• Get a Grip on Winter Tire Chains

    Snow-covered roads have been an issue for drivers since the invention of the automobile. Back then, people would lash rope or vines around their tires for added traction on snow-covered and icy roads. Or they’d just hitch a sled to a team of horses and skip the car altogether.

    Thanks to the creation of tire chains in 1904, the world has seen some innovative and effective ways of increasing traction on winter roads, including cable chains, link-fit chains, quick-fit chains, and tire sock traction devices.

    Nothing Beats Tire Chains

    Do a quick search for winter traction devices and you’ll come across some interesting alternatives to tire chains. Those include oversized zip ties that lock in place over the outside of your tire by looping through the inside of the wheel.

    Of those many options, not many can beat a set of cable chains, link-fit chains or today’s cable-and-latch quick-fit snow chains that bite into deep snow and offer improved tire traction on icy roads. These chains are installed to the drive wheels of your vehicle. If you have front-wheel drive, the chains go on the front. Rear-wheel drive, the chains go on the back. Check your owner’s manual if you have an all-wheel-drive or 4-wheel-drive vehicle. Or simply ask the experts at Les Schwab for help.

    Quick-fit chains, cable chains, and link-fit chains can improve traction in even the harshest winter conditions, but you do need to drive slow, avoid spinning your tires, and take them off once you start seeing bare pavement.

    Tire Sock

    Tire Socks
    Manufacturer recommended
    for some vehicles.

    Cable Chains

    Cable Chains
    Inexpensive for those
    just-in-case moments.

    Quick-fit Chains

    Quick-fit Chains
    Easy to install and ideal for
    the best traction on the road.

    Link-fit Chains

    Link-fit Chains
    Heavy-duty option. Some
    available for off-road use.

    Find a set of snow chains for your vehicle at your local Les Schwab. Learn how to install quick-fit chains.

    Pull on a Pair of Tire Socks

    Anytime you face winter’s fury, traction quickly becomes your top priority. For today’s performance vehicles, as well as cars and trucks with limited clearance between the tire and wheel well, a set of good snow tires have always been a great option if the manufacture of your vehicle doesn’t recommend using quick-fit chains. But now, you can add tire sock traction devices to your list of options.

    What are tire sock traction devices? Invented in Scandinavia, they’re like a pair of socks for your tires. They have grippy bottoms that align with the tread on your tires and pull over your whole wheel and tire set in seconds. But, unlike a set of chains, they need to be replaced once 50% of the white road-contact fabric is gone. If you drive on bare pavement at all, it won’t take long to wear them out.

    Similar to chains, they are installed on the drive wheels of your vehicle. If your car, SUV or truck is front-wheel drive, the socks go on the front. Rear-wheel drive, the socks go on the back. And if you have an all-wheel drive, stop by Les Schwab and we’ll help you decide. Also similar to chains, it’s important you drive slowly and avoid spinning your wheels when they’re installed.

    Find a set of tire sock traction devices at your local Les Schwab.

    Return Your Unused Devices in the Spring for a Full Refund

    At Les Schwab, we carry snow chains and tire socks for passenger cars, SUVs, and CUVs. If you don’t use your chains or tire socks all winter long, you can always return them in the spring for a full refund.

    Get the Right Traction Devices for Your Vehicle

    Stop by your local Les Schwab. Our team of pros will show you all the options and send you home with the right size and option for your vehicle.

    Get More Winter Tips

  • Guide to Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

    TPMS icon

    Notice to our customers: Important changes affecting vehicles equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems have been put into place.

    Learn More

    What Is a Tire Pressure Monitoring System?

    TPMS stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring System. It is a feature on many late model vehicles that monitors tire pressure and warns the driver, with a light on the dash, if one or more of the tires’ pressure falls 25% below the original equipment manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure.

    See the questions below to learn more about TPMS, and how to check if your vehicle is equipped with TPMS.

    Why does TPMS exist?

    As a result of tire-related safety concerns, Congress passed the TREAD Act in 2000. The TREAD Act requires vehicle manufacturers to install TPMS in new vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or less.

    What vehicles have it?

    Passenger cars, SUVs, and light trucks. TPMS has been progressively introduced in new vehicles since 2005. Refer to your owner’s manual for more information.

    How do I check to see if my vehicle has it?

    When you start your vehicle, look at the dash for the TPMS warning lamp. If you see the warning lamp light up momentarily, your vehicle is equipped with TPMS.

    What does it mean when the warning lamp is on?

    The warning lamp should light up briefly when the vehicle is started. But if the light stays on, that means tire pressure is low in one or more of the tires, or the system is not able to read the sensors. In this case, you should have your tire air pressure checked. We provide this service for free at all of our Les Schwab locations.

    What kind of maintenance is required on my TPMS?

    Replacement or relocation of a TPMS sensor, or sometimes even just inflating a tire may cause the TPMS to get out of whack. Generally, recalibration is easy to perform: we provide this service to customers free at all Les Schwab Tire Centers.

    Does this mean I don’t need to check my tire pressure?

    Regardless of TPMS, we recommend tire pressure checks every 30 days. Properly maintained tire pressure decreases tire wear and improves vehicle safety, handling, braking and fuel mileage. Come in anytime for a free air check.

    Find Your Store
  • How to: Make Your Tires Last Longer

    Do you like plunking down your hard-earned money on a new set of tires? Unless you’re a true enthusiast, probably not. If you want to extend the life of your tires, improve your car’s ride, and have a safer drive, follow these four quick tips.

    1. Check Your Tire Air Pressure Monthly

    Take the easiest step to extend tire life: Maintain the correct air pressure. The wrong air pressure can cause sluggish handling, increase stopping distance, increase wear and tear and heighten the risk of a blowout. Tire pressure changes:

    • Every month. Tires can lose about a pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure monthly.
    • In winter, when colder temperatures can lower air pressure.
    • In summer, when warm weather increases tire air pressure.

    Checking tire pressure with a round tire pressure gauge
    Check tire pressure monthly

    This isn’t just about money, either. Proper tire pressure is important for safety. A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Crash Causation Survey found tire issues in one out of 11 crashes. (Source: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811617.pdf [PDF]) Correct air pressure improves fuel efficiency. Underinflated tires mean you’re getting fewer miles to the gallon and paying more for gas than you need to. You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. (See more gas mileage tips at http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/drive.shtml.) The right tire pressure is an easy "win." Go check!

    2. Get Your Tires Rotated Every 5,000 Miles

    In most cars, only one or two wheels “drive” the car at a time. That can cause uneven tire wear. For example, on front-wheel drive vehicles, front tires wear faster. On rear-wheel drive vehicles, it’s the back tires. Even all-wheel drive vehicles can see uneven wear, as most shift the drive from one wheel to another. A technician rotates your tires by moving them to different wheel positions on the vehicle. That gives tires on drive wheels a rest and evens out wear. Rotation makes tires last longer. Do it every 5,000 miles.

    Schedule a Tire Rotation

    3. Have Wheels Balanced

    Tire rotation is a great time to get your wheels balanced, as well. Every tire and wheel has a heavy spot in it. None is perfect, even when brand new. The difference is tiny, measured in one-quarter to one-half ounces. But that small difference can cause vibration and uneven tire wear. Your mechanic can balance each wheel using a specialized machine and small weights. As the tire wears, he may need to move or change that weight. It’s a fast, easy process that costs a lot less than a new tire! Make sure you get your tires’ balance checked and adjusted during rotation.

    Wheel and tire on whel balancing machine.
    Get wheels balanced

    Schedule a Wheel Balance

    4. Check Your Alignment Twice a Year

    Misalignment may make your tires toed-in (“pigeon-toed”) or toed-out (“duck-footed”).

    Toed-in and toed-out misalignment
    Toed-in and toed-out misalignment

    If your car actively pulls or drifts right or left, or the steering wheel vibrates or shakes, your car may have an alignment problem. But your car or truck could be driving fine and still be out of alignment. When you bump up against a parking lot barrier, hit a pothole, or hit the curb, something has to give, and it’s often your alignment. The smallest misalignment can reduce fuel efficiency, and increase tread wear. Your mechanic can adjust your car’s alignment. Take your car in for a check every six months. Or whenever you think something is wrong. A little maintenance can help save a lot of money. Follow these easy, inexpensive tire maintenance tips and you can increase tire life. You’ll also improve gas mileage, extend the life of your car, and make your drive a safer one. You can start right now: Check your tire pressure. See? That wasn’t hard, and you just saved yourself some money.

    Schedule a Free Visual Alignment Check

  • How to Put Air in Your Tires

    When you have the correct air pressure in your tires, it can improve fuel efficiency and safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), under-inflated tires can reduce your MPG (Mile Per Gallon) as well as affect handling, stopping, and impact-crash avoidance systems. To avoid these issues and keep your tires properly inflated, stop by Les Schwab for a free monthly air check. Schedule your appointment now.

    How Do You Know How Much Air to Put in Your Tires

    First, the correct pressure or PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch) of air inside your tires is not printed on the side of the tire. That is the maximum (cold) pressure that should not be exceeded, which can be very different from your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure.

    The recommended tire pressure for your vehicle (and spare tire) is located in your owner’s manual or on the driver’s side door sticker. In many cases, it will list the pressure for both the front and back wheels when cold (first thing in the morning or before the vehicle has been driven).

    Door placard showing tire pressure

    How to Put Air in Your Tires

    Whether you’re at home or at the gas station, adding air to your tires can be quick and easy. Look for an air compressor at your local gas station just beyond the pump lanes. It may require a few quarters to run. At home, you’ll need an air compressor. In both cases, you’ll need a tire pressure gauge.

    • Check your tire pressure. It’s important to complete this step in the morning or when the tires are cold. This will give you an accurate reading. To check the pressure in each tire, use a tire pressure gauge. These often look like a metallic pencil with a sliding measuring device on one end and a tire valve connection on the other.

      Tire pressure gauge

    • Park your car in the right place. Whether you’re at a gas station or home, be sure you can safely reach all four tires with the air hose.
    • Remove the tire valve cap. Put the cap in your pocket so you don’t lose it.
    • Place the compressor fitting firmly on the tire valve stem. Then begin to inflate your tire. You’ll hear air going into the tire. If you hear or feel air coming out, readjust the connection between the air nozzle and the valve stem on the tire.
    • Add air for a few seconds. Keep in mind that not all air compressors inflate at the same rate. You’ll want to inflate and check your tire pressure often. Add air as needed. To remove air, quickly push in the center pin located inside your tire valve.
    • Replace the valve cap. This helps keep more air in your tires for a longer period of time, and can keep road debris (dirt and more) from getting into the valve.

    Les Schwab Tip: If you don’t have access to an air compressor or you’re not near a gas station, a bicycle pump might work in an emergency. Just be warned, it will take a lot of pumping and could ruin the bicycle pump.

    Check Your Tire Pressure Monthly

    Your tires can lose one pound of pressure per month on average. Over time, those small reductions in pressure can really add up. Anytime you’re out and about, pull into your local Les Schwab and we’ll check and inflate your tires for free.

    Can You Drive on a Tire with Low Air?

    The short answer is, sometimes. For example, releasing some pressure out of your tires can give you more grip in deep snow. However, driving with low air pressure isn’t encouraged and could cause irreparable damage to the tires or even failure.

    What happens if you get a flat and can’t immediately fill your tires with air? That’s when it’s a good idea to change to your spare and get to Les Schwab as soon as possible. If you drive a vehicle with run-flat tires, they are designed to give you some time to get to Les Schwab if you get a flat or experience a slight reduction in air pressure.

    Let Les Schwab Put Air in Your Tires

    Pull into any Les Schwab location and our pros will perform a free air check and inflate your tires to the proper pressure. It’s just one of the many safety-minded services we’re proud to offer you and your family.

  • How to Store Seasonal Tires and Wheels

    If you have an extra set of tires and wheels for winter or summer driving, proper storage can help you get the most life out of your investment while also having them ready for your next seasonal changeover. We have some tips to help you store those tires and ensure your next seasonal changeover goes smoothly.

    Select Les Schwab Tires locations can make tire storage easy. When it's time to change tires for the season, we'll store your other, bulky and dirty tires. Learn more about this time and space-saving option.

    When to Change Your Seasonal Tires

    It's time to change to your winter tires when nighttime and early morning temperatures stay at or near 40º F. While you won’t ruin your winter tires overnight, they will wear out faster as temperatures rise. Additionally, if you live in a snowy area, consider changing to your snow tires ahead of the first snowstorm of the season.

    Should I Remove My Wheels/Tires From the Vehicle for Storage?

    While it is advisable to carry a spare tire or have a plan if you get a flat, it’s not a good idea to store your seasonal tires in your vehicle. Why? Because those tires and wheels will add weight to your car or truck, reducing your MPG or range. Plus, the inside or back of a car or truck is not the ideal environment for storing tires. Keeping them there can cause safety issues and premature tire degradation.

    Steps to Take When Storing Your Tires

    When your winter tires are mounted on wheels (also known as rims), your tires will last longer and your seasonal changeovers will go a lot faster. That’s because we won’t need to remove one set of tires and replace them on a single set of wheels. Instead, we’ll simply remove the prior season’s tire/wheel set and install the next season tire/wheel set, check the tire pressure, perform some visual safety inspections, and send you on your way. Plus, you won’t be charged a changeover fee.

    Here’s how to properly store your tires for any season.

    1. Maintain Your Tires Air Pressure

      When you have the correct air pressure in your tires, it can improve fuel efficiency and safety. But what about tires that are in storage? Those tires need the proper air pressure too. When properly inflated, tires will store better. Check out how to put air in your tires.

    2. Cleaner Is Better

      Grime, tar, rocks, and other debris can really build up on your tires and wheels. Every time your tires are changed out for the season, clean them off before storing. Scrub them with soap and water, then allow them to dry completely. Storing wet wheels can encourage corrosion and/or pits in the metal. Even a little moisture can cause problems. Some Les Schwab locations offer tire storage and cleaning. Find a location near you.

    3. Keep Tires Covered

      Once your tires are clean and ready to be stored, put them back into the yellow Les Schwab bags after changing them out. If you don’t have Les Schwab bags, large garbage bags will also work. Depending on where you store them, do what you can to keep dust, leaves, and other materials off the tires.

    4. Avoid the Elements

      To get the most life out of your seasonal tires, proper storage means keeping them out of the elements and under a cover (roofline, awning, shed, garage). This helps minimize wear and maximize the life of your tires. Additionally:

      • Keep tires out of the sun. Ultraviolet light can degrade tire rubber.
      • Try to regulate the temperature where your tires are stored as much as possible.

    The Right Tires for Any Weather

    Your local Les Schwab is ready to help with your seasonal changeovers, including adding your winter tires to a separate set of wheels. It’s a smart move that will save you time and help you avoid changeover fees. Be sure to schedule your appointment to avoid the winter and springtime rush. Or just stop by. We’ll help you get the most from your seasonal tires.

    Need Help Storing Your Seasonal Tires and Wheels?

    Les Schwab may be able to help. We offer seasonal tire storage at select stores.

    Participating Locations

  • Les Schwab Tech Tip: How Flat Tire Repair Works

    The tires on your vehicle come in contact with a lot of roads, highways, and more. Sometimes items on those roads include nails, screws, or other objects that can find their way into your tires. This is typically what causes a flat. At Les Schwab, we’re proud to fix flat tires across the West, and get you and your family safely back on the road. Here’s a quick rundown of our process that helps us fix almost 2-million flats at year — often at no charge.

    Step 1: We put your vehicle on a lift and perform an inspection. This includes looking over the tread of the tire, the sidewalls, stem (air valve), and looking for exposed belts. This first step can often tell us if your tire can be repaired or needs to be replaced.

    Step 2: We remove the wheel and tire assembly. To find all possible issues, we submerge the whole wheel and tire assembly in a water tank to locate and mark the cause of the leak. Once again, the tire expert will determine if the flat can be repaired.

    Les Schwab technician marking the cause of a flat tire.

    When Replacement is Necessary

    According to the Tire Industry Association guidelines, all repairs on any tire are limited to the tread area, not on the shoulder or sidewall. If your tire is damaged beyond repair, or the sidewall is damaged, the tire should be replaced.

    TIA repairable area of a tire.

    Step 3: If it can be repaired, the technician working on your vehicle will remove the tire from the wheel and prep it inside and out.

    Removing a flat tire from a wheel for repair.

    Step 4: Oftentimes, we remove the object and drill the damaged area at the angle the object entered the tire. We then buff and clean the inside, cement it, then apply a plug/patch combination and sealer. Depending on the angle of the puncture, a 2-piece patch may be required.

    Drilling the damaged section out of a flat tire.
    Buffing the damaged section on a flat tire.
    Cleaning the damaged area of a flat tire.
    Applying plug/patch glue to tire repair.
    Inserting a plu/patch combo in the hole in the tires tread.
    Applying the patch sealer to finish the tire repair.

    Step 5: Before reinstalling the wheel, we double-check the patch by placing the tire and wheel in a water tank. This is done to verify the patch was done properly and there are no leaks.

    Doing a final check on tire patch integrity in a water tank

    Once your tire is back on your vehicle, we’ll check the pressure on all four tires. Then, we’ll ensure Tire Pressure Monitoring System is reset as part of our World Class Customer Service. After that, you’re good to go.

    Les Schwab technician checking the tire pressure on remaining tires.

    Get the Les Schwab Tire Warranty

    When you buy your tires from Les Schwab, they come with our Best Tire Value Promise, including free flat repairs. And when you bring your flat tires into Les Schwab for repair, you’ll go home with information on your repair, your tire’s tread depth, air pressure, and information on what caused the leak.

    Schedule a Flat Repair
  • What Are Studded Tires & When Should You Use Them

    If you’ve ever driven through a winter storm, you know it can get a little tense. Especially when roads are covered in snow and ice. You might not be able to avoid winter, but you can be ready for it with a set of winter or snow tires, including studded options. We have some tips to help you make the right choice about studded winter tires, how studs keep you in control, and when they can be used in your state.

    What Are Studded Tires?

    Studs are lightweight, small metal spikes (studs) that are staggered and inserted across the tread of a winter tire. These studs protrude slightly from the rubber tread surface, helping break through packed snow and ice-covered roads to give you better traction. Note: Extra tread depth is needed to accommodate studs, so studded tire size options are often limited.

    How & Where Do Studded Tires Work?

    A good set of tires is essential for winter driving, whatever the weather. If you’re heading into snow and ice, studded tires can have a big impact on your safety. A vehicle equipped with winter traction tires can stop faster on ice than a car without those tires — even if you’re driving just 15 miles per hour.

    Studded tires work best on snow and ice-covered roads that have yet to be fully plowed. As the studs pierce the ice and snow, they provide extra traction to keep you safe and in control.

    Why Are Studded Tires Used For Winter Driving?

    Snow tires, and especially studded winter tires, are specifically designed to help you stay on the road in snow zones or mountain regions where the temperature regularly drops below 40 degrees. Snow tires are distinguished by a mountain snowflake symbol on the sidewall of the tire. This indicator means the tires have been tested and proven for snow, ice, and slush.

    3PMSF symbol on tire sidewall

    The benefits of snow tires include improved traction, vehicle handling, and skid control thanks to deeper, wider, and more jagged tread than regular tires. This tread allows the tire to pick up snow and maintain traction. The studs on some of those tires give them added grip on snow and ice.

    Are Studded Tires Always the Best Option for Winter?

    Studded tires are not always the best option for safe winter driving. Studded tires provide optimal traction on ice or packed snow. But studless winter tires work well on slush and packed snow thanks to wide, deep grooves in the tread and lots of irregular surfaces with sharp edges. These allow the rubber to cut through the snow and grip the road.

    As temperatures steadily rise, it’s time to replace your winter tires with all-season or performance tires. We recommend swapping back when you do not plan to drive on snow or ice-covered roads, or when nighttime temperatures are consistently 50º F. As temperatures rise, the special rubber compound found in winter tires can wear out much faster.

    Les Schwab Tip: If your winter tires have studs, your state has specific dates those tires must be removed from your vehicle. Find your state’s information here.

    Les Schwab can help you choose the right winter tires for where you drive, including a good knowledge of local state laws.

    What’s the Difference Between Studded and Studless Tires?

    Winter tires are designed to provide extra traction and control on snow and ice. The differences between studded and studless winter tires go beyond tiny metal studs.

    Studless snow tires offer great traction for most winter conditions without the metal spikes. Wide, deep grooves in the tread help keep you in control.

    Studded tires have spikes or studs that break through packed snow and ice for added traction.

    Studded vs Studless Winter Tires

    When Can I Use Studded Tires & When Do I Have to Remove Them?

    If you do choose a set of studded winter tires for your vehicle, remember there are state-by-state laws regulating when and where you can use them. U.S. states that do allow studded snow tires permit their use from mid-winter to early spring. Driving outside specified dates can carry a steep fine along with plenty of disapproving looks from your fellow drivers.

    Stud Laws by State

    Studded tire use is regulated by each state. Driving with studded tires on clear roads not only wears down your studs, it can also decrease stopping distance. That’s because your tread is not making optimal contact with the road — your studs are.

    For legal stud dates in your region, check out this state-by-state list of studded tire regulations as reported by the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association.

    How Much Do Studded Tires Cost?

    The price for a set of studded winter tires depends on the size of tire you need for your vehicle, the features of those tires, the warranty, as well as other options. The experts at Les Schwab can help you choose the right winter tires for your car or truck.

    Are Studded Winter Tires Right for You?

    Depending on where you drive and the winter conditions you face, studded winter tires could add safety to outings in tough winter conditions. Studded or regular winter tires could be a good choice if you’re a winter sport enthusiast, often navigate unmaintained winter roads, or if you plan to drive in the snow and ice every week. The pros at Les Schwab can help you face winter with the right tires.

    Let Les Schwab Help You With Your Studded Tire Needs

    The right set of winter tires can be found at your local Les Schwab. Stop by today or schedule an appointment and we’ll help you decide on the best winter traction to keep you in control and safely on the road.

  • Why Worn Tires Are Less Safe

    When it comes to safety on the road, your tires are one of the most important parts of your vehicle. And the tire tread on those tires is where the rubber literally meets the road! However, as you drive, more of that tire tread disappears. Over time, that can add up to less stopping power and maneuverability in different weather conditions. It can also mean more punctures resulting in air loss. We’ve compiled some of the reasons why worn tires are less safe and when you should replace them.

    1. Tires Equal Performance

      According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly half of all vehicles on the road have at least one half-worn tire. That means the depth of the tire tread is half of what it was when the tire was new.

      Tire tread depth on a new car tire is usually around 10/32 to 11/32 inches. Light trucks are between 11/32 and 19/32 inches. For a car, half-worn would mean the tire tread depth was around 6/32 inches. Due to safety concerns, many states require tires be replaced when they reach 2/32 inches, which is considered bald.

    2. Measuring Your Tread

      Loosely measuring the tire tread depth on your tires is easy. All you need is a shiny penny. Check out Tire Tread and the Useful Penny Test to learn how to measure yours. Or get yourself a tread-depth gauge, which is far more precise. To help you spot bald tires, manufacturers have added horizontal rubber bars at the base of tire tread grooves. If those molded horizontal bars are flush with the surrounding tread, then your tires are more-than ready to be replaced.

      Penny test for tread depth

      At Les Schwab, we recommend you get new tires before they reach 2/32 inches. Here’s why.

    3. Tire Tread Keeps You in Control

      As tires lose tread, the sipes or channels in between the tire tread disappear. This means you have less grip on snowy and icy roads. It can take far longer to accelerate with half-worn tires, and can dramatically reduce your stopping distance.

      In the rain, you have a greater chance of hydroplaning at higher speeds. Plus, half-worn tires don’t deliver the stopping power of new tires in the rain and standing water.

    4. Tire Tread Repels Objects Better

      The lower your tire tread gets, the easier it is for nails, screws, and other tire-piercing items to ruin your day with a flat tire.

    Pro Tip: Check Your Tire Tread Every Other Month

    Measure and look for reduced tire tread every time you add air to your tires. For most folks, that’s every other month or so. Or you can just swing by your local Les Schwab and we’ll check the air pressure and your tire tread depth for free. That includes looking for cracks, cuts, or bulges in the sidewall, and uneven wear. Schedule your appointment now or stop by before your next road trip down the highway or into the mountains.

    Schedule an Appointment
  • Winter Driving Tips: Traction Tires & Snow Chains

    If you’ve ever faced a winter storm from the driver’s seat of your vehicle, you know it can get a little tense. Especially when it’s icy, snowy, or pouring down rain. You might not be able to avoid winter, but you can be ready for your trip over the mountain or across town.

    Traction is Your Friend

    A good set of tires is essential for winter driving, whatever the weather. Heading into some serious conditions, like ice and snow? A set of snow chains can help keep you on the road instead of waiting for a tow truck.

    Adding snow tires to your vehicle is an option. These include studded and studless options for the snow and ice, as well as siping for added grip in heavy rain. Get the full scoop on how to choose winter tires.

    Get to know snow chains. Winter weather can be unpredictable and we want you to be prepared and safe wherever you're driving. Before the harsh weather hits, get a pair of correctly fitting tire chains for your vehicle and practice installing them in a warm garage. You can check out our quick tutorial. If you purchase your tire chains from Les Schwab and they sit in your trunk all season without being used, bring them back with proof of purchase to any of our locations in the spring and we'll issue you a full refund.

    Drive Smart in Any Weather

    Traction tires and devices are a good idea, whether you’re taking the family up to the slopes or driving home from work. And so is smart driving. Whatever the conditions, give yourself plenty of room to stop. When the pavement is wet, put at least 120 feet between you and the next car or truck. On snow, give yourself 180 feet. And if there’s ice on the road, get really generous with 600 feet of stopping distance. You’ll be glad you did.

  • Summer Tires vs All-Season Tires: Which Are Best for You?

    When you buy a new set of tires, it’s important you choose a set that meets your needs. Do you value comfort and a quiet ride, cost savings with fuel efficiency, longevity, performance, or a combination of those features? The pros at Les Schwab are here to help, including understanding the difference between summer and all-season tires and what you should have on your vehicle.

    What Are Summer Tires?

    Summer tires, also known as performance tires, are designed for drivers who enjoy precise handling and control on wet and dry roads. As the name implies, they are designed for warmer conditions or regions that experience nothing more than an infrequent downpour.

    Why Summer Tires Perform Better in Heat and Rain

    Summer tires are optimized for excellent road grip, cornering, braking, and acceleration. First, the tread patterns typically feature shallow, straighter grooves along with solid, continuous ribs. That way, more rubber is always in contact with the road. Plus, thanks to a special rubber compound, performance tires are traditionally softer for added road grip in wet conditions and dissipate heat better than other tires in the summer months.

    Since performance tires often have asymmetrical or directional tread patterns, tire rotation options may be limited. The pros at Les Schwab can help you get the most life out of your summer tires. While summer tires can outperform all-season tires in many tests, they get rigid in colder weather, reducing stopping distances and control.

    Comparison of summer and all-season tire tread features

    All-season Tires Trade Off Some Traction for Longer Wear

    All tires are purpose-built. All-season tires are engineered to be used year-round in regions where drivers don’t experience a lot of snow or ice. They are like a hybrid of summer and winter tires. The rubber in all-season tires remains flexible at temperatures a bit above freezing to maintain grip in snow and ice. Plus, the tread design on all-season tires is usually symmetrical, giving you more rotation options to even out tread wear and extend tire mileage.

    While they are not a substitute for genuine winter tires, which are necessary for stable driving in a lot of snow, sleet and ice, they are also not a high performance tire for serious summertime driving.

    When choosing between performance and all-season tires, use the quick comparisons below.


    Sticky tread compound and designed to prevent hydroplaning in heavy rain. Moderately good traction on wet surfaces.
    Great cornering, quick acceleration and braking. Designed for solid traction in a wide variety of conditions. Not for performance handling.
    TEMPERATURE RANGE Use when average daily temperatures are 44º F and up. Made for temps at or above freezing.
    TREAD DEPTH Tires often need to be replaced at 4/32nds inch of tread left for best hydroplaning resistance. Tires typically replaced at 2/32nds inch of tread left.
    VEHICLE TYPE Great on high-performance vehicles (EV, sports cars, luxury SUVs, etc.) Passenger cars, SUVs, CUVs, light trucks.
    TYPE OF DRIVING Spirited drivers and sports car owners. Everyday drivers, commuters, and those who face snow and ice.

    Do You Need Summer Tires?

    If you live where it never snows and temperatures are typically 44°F or warmer, summer or performance tires are a good choice. Performance tires are especially well-suited to urban areas with warm climates that get some rain. That’s because they’re better at preventing hydroplaning at highway speeds than all-season tires. Learn how to avoid hydroplaning. However, if you live in an area where the weather is not so predictable, and freezing rain or light snow conditions are possible, it’s better to go with all-season tires.

    Do you encounter snow and ice every year? Play it safe and get a set of winter tires. Then change them out for all-season or performance tires in the spring.

    Summer Tires and All-Season Tires FAQ

    Can I use summer tires all year?

    If you live in a climate that doesn’t experience any snow or freezing temperatures, you can safely use summer or performance tires all year long. Additionally, summer tires are designed to minimize hydroplaning, which means they are exceptional on wet roads. However, if you do drive in the snow or freezing temperatures, it’s advisable to use a set of winter tires once temperatures drop below 44º F.

    Do summer tires wear faster than all-season tires?

    Summer or performance tires are built with shallower grooves and special tread compound, which can provide less tread life than all-season tires.

    Can you use all-season tires in the summer?

    All-season tires are designed to grip the road in many conditions and seasons, and can be a good choice for many drivers.

    Are summer tires harder than all-season tires?

    The rigidity of summer and all-season tires depends on the ambient temperature and the heat (or lack of heat) from the road. Summer tires are designed to retain their shape in warmer conditions, while all-season tires are built with a special rubber compound that keeps them flexible at temperatures just above freezing..

    Shop Our Wide Selection of Summer and All-season Tires

    One of the biggest factors in choosing a new set of tires depends on what and how you drive. Stop by Les Schwab today and our pros will ask you all the right questions to help find the right tires for your vehicle and daily needs.

    Find a Store

  • Benefits of Buying New Tires

    Driving is a necessity. It gets you to work, the kids off to school, and the family out on the weekends. However, all of those miles will eventually wear down the tread on your tires, resulting in less performance and reduced safety overall. Les Schwab can help you know when to get new tires. When you do, here are some surprising benefits to a new set of tires for your car, truck, crossover, or SUV.

    The Advantages & Benefits of New Tires

    Besides the look a new set of tires adds to any vehicle, there are other advantages as well. These include safety, performance, traction, and comfort.


    The quality of your tires and the overall tread help keep you in control. As tread wears down, your stopping distance increases, and your control of the vehicle can suffer. Learn more about tire tread and when it’s time to buy new tires.


    Today’s vehicles are incredible machines designed to keep you safely on the road. New tires help achieve optimal performance with added grip and flexibility.


    New tires increase your grip on the road. That includes cornering, accelerations, and braking on wet and dry pavement.

    Noise and Comfort:

    Depending on the type of tires and the overall tread pattern, a new set of tires can be both comfortable and quiet. That can be especially true for performance and summer tires designed for high-end SUVs and other vehicles, including electric models.

    Do New Tires Help With Gas Mileage?

    There are a lot of variables to consider when it comes to new tires and your overall MPG or battery range. Low-rolling-resistance tires may improve things, but there are trade offs. The shallower tread may increase your stopping distance and reduce steering performance — especially on wet roads. On the other hand, choosing tires with added traction and deeper tread for added control and safety will slightly affect fuel and range efficiency. That’s because that tread makes the tires heavier and creates more wind drag.

    Gas gauge

    Top Tires for Fuel/Range Efficiency and Better Gas Mileage

    Eco tire options are specifically built for today’s electric and hybrid vehicles. These technological wonders are quiet, have a long tread life, and feature a low rolling resistance for peak mileage and range. If you don’t have an EV or hybrid, performance tires for passenger vehicles, CUVs, and SUVs, are designed to help you hug corners, zip through straightaways, and add safety to every drive while also helping you get the most out of every gallon of gas. Ask the pros at Les Schwab about the best tires for your driving needs, including fuel efficiency and performance.

    Looking for ways to improve your overall MPG? We have some top tips to boost your fuel efficiency, whether you drive a truck, hybrid, or fully electric vehicle.

    How to Tell When You Need New Tires?

    Worn-out tires affect your car’s performance and safety. The pros at Les Schwab can a href="https://www.lesschwab.com/es/article/how-do-i-know-when-i-need-new-tires.html" title="How to Tell If You Need New Tires">help you decide if you need new tires with a free visual inspection. You can also check your own tires by seeing how close your tread is to the tread wear indicators or “tread wear bars” in the grooves of the tread (see the image above). Simply look for the lowest tread wear point across the tread face of the tire. If the tread on the tire is even with the tread wear bars, it could be time for new tires. Or, check them with some pocket change. We call it the penny tread test.

    Tire ware bars

    1. Take a penny and place it with Lincoln’s head upside down between two ribs on your tire.
    2. If part of the head is covered, your tires are still in good shape.
    3. If you can see his entire head, your tread is worn to 2⁄32 inch or less and it’s time for new tires.
    4. Check various points on the tire — around the circumference and between different ribs — to look for uneven tire wear.

    Need New Tires? Let Les Schwab Help

    If the tires on your vehicle are more than a few years old, are the same ones that came with the car or truck, or you’re just not sure how much tread is left, stop by your local Les Schwab. We’ll check your tires for free, make recommendations, and get you back on the road safely.

  • Run-Flat Tires: How They Work & When Should You Use Them

    No matter where you drive, one stray nail or screw can cause a flat tire and send you to the side of the road. Run-flat tires change all that. However, there are trade-offs. Here’s what you need to know about run-flat tires, why some manufacturers are using them instead of spare tires, and why you might or might not want them for your vehicle.

    What Are Run-Flat Tires?

    Also called zero-pressure tires, run-flat tires are designed with reinforced, thicker sidewalls. They’re about ¾" thick as compared to ⅛" thick on standard tires. This means the sidewalls of the tire should be able to support the weight of your vehicle even if you experience a sudden and complete loss of air pressure due to a puncture or tire failure.

    Additionally, some run-flat tires allow you to travel for a short distance at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. In other words, they live up to their name and are built so you can skip the spare and drive on them even when they are technically flat.

    How Long Can You Drive on a Run-Flat Tire

    Run-flat technology is designed to help you remain in control even after losing all or most of the air pressure in your tires. If you get a flat, some run-flat tires allow you to drive for up to 50 miles at up to 50 miles per hour. That should be enough to get to your local Les Schwab for a repair or replacement.

    How Do Run-Flat Tires Work?

    Standard tires do not support the weight of your vehicle. The air pressure does that job. When a standard tire loses air pressure, the sidewalls on those tires fold and the tire becomes unsafe for driving. If you go too far, you can ruin the tire and maybe even the wheel.

    Run-flat technology also uses air pressure to support the weight of your vehicle, but the sidewalls on run-flats are reinforced so that even if you experience a sudden and complete loss of air pressure, you can stay in control and drive for upwards of 50 miles to a nearby Les Schwab. As long as there is no damage to the sidewall or other parts of the tire, we may be able to repair your run-flat tire. However, the damage warranty, if there is one, might not cover the damage.

    Standard vs Run-flat tire

    How Run-Flats Compare to Standard Tires?

    When purchased from us, both come with the Les Schwab Best Tire Value Promise for the life of the tire. Additionally, both technologies fit onto standard wheels or rims. See our article Can I Mix Run-Flat Tires with Standard Ones for some added insight.

    The Benefits of Run-Flat Tires
    • Safety: More control in the event of a sudden loss of tire pressure.
    • Options: The ability to drive to your local repair shop after a flat.
    • Convenience: No need to carry a spare or change a tire on the side of the road.
    The Disadvantages of Run-Flat Tire Technology
    • Comfort: There can be diminished ride quality with the stiffer sidewall.
    • Noise: Some run-flat tires create more road noise inside the vehicle.
    • Repairs: While run-flat tires might get you to a repair facility, the tire might not be repairable in most situations.
    • Cost: Most run-flat tires come at a premium price.
    • Availability: Some specific sizes and tread options may not be readily available.

    When Should You Use Run-Flat Tires?

    Roughly 15% of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. come with run-flat tires, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In most cases, this means the vehicle does not have or was not equipped with a spare tire, reducing the weight of the vehicle and increasing cargo space. If you want to free up space in your trunk or under the vehicle, and want the added freedom of driving on a “flat” tire for up to 50 miles instead of stopping to change to a spare, you might consider choosing run-flat tires.

    Why Were Run-Flat Tires Created?

    If you’ve purchased a new car, you may have noticed that many manufacturers have removed the spare tire. This is done to reduce weight, improve fuel efficiency, and provide more cargo space. But what happens if you get a flat? You’ll find that those carmakers may have given you an emergency tire repair kit or equipped the vehicle with run-flat tires.

    When it comes to convenience, run-flat tires are great. But the real reason they were invented was to improve the safety and steering response of high-end sports cars in case of tire failure. Over the decades since this technology was first introduced, run-flat tires have become more common on some high-end vehicles.

    Ask Les Schwab About Run-Flat Tires for Your Vehicle

    If your vehicle came standard with run-flat tires, you might consider it as a viable option — especially when your vehicle does not have a spare. If your vehicle did not come standard with run-flat tires, or if you’re unsure if you already have run-flat tires, stop by your local Les Schwab for advice. Depending on your vehicle and driving needs, our team can help you decide if run-flat technology is right for you.

    Schedule an Appointment