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!

Snow/Winter Tires Vs. All Weather Tires

As winter begins it is important to understand which variety of tire will keep you and your loved ones safe. The first thing to consider is what the region is like where you live:

If where you live sees occasional flurries of snow and ice on the roads is rare, then an all weather tire will be your answer. If you deal with excessive snow all winter long, and constant ice and slush on your roads, choose a winter/snow tire. Here are some of the reasons why, and facts of each:

All Season Tires:

  • Tread on all season tires has less depth and aggressive features
  • This tread provides more comfort and a quieter driving experience, but grip will suffer in snow and ice
  • Tires will last longer in year round use and the ware will be more evenly distributed
  • All season tires offer a low rolling resistance, so they can produce a higher fuel efficiency
  • A harder rubber is used in all season tires, so it can adapt to all temperatures, but in icy conditions it can harden and reduce handling

Winter Tires:

  • Aggressive tread is especially designed to block snow build up and add traction in stormy weather
  • Rubber stays malleable against cold asphalt to maintain handling and control
  • Tread is engineered with snow and ice with a better biting edge for wet and snow covered roads
  • Winter tires provide the driver more control and confidence in potentially dangerous situations
  • Stopping time is significantly improved compared to all season tires

It is important to note, that winter tires should not be used in the summer as the soft rubber designed for snow will wear very quickly and will not handle well in heat.

What’s the Difference Between a Regular and Synthetic Oil Change?


Plains Tire oil changeWhen you walk in to get your oil changed, you will be asked the question: Would you like synthetic or regular? You might be able to guess that synthetic oil is higher quality due to it’s higher price, but you may not know exactly why. In order to make a more informed decision, let’s break it down.

What is it?

Regular, or conventional, oil is derived from crude oil, and that is pretty much where the process ends. Synthetic oil, on the other hand, is regular oil that undergoes further modifications which remove more of the impurities that are found in the crude oil and improve its protective and lubricant properties.

Lubrication

Your car engine has many moving parts. In order to keep the parts moving fluidly, motor oil is used to create a slippery coating of lubrication. Synthetic oils have a greater ability to keep the parts slick, especially at higher temperatures. Better lubrication means less wear and tear on your engine, which could extend the life of the engine.

Cleaning

Another purpose of motor oil is to clean your engine of debris. Regular oil sometimes forms sludge which can be harmful for your engine. Synthetic oil, with its fewer impurities, is better able to work without forming sludge, also increasing the life of your engine.

Oil Changes

Any type of oil will eventually break down and become less effective. That is why you should regularly have your motor oil changed. The benefit of synthetic oil is that it can last as much as three times longer than regular oil before breaking down. So despite being more expensive, it will get you further down the road than conventional oil.

It is clear that synthetic oil is superior in many ways. That said, regular oil will get the job done and is a good option as well. The most important thing to remember when it comes to caring for your car is to follow the recommendations from your vehicle’s manufacturer.

Take the worry out of changing your oil and bring your car on over to the nearest Plains Tire. We will ensure that your vehicle has the oil it needs so that your engine will keep running smoothly! Schedule an appointment today!