How To Buy A Used Car

Buying a vehicle is expensive! Especially if it’s a new vehicle right off the lot. For that reason, many people choose to buy vehicles that are used. If you’re not careful, however, your used car buying experience could end in nightmares. In order to help you make a decision that doesn’t come back to haunt you, we’ve put together these 5 simple steps to buying a used car:

tips for buying a used car1. Decide What You’re Looking For – Before anything else, what exactly are you looking for? Is it something cheap and affordable, or are you looking for more of a long-term vehicle? Do you want a small car, a truck, or possibly a van? Are there certain features you are looking for in a vehicle, such as 4-wheel drive, a hatchback, or a stereo with a USB? In addition to deciding what you want in a car, decide exactly how much you’re willing to spend. It is important to define your budget, whether you plan to pay in cash or take out a loan. This will narrow down your options drastically and make the search much more manageable.

 

2. Do Your Homework – Once you know what to look for, it is time to do your homework. You never want to make a big purchase without having made an informed decision. Start by looking for cars online. Most used cars that are for sale will have online listings, whether that’s on the website of your local used car dealership or on nationwide sites such as cars.com or autotrader.com. Shop around (a lot), talk to others with experience in buying used cars, read reviews, compare prices, view the vehicle history reports, and come up with a list of 3-5 cars that you are seriously considering.

 

3. Go Check Them Out – Contact the seller and confirm the availability of the car. When you’re on the phone, don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions – you may find things out about the car that you previously didn’t know – things that could change your mind. Arrange a time for the two of you to meet and look at the car.  Take it for a test drive. Use your senses, well, 4 of your 5 senses (not taste – you don’t need to lick anything). How does everything look, both the interior and beneath the hood? While are driving, how does the car sound and feel? Are there any unusual smells? If everything still appears good, arrange to have it checked by a professional mechanic. We’d be happy to give you our expert opinion here at Plains Tire!

 

4. Make Your Decision – After you’ve driven a few different cars, and haven’t eliminated all of your options, it’s time to make a decision. Weigh the pros and cons of each vehicle, talk to a trusted friend or family member, take your time, and make your choice.

 

how to buy a used car5. Negotiate -Some people hate negotiating, but when you’ve done all this work and research, you are likely to be able to get the car for less than what’s listed. Your initial offer should be less than the amount you’re willing to spend. Be reasonable and realistic. When both sides are happy, close the deal, do the paperwork, and enjoy your new vehicle.

 

These 5 steps may seem pretty simple, but following them will help you be extra careful in your decision to buy a used vehicle. If you end up needing any car maintenance or repair needs, you know where to go. Come see us at any of our 9 locations throughout Wyoming and we’ll take care of you.

The Plains Tire App

On your smart phone you have apps for connecting with friends, apps for paying your bills, apps for ordering food, and apps for countless other jobs. Why not have an app for taking care of your car? With the Plains Tire app, a revolutionary new app, you can quickly and easily find new tires, schedule appointments, and connect with Plains Tire. The goal of this app is to help you spend less time worrying about your car and more time out living your life.

After downloading this free app for Apple on the App Store or for Android on Google Play, you can create a personal account with your contact information, as well as your vehicle’s year, make and model. With your personal account you can quickly find the right tires for your vehicle, receive notifications on your vehicle’s status when in the shop, find exclusive deals and promotions, and schedule appointments.

Also, with the Plains Tire app, Roadside Assistance and the Warranty Hotline are just the touch of a button away. This will give you peace of mind for the unexpected problems you may encounter on the road.

With nine locations throughout the great state of Wyoming, Plains Tire is your one-stop-shop for tires and vehicle repairs wherever you live in Wyoming. Download the app or give us a call to experience our friendly customer service and professional service!

Plains Tire app

6 Things All Drivers Should Be Able To Do

Most people drive a car (or truck) every single day, and have been doing so since their teenage years. Surprisingly, many still haven’t learned some basic car maintenance tasks that are crucial to keeping your vehicle running!

No matter your age or level of experience driving, you should be able to confidently do the following 6 things. If you are a parent, make sure your teenagers can too.

  1. Check the oil – Whether you plan on changing the oil yourself or not, you should at least know how to check the oil,  read the dipstick, and determine if more oil needs to be added, or if you are due for an oil change. Time between oil changes varies depending on the year and model of your vehicle, as well as how much you drive. You may need an oil change change every 3-6 months. The engine is the heart of your vehicle, so knowing how to care for your engine is important.
  2. Flat tire repair wyomingChange a flat tire – You never know when or where your tire might go flat. It might happen when nobody else is around to help, so it’s important that you know how to change a tire by yourself, and that you have the all the necessary tools. Know how to safely lift the car up using a jack, remove the flat tire, and replace it with a spare.
  3. Check fluids – In addition to engine oil, know how to check and refill the coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid and windshield washer fluid. Each fluid has its own location beneath the hood. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to learn which is which.
  4. dead battery wyomingJump start the car – Knowing how to jump a car will be helpful and maybe someone else who needs your help. If your battery is dead, retrieve the jumper cables (which you should always have in the back of your car) and hook up the cables to another vehicle. First attach the red positive clip to your battery, then the other red clip to their battery. Third, attach one of the black clips to the negative terminal on their battery, and lastly clip the last black clip to an unpainted metal surface on your car that isn’t near the battery.
  5. Know what to do after an accident – If you experience the misfortune of being in a car accident, try to handle the situation as calmly as possible. If you are able to, move the car off the road to a safe spot. Check on the others involved. Call the police. If nobody is injured, start collecting as much information as you can (driver’s name, phone number, driver license number and license plate number). If you have a camera, take pictures of the accident scene.
  6. Know who to call – Last, but certainly not least, is knowing who to call when you need help. With nine locations throughout Wyoming, Plains Tire has been providing the Cowboy State with a wide variety of car maintenance services for many years, and our experienced mechanics can help with any of your car needs.

Should I Replace My Wiper Blades?

Windshield wipers are absolutely vital to your safety in harsh weather conditions. According to the Federal Highway Administration, impaired visibility is a leading factor in 46% of fatal car accidents. When your windshield wipers are old or not working properly, your total vision of the road and your surroundings is much worse. Every day in the US there are 3400 weather-related car accidents. For that reason, it is extremely important that you replace your wiper blades at the appropriate time.

It is recommended that you replace your windshield wipers about every 6 months, although, depending on where you live and the type of wiper blades you have, you may need to replace them more or less frequently. The easiest way to know if it is time to replace your windshield wipers? Are you able to see clearly out your windshield when it is raining? If so, double-check for these additional warning signs:

  • do my windshield wipers need to be replacedCracks or breaks in the rubber (this is often caused by the heat of the summer)
  • Bent frames/blades
  • Streaks on windshield
  • Consistent film of grime on windshield
  • Squeaking noises while operating
  • Imperfections in wiping pattern
  • Season changes (here in Wyoming it’s a good idea to install winter blades during the cold months)

 

It is clear that your windshield wipers are incredibly important. But unlike other important elements of your car, the wiper blades are relatively easy to replace on your own. That said, if you would rather have a professional do the job, come see us at any of our 9 Plains Tire locations throughout Wyoming. One of our technicians will install new premium blades and get you back safely on the road in a matter of minutes. To learn more about our selection of windshield wipers give us a call today!

The Penny Test

In order for your tires to maintain traction with the road, especially during wet conditions, it is crucial that your tires have enough tread. The tread is the rubber grooves that surround the circumference of the tire, and it wears down with time. Typically a tread depth of 4/32″ or deeper is good to go. 3/32″ means you should replace your tires soon, and anything less than 2/32″ is considered a ‘bald’ tire and should be replaced.

plains tire penny test

Because you probably can’t eyeball those measurements or use a ruler, this nifty little trick comes in handy: the penny test.

  1. Grab a penny and insert it into the tread so that Lincoln’s head points down.
  2. Evaluate how much of his head is showing.
  3. If you can see his entire head, you should run over to Plains Tire and get the tires replaced.

You may find that some areas of your tire fail the penny test, while others are deeper and pass the test. If any part of the tire is less than 2/32″, you should replace the tire. Don’t put off doing this task, as it could save you from being in an accident. Plains Tire makes replacing tires easy. Come visit us at any of our nine locations throughout Wyoming!

How to Check Your Vehicle’s Oil

oil change wyomingOne of the essentials of car maintenance is checking the oil in a vehicle. This is a very basic task that everyone should be able to do. It’s quite simple, and all drivers both young and old can quickly learn how.

The oil plays an important role in keeping your car’s engine running smoothly. If you fail to keep the oil level/quality where it needs to be, you’ll experience some serious problems with the engine. So, here’s how to check your oil (which should be done at least once a month):

Open the hood, remove the dipstick, and clean it with a rag

The exact location of the dipstick depends on the type of engine, but you can look for a circular handle (usually yellow). Pull the handle to remove the dipstick. Get a rag to clean off the end of the stick so that it is clean of any oil. Then insert the dipstick back into the tube and push it all the way in.

Once again, pull out the dipstick and check the oil level

The dipstick will have some type of markings on the end. You might see the words Min/Max, Full/Add, two holes, or there may just be a section of the dipstick that has a cross-hatched pattern. Whatever the markings, check to see if the oil is below the minimum mark indicated on the dipstick. If so, that means the oil in your engine is low and more is needed. Find a cap labeled “Oil Cap”, or something along those lines, and add the oil there, NOT into the dipstick tube.

Now that you have checked the level of the oil, you will want to check the oil’s quality. Not only do you need enough oil, but you need clean oil. Look at the oil’s color. Is it light-colored or milky? If so, you should take it to one of the nine Plains Tire locations to have it checked. It’s possible that the coolant is leaking into the oil. Also pay attention to how the oil smells – if it smells like gasoline it is probably time for a change. To finish, rub some oil between your fingers. If it leaves a dirty smudge it’s also time for a change.

Congratulations, you did it!

With a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to finish this whole process in under a minute in no time! When adding oil, refer to the vehicle owner’s manual to make sure you use the right type of oil. For oil that needs to be changed, bring your vehicle to Plains Tire, located throughout Wyoming for our state of the art oil change services. We’ll have you in, out, and safely back on the road!

Give us a call, or visit our website to schedule an appointment! 

vacation checklist wyoming

16 Things To Do Before Leaving On Vacation

Many of you will be going on road trips with your families this summer. These are special times where you can make memories that last forever and have some fun. They are also times where things can go wrong if you aren’t prepared. Have you ever gotten off the plane and then realized you forgot to pack socks? Yeah, that’s a hassle. Here are 16 things to do before leaving on vacation:

  1. Place stop order on mail/newspaper.
  2. Find a house/pet sitter.
  3. Pay bills.
  4. Turn off lights or set light timers.
  5. Unplug electronics.
  6. Close and lock windows.
  7. Turn off water and gas.
  8. Take out trash.
  9. Throw out any food that will expire.
  10. Take out cash at ATM.
  11. Refill prescriptions.
  12. Confirm hotel reservations.
  13. Confirm flight/train/bus reservations.
  14. Make sure each person has packed clothing, underwear, socks, shoes, and toothbrush.
  15. Have snacks and games for the road.
  16. Take your car in to Plains Tire for a FREE Pre-Trip Inspection that includes an inspection of tires, alignment, steering, suspension, brakes, fluids, and brakes.

Now that you’ve gone through this list and double-checked everything, you are ready to go have some fun! Remember to be safe, and that Plains Tire is here for all of your auto needs with our nine locations throughout Wyoming!

Fixing a Broken AC

air conditioning repairSummer will be here before we know it! We’re excited as you are. As you start getting ready for all those summer picnics, pool parties, and road trips with the family, we hope that you don’t forget to get your car ready for the summer too. One of the common summer-time flaws that people will encounter with their cars is an air conditioning unit that doesn’t work. Driving in the heat of the summer with no AC can be pretty miserable, so if this happens to you, you’ll want to know how to diagnose the problem.

There are 2 common symptoms when it comes to the AC illnesses. We’ll talk about how you can identify the problem and get it taken care of.

Symptom #1: Little or No Air Coming Out

If no air is coming out (not even hot air), then one of the major components of the AC has probably gone out. The vehicle’s AC system is comprised of a compressor, condenser, evaporator, expansion valve and a tube/fan system. All of these components are important, and if any of them fails for any reason, the air will stop flowing from your vents. Newer cars have a safety mechanism that shuts down a component if their is a refrigerant leak detected. Check underneath the car for oil stains, which hint that their is likely a leak somewhere.

Symptom #2: Only Warm Air Comes Out

Nobody’s car immediately blows cold air after sitting in a hot parking lot for a few hours, but if it continues to blow nothing but hot air miles into your drive, then you know something is wrong. This symptom is shared by a few different AC-problems, and knowing how to treat it may require help from the technicians over at Plains Tire. It could be something simple, like recharging the AC unit, or something more serious such as a freon leak.

Whatever AC problems you have, you can rest assured that the certified technicians at any of our 9 Plains Tire locations will take care of the problem at the best value in all of Wyoming!

Closer Look at the Air Filter

You don’t have to be a mechanic to have a basic idea of what an air filter is. Its name hints at what it does, but let’s take a closer look at this important part of your vehicle.

What is an air filter? What does it actually do?

What is it?

In order to achieve maximum performance, an air filter is an essential component of your car engine. It keeps all of those undesirable contaminants and particles out of the combustion chambers.

What does it do?

Your vehicle sucks air into the engine to be able to combust and create movement. The air passes through the vehicle’s air box where the air filter sits. The air then goes through the filter’s pleated material.

This filtration keeps the engine clean and running smoothly. Unfortunately, when the filter get clogged up, proper air flow is unable to enter the engine and the performance decreases.

Get this: A clean air filter can increase your acceleration up to 11%!

Should I replace it?

So, if you don’t know whether your filter needs to be replaced or not, ask a certified mechanic. However, there are ways you can know it is time. Pay attention to these signs and symptoms: a decrease in acceleration, a rough engine start, or a check engine light, all of which are signs that you should take your vehicle in for a check-up.

It is typically recommended that you replace your air filter every 15,000-30,000 miles. But, if you drive on a lot of dirt roads, you’ll probably want to replace it on the more frequent side.

If a clogged filter isn’t replaced when it should be, you’re engine will have to work that much harder and its lifespan will decrease. Sometimes filters can get so clogged that they finally tear, letting in contaminants into the engine itself, causing irreparable damage.

Who should replace it?

Here at Plains Tire, you can be confident that you are receiving the best care possible. We have years of experience, and our professional staff will treat you in an honest and friendly manner. For all of your vehicle maintenance needs, come on in to your nearest Plains Tire!

Is It Time For A Tire Alignment?

tire alignmentTo put it simply, tire alignment is whether or not your tires are pointing in the right direction. That said, the easiest way to know whether your tires need to be aligned is if your vehicle pulls to the right or to the left.

A number of different things can cause your tires to become unaligned, but the most common are running over a big pothole or hitting hard into the curb.

Not only is it a pain to have to try and drive straight when your vehicle wants to veer off to the side, it is also bad for the tires. Having your tires aligned will help to preserve the life of your tires, which will wear down very quickly if they are not properly aligned.

It’s possible that your car will appear to be driving straight, but you may still need your tires aligned. Special equipment is used to align the tires to the exactness of a fraction of an inch. The human eye probably can’t detect when the tires are out of alignment. A general rule of thumb should be to have your tires aligned at least once a year.

When you bring your vehicle into Plains Tire for an alignment, we will set the camber (inward or outward tilt of the wheels when looking head on), the caster (wheel tilt front or back looking from the side), and the toe (looking down at the wheels from above). We will also set the tire pressure to the manufacturer’s specifications. And with our 6-month/6,000 mile guarantee, you will know that you are getting the best value possible.

Since 1941, Plains Tire has been Wyoming’s trusted tire and automotive shop. Call or visit us online to schedule an appointment today!