machines and mechanic wages.
Therefore, the cost of mounting and balancing tires is mainly made up of labor.
A trained, experienced mechanic should be able to remove, mount, and balance a tire in about 15 minutes. Working in tandem with another technician, good teamwork could mean your entire car is done in 25 to 30 minutes. Provided they don’t run into any difficulties, of course.
Do You Have To Balance Your Tires?
You have to balance your tires. If you don’t, they’ll wear out much quicker. Your steering wheel will also start juddering at high speeds. This puts unnecessary stress on the steering system.
Although all automotive components are made to very high OEM standards, there are always defects of some kind. Metal wheels can’t ever be 100% symmetrical.
Then there are defects in the tire itself and how it sits on the rim. These can also affect how balanced the combined assembly is.
A mechanic can’t force you to pay extra for wheel balancing if you don’t want it. However, it’ll only put you out a few dollars. If you don’t get it done, you’ll be back in a month, red-faced and having to pay out $150 for a new tire.
It seems more worthwhile to pay a little bit extra for balancing, wouldn’t you say?
How Is The Cost Of Mounting And Balancing Tires Broken Down?
Again, this will depend on the shop in question.
For example, some mechanics will include balancing and fitting as part of a tire purchase. Others will charge you less for the tire but extra for these (essential) services.
Think of the price in terms of “how long” it takes to do each job. That gives you a better idea of where the cost for balancing and mounting comes from.
How Long Does Tire Mounting (Only) Take?
Let’s assume you’ve already paid for the tire.
- 2 minutes: the mechanics take the tire off
- 3 minutes: the tire is placed on the changer and removed from the wheel.
- 1 minute: the old valve is cut off, and a new one is installed.
- 3 minutes: the new tire is lubricated and attached to the wheel.
- 2 minutes: air pressure fills the tire to the required psi.
- 2 minutes: the combined wheel and tire assembly go back on your car’s wheel hub.
- 1 minute: with a simple cloth, they’ll clean your wheel.
These numbers are approximate, sensible values. Some tires – such as BMW’s run-flats – are much more difficult to remove and fit. Other times, there can be difficulties with the tire changer.
In total, though, let’s say that changing a tire (without balancing) takes an average technician about 14 minutes. That’s from removing the wheel to replacing it.
How Long Does Tire Balancing (Only) Take?
You might bring your car in to ask for tire balancing, even if you don’t need new tires.
Here’s approximately how long it takes.
- 2 minutes: the wheel and tire are taken off your car.
- 2 minutes: the old weights are removed. How long this takes depends on how stuck the old ones are.
- 1 minute: the tire is placed on the balancer and the machine is calibrated.
- 3 minutes: the mechanic attaches weights to the wheel to balance it. Note that this can take anywhere from 1 minute to 10 minutes. Sometimes, these things are fiddly.
- 2 minutes: the balanced tire is replaced onto your wheel hub and torqued up.
- 1 minute: they’ll probably clean the wheel up to remove all the handprints and grease.
Again, these are very guesstimated numbers. That said, expecting one technician – working alone – to take 11 minutes to balance a tire is about right. Remember that includes removing, replacing, and cleaning it.
Why This Affects The Cost of Having Tires Mounted And Balanced
You can see that the two jobs – mounting and balancing – take a similar amount of time. Logistically, mounting often takes slightly longer than balancing. However, both work out to around 10 to 15 minutes.
But it takes a mechanic only 15 to 20 minutes (5 minutes extra) to mount and balance your tire.
Because a large chunk of time on both jobs is spent removing and preparing the wheel. If you have tires mounted and balanced simultaneously, you’ll save yourself – and the shop – lots of time.
15 to 20 minutes per wheel will likely work out at around $25 to $30 each. It might cost a little more in some areas, but you shouldn’t expect to be charged more than $40 per tire.
Compare this to the flat rate of around $20 for mounting or balancing (alone), and you see why it’s worth it.
Where Can You Have Tires Mounted And Balanced?
You can get your tires mounted and balanced at any tire shop, mechanic, or dealership. If you go to a dealership, expect to pay slightly more for the same job. However, it might be necessary for some new cars to maintain your warranty.
This is a handy way of getting your tires mounted and balanced in your own time. It shouldn’t cost any more than going to a shop, either.
Can You Save Money By Mounting And Balancing Your Own Tires?
Unless you own a tire changer and balancer, leave it to a shop. It’s what they’re there for.
Please, please, don’t watch some random YouTube video showing you the fast, easy, cheap way to change tires at home. You aren’t getting ripped off by mechanics; you’ll only damage the tire wall or wheel if you do it yourself.
You’ll almost certainly do more harm than good in the long run. This will make your tire mount and balance technically more expensive.
Of course, if you own a tire changer and balancer and you’re trained, go ahead!
Conclusion: Cost To Mount And Balance Four Tires
In total, expect the price to mount and balance all four tires to be between $100 and $120.
Those figures come from $25 or $30 each, scaled up by four.
Likewise, the cost of mounting and balancing two tires will come to somewhere around $50 or $60.
Sometimes, two or three technicians or fitters might work on your car. This means it’ll get done faster, but it’ll still cost the same: the shop has to pay three wages instead of one.
It’s essential to check your tires every year or two. This should include balancing, but there’s no need to remove the tires from the wheels. Along with tire rotation, an expense of around $80 per year – plus the cost of wheel alignment (tracking) – isn’t too bad to ensure long-lasting rubber.