• How to Jump-start a Car

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to jump-start a vehicle. Doing it wrong can damage your battery or other electrical components. Learn how to do it correctly in this Les Schwab Quick Tips step-by-step video. We show you:

    1. The proper order for connecting and disconnecting jumper cables.

    2. How to keep the cables clear of hot engine areas.

    3. What to do once the dead car starts.

    The main safety concern around jump-starting isn’t the electrical current. Jump-starting your battery in the rain, for example, doesn’t put you at risk of shock. Passing vehicles are a bigger issue. Be sure to stay out of the path of traffic and use flares or reflective triangles if you have them when it’s rainy or dark out.

  • What is Wheel Offset?

    Customizing your ride with aftermarket wheels and tires is a fun way to make your car or truck your own. If you’re shopping around, it helps to have a basic understanding of wheel offset.

    Proper offset assures your new package has enough clearance so nothing rubs against the suspension, brakes or vehicle body (like fenders, bumpers and mud flaps).

    It’s also important for driving safety, since the wrong offset can reduce vehicle stability or interfere with braking.

    Wheel Offset and Backspacing Explained

    Offset refers to how your car’s or truck’s wheels and tires are mounted and sit in the wheel wells.

    • Zero wheel offset is when the hub mounting surface is in line with the centerline of the wheel.
    • Positive wheel offset is when the hub mounting surface is in front (more toward the street side) of the centerline of the wheel. Most wheels on front-wheel drive cars and newer rear-drive vehicles have positive offset.
    • Negative offset is when the hub mounting surface is behind the wheel centerline. “Deep dish” wheels are typically a negative offset.

    Wheel offset explained, with positive offset, zero offset and negative offset

    Backspacing is the distance your wheels and tires need to accommodate both offset and wheel width. It’s especially important to factor in when the new package you want is wider than what came on your vehicle.

    Getting offset and backspacing measurements right means you’ll get a wheel and tire package that offers the looks, handling and performance you’re after.

    Getting them wrong can mean big problems.

    Common Problems From Too Much Positive Offset

    • Expensive damage from the inner edge of the wheel and tire rubbing against the bodywork or suspension
    • Interference with brake parts
    • Risk of tire failure
    • Poor handling
    • Making your car unstable

    Problems from Too Much Negative Offset

    • Increased steering wheel kick-back
    • Additional stress on the entire suspension
    • Poor handling

    Proper offset on a VW
    Proper wheel offset example: +43mm offset, wheel size 19" x 8.5", 225/35R19 Toyo Proxes 4 Plus tires

    Remember This About Wheel Offset

    1. New wheels and tires can make your everyday ride look and handle a whole lot better.

    New wheels can give a vehicle a sportier look

    1. Offset measurements can be tricky. Even if the tire and wheel have enough clearance, the wrong offset can decrease vehicle stability. Generally, with new wheels, you don’t want the new offset to be more than 5 millimeters different from the old offset.

    2. Especially when your new wheels are wider than the originals, backspacing has to be factored in along with offset.

    3. To make sure your tire and wheel package fit right, stay within load capacity and give you the handling and stability you need, ask a tire professional for advice.

    Want to see some options that will fit your vehicle? Browse wheels suited for your make and model.

    Important Notice: The information provided above is of a general nature gathered from a variety of resources deemed reasonably reliable. The operation of your vehicle, or the repair or replacement of your vehicle’s equipment, may be different than for a typical vehicle. Please consult your owner's manual for specific warnings, notices, and other advice relative to the subjects addressed herein.

  • When to Get Your Car Alignment Checked

    There’s a fine line between being in or out of alignment. Even a slight variation in the direction that any of your four wheels are facing can impact your gas mileage, tire wear, and safety. You might not even know your vehicle is out of alignment until the damage is done. Here are some tips on when to get your alignment checked and what to look for between those free inspections.

    Get Your Alignment Checked Twice Per Year

    Most people wouldn’t miss an oil change or other routine maintenance. Getting those things done can add to the longevity of your vehicle and can save you money. Getting your alignment checked twice a year should be another part of your car-care schedule.

    Winter driving over ice ruts, potholes, and rough roads, as well as impacts with curbs and other road debris during other times of the year, can throw off your vehicle’s alignment. Two of the best times to have your alignment checked include early spring and fall. If you can only make it in once per year, schedule your alignment check for the spring, that way you’re ready for all of your summertime adventures.

    The pros at your local Les Schwab can do a free visual inspection of your vehicle’s alignment. If we see anything amiss, we’ll suggest a more comprehensive alignment check. If there’s nothing wrong with your alignment, we’ll send you on your way.

    Normal Wear Can Also Affect Your Vehicle’s Alignment

    Usual driving conditions and normal wear and tear on your vehicle, including your daily commute on the highway, can affect your alignment. Plus, any time you get new tires, lower or lift your vehicle, replace suspension parts that affect the tire angles, or you’ve had a fender-bender, it’s a good idea to have your alignment checked. Get into your local Les Schwab if you notice pulling to one side as you drive, or the steering wheel is off-center when you’re driving straight.

    Les Schwab Tip: If you notice one or more of your tires wearing more quickly than the others, your vehicle could be out of alignment.

    Passengers and Gear Can Affect Your Alignment

    Adding uneven weight, such as tools, sandbags for winter traction, or carrying heavy loads for an extended period can throw your vehicle out of alignment. That includes truck toolboxes and accessories that affect the height or weight of your vehicle.

    Yes, Alignments are Necessary

    Check out the article Do I Really Need an Alignment for a more in-depth look at the causes and parameters of a properly aligned vehicle. In it, you’ll learn about alignment measurements, tire angles, as well as some of the issues an out-of-alignment vehicle can cause.

    Getting it Straight

    A vehicle that’s properly aligned handles correctly, achieves optimal fuel efficiency, and maximizes your tire life. When one of your tires is even slightly out of alignment, it is essentially skidding. This makes that tire wear out faster. It’s also the reason your vehicle might pull or wander to one side. This can waste fuel, cost you money, and cause safety concerns. Plus, it can add unnecessary wear-and-tear to your car or truck.

    When your vehicle needs to be realigned, the experts at Les Schwab will do one of two types of alignments. These include:

    • 4-Wheel Alignment. This is for vehicles that have adjustment capability at all four wheels, common on most front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, passenger cars, SUVs, and crossover vehicles.

    • Thrust Alignment. This is for vehicles that have an adjustment capability only available on the front axle. This includes larger trucks and SUVs with solid, rear axels.

    Remember, getting your vehicle back in alignment will not put tread back on your tires or fix any damage done to your vehicle’s suspension or other steering components. That’s why it’s vital you have your alignment checked at least once per year (twice per year is ideal).

    Check out our list of Alignment FAQs for some quick answers to common questions.

    Schedule Your Free Visual Alignment Check

    The pros at your local Les Schwab can take a look at your vehicle’s alignment and let you know if you need any repairs. If everything looks good, it won’t cost you a thing. If you do need an alignment, we’ll get the job done right and send you home with our Best Alignment Value Promise, which includes a 30-day guarantee and a warranty on all labor costs.