• Does My Vehicle Need an Alignment?

    Why Your Alignment Is Important

    When someone is talking about their vehicle’s alignment, they are referring to the direction that each of the four wheels is facing. Your vehicle is in alignment when all four wheels are pointed the same direction and contacting the road at the proper angle. When you’re out of alignment, your tires can wear out faster, your car or truck might pull to one side or wander, your stability will be affected, and your fuel economy could be impacted.

    Les Schwab Tip: Because symptoms can be tough to spot, we recommend you have your alignment checked twice per year.

    How Your Vehicle Gets Out of Alignment

    Dirt roads, bumpy highways, potholes, as well as hitting curbs and speed bumps can throw your vehicle out of alignment. Additionally, alignment issues will happen slowly over time due to normal wear and tear. To quickly analyze your car’s alignment, ask yourself these questions during your next drive.

    • Does your car or truck pull to one side when driving?
    • Is your steering wheel turned slightly to one side when driving straight?
    • When you come out of a turn, do you need to bring your car back to the center position?
    • Do you fight your steering wheel when traveling at highway speeds?
    • Do you have excessive wear on the inside or outside of one or more of your tires?

    Answering yes to any of the above could mean your car or truck needs an alignment. However, because alignment issues can be tough to spot, it’s a good idea to have yours checked twice per year.

    We’ll Check Your Alignment for Free

    The pros at your local Les Schwab can take a look at your vehicle’s suspension and alignment components and let you know if you need any repairs. If everything is okay, it won’t cost you a thing. But if you do need an alignment, we’ll tell you what it will cost, give you a time estimate, and send you home with a stable ride and a Les Schwab warranty.

    Schedule an Appointment
  • Need a New Battery? Start Here.

    If you’re wondering how often you should change your car battery, how long it takes to change a battery, or why your battery died suddenly without warning, the answer might not be what you’re expecting.

    Leaving Battery Installation to the Professionals

    At one time, removing your vehicle’s old, dead battery and installing a new one was an easy bit of car maintenance. Today’s vehicles are more complex. And, so are today’s automotive batteries. Vehicles from the mid-90s may require special equipment and care when changing a new battery. In fact, don’t be surprised if you’re not sure how to even unhook your car battery.

    The reason for that complexity? Most of today’s cars and trucks are packed with computers and other special electronic equipment that rely on a continuous power supply. Incorrectly changing out a battery can affect your radio presets, security system, power windows, as well as your air conditioning and heating controls.

    More importantly, a loss of power during battery installation can also cause unseen issues to your vehicle’s operating systems. Because today’s automotive computers adapt while you drive, a loss of power can negatively affect systems that regulate your transmission, engine efficiency, and battery charging.

    Batteries aren’t always under the hood of today’s vehicles. They may be located on the inside of your vehicle, which require a specific battery that needs ventilation to keep harmful gasses out of your vehicle’s interior.

    Start at Les Schwab

    If you think you have a drained battery, head over to a Les Schwab near you. Our battery installation teams use the latest equipment to maintain power to those sensitive systems during the battery installation process. We also use the latest in diagnostics and testing equipment to check the overall health of your battery, charging and starting systems.

    Schedule an Appointment

    Know the Nearly Dead Battery Warning Signs

    It doesn’t take a lot of power to start today’s vehicles, which means you might not get the telltale slow-start associated with a dying battery. You might not even notice your battery is going dead until it’s too late.

    Things that can contribute to a drained battery include extreme hot and cold weather, how often and far you drive each day, how long your vehicle is parked in one location without being started, and if you have any aftermarket equipment installed such as a stereo or auxiliary electronics and lighting. See our article How Your Auto Battery Works to understand why batteries die over time and how a car battery recharges.

    LesSchwab Tip: Because the signs of a weak battery might not be as noticeable and batteries rarely die at a convenient time, the professionals at your local Les Schwab can check your battery condition for free — even if it isn’t dead.

    While it’s common to experience a dead battery in the winter, it’s actually the hot, summer months that cause most battery wear and tear. This is due to an increase in the chemical reactions inside the battery during hot days. When the weather gets cold, that damage is more likely to cause battery failure.

    Enjoy up to a Seven Year Battery Warranty

    Get a jump on your next battery at your local Les Schwab. We carry automotive batteries for cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, crossovers, RVs, and more. We’ll help you find the best battery for your vehicle and get you quickly back on the road. Our professional installation takes the guesswork and worry out of buying a new battery. Learn more at Les Schwab Tire Centers.

  • 10 Steps to Get Your RV or Trailer Ready for the Road

    When your spring and summertime recreation revolves around an RV or trailer, there’s a certain amount of maintenance to be done before you hit the highways and back-country roads. We can help you simplify those chores with 10 easy steps that start at your local Les Schwab.

    At Les Schwab

    1. We’ll Check Your Tires: Depending on where and how you store your vehicle in the winter, tire condition can degrade due to sun and weather exposure. Even parking in one spot too long can cause flat spots on your tires. The Les Schwab experts will look at your overall tire condition, checking for cracks around the valve stems, top-off your tire pressure, and show you how much life is left on your RV or trailer tires. If you need new tires, you’ll be in the right place.

    Les Schwab Tip: proper tire pressure helps reduce the chance of tire failure.

    Les Schwab technician charging an RV battery.

    1. We’ll Check Your Brakes and Suspension: Our experts will take a good look at your brakes and shocks and make recommendations to help keep you and your family safe all summer long.

    2. Your Battery Might Need a Charge: The Les Schwab team will look over your battery for corrosion, clean it, and charge it if necessary. Our FREE battery and charging system test includes a visual inspection and look at the overall health of the battery.

    3. We’ll Check Your Bearings: Even if your tires look good, your wheel bearings might need to be serviced. If your bearings fail, it can leave you stranded on the side of the highway. If you haven’t had this done in a while, the Les Schwab team can help you repack or replace them.

    4. Don’t Forget the Spare: Even if you never use your spare, hot and cold weather can cause your tire to degrade and become unusable. It will even lose pressure over time. Our team will check your spare so that a flat tire doesn’t derail your adventures.

    Les Schwab Tip: Sometimes, spare tire mounting hardware is different from what is used on the wheels of your RV or trailer. Be sure you’re carrying the right tools for the job.

    At Home

    1. Check the Fluids (RV) and Structure: Start up the engine and let it idle for a bit to get the fluids moving around. Now, check beneath the vehicle for engine leaks, such as oil and other fluids. On both RVs and trailers, check the outside for cracks, rust, and other damage. Repair as needed. You’ll also want to check for rodent damage to wires and hoses.

    2. Check and Clean the Pipes: If you used antifreeze to protect the water system, drain it completely. Then, flush the plumbing with clean water by adding fresh water to the holding tank, turning on the water pump, and opening up every faucet. Make sure the water cycles through the ice maker, outdoor shower, and water heater.

      To sanitize the plumbing, use a chlorine-free water system cleanser or one-quarter cup household bleach for every 15 gallons of water. Close all the drains and put drain plugs in place. Then pour the cleanser or bleach into the fresh water tank and fill with water. Turn on the water pump and run water through all hot and cold faucets until you detect the cleanser, turn off the faucets and pump, then let it sit in the system for 12 hours. Drain, refill with water and drain again until all the remaining bleach or cleanser are flushed.

    3. Try the AC, Heater, Hot Water Heater, Stove, and Fridge: Refer to your owner’s manual as you check to make sure everything is working. If your fridge or other appliances run on both electric and propane, try them both ways. If something isn’t working, check the gas connections or breaker switch.

    4. Check the Awning and Pull-Outs: This is a great time to repair any holes or tears in your awning. Check to make sure the pull outs can fully extend. Add lubrication or hydraulic fluid as needed to keep them moving smoothly.

    Camp trailer with teh awning expanded.

    1. Turn on the Lights, Check Indicators, and Safety Equipment: Make sure your headlights (RV), tail light, indicators, and other safety equipment are working. This includes smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, emergency road kits, and first aid packs.

    Start Your Adventures at Les Schwab

    Before you go anywhere in your RV or hitch up your trailer for a weekend away, swing by your local Les Schwab. Our pros will help make sure you get to where you’re going with a quick check of the tires, brakes, and battery on your vehicle as well as your RV and trailer.

    Schedule an Appointment

  • How to Choose a New Set of Custom Wheels

    Adding a set of custom wheels can add a lot of visual appeal to just about any vehicle. We’ve put together some recommendations to help you choose the right wheels for your car or truck, including aesthetics, safety, size, fit, and tech compatibility.

    Looking Good

    The style and finish on a set of custom rims can dramatically change the look of your car or truck. Start shopping right now or visit your local Les Schwab where you’ll find Wheel Discovery Centers. There, you can see specific sets of custom wheels on the make, model, year, and color of your vehicle. This is a great way to sift through the many options and narrow your choices before making a commitment.

    Think Safety

    Proper fit is crucial when choosing custom wheels. The pros at Les Schwab will help you look at three vital areas before choosing your set of wheels.

    Wheel diamter illustration

    • Overall Diameter: The wheel and tire combination should always clear the braking components, suspension parts, and the body of the vehicle. This is important whether you want to increase the diameter of your wheels for a street-worthy look, or decrease the wheel diameter for more tire sidewall and better off-road performance.

    • Offset and Backspace: To ensure proper clearance, it’s critical to know how far inside and outside the entire wheel and tire package will sit in the wheel well. Improper backspace or offset can cause interference with things like the body and steering components, and possibly decrease your turning radius.

      Learn more about offset and backspace.

    • Proper Mounting: Many of today’s vehicles come from the factory with wheels that fit precisely around the hub. This is referred to as hub-centric fitment, which helps provide a consistent centering of the wheel and tire assembly when mounted to the vehicle. This reduces the chance of an imbalance that may result in a vibration in the steering wheel or seat while driving. Our team understands the importance of maintaining a hub-centric fit whenever aftermarket wheels are being considered.

    How to Pick the Right Size

    There are many sizes to consider when purchasing new wheels. The image below is an example of how plus and minus sizing works. Plus sizing boosts the diameter of your wheels while decreasing the profile of the tire sidewall to match the overall tire diameter suggested by the manufacturer. Minus sizing works in the opposite way to allow for a taller sidewall.

    Plus and minus size wheel and tire comparison

    Here’s a comparison of how two wheel-tire packages of different sizes look on the same vehicle.

    18-inch wheels on a Ford Edge
    Car with 18-inch wheels. Note the higher tire sidewall.

    20-inch wheels on a Ford Edge
    Car with 20-inch, plus-sized wheel and low-profile tire. Note the shorter tire sidewall.

    Bolt-Pattern Matters

    There are a variety of bolt patterns and your new custom wheels must match in order to fit your vehicle properly. Even if your vehicle has five lugs, there’s no guarantee that every five-hole wheel will fit. At Les Schwab, we stock thousands of custom wheels and can help you find the right bolt pattern and fit for your vehicle.

    Check the Tech

    TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) compatibility is also important. Equipped in most new vehicles, the TPMS in your vehicle should be reset after installing new wheels. At Les Schwab, we take care of that for you.

    Les Schwab Knows Custom Wheels

    Keep in mind, that your options will be specific to the make and model of what you drive. Our team of pros understands what wheel and tire sizes will fit your vehicle and meet your performance expectations. Stop by today and to check out your options. With every custom wheel sale, Les Schwab will give you a free, written warranty good at any of our locations. This gives you peace of mind as you roll away on your new custom wheels.