Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Tire balancing equalizes weight variances on the circumference of the tire. This is what causes vibration. New tires made a a difference because when you mount a tire, you balance it. (I guess you could mount without balancing, but I've nebver heard of anyone doing that.
Alignment, adjusts the tires position in relation to the road, camber, caster, toe, the easiest of these to mention being camber. Camber is essentially the angle the tire leans against the road. The other two are important as well, affecting handling, pulling, and most importantly tire wear.
Is an alignment worth it? The way I see it, if I invest a lot of money into something, I want it to perform at its best and for a long time. An alignment is maintence that can make the difference between a crappy driving car with the tires wearing out sooner than they should and a car that is a pleaseure to drive, with tires that will last a long time.
I always align with tires, and check every year, to keep them wearing well.