All posts by Christie Stock

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.


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.


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! 

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.  

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!

Best Car Accessories 2016

While Plains Tire can fully service your vehicle and get you on the road with great tires, you still might want a few new car accessories. With the holidays right around the corner, we thought we’d list some of our favorites.

BarksBar Pet Seat Cover $20 – Heavy duty waterproof polyester to keep your back seat free of accidents, spills, and fur. It also comes with pockets to store toys, leashes, etc.

Ozium Air Sanitizer $11Get a air freshener that doesn’t just mask the odors in your car but actually eliminates them. Works to get rid of even the worst smells.

Smartphone Car Mount $20 Spigen created a car mount that will stick to your dashboard and allows you to clip in any smartphone with one hand!



Lithium Jump Starter Packs $50-$150 Small starter packs are all the rage right now and for good reason. When your battery dies, you won’t need to pull another car around to help you. Just plug with handheld device in and hear the engine rev back up.

Car First Aid Kit $15 Always be prepared (especially with kids). You can make your own first aid kit or grab one off of Amazon for ~$15.

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.  

Advice from the Experts: Tire Maintenance

Your vehicle has a lot of safety features – especially if it was manufactured recently. But all those things come second to your tires when providing you with safety on the road. If your tires don’t do their job, you’ll be sliding all over the place – into telephone poles and other cars.

In case you didn’t know, tires are expensive. Even the cheapest tires (don’t buy the cheapest tires) are going to run you at least $300 after mounting and balancing. Understanding that fact will help you understand all the things you need to do to keep them rolling for as long as possible.

nitrogenLow Air Pressure

Take the time to ensure your tire air pressure is up to snuff. Keep a pressure gauge in your glove box and fill your tires up with an air compressor (most gas stations have these) when needed.

  • Driving on flat tires will quickly ruin them. Check your tire air pressure frequently!
  • Your dashboard will probably have a indicator light telling you when the tire pressure is low but don’t rely on these 100%. It’s your job to make sure the pressure meets requirements. Once a month, check the pressure in all 5 tires (including the spare).

tire-wearTire Wear

Tires wear out, it’s a fact of life. How long before they wear out will depend on the type of rubber and the purpose for which they were made.

Most tires on the road are All-Season tires, which is perfectly fine because they’ll last a long time and they’ll get you through most small snowfalls. Some people have Snow Tires which are fantastic in the winter but are somewhat softer and won’t last as long, especially if used all year.

  • Change out your Snow Tires for Summer or All-Season tires when winter is over
  • If you have a 4WD vehicle, make sure to keep all 4 tires the same. For example, if one tire blows out while the other 3 are half-way through their tread – you need 4 new tires. One new treaded tire with 3 old tires will only harm your vehicle.
  • Rotate tires every 5,000-7,000 miles. This will help them wear evenly and last longer.
  • Get an alignment when you get new tires, when you hit something, or feel your steering wheel pull one way when you drive.

replace tiresReplacing Tires

If you have a tire emergency like a sudden flat tire, consult your owner’s manual. It will have a section about “what to do in case of emergency”. You can also always feel free to call Plains Tire for assistance.

When it’s finally time to replace the tires, remember what was said at the beginning of this post: Tires are expensive. By all means, don’t overpay but make sure to research and get tires that will last you a long time. Consult the experts at Plains Tire for options in your vehicle size. Trust that our mechanics will treat you and your vehicle right.

Brand name tires are usually the way to go: Goodyear, BFGoodrich, Michelin, etc. They’ll have the highest quality control. If you’re looking for something less expensive talk to us, and we’ll help you research different brands to make sure you’re satisfied with your tires.

Did we miss anything? If you have more tips, please share this post!