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Answering All Your Car Questions

Internet provides wealth of information on car maintenance

(ARA) - A thorough check of your vehicle's major systems is a good idea before the snow flies, and checking your tires, brakes and battery is a good start. But if you're like many drivers, you may not know enough to recognize a problem when you see one.

For instance, do you know the telltale signs of a weakening battery? Do you know the difference between all-season tires and performance tires, or which one is right for your vehicle?

The Internet can provide a wealth of information for the car maintenance novice who is looking for tips on how to winterize a vehicle or make a specific purchase. Online resources, such as and some manufacturer Web sites, can provide basic information on how systems such as brakes, shock absorbers and batteries work, why they're important, and what car owners should be aware of when preparing their vehicles for winter conditions.

For example, if your car cranks slowly when you try to start it, has trouble starting in cold weather, or if your headlights dim when the car is idling, have that battery checked. And if you're buying tires, all season radials are designed to handle dry and wet surfaces as well as some snow, while performance tires provide more grip and a sportier feel.

A new Web site,, lets drivers compare features and prices of batteries and tires, gather information about automotive maintenance, and find answers to commonly asked questions and definitions for useful terms related to vehicle maintenance.

On the site, car owners can enter the year, make and model of their car to receive a list of tires and batteries designed to fit their vehicle. Items can be sorted by price, brand or product name, and car owners can compare as many as four similar items side by side. By entering their ZIP code, car owners can then find the nearest Sears Auto Center, where they can discuss questions and options with the experts on staff.

"With the information they gather online, car owners gain a better understanding of what they need and why, before they even begin comparison shopping," says Bill White, president of Sears Automotive. "Savvy consumers frequently come into their local Sears store with their printout of side-by-side comparisons when they are looking to purchase major appliances, lawn tractors, home theatre and other big-dollar items," he says. "Now, automotive tires and batteries are two more areas where can help consumers make fact-based decisions for major purchases."

The "Automotive Advisor" section of the site offers information on buying, maintenance, safety and more -- ideal as owners prepare their vehicles for winter driving. Common questions, ranging from how and when to check tire pressure to why "cold cranking amps" in your car battery are important, are answered in this section of the site.

The site also provides information on services Sears Auto Centers offer, such as alignments, brake service and wheel balancing, as well as a list of what is included with each service. All information from the site can be printed for quick reference. Because the products offered on the site must be installed on a vehicle, they are not available for online purchase, but can be obtained at Sears Auto Centers nationwide.

"On the Internet, auto owners can research the advantages of various products, compare prices and make decisions in the comfort of their own home," says White.

Sears also offers a wide variety of merchandise and services through its Web site,