Levin Wheel balancingWheels, like tires, aren’t something we generally spend much time worrying about. But, the balance of your wheels can impact how comfortably your car rides, and how fast components like steering joints and tires wear out. Here’s everything you need to know about wheel and tire balancing.

How do I know when my wheels are out of balance?
When there’s a “heavy spot” – or imbalance – on your wheel, it prevents it from rotating in a tightly focused circular motion.

As your speed exceeds about 40 mph, you might notice the steering wheel or your seats wobble and vibrate. The faster you go, the more noticeable the vibration becomes. Your car might shudder slightly, and it can be uncomfortable or difficult to hold the steering wheel.

What is the result of unbalanced wheels?
Unbalanced wheels cause the tires on the affected wheels to wear unevenly. If left unrepaired, unbalanced wheels can also affect your suspension and steering, lower your gas mileage, and cause poor handling. At this point, it’s more than an annoyance—it’s a safety issue.

Why is wheel balancing important?
Your vehicle’s wheels rotate at high speeds. A 15-inch wheel rotates approximately 2,100 times every mile. A wheel that’s out of balance and wearing one area of the tire more than another can quickly cause significant damage.

When should I get my wheels balanced?
It’s important to include wheel balancing as part of your regular maintenance. Typically, wheels need to be balanced every 4,000 to 6,000 miles. Try to plan your wheel balancing service in conjunction with your regular oil changes.

How can Levin Tire help?
Levin Tire experts know that excessive wheel vibration doesn’t necessarily mean you need a new wheel or a new tire. We offer comprehensive wheel balancing services and test your wheels using sophisticated techniques and equipment. Our technicians apply small metal wheel weights to ensure the tire is balanced evenly around the axle.

You’ll also get Levin’s standard limited warranty on parts and labor – good for 24 months or 24,000 miles – and a lifetime limited warranty on parts.

Do you need to get your wheels or tires back in balance? Give Levin Tire a call at (800) 475-5005 or stop into any of our 7 convenient locations in Northwest Indiana today – no appointment necessary!

Buying New Car LevinYou're in the market for a new vehicle. You know what you like, what your budget is, and how much it will cost you to take care of it as long as you own it. But when it comes to actually shopping for a new car, timing is everything. Follow these 5 tips to drive away from the dealership in your dream car:

Shop early – Morning hours on the weekdays, especially Monday and Tuesday, are typically slower times at car dealerships. You’ll get more personalized attention.

Shop at the end of the month – By the end of the quarter or the end of the year, it’s crunch time for dealerships. Car sales associates need to meet monthly, quarterly and yearly goals to make bonuses and keep their jobs. If they're coming up short of their benchmarks, you may have some leverage when it comes to negotiation.

Make an offer at the end of the day – No one likes to go a day without a sale, so making your offer close to closing time puts them under the gun to accept it.

Shop last year's models – When the new model year vehicles roll out, dealerships offer deep discounts on leases and purchases of the previous year's models. They're still brand new, and you'll get a great deal.

Consider the type of car you're buying – If you're interested in an electric model, shop when gas prices are lower. Dealers have no incentive to offer reduced pricing on eco-friendly models when gas prices are up. Don't buy a four-wheel drive vehicle in the winter months. Everyone wants one the minute the first snow falls, and dealers are happy to let them go at sticker price.

Now that you’re ready to buy a new car, it’s time to think about a long-term maintenance plan, too. Levin Tire in Indiana provides a full range of vehicle maintenance and automotive services, like:

Oil changes
Engine tune-ups
Maintenance inspections
Cooling system maintenance
Windshield wiper blades

Servicing your vehicle depends on your make and model, as well as the kind of driving you do. Don’t know if your car needs care? Levin Tire’s free 32-point maintenance inspection will help keep you on track with service.

Schedule your appointment today or drop by one of our convenient Northwest Indiana repair centers to see how we can help you maintain your new vehicle.

brake repairMost of us know the importance of routine car maintenance, like oil changes and rotating the tires. During Brake Safety Awareness Month, Levin Tire & Service Center is encouraging our community to learn the importance of your vehicle’s brake safety system, too.

Brakes are one of the most important safety features on your vehicle. Keeping your car’s brakes in good shape will help prevent accidents, protect your investment, and keep your insurance costs down.

According to the Car Care Council, the brakes on each car should be inspected twice a year for damage, wear and tear. Drivers should also know how to recognize the signs that their brakes are wearing down or need replacing. Levin Tire has outlined 5 signs that your car might need new brakes.

1. Screeching Noise
One of the most common signs that there’s a problem with the brakes is hearing a grinding or screeching noise when you press the brake pedal. This typically indicates that you need to replace your brake pads. The grinding noise occurs because the pads have worn down to the point that the metal foundation of the brake pad is rubbing against the rotors, which can cause warping and necessitate repairing or replacing the rotors, too.

2. Vibrations
Vibrations alert you that your current brakes are nearing the end of their lifecycle. If you press the brake pedal and you can feel the brakes vibrate, stutter or pulse, you might need an entirely new brake system.

3. Pulling
Sometimes, your car might pull to one side or the other when you use the brakes. There may be an issue with one of the brake components that’s causing the vehicle to brake more toward one side of the vehicle. A brake inspection will determine the cause of the problem and how best to solve it.

4. Grabbing
“Grabbing” is when your brakes engage, even if you just lightly touch the pedal. This often happens on a new vehicle or with new brake pads, but consistent, repeated grabbing means there’s a problem with the components or braking system. We’ll take it for a test drive and do a visual inspection to determine what the problem is and how to fix it.

5. Illuminated Brake Light
Most cars have a light on the dashboard that relates to the brakes. If your brake light illuminates, don’t wait to have your vehicle serviced. There’s likely a problem with important brake safety features, like the antilock brake system.

A good rule of thumb is to have your brakes checked by a certified professional 2 times a year. However, problems with the braking system cannot wait – your safety and the safety of your passengers and others on the road depend on proper brake repair and maintenance.

Anytime you notice an issue with your brakes, stop in at your neighborhood Levin Tire and Service Center location in Indiana. One of our certified technicians will do a thorough brake inspection – so you can drive home safely.

Contact us online or call 800-475-5005 to schedule your next appointment. Remember to bring your $10 off BRAKE REPAIR through August 31 coupon when you visit us!

traveling petsSummer is an especially busy time for road trips, and more and more people are choosing to bring their pets along for the ride. When planning to travel with your pets this summer, here are 5 tips to make the car ride a success with your furry friends.

1. Plan ahead
It’s easy to forget things when packing for a road trip, but take an extra moment to consider everything your pet will need. Bring bedding, plenty of food, a favorite toy, medications, a water dish for the car, and a first aid kit. If you’re planning to stop at a hotel, book pet-friendly accommodations ahead of time to ensure your pet will be welcome.

2. Crate your pet for travel
Typically, dogs and cats don’t mind being crated or properly restrained in the car – in fact, some feel safer. You’ll be less distracted, which is safer for both you and your pet. Crating also reduces the risk of injury for your pet. NEVER leave your pet in a parked car, even with the window cracked. Excessive heat can quickly lead to dehydration, heat stroke and even death.

3. Stick to a schedule
Feeding and exercising your pets on a regular schedule reduces stress for the animal. Playtime, long walks, and plenty of attention minimize travel anxiety. Avoid accidents in the car by scheduling regular potty breaks for your furry friend, too.

4. Make sure ID tags are up-to-date
It’s smart to be prepared for whatever your summer adventures might bring. If you become separated, it will be much easier to find your pet if he or she is equipped with your contact information. Securely place up-to-date ID tags on your pet’s collar, and consider having your pet microchipped for added peace of mind.

5. Consider a vet visit before your car ride
Some hotels might require proof of updated vaccines and/or a vet health certificate. Regardless, it’s a good idea for your vet to perform a health screening before you travel, particularly if you’re taking an older animal in the car.

car overheatingEven in cooler temperatures, an overheated car can stop you in your tracks. It happens when the engine is running too hot, which could damage your vehicle or destroy the engine.

Proper maintenance can prevent your vehicle from overheating in the first place. Levin Tire suggests:

1. Changing your oil regularly – a good visual inspection can go a long way. If you can’t change the oil yourself, the professionals at Levin Tire will do it for you, as well as check the water system, belts and hoses.

2. Having your fan checked – during a routine oil change from Levin, we’ll check your fan to ensure it’s in good working order. Often, a malfunctioning fan will contribute to overheating.

3. Making sure the coolant system has plenty of coolant/antifreeze, especially before long road trips.

4. Checking that all hoses are in good working order so they don’t leak or corrode.

In case you’re ever in a situation where your car does start to overheat:

1. Turn off the engine
First, pull over safely. Then, turn off the engine, open the hood, and let the engine cool.

2. NEVER remove the radiator cap
Never uncap the radiator or water system. It’s under high pressure, and there’s a chance you could get burned by the escaping steam.

3. Let the engine cool
Most cars have warning lights and a pressure relief valve. When your engine starts to overheat, you’ll have plenty of warning before the engine is seriously damaged. Let the engine cool completely before following the next steps.

4. Refill antifreeze and coolant
Once the engine cools to room temperature, open up the system and fill it with new antifreeze.

5. Check the hoses
Inspect the hoses for leaks, blockages or ruptures. Normally, your car won’t overheat on its own, so there’s a good chance you have a leaky coolant system, or a faulty thermostat.

6. Keep a safety kit in the car
Prepare for emergencies before they happen by keeping coolant, a blanket, and tool kit, and a working flashlight in your vehicle.

In most cases, you’ll want to have a professional take a look when your engine overheats. At Levin Tire, we’ll check the coolant level, make sure the engine fan is operating correctly, ensure the radiator cap is tightly closed, and check for any coolant leaks. Then, we’ll inspect the engine to ensure your car is not seriously damaged.

Contact us online today or call 800-475-5005 for all your maintenance, tire, and engine needs.