Winter takes a toll – especially on your vehicle. Rick Giddings, general manager of Les Schwab Tire Center’s White Avenue location in Moscow, Idaho, recommends giving your car a fresh start this spring with a complete maintenance check.

“The components of a car, like anything else, wear out and you don’t always know when something is wearing,” Giddings says. “We rely on our cars an awful lot and often people don’t put that little effort back into making sure their car is going to continue to work in the future.”

Giddings recommends drivers get the following checked in the new few weeks:

1. Inspect, change and rotate your tires

Now that the frost is melting, it’s time to transition from snow tires to summer tires. The tire stud removal deadline for Washington is March 31, 2015; for Idaho it’s April 30, 2015.

Before you put summer tires back on check the tread for wear to make sure they’re safe for the road. Stick a penny into one of the treads with Lincoln headfirst; if the top of Lincoln’s head is still visible, it’s time for new tires.

Other signs your tires need replacing are vibrations, loss of traction or hydroplaning on rain. Giddings also advises getting your tires rotated to prevent uneven wear – tires should be rotated about every 5,000 miles.

2. Check on the brakes

When it comes to safety, reliable brakes are one of the most important parts of your vehicle. “Catching brake problems early can save damage to other components and save money,” says Giddings.

Don’t wait for a routine brake check if your brake light is on, your brakes are squealing, grinding or pulsing or if they feel “soft” when pressed. Les Schwab offers free brake inspections and repair estimates for most vehicles.

3. Evaluate your vehicle’s handing and ride

Shock absorbers and struts are key components of your vehicle’s suspension system. They help maintain tire contact with the road and ensure consistent handling and a smooth ride. They also prevent irregular tire wear, decrease stopping distances and prevent premature wear to other components.

As shocks and struts wear, you may experience degraded steering response, rocking back and forth and bouncing. “The ride control wears slowly over the life of a car, so many people don’t notice that the ride of a car is getting softer or that the handling is not what it should be,” Giddings says. It’s a good idea to have your suspension checked by a professional at least annually.

4. Schedule an alignment check

A poorly aligned vehicle can cause a loss of fuel economy, uneven tire wear and improper handling like pulling to the left or right. Spring is an ideal time to get your car’s alignment inspected.

“Driving in the winter when there are lots of potholes and slick road conditions can really affect the alignment,” says Giddings.

5. It’s a great time to replace wiper blades

Winter ice, snow and sand take a toll on these hard-working accessories. For safety’s sake, treat yourself and your vehicle to a new pair.

“Frosty windows wear out wiper blades fast,” says Giddings. “By springtime, many blades are unable to keep windshields clear and this can impair driver vision.”

6. Make sure your battery survived the winter

A technician can test the battery to ensure that it holds a charge. If it’s several years old, consider getting it replaced.

Take advantage of a free Pre-Trip Safety Check at Les Schwab to ensure that your vehicle is road-ready for spring and summer. We’ll check on tire wear, air pressure, visual alignment, shock/struts, brakes and battery to make sure your vehicle is in top condition. If you need new tires or component replacements, we offer the best selection and quality and will stand behind you for the life of your tires.

Rick Giddings is general manager of Les Schwab Tire Center, 1421 White Avenue in Moscow, Idaho. Les Schwab is a family-owned business founded in 1952 with more than 450 locations throughout the Western U.S.

Questions? Call the White Avenue location at: 208-883-3538 or go to:

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