Often confused with wheel alignment, a properly balanced wheel is a beautiful, perfectly tuned wheel-tire combination. This is accomplished by placing measured lead weights on the opposite side of the "heavy spot"—the noticeable tread wear on your unbalanced tire.

Wheel alignment is the position of the wheels relative to your car. When properly aligned, the wheels point in the right direction.

For those of you who aren't mechanically-savvy, you probably still understand that transmission problems are among the most expensive repairs required for your vehicle. That's because your transmission is a complex system of gears that transmit mechanical power to your engine, ultimately determining the rate of speed you travel.

The transmission works with the engine to provide power to you car’s wheels. Whether automatic or manual, the transmission plays a major role in the overall performance of your car. Make sure to check it at the first sign of problems.

Tire rotation refers to the regular practice of switching the position of each tire on the car.

The steering and suspension systems are key safety-related systems that largely determine your car’s ride and handling. Have these systems checked regularly, at least once a year and usually with a wheel alignment.

The primary function of your cars suspension and steering systems is to allow the wheels to move independently of the car, while keeping it "suspended" and stable.

Check the owner's manual to see if your driving habits are considered to be "severe service". This type of driving requires more frequent oil changes, warns the Car Care Council. Have the oil changed accordingly, usually every 3-5,000 miles.

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