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Q: Is 'wheel alignment' the same thing as "balancing the tires"? on 1996 BMW 318i

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My steering wheel shakes (whether moving or sitting at a stop signal). Probably from hitting too many potholes! It makes me nervous to drive highway speeds until I get it checked out.
No car image 94a1663db56199c5353592009e34aaa51078a2469bed068bb8d6f0ba43accf97
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You have more than an alignment and balance. The alignment has nothing to do with vibration, and balance has nothing to do with vibration while the car is sitting still. There is something else as well, causing the vibration while stopped. Alignment and balance needs to be checked as well, but there is another issue.
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