How to Know When Your Brakes Need Maintenance

Brakbrake repair and maintenancees undergo wear and tear as they get older and will eventually have to be replaced. How fast they wear out depends on driving habits, the quality of the brake pads, and vehicle type – to name a few factors. Yearly brake system inspections are vital to ensuring your safety, but sometimes things happen between check-ups. Fortunately, there are occasional warning signs between check-ups that will tell you that your brakes need attention.

Keep in mind that it’s very important to replace your brakes before they get too far gone. Metal-to-metal braking without braking pads can lead to expensive fixes on your vehicle.

Here are some of the warning signs that tell you that your brakes need to be looked at:

  • Brake Light: the red brake light lights up on your vehicle’s dashboard.
  • ABS Light: The automated braking system light is constantly lit up on the dashboard.
  • Low Pedal: brake pedal gets very low before it actually starts engaging.
  • Hard Pedal: you have to push the pedal really hard to make it move so that the brakes can engage.
  • Grabbing: brakes grab almost too hard and fast at the slightest touch to the pedal.
  • Pulling: vehicle pulls to one side while braking.
  • Noise: screeching or grinding noises when applying brakes.
  • Vibration: brake pedal excessively vibrates, even under normal braking conditions.

If you experience any number of these issues, make sure to talk to a brake inspection professional ASAP. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your safety.

When you foresee problems, remember that Plains Tire offers complete brake system inspections and repairs for very affordable prices. Let us be your resource to diagnosing your brake problems.


5 Off-Roading Tips Everyone Should Follow

off roading tips plains tire wyomingOff-roading has become a popular summer and fall activity. Sometimes called digging, rock crawling or mudding. Whatever the name, it all boils down to the same thrilling sport of taking your truck, ATV, SUV, or motorcycle off the beaten path into a wild adventure. You can have all the fun you want to while playing it smart and safe. Here’s a few tips to help you prepare for getting dirty up in the hills.

  1. Check that the vehicle you’re taking can handle the terrain. A rocky, dirt trail can throw off your vehicle’s alignment if you’re not careful. Know your specific vehicle’s capabilities and make sure it’s equipped with good shocks and struts.
  2. Before hitting the trails, check that your tire pressure and tread are at safe levels. Know the right PSI for your vehicle and keep your tires inflated. Sounds simple, but these things make a huge difference.
  3. At this point, your vehicle is prepared on the outside. Now it’s time to make sure you’re ready on the inside. There’s more to this than just snacks, an air freshener and good music. Keep a survival kit in your vehicle with items like road flares, first aid, water, food, and warm blankets. Our list of 25 essential items for every car is a great reference. Once your all loaded up, make sure all the items are strapped down tight. You’ll be going over large bumps and the last thing you need is a flying object causing injury.
  4. Take necessary safety precautions both before and during your ride. Tell someone where you’re going and how long you expect to be gone. Travel in a group, never alone. Bring at least one buddy with you. When you get to your destination, check that everyone is wearing proper head safety gear and seatbelts. It’s easier than you think to roll your vehicle, so make sure no one is leaning out the windows or standing in the bed of trucks.
  5. Our last word of advice: have FUN! Make memories and don’t be afraid to get a little dirty. We like to say if you come back with a clean truck, you didn’t play hard enough!

Make sure your vehicle is off-road ready with a quality inspection at one of our 9 Plains Tire Locations throughout Wyoming!

Stop Your Car from Overheating with These 9 Tips

Overheating happens when your engine becomes too hot. This can cause serious damage to your engine and other functions of your vehicle. Car overheating is usually caused by a malfunction in your cooling system or when coolant levels get too low. These tips will help you know how to prevent this from happening, and also let you know what to do if your car does overheat.


Prevent Your Car from Overheating

  • Schedule routine oil changes. Make sure your technician inspects fans, antifreeze levels, hoses, and your water system. This increases the likelihood of a small issue being caught before it turns into a serious concern.
  • Check antifreeze levels in your cooling system and top them off regularly.
  • Inspect your cooling system hoses for leaks or blockages.
  • Be prepared just in case by having coolant and an emergency kit in your car at all times.


Steps to Take if Your Car Overheats

  • cooling system repair evanston wyomingA warning light should come on or your temperature gauge should rise in the event of your car overheating. Here’s what to do if this occurs:
  • Pull over immediately. Stop the engine and open the hood. You’ll need to give your engine plenty of time to cool off on it’s own before doing anything.
  • Don’t touch the radiator cap. Your first instinct may be to remove the radiator cap. However, this is extremely dangerous. Your water system will be under high pressure, and you could be seriously burned when steam or radiator fluid is released.
  • Check antifreeze/coolant levels and top them off if needed. Again, be sure to wait until the engine has cooled off before doing this.
  • Check your cooling system hoses for leaks. This can be done yourself or by a professional technician. Cars rarely overheat for no reason, so it’s important to identify the source of the problem. The most common causes are a broken fan or thermostat or a leak in your cooling system. Bring your car into one of our 9 Plains Tire locations across Wyoming. We’d be happy to take a look for you!
  • If you simply had to replace low coolant, your car is probably safe to drive. But if the coolant was completely out or you detected another issue, driving your vehicle can be very dangerous. Call a tow truck to pick you up instead.


To have your cooling system checked or repaired, come in and see us at one of our 9 Plains Tire locations throughout Wyoming.

We also have locations in Utah and Idaho!

Outsmart High Gas Prices with These Simple Tips

auto repair laramie wyomingWe love the warmer weather, but not the high gas prices that come along with it. Fuel costs are constantly changing, and steadily on the rise. The average cost of fuel today is $2.25 per gallon, $1 higher than the $1.25 average in 2002. A dollar per gallon may not seem like much, but those dollars add up quickly. The result is a devastating affect on our wallets.

The good news is, there’s something we as drivers can do about it. Making small changes to vehicle maintenance and driver behavior can lighten your load drastically at the gas pump. So don’t pay more than you have to for fuel! Start taking advantage of these tricks. Your wallet will thank you for it.

  1. Properly align your car or truck. This helps with fuel savings, and as an added bonus, extends the life of your tires.
  2. Replace air filters. Dirty air filters can also clog your cash flow when it comes to fuel.
  3. Regularly tune up your engine. A well running motor is crucial for saving on gas.
  4. Keep tires inflated. Tires at the proper pressure can save you an average of 3.3% on your fuel costs.
  5. Follow octane guidelines for your specific vehicle. Higher octane levels don’t give you more power, they actually suck down your gas tank.
  6. Inspect your gas cap. Make sure it’s always tight. Gas can vaporize and escape through the open space.

Your behavior as a driver also affects gas consumption. As difficult as it may be, avoid road rage and drive calmly. You’ll be happier when you see the gas savings!

  • Don’t speed. Quick starts and stops and fast driving uses up more gas.
  • Avoid weaving in and out of traffic. This may get you to the front of the traffic line, but also lowers your gas mileage by 5% in the city and 33% on the highway.
  • Avoid idling. Leaving your car running uses up fuel quickly.
  • Don’t be an aggressive driver. Sudden turns, starts and stops guzzle ⅓ more gas than taking it slow and steady.

Start applying these simple tips today. You’ll start to see your wallet get fatter and your time at the gas pump more enjoyable!

Questions? Stop by and see the automotive experts at Plains Tire, with 9 convenient locations across Wyoming: Casper, Downtown Casper, Evanston, Gillette, Green River, Laramie, Riverton, Rock Springs, and Sheridan.  

When Should I Take Off My Snow Tires?

snow tire removal wyomingSpring and summer are on their way here in Wyoming! With the warmer weather comes the need to remove your winter tires. In this post, we’ll go through the basics of your snow tires and provide recommendations for when it’s safe to remove them.

How Snow Tires Are Designed

The composition of snow tires is dramatically different from regular tires. Their main purpose is to provide better traction and grip on snowy/icy roads. To perform this function, they’re made with a soft rubber that won’t stiffen up in the cold and generates more heat. Most models of snow tires are also studded.

Why You Shouldn’t Leave Your Snow Tires On

These softer tires that produce more heat in the winter are actually very risky for summer driving. As they grip dry, warm pavement these tires don’t maneuver or stop as quickly. They also increase your risk of tire blowouts. Your gas mileage decreases when driving with snow tires, which can be very expensive.

It may also be illegal to drive with your snow tires on during certain months. Here in Wyoming, snow tires are legal year round. However, you’ll want to check individual laws of the surrounding states to make sure you’re safe.

Recommendations from Plains Tire:

  • Safety should come first. Don’t remove your winter tires until the threat of snow is gone.
  • Remove your snow tires when the temperature outside is consistently above 40-50 degrees fahrenheit.  
  • Be aware of your individual state requirements so you know if it’s illegal to have snow tires on your vehicle during certain months.

Your friends at Plains Tire can remove your snow tires and get you back on the road fast. Come in and see us at one of our 9 Wyoming locations including: Casper, Downtown Casper, Evanston, Gillette, Green River, Laramie, Riverton, Rock Springs, and Sheridan!

Learn How to Jump Start a Car

auto repair laramie wyomingHave you ever been stranded in your driveway or a parking lot somewhere because of a dead car battery? Chances are, we all have. It’s not so much a matter of “if” but “when” this will happen to you.

Most of us fall into the dangerous habit of relying on a kind stranger to show up with jumper cables and know how to use them in our time of need. Don’t leave it to chance in this type of emergency! You never know when you’ll need to jump start your car or help someone else. That’s why we’ve created this simple guide to help you learn how to jump start your car on your own.

  1. Always follow safety protocol. Before starting, keep in mind the safety of yourself and others. Push your car away from traffic to a safe place. You’ll be dealing with an electric shock, so remain aware and alert. Make sure the metal clamps on the cables never touch and wear protective equipment if possible. Keep small children away from the engine. Some models require you to follow specific steps when jump starting, so rush up on the information in your car’s operation manual. If you have questions about where to begin, call your local Wyoming Plains Tire location nearest you.
  2. Park both vehicles facing each other. Push or drive your car and the assisting car so they’re in a nose-to-nose position. Make sure they’re never touching but close to each other, about a foot apart. For both vehicles, shift to the park or neutral position, turn off the engine, and engage the park brake.
  3. Prepare the jumper cables. As mentioned above, don’t rely on others. Have your own set of jumper cables with you in your car. Take them out of their case and set them on the ground, making sure the metal clamps aren’t touching.
  4. Lift the hoods of both vehicles and secure them in the open position. The switch to release the hood may be in a different spot for each car. It’s usually by the grill or near the driver’s seat on the inside.
  5. Identify the car batteries. There are two batteries in each car, a positive and a negative. Each battery has two terminals. The positive is red with a “+” sign on top and the negative is black with a “-” sign.
  6. Place one of the red clamps securely on the positive terminal of the dead battery. The positive terminal is typically bigger than the negative and will say “+” or “POS” for positive on top.
  7. Place the other red clamp securely on the positive terminal of the functioning battery.
  8. Place one of the black clamps securely on the negative terminal of the functioning battery.
  9. Place the other black clamp securely to a clean, unpainted metal surface under the hood where the dead battery is located, just not near the battery.
  10. Take off the jumper cables. Remove the black clamps then the red, making sure they don’t touch each other.
  11. If you still can’t get the car to start after several attempts, call a professional at one of our Wyoming Plains Tire locations for help.
  12. Try starting the engine of the car with the dead battery. Don’t be surprised if this doesn’t work the first time. If that happens, try running the engine of the other car for a few minutes and rev the engine every so often. This should charge up the dead battery. Repeat this process until the car with the dead battery starts.
  13. Take the car with the newly charged battery for a drive. Do this for about 10 minutes. This will help the battery to fully charge so you don’t run into the same problem the next time you go to start your engine.

*You may find this visual helpful.

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If you’d like a professional to walk you through the process, or for any of your auto care needs, call us at Plains Tire! We have several locations across Wyoming in Casper, Downtown Casper, Evanston, Gillette, Green River, Laramie, Riverton, Rock Springs, and Sheridan.  Also, check out this YouTube video for a great visual of how to jump start a car!

25 Essential Items for Every Car

auto body shop casper wyomingAs a driver, are you prepared for unexpected emergencies on the road? Be ready by knowing what’s in your trunk and where to find it in a time of need.

We’ve made it easy for you be compiling a list of the 25 items you need to have in your vehicle at all times. Simply conduct a quick inventory of what’s already in your vehicle, then add what items you’re missing.

We’ve organized these 25 essential items into three categories: Maintenance, Safety, and Convenience.


  1. Spare tire. Don’t put your spare tire in the back then forget about it. Check that it’s tread and air pressure are at safe levels and that the tire jack and tire iron are in place. Doing so will ensure that the tire is ready in your time of need. If you need a refresher, refer to our blog post about How to Change a Flat Tire.
  1. Vehicle owner’s manual. Keep it close by, preferably in the glove compartment. You never know when you’ll need it for a quick reference.
  1. Insurance, registration, and auto shop information. If you are involved in an accident you’ll need your vehicle registration and insurance card. You’ll also need the contact information for your auto repair shop and AAA if you’re a member. Keep these items together and know right where to find them. The glove box or center console are ideal.
  1. Jumper cables. It’s absolutely necessary to have jumper cables with you. You car’s battery could die at anytime, and you don’t want to be left stranded. You also may need to jump another person’s car using your jumper cables. Our next blog post will be a how-to guide titled “Learn How to Jump Start a Car,” so stayed tuned for those helpful tips!
  1. Tire inflator and sealant. If your tire has a hole or leak, these will temporarily clog it until you can make it to the shop for a repair.
  1. Tire pressure gauge. Make it a habit to regularly check the air in your tires and keep them filled to a safe level. Doing so provides several benefits including improved vehicle handling, better gas mileage, increased tire longevity, and of course, safety.


  1. Water. You can’t survive without water, so this should be the highest priority. Store several bottles to have on hand in case you’re stranded for a lengthy amount of time. If you drink any of the water, be sure to replenish your storage.
  1. Food supply. Keep a few nonperishable food items in your car like energy or protein bars, or MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). These meals require water for preparation, so accommodate that in your water storage.
  1. First aid kit. You can buy these pre packaged with everything you’ll need. But if you use something, be sure to replace it.
  1. Fire starter. There are several different options, so you can purchase what you like. Matches or a lighter are basic options that work well.
  1. Flashlight. Check the batteries regularly to make sure they’re charged.
  1. Communication device. Don’t just rely on cell phone service. You could be out of cell phone range or a power source in an emergency. Prepare with a solar powered radio or walkie talkie.
  1. Tools. Multi tools are handy and don’t take up much room. You could also include a small tool kit.
  1. Reflective gear. To prevent being hit at night by another car, have reflective vests and flares on hand.
  1. Map. A GPS signal may be unavailable in an emergency, so always have a paper map in the car. You may even need to find your destination on foot if your car isn’t drivable.
  1. Ice scraper. In ice and snow you’ll need an ice scraper to clear your windshield so you can see as you drive.
  1. Blanket. Mylar space blankets are designed to keep you warm in extreme cold. However, a regular blanket is better than no blanket at all.
  1. Seat belt cutter and window breaker. If you or others are trapped inside a vehicle, these will help you escape. Keep them near where passengers sit, like the center console or glove compartment.


  1. Mobile power supply. What do you do if your car loses power and you need to charge your cell phone or other device? A solar powered mobile power source could be your lifesaver!
  1. Cash. In certain situations you may not be able to use a credit or debit card. Keep some extra cash on hand just in case.
  1. Change of clothes. You may be outside in the mud, rain, or snow and need a dry, clean change of clothes.
  1. Towels. You may need a towel to clean up messes or to dry off. Stock up on either a bath towel or paper towels.
  1. Umbrella. Store an umbrella to keep you dry on a rainy day.
  1. Toilet paper. You never know when nature may call and you’ll have to take a bathroom break! You might even just have a stuffy nose. For whatever purpose, it’s always good to have toilet paper or tissues on hand.
  1. Paper and pen. Go the old fashioned way. You might need to write down important information, like someone’s insurance when you get into an accident. Paper and a pen is also good for doodling on long road trips!

This may seem like a lengthy list, but you probably have many of these items already in your home. When an emergency strikes, you’ll be glad you took the time to pack these 25 essential items!

At Plains Tire, we’re here to answer your car safety questions. Come in and see us at any of our 9 Wyoming locations: Casper, Downtown Casper, Evanston, Gillette, Green River, Laramie, Riverton, Rock Springs, and Sheridan.  

Put Your Old Tires To Good Use!

Are you someone who just can’t say goodbye to your old tires? No need to worry, we have come up with some creative and fun suggestions to help you use your old tires in your yard or around your house. At Plains Tire, we want you to love your new tires as well as love what you can do with your old tires.

Check out some of these creative ideas we found:

  • A hanging flower planter

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  • Umbrella stand

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  • A beautiful ottoman 

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  • Old tire stairs 

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  • Sandbox for the kids 

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  • Patio furniture 

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  • A pond for the yard 

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  • A fun shelf for a child’s room 

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  • Outdoor holiday wreath 

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  • A bright summer table 

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  • Tire-Totter for the kids 

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  • Pretty Planter 

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We hope you enjoy some of these ideas! Try some of them out and let us know what you think. Remember, Plains Tire is your one stop shop for all your tire needs.


Is Your Vehicle Ready For Winter?

winter driving safety tipsWe all know that the with the winter months almost here. We thought we would share some of the important aspects of getting your car ready for the cold and the snow that will be here soon. Whether you’re simply going to work, or driving in the mountains on the way to a ski resort for a fun weekend, your car will need to be able to get you and your loved ones there safe. Make it a priority now to get prepared so that you won’t have to stress while you’re driving in the winter this year. Follow some of these fundamental recommendations – they could literally be life-saving!

Inspect or Change Your Tires

It is common for the air pressure in your tires to have dropped due to the cold temperatures outside. Refer to your owner’s manual to know what the target tire pressure should be. Tires that are properly inflated give you the best possible traction on the road, which is even more important during the winter time. Your handling also will be decreased if your tires do not have a lot of tread left on them. If you live in a place that has a lot of hills and typically gets a lot of snow, you may want to consider switching to snow tires. Or you could choose to purchase all-season tires.

Check Your Oil

Your oil tends to thicken as the temperature gets lower. It will not be as effective in lubricating your engine if it becomes too thick. You may think about using a thinner oil in the winter to keep your oil at the right viscosity, or thickness. Your owner’s manual is useful in this situation, or you can talk to the technicians the next time you get your oil changed.

Four-Wheel Drive

It is common for cars in this part of the mountain west to have four-wheel drive. For those people, we recommend making sure that it is working the way it should be. The system should engage and disengage easily. We also recommend making sure all the people that may potentially drive that vehicle know how to activate the four-wheel drive system.

Get Windshield Wipers That Work

Can’t remember the last time you replaced your windshield wiper blades? You might consider investing in new ones for this winter if your current blades are not effective. You also should check the level of your windshield washer fluid. We advise getting washer fluid with an antifreeze solution in it to help out on those cold mornings. Using water will not work well in the winter because it will just freeze on your windshield. Along those same lines, check to ensure your defroster and heater are working properly so that your windshield stays clear. You might want to check for air leaks around windows and doors. Keep out the extra moisture and cold in the winter months ahead!

How Is Your Battery?

This time of year is ideal for inspecting your battery. Your battery capacity is reduced when the weather gets cold. You engine needs more current from the battery in order to start, so make sure your battery is functioning properly. You may want to have your local repair shop test its ability to hold a charge if you battery is more than three years old. Also, check for cracks and breaks in the battery cables, as well as other belts and hoses under your hood.

Have An Emergency Kit

We think it is important to always have an emergency kit in your car, but to especially have on during the winter months. You never know what will happen while you are driving, so it is wise to keep an emergency kit in your trunk just in case of an unexpected turn of events. You can include items such as: flares, snacks, washer fluid, cell phone charger, coolant, sand or kitty litter, small shovel, flashlight, blanks, boots, engine oil, etc. And don’t forget to make sure your spare tire is in good shape and that you have the required tools to change it out if you need to.

Other Tips and Tricks

A good thing to remember is to be mindful of how much gas you have in your gas tank. You never really know what the weather or circumstances may be like, so we suggest keeping your gas tank at least ¼ to ½ full at all times. Also, check to see that all of your lights and light bulbs are working properly. This will ensure that you can see well, and that other vehicles on the road will be able to see you if there is poor visibility. If your door is frozen shut and you’re not at home to use your own warm water, try to find a nearby store that sells glycerine that can be used for de-icing.

We hope that some of these suggestions will help you not only in the winter months, but all year round. Plains Tire is here to assist you in any way that we can. When you actually take the time to properly winterize your car, you can have the comfort and peace of mind while you’re driving in the cold and the snow. You can’t expect your car to function perfectly if you don’t give it the attention that it needs. Plan ahead and make sure your vehicle is safe and reliable this winter!

6 Tips for When You Lock Your Keys in Your Car

Most of us know the feeling of accidentally locking your keys in your car. It can be very frustrating and embarrassing, and seem to always happen at the most inopportune time. According to the American Automobile Association, there are more than four million motorists that get locked out of their car every year. If you ever find yourself in this predicament, you don’t need to panic. Remember some of the tips below:

  • TIP 1 – One of the first things that comes to people’s mind when they realize their keys are locked inside of their car is to call their auto-insurance company to get roadside assistance. If you have recently purchased a new vehicle, often times roadside assistance comes as part of your warranty. Depending on where you are located, they usually send someone to help you get back into your vehicle. If you don’t currently have roadside assistance as part of your auto-insurance policy, you may want to discuss adding it.
  • TIP 2 – Get a temporary key made. The dealership would need your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in order to make the key. This key may not be able to actually start your car, but you would be able to unlock the doors and retrieve your permanent keys.
  • TIP 3 – Some cars will allow you to gain access to the inside of the car through the trunk by moving the rear seats. However, you would have to have access to the trunk to be able to do this.
  • TIP 4 – You might want to consider keeping an extra key on hand somewhere. If you seem to always be locking yourself out of your car, this might be a good idea. You could hide a key in a well-hidden part of your car or hide a key in your wallet/purse. Another option would be giving a spare key to a family member or trusted friend who could come rescue you.
  • TIP 5 – Most new cars on the market have systems in place that won’t allow you to lock the door if the key is in the ignition or if a door is open. Cars with other features such as telematics can enable your vehicle to be unlocked remotely. In addition, having a keyless combination lock is a smart solution.
  • TIP 6 – Dial 911. We believe that safety always comes first. If you are locked out of your car and feel like you are in danger, call the police. Sometimes they can even unlock your car, or get in contact with a tow truck or locksmith professional for you.

We recommend that you never give your children keys to play with in the car due to the fact that you may get locked out of the car, with your children still inside.

In some cases, we recommend not using a wire hanger or a screwdriver to try and gain access into your vehicle. This can sometimes lead to further damage, or even injury – costing you more money in the long run.

We hope these tips and tricks help you the next time you accidently lock your keys in your car! Trust Plains Tire and any of our 9 locations throughout Wyoming to take care of all your automotive needs.