Learn About Tires
To help our valued customers understand what they really need, we invite you to explore the following videos on tire basics. You’ll get information on:
- when to replace tires,
- why you should check tire pressure frequently,
- whether to sipe your tires,
- how to install tire chains,
- winter driving tips, and
- the best winter tire choice for your driving conditions.
Check back whenever you have a question about tires.
The Tire Industry Association presents, “Tire Safety Starts With Winter Tires” When falling temperatures lead to winter conditions, standard all season tires can start to lose traction with the road. In some cases, the resulting loss of control leads to another car in the ditch or up against a road barrier. But in others, it can lead to collisions with other vehicles, or worse. Today’s winter tires are designed to give drivers better traction in all conditions when the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Tire companies have developed special rubber compounds that improve the amount of traction in snow and ice. Which leads to safer driving. These tires are identified by a unique mountain and snowflake symbol on the sidewall. Which means the tread design and compound have been tested to perform in winter conditions. Winter tires are not to be confused with all season tires which typically include the letters M & S on the sidewall. While some people believe the letters M & S stand for mud and snow, they only represent specifications for the tread design. So tires with these letters on the sidewall have not been tested under winter conditions. As a result, drivers should not expect all season tires to perform as well as winter tires in winter conditions. In this demonstration of identical cars, the stopping ability of all season tires was compared to the stopping ability of winter tires on ice. The red car was equipped with all season tires, the black car was equipped with winter tires, and both cars were equipped with anti-lock brakes. As you can see, the car with winter tires consistently required less stopping distance than the one with all seasons. Repeating the test with identical SUV’s that were equipped with anti-lock brakes showed the same results on ice. The SUV with the all season tires consistently needed more room to stop than the SUV with winter tires. When the same vehicles were tested on packed snow the results did not change. The vehicles equipped with winter tires required less room to stop than the vehicles equipped with all season tires. Since the difference in traction between all season and winter tires is significant, it is important to install winter tires on all four wheel positions, regardless of the type of drivetrain being used. In this test, winter tires were installed on the front axle of a front-wheel-drive car, and all seasons were installed on the rear. The difference in traction led to an over steer condition and the loss of control, but when the same car entered the same turn, at the same speed with winter tires on both axles, the driver was able to maintain control of the vehicle and safely navigate the turn. Repeating the test with the SUV showed the same results. The vehicle lost control in the turn with winter tires on the front and all seasons on the rear, but maintained control at the same speed, when winter tires were installed on both axles. Finally, drivers should know that studded tires provide the best traction in winter conditions, especially on ice. In the stopping test with the passenger cars on ice, the differences between all season tires and studded tires were even more pronounced. And when the test was repeated with the SUV’s, the studded tires provided superior stopping ability on ice when compared to the all seasons. Surprisingly, most states allow studded tires to a certain degree although the type of studs and the time period that they are allowed will vary from state to state. For a complete list of studded tire regulations in the United States and Canada, drivers should visit this website: www.drivinglaws.aaa.com/laws/studded-tires When drivers encounter winter conditions, the amount of traction between the tires and the road will have a direct effect on the handling and safety of the vehicle. And while standard all season tires offer some degree of control, the superior handling and stopping ability of winter and studded tires make them the obvious choice for drivers who want the safest vehicle possible when snow or ice covers the road. This message was brought to you by the Tire Undustry Association. Tire Safety Starts Here: www.tireindustry.org The Tire Industry Association would like to thank Nokian Tires for their contribution in making this program.
Tire safety starts with winter tires
Tire chains, not something most people like dealing with, but when you need them, they can be an absolute lifesaver. In the past, putting on tire chains could be a hassle, but with the advent of Quick Fit™ chains from Les Schwab, getting the traction you need for tough winter driving is almost as easy as tying your shoes. Got a moment? Let us show you how. Step 1: Unroll the chain, lay it on the ground, untangle, and ensure the hook ends are facing the ground. Push the yellow end of the cable and chains behind the tire, grabbing it with your other hand. Pull the two ends over the top of the tire and fasten them together. 2: Grab the chains on either side of the tire and pull them together toward the center of the tire. Hook the red fastener into one of the links. Make the fit as snug as you can. Having extra links is okay. Now, push the cable to the back of the tire, positioning the chains loosely over the tread. 3: At the bottom of the tire is a red fastener and draw chain. Pull them both toward you so there’s no slack. Feed the red draw chain around the opening on the fastener. Pull it tight, and lock a link into the notch on the fastener. 4: Feed the rubber end of the draw chain through the red rings. Stretch it tightly, and hook it onto a link in the side chain. You may not be able to use both red rings depending on your tire size, but you should try to whenever possible. The most important thing is that the chain stays tight against the tire tread. To get the best fit, drive the vehicle forward at least 15 feet. Then stop and re-tighten the draw chain on each tire. That’s it, you’re done. Here are a few additional tips for installing chains. Always make sure you’re carrying the proper chain size for your tires. Les Schwab will ensure you get the right size for your vehicle, you just need to make sure the chains we provide you are the chains you carry in your vehicle. This is especially important if you have multiple vehicles. You may even want to label your chains with the make and model of the car they’re sized for. Now that you’ve seen this video demonstration, take the time to put your own chains on in the relative ease of your garage or driveway. That way, you’ll be able to confidently install them in any condition while on the road. When you see it’s time to put your chains on, find a spot where you could pull safely off the road to install them. Tire chains can break, especially if you use them on bare pavement. If that happens, stop as soon as it’s safe to do so, and secure the broken chain to avoid damaging your vehicle. Try using a piece of wire or a short bungee cord to tie down the loose links until you can bring it to a Les Schwab Tire Center for repair. With proper use and care, your tire chains can last for many seasons of winter driving. Here’s how you can extend the life of your chains. When driving with your chains, avoid going over 30 miles per hour. When braking, try to avoid locking the wheels. When starting, try not to spin your wheels from a full stop. Chains are designed to get you through packed snow and slush, so you should try to avoid driving with your chains on bare pavement. And when parking, give yourself a little extra room so you don’t break your chains by hitting the curb. With the right fit and proper installation, tire chains can help you navigate the nastiest winter roads, so you can get where you’re going safe and sound. A Les Schwab exclusive is our Tire Chain Return Policy. If you don’t use our chains, return them in the spring for a full cash refund. Wanna learn more? Just ask one of our helpful service professionals. Thanks for watching, and thanks again for making Les Schwab your tire store.
How do I install tire chains?
Winter is here. Winter traction tires are specifically designed to provide your vehicle with extra traction, braking, and handling that you’ll need to confidently drive on snow and ice. Tests conducted in winter conditions show that even at fifteen miles per hour a vehicle equipped with four winter traction tires, stopped from half to a full car length shorter than identical vehicles equipped with all season tires. To qualify as certified winter traction tires, specific government regulated requirements must be met. Tires meeting this standard are marked with a symbol of a snowflake within a mountain peak. Some winter traction tires are designed without studs. Using advanced rubber compounding, studless winter traction tires, are designed to increase traction as temperatures decrease. These tires rely on wider, deeper, tread grooves to allow rubber to cut through snow and maintain contact with the road. In many cases a sawtooth tread block is used to cut through water and ice. Finally, larger wave style sipes are used to create edges that dig and bite into the winter elements. Some winter traction tires are designed with small lightweight pins called studs. These studs have a tungsten carbide pins that are encased in an aluminum body. Studs protrude beyond the tire’s tread surface and offer additional traction in certain winter driving conditions. In severe conditions, tire chains may be your best traction alternative. Chains are designed to get you through packed snow and slush, but are not designed to be run at highway speeds or on bare pavement. It’s important to test fit your chains to ensure they fit properly. The Rubber Manufacturers Association recommends installing winter tires to all-wheel positions, including duals, to maintain vehicle mobility and control. Also, always refer to and follow the vehicle manufacturers replacement tire restrictions and recommendations. No matter which winter traction tire you choose, always insure your tires are inflated to the proper air pressure recommended on the vehicle placard. Here are a few other important winter driving tips. Pay attention to your local weather and road conditions. Slow down, and give yourself more space between you and other drivers. Avoid using cruise control on ice, snow, or extremely wet roads. Make sure you have plenty of fuel to get to your destination. Try not to get below half a tank. Be ready for anything you may encounter, and always carry a cell phone.
Winter tires help with safer driving
Tire siping, what is it and why would anyone want it? We’ll explain to you what tire siping is, what it does, and why like thousands of others in Les Schwab country you might think about having your tires siped as well. Before we talk about siping we should first talk about tire traction. A tire’s traction comes from a series of rubber grooves, channels, and tread blocks or patches. The combination of these tread blocks and grooves, allow a tire to grip both dry and wet roads depending on its design and intended use. A tire intended for dry pavement use utilizes more tread patches and fewer grooves and channels. A tire designed for wet weather or all season driving utilizes more channels and grooves to help dissipate water from between the road and the tire. On wet or icy roads it’s critically important for a tire to be able to penetrate the liquid on the surface, and make solid contact with the road itself. Otherwise, loss of traction and control ensues, and hydroplaning becomes a problem. In wet weather, the channels in a tire’s tread direct large volumes of water away from the surface of your tire, while grooves and sipes grab the surface of the road with their rubber edges, like hundreds of tiny rubber teeth. Siping adds bite to your tires. Merely every all season winter traction and wet weather tire has grooves and sipes that provide important traction edges that help to bite the road. Safety siping from Les Schwab multiplies the number of traction edges without damaging the important structural components of your tire. These additional traction edges dramatically increase the stopping and starting power of your car, truck, or SUV, especially in wet weather driving conditions. An independent study by the US National Safety Council, found that siping dramatically improved stopping distances, breakaway traction, and rolling traction on vehicles of all kinds. And another independent study by Mobility Research, found that an average passenger car stops 37 percent quicker with siped tires over the same car with non-siped tires. Even more impressive, that same study found that larger commercial vehicles with siped tires decreased stopping distances by a whopping 57 percent. So, you might ask, “If siping’s so great, why aren’t all tires made siped right at the factory?” Well, tires designed for snow and ice often do come with additional sipes, but for most all season tires, siping is too costly and time-consuming to do on a massive scale, especially done the way we do it here, without removing any of the tires rubber. Additionally, even though siping improves traction in almost any driving condition, the benefits of siping are even greater in regions that experience significant wet weather driving conditions. So how do we sipe your tires? Our siping machines are lubricated, razor-sharp blades that don’t remove any rubber from your tire, but cut hundreds of slits in the tread blocks. These slits are virtually invisible to your eye unless the tire flexes like it does when it needs that extra grip on the road. But, is it safe? Siping is safe for your tires. The patented spiral cut technology of our machines, leave your tread strong, so the existing edges and tread blocks can do what they were designed to do. Additional benefits to siping include, increased tire life and a smoother ride too. That’s right, siping can actually increase the life of your tire by dissipating heat caused by friction. Heat is a natural enemy to rubber, and can cause premature wear or abnormal wear patterns. Siping provides a natural cooling effect by opening up more surface area for heat to escape. And the increased flexibility on your tires, help make for a smoother ride on the road. Around here, there’s no telling what road conditions you’ll come across. With siped tires from Les Schwab you can count on better starting, stopping, and increased control no matter what Mother Nature throws your way. Les Schwab can sipe your new or existing tires for you while you wait. It’s a quick and affordable process that can make all the difference when you need it most. Wanna learn more, ask a Les Schwab technician. Thanks for watching, and thanks again for making Les Schwab your tire store.
Get better traction with tire siping
Interested in saving money while staying safe on the road? Take a quick look at your tire pressure. Low pressure can be an expensive proposition, costing you hundreds of dollars a year in lost fuel economy and prematurely worn tires. Add to that, decreased handling and an increased risk in tire failure, and it’s easy to understand why maintaining proper tire pressure is so important. Tires naturally lose 1 to 2 pounds of pressure a month and cool temperatures cause even more pressure loss. So it’s important to check your vehicle’s tire pressure regularly. We recommend you check your tire pressure at least once a month. The easiest way to check your tire pressure; drive in to your nearest Les Schwab Tire Center, where we not only check it for you, but also adjust it if necessary. Free of charge. If you can’t make it to a Les Schwab, or prefer to personally check your own tire pressure, here’s how you go about it with an air pressure gauge that can be found at most any auto parts store. First, look in the owner’s manual or on the inside placard of the drivers side door for the standard cold tire inflation pressure. This number is the PSI or pounds per square inch you will inflate your tires to, as suggested by the cars manufacturer. Next, unscrew the cap from the valve stem on the tire. Now, press the air pressure gauge onto the valve stem and record the reading given. If there’s a hissing sound, try re-seating the gauge for a tighter fit and more accurate reading. Note that if the reading on all four tires and your spare is the same as the manuals specifications, you’re done. If any of the tires have inadequate pressure add air until they’re properly filled. Make sure you put in the correct amount by rechecking the pressure in each tire after refilling. Finally, replace the valve stem cap to protect the valve mechanism from dirt and moisture. Have any questions about tire pressure? One of our experts will be happy to help. Thanks for watching and thanks again for making Les Schwab your tire store.
How do I check my tire’s air pressure?
Ever wonder when to replace your worn car tires? Barring any irregular or unsafe wear patterns, the usual life of a tire is most often determined by the amount of tread left on it. The primary function of tread is to divert water from beneath the tire, to improve traction, and avoid hydroplaning on wet roads. Tires become unsafe when they’re worn. Specifically once the tread is down to one sixteenth of an inch. Many people prefer to replace their tires even sooner, especially when driving in adverse weather conditions. All tires sold in the United States today, have what are called tread wear bars. These are small raised bars of rubber in the grooves of your tire’s tread. Look at the tread pattern and you’ll see these bars running between the tread blocks. As your tires wear, these bars will become flush with the tire’s tread. When this happens, it’s time to replace the tires. An easy way to check the tread on your tires is to do the penny test. Take a penny and place Lincoln’s head in one of the grooves of the tire tread. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head on the copper above it, it’s time to replace the tire. These are unsafe to drive on. If the penny is inserted enough that the tire tread is at least as deep as Lincoln’s forehead, your tires are generally considered safe, and do not need replacing. Make sure when you’re administering the penny test that you check all four of your tires. While you’re at it, make note of any irregular tread wear. This could indicate a wheel misalignment, and need for tire rotation or both. Talk to one of our tire experts if you think your tires are wearing unevenly. Thanks for watching, and thanks again for making Les Schwab your tire store.
How do I know when I need new tires?
Tire safety starts with winter tires
How do I install tire chains?
Winter tires help with safer driving
Get better traction with tire siping
How do I check my tire’s air pressure?
How do I know when I need new tires?
If your brakes are starting to grind, squeal, pulse, grab, or feel squishy or soft, it’s time for us to talk. You probably know that Les Schwab is the largest independent tire dealer in the West, but did you know we’re also one of the largest brake providers as well. When it comes to vehicle safety, nothing is more critical than your brakes. If you’re experiencing any kind of brake problems, know that letting these problems go too long is not only dangerous, but could also cause more damage to your braking system and even other parts of your car, ultimately costing you even more to fix. For your brakes to work properly, you have to maintain the entire braking system. Depending on driving style and driving environment, brakes will wear at different rates, and there are many reasons why a brake system may not work as designed. So, regardless of what you may see or hear, no one can give you a proper and accurate cost estimate unless they do a thorough inspection of your brakes. At Les Schwab, we not only inspect your brakes for free, but we also take the time, if there is a problem, to explain the current condition of your vehicle, and what work will be required to get your brake system working properly. On top of that, we always provide you with a free written estimate up front, so you can make an informed decision regarding your vehicle’s brake maintenance. Be sure and ask about it. Should work need to be done, you’ll find only professionally trained technicians inspecting and servicing your brake system, with the most advanced diagnostic and service equipment in the industry. Our complete brake service inspects, repairs, and adjusts your braking system for ultimate peace of mind. Les Schwab Tires uses only professional grade parts, and as always we back our work with the industry’s best warranty, covered at over 425 stores across the West. How can we offer such an unbeatable warranty? Because we know, that when we service your brake system it’s done right, no shortcuts, no second-rate parts, no untrained labor. You won’t find a more complete brake system service for a better price. We guarantee it, and we can usually do your brakes the same day without an appointment. Wanna learn more? Just ask one of our helpful service professionals. Thanks for watching, and thanks again for making Les Schwab your tire and brakes store.
Maintaining your brakes for improved safety.
Les Schwab is known across the West for our customer service, and the West’s largest supermarket selection of tires. But did you know, we sell one of the West’s best selections of quality batteries and provide expert installation. No matter what you’re driving or what your budget, Les Schwab has the right battery for whatever you need. From family cars to ATVs, farm equipment, golf carts, motor homes, or lawn mowers, if it moves and it takes a battery, odds are we’ve got it. And each and every battery sold at Les Schwab is backed with our written warranty. Honored at over 430 locations across the West. Not sure if you need a battery? We can test it for you today while you wait, on our state-of-the-art battery diagnostic equipment, just ask. Les Schwab, if we can’t guarantee it, we won’t sell it! Thank you for watching, and thanks for making Les Schwab your tire and battery store.
Batteries for anything you drive.
Interested in saving money while keeping you and your family safe on the road? Let’s talk about your car’s alignment. In its simplest form alignment is keeping all of the tires on your vehicle moving in the same direction to maximize control and driving efficiency. A vehicle with proper alignment handles correctly, achieves optimal fuel efficiency, and maximizes tire life. A vehicle with poor alignment on the other hand pulls or drifts on the road, wastes fuel, and causes premature and uneven tire wear. Costing you money and putting your safety at risk. Here’s another way to think about alignment. In a poorly aligned vehicle, each wheel may be pointing in a slightly different direction, essentially skidding to a minor degree. If your tires are perpetually skidding, they not only wear out prematurely, but also make it harder for your vehicle to move, which puts extra stress on your vehicle and consumes more fuel. This costs you money. So you might ask, how does your car get out of alignment and what’s needed to get back into alignment? A car comes aligned by the factory when it’s purchased new. Its alignment can change however over the course of normal driving. This change can be accelerated however, when driving on rough roads or when hitting potholes, curbs, and other obstacles. There are a number of different procedures and techniques to align a vehicle. In general, they all work towards getting your car’s wheels and tires to do two basic things. 1: Get them all traveling in the same direction. 2: Get the tires to strike the road at the proper angle. There are several different types of alignments available today. Your Les Schwab alignment professional will review with you all the types of alignment appropriate for your vehicle. Not sure if your vehicle needs an alignment? Just ask. If we inspect your vehicle and find your wheels are within the factory specified range, we won’t charge you a penny. If you do need it aligned however, our work is backed by our Les Schwab Warranty. Now let’s talk about suspension. Your car is suspended by a unique combination of springs, shocks, and/or struts. Shock absorbers aid in ride control, by keeping the car manageable during regular driving. They do this by keeping the tires on the road, preventing any excess bounce after hitting a bump. Keeping your tires on the road is the only way you keep control of your car. Worn or damaged shocks don’t keep your tires on the road like they’re supposed to. Which means you have less control over your vehicle. This is especially dangerous on rough and winding roads. Because worn or damaged shocks aren’t doing their job, additional problems can result with your vehicle, including accelerated wear on other parts of your suspension system and tires, costing you even more money in the future. Because shocks and struts wear slowly over time, it can sometimes prove difficult to know if they’re working properly or not. Not sure if your suspension needs work? Here are a few symptoms to look for. Does your vehicle feel like it rolls or sways on turns? Does the front end of your car dive when braking, then bounce when stopped? Does your car bounce or feel like it’s sliding on winding or rough roads? Does your car bottom out on bumps? Can you feel your car shimmying back and forth through the steering wheel when you drive? If so, you’ll want to have one of our trained suspension experts take a look at your vehicle. Following industry inspection procedures, we’ll check to see if any of your suspension parts need to be replaced. If so, we’ll provide you with a complete cost estimate free of charge, so you can make an informed decision. Les Schwab Tires uses only professional grade parts, and they’re backed with Les Schwab’s Parts and Labor Warranty. Alignment, suspension, shocks, and struts are all important parts of enjoying a safe, comfortable ride in your vehicle. Properly maintained they will not only help to keep you safe, but will also save you money in increased fuel efficiency and lower repair and parts replacement costs. If you have any questions about your suspension or your alignment, ask one of our helpful trained professionals. Thanks for watching, and thanks for making Les Schwab your tire, alignment, and suspension store.