All posts by TireRifik

Does my windshield need to be replaced?


Busted auto glass or windshield that is cracked and shattered.A rock hits your car windshield. Debris falls off the back of a truck. A chunk of ice hits the windshield just right. That’s the bad news. The good news is an unexpected crack or chip does not mean your car’s windshield needs to be replaced.

You can find out for sure at a local repair shop. Your mechanic can look at the damage and decide whether the car needs a windshield repair or replacement. Often, this check can be done during a regularly scheduled oil change, maintenance, or repair appointment. Don’t wait too long; your windshield is an important part of you and your passengers’ safety.

Vehicle windshields are made of laminated glass manufactured strong enough to withstand impacts and provide structural support. Typically, front windshields are comprised of three layers. Rear windshields and side windows are usually manufactured with tempered glass.

Simply, vehicle windshields play a key role in safety, which is why it often needs to be replaced when there is damage. However, a windshield can be repaired if the damage fits in any of these criteria.

Crack is small

Small cracks and chips can usually be repaired without compromising visibility. In general, chips and cracks less than six inches can be fixed as long as the damage is not in an area that might impact the structural strength.

Position of damage

The location of the windshield crack or chip plays a large role in determining whether repair or replacement is the right solution. If the damage is situated in front of a camera or sensor, impedes driving visibility, or in any area that could compromise strength, a full windshield replacement is usually needed. A mechanic can look at the damage and tell if you a windshield can be repaired. 

Windshield repair or replacement?

Beyond the size and position of the windshield damage, there are several other key differences between a windshield repair and replacement. A windshield repair is usually cheaper and takes less than an hour. The car can be driven as soon as the repair is complete. While a windshield replacement takes the same amount of time, it is usually recommended that the car not be driven until an hour after the replacement.

Depending on the cost, car insurance does not usually cover a windshield repair or replacement; it depends on the amount of deductible and the terms of the insurance. Contact a mechanic to find out if windshield repair is feasible, get a free quote, and get a clear windshield view.

Why is my car slow to start in cold weather?

woman trying to repair broken down carWhen the weather is frigid, it can be hard to convince yourself to head out into the freezing cold. It can even feel like your car doesn’t want to go out—especially when your car is slowly cranking. A car slow to start doesn’t have to be a normal part of cold weather; if it is, there are a few key reasons why your car starts slowly on a cold winter morning.

Why is a car slow to start in winter?

When the temperature drops, engine oil turns to the consistency of molasses. It takes more power to turn over an engine when the oil is sludge. If a battery is low on power, the result is the slow cranking of the engine on a cold morning. Eventually, the battery stops working.

Car batteries can decrease in power due to age or the heat. Summer heat can cause battery fluid to evaporate, damaging the battery’s internal part and decreasing battery performance. Older batteries can also lose power over time; car batteries should usually be replaced every 3-5 years. (Schedule an appointment to get a new battery installed.)

Slow cranking is only one sign of a dead battery. You can also tell if a car battery needs to be replaced if it needs to be jump started on a regular basis. Some cars also have a dashboard warning light that comes on when battery power is low.

In extremely rare cases, cars might not start in cold weather because of moisture in the fuel lines. Put simply, condensation can get into the fuel lines. The moisture can interrupt the flow of fuel and cause a slow start (or no start at all).

Older vehicles with carburetors can also have issues in the cold weather. This problem primarily occurs after the car has been sitting for a long time.

Sometimes, the slow start of a car has nothing to do with the cold weather. A slow-starting car can be caused by old spark plugs, which should be replaced every 30-100,000. (Ask your mechanic if it’s time for the spark plugs to be replaced.) A failing starter or corroded wiring can also cause a car to start slowly (or not at all).

How can I keep my car starting smoothly in the cold weather?

To avoid the annoying slow start of a car in cold weather (and other winter breakdowns), use these cold weather car maintenance tips:

  • Have the battery checked on a regular basis. A mechanic can test the battery to determine when it is low on power.
  • Regularly schedule oil changes. Ask your mechanic how often the oil should be changed.
  • When the temperature drops, check the tire pressure on every tire (including the spare). Frigid temperatures cause a sharp drop in air pressure (use these step-by-step instructions for checking tire pressure). Make sure to check the spare tire as well, so it is in good shape in case of a flat tire.
  • Make sure car fluids are topped off. Add checking the oil and antifreeze level on a regular basis. Both of these fluids are essential for a smooth-running car.
  • Pack an emergency car kit. A car kit may not stop a car’s slow start, but it can be helpful if a battery suddenly goes dead or the car breaks down. Use this list of emergency car kit essentials to assemble a complete kit—and don’t forget to pack cold weather gear that can keep you warm when you get stranded in the freezing weather.

What are the signs of an exhaust leak?

cars in traffic with an exhaust leakAn exhaust leak can put you at risk for inhaling harmful carbon monoxide fumes; even repeated minor exposures to car exhaust gases can trigger irritating symptoms. An exhaust leak can also negatively impact the health of the car. A leaking exhaust can lead to expensive repairs, such as a catalytic converter replacement, or a loud or terrible-sounding exhaust.

Exhaust leaks can occur at the rear of the car or under the hood. Typically, rust corrodes exhaust pipes and forms holes or gaskets wear down. The best way to find an exhaust leak is to ask a mechanic to inspect the system. An exhaust system inspection is recommended for any car more than 5 years old.

Exhaust leaks are more likely to occur in vehicles that drive short distances. Because the exhaust system doesn’t heat up, the condensation from the exhaust settles onto the pipes. This can cause corrosion and exhaust leaks, which can be diagnosed after the tell-tale signs of an exhaust leak occur.

Hissing or Popping

The most obvious sign of an exhaust leak is a hissing or popping sound. Unfortunately, the sound can be covered up by the sound of the engine, road, or inside the passenger cab. An exhaust system leak can also make the engine sound louder.


A vibration can be the signs of many car problems, such as bad brakes or a car in need of an alignment. When the vibration is felt in the gas pedal during driving, this can signal that there is an exhaust system leak. Even small holes can trigger the vibration; be sure to mention the vibration to a mechanic who can inspect the system.

Decreased Gas Mileage

An exhaust system leak can disrupt sensors, decreasing the gas mileage of a vehicle. In extreme cases, the leak can lower gas mileage by 3-4 gallons per mile.

When does a serpentine belt need to be replaced?

young woman inspecting serpentine belt in a carSerpentine belts may not be as well known as other car parts, but that doesn’t diminish their importance. A serpentine belt is a belt that keeps the pullies for the alternator, air conditioner, and power steering pump going. In some vehicles, the serpentine belt is also a key part in keeping the water pump running smoothly.

What belts need to be replaced in a car?

The other good news is that—in most vehicles—the serpentine belt is the only major belt. In older cars, many belts were used to keep cars going. Most modern cars only use a serpentine belt (there are some cars that use another belt to run accessories); this is extremely convenient for car owners who commonly have to monitor only one belt.

How often does a serpentine belt need to be replaced?

Because of modern technology, serpentine belts usually have to be replaced at 160,000 miles. The amount of time between serpentine belt replacements vary among car owners based on mileage driving and climate. A mechanic or car owner should check the serpentine belt regularly when the miles start adding up (such as at oil changes).

What are the signs that a serpentine belt needs to be replaced?

There are three main ways to tell if a serpentine belt needs to be replaced:

  • High pitched squeal. An audible squeal or chirp can signal it’s time for serpentine belt replacement. These car noises can usually be heard inside the car (and also from the outside). A squealing can also be a sign that other car parts need to be replaced; contact a mechanic to diagnose the problem and fix the source of the squeal.
  • Excessive cracking. Over time, the brutal Wisconsin temperatures can wear down serpentine belts. The belts start to crack and chunks of belt can start to break away. If the serpentine belt is not replaced, the belt can slip and damage other car parts further.
  • System failure. When a serpentine belt breaks, the transfer of power to other systems does not occur. This means that the alternator, air conditioner, and other key car systems stop working.

Who can replace a serpentine belt?

A serpentine belt replacement can be performed by a knowledgeable car owner or a mechanic. If the latter is the choice, ask the mechanic to check the serpentine belt on a regular basis. In most cases, replacing a serpentine belt is a fairly affordable car replacement.

12 Winter Breakdown Tips

car winter breakdownNo one wants to be stranded by a winter car breakdown, but sadly do they do happen. When they do happen, it’s nice to have a trusted local car repair shop. These winter car breakdown tips are for that in-between time when you’re stranded on the side of the road. You know what we’re talking about: when the car suddenly starts making odd noises, or stutters (no gas?), or won’t start. You’re stuck. You’re stranded. Here’s what to do while you wait for help:

  • Keep up with required maintenance to avoid breakdowns (use these car maintenance tips to prevent winter car breakdowns).
  • Try not to stop on a curve or hill.
  • Turn on your flashers so you are visible to other cars.
  • Pull over as far out of the road as possible without getting stuck.
  • Carry the name of your trusted roadside assistance provider.
  • Keep your cell phone charged so you can make an emergency call.
  • When calling for help, give as much information as possible about your location (i.e. closest businesses, closest highway exits, etc.)
  • Always carry an emergency car kit.
  • Stay with your vehicle.
  • If the vehicle still runs, turn it on periodically for warmth. (Make sure the exhaust pipe does not get blocked by ice or snow.)
  • If the road is slippery, be careful about getting out of the car (both for your own safety and because of other cars coming).
  • Get the vehicle towed to your trusted car repair shop ASAP so you can get back on the road.

10 Cold Weather Driving Tips

winter driving on snowy rural road at sunset Wisconsin winters can be brutal, and so can driving in them. Icy roads, winter storms, and everything in between (such as a wintry mix) can make winter driving hazardous for even the most experienced drivers. No one wants to get stranded in the middle on one of our infamous sub-zero Wisconsin days or when the snow is piling up on our roads. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of winter driving tips that keep you on the road and keep you safe during the cold.

Don’t warm up the car in a closed garage.

Warming up the car is common practice in Wisconsin; it can also become deadly if the vehicle is left running in an enclosed garage. Exhaust gases can build up in an enclosed space and cause serious injury or even death.

Make sure your tires are kept at the proper tire pressure.

Tires are your car’s sole contact with the road, making them a vital part of safe winter driving. Sudden drops in temperature can cause the tire pressure to drop below the recommended pounds-per-square-inch. Flat tires are hazardous during the winter, and can lead to lower gas mileage and premature tire replacement. Often, you can’t see when tire pressure is low and many tire pressure monitor sensor warning dash lights won’t go on until they are 20% under pressure. Know when the tire PSI (pounds-per-square-inch) on your car or tire is low. Check the decal in the driver’s side door or owner’s manual for the optimal PSI. Use a tire pressure monitor to check the tire pressure regularly and when the temperature suddenly drops.

Keep your phone charged.

When you are stranded, a cell phone can be an invaluable way to get assistance. Keep the cell phone charged so it is there when needed. Program in the name and number of a local towing company or keep their number in the glove compartment.

Check your tire tread.

Bald tires do not channel water properly and can be incredibly unsafe on icy or wet winter roads. Visually inspect tires regularly, and do the penny test when the tread seems low. During the penny test, put the penny into the tire tread. If Abraham Lincoln’s head is completely visible, the tire tread is low and should be replaced for safe winter driving.

Brake early.

Vehicle brakes are a key part of safe winter driving, especially when the roads are snowy or icy. Allowing extra distance and time for braking is one of the top cold weather driving tips. For that reason, get the vehicles regularly checked at every oil change and watch for signs of failing brakes. These signs can include: squealing or grinding noises when braking, a pulsating brake pedal, or when the car pulls to one side when braking. Schedule an appointment immediately when any of the signs of failing brakes occurs during driving.

Plan for extra traveling time.

Driving slowly is the safest way to travel during snow storms or when roads are icy. For that reason, watch the weather reports, plan accordingly, and schedule extra traveling time. When driving, allow extra space in front of the vehicle; driving too close can cause an accident when roads are slippery or conditions are hazardous.

Don’t stop on a hill or around a curve.

When conditions are snowy and visibility is low, it can be difficult to stop and see other vehicles. Avoid stopping on a hill or around a curve; the mere presence of a car can cause an accident, a sudden fishtail, or a vehicle into the ditch.

Avoid sudden acceleration.  

Slippery roads and sudden acceleration are a dangerous combination. Slowly accelerate at intersections and keep speeds low when encountering vehicles that are stranded or stuck in the snow.

Check the battery.

The extreme temperatures (both cold and hot) of Wisconsin can damage car batteries and lead to breakdowns. Over time, car batteries do not have the maximum power required to start up the car during freezing temperatures. Don’t get stranded because of a dead battery; replace batteries every 3-5 years and watch for signs of a failing battery. Rough starting or an occasional battery jump are both signs that the battery is ready for replacement. Schedule an appointment to get the battery replaced and avoid an inconvenient winter breakdown.

Stock up your emergency kit.

Never head out during winter without a well-stocked winter emergency kit. Before driving, make sure to pack a shovel, first aid kit, window scraper, cold winter gear, flashlight, and blanket. Jumper cables, a lug wrench, and jack are all-weather emergency supplies that should always be on hand for those just-in-case situations.

Cold Weather Car Maintenance You Shouldn’t Forget

truck driving in wisconsin winterWinter weather driving in Wisconsin is inevitable, and so is the impact on our vehicles. Cold Wisconsin weather is hard on drivers and their cars. The frigid cold weather temperatures can do a number on cars, leaving drivers stranded in the cold weather—or worse, in the ditch. Avoiding snow banks (as in, being stuck in them) is a key reason to schedule an appointment to get essential cold weather car maintenance done before the first day of winter (or at least before the Wisconsin snow storm).

Battery Test

Contrary to the popular myth, the heat of summer is harder on vehicle batteries than the cold. Hot temperatures can cause battery fluids to evaporate and do permanent damage. Winter temperatures turn vehicle fluids to the consistency of molasses, requiring more power for starting up. Batteries can start to signal they are failing, such as rough starting or needing an occasional jumping.

What to do: Before the temperatures bottom out, ask a mechanic to test the battery. It can also be wise to track the age of the vehicle battery, which tends to fail 3-5 years after purchase.

Windshield Wipers

This cold weather car maintenance tip may seem insignificant, but can be very important when driving in winter conditions. Windshield wipers in good condition can make driving in one of our famous Wisconsin winter storms a lot easier. Good visibility is essential when snow is flying and slush is being thrown on the windshield.

What to do: Swap your old windshield wipers for new ones before winter starts. Use this video and blog as a guide. If any assistance is needed, ask a mechanic to install new windshield wipers at the next oil change.


When the roads are icy, stopping safely is more than a luxury; it’s a necessity. Worn brakes can be a main contributor to a car accident, especially when conditions are hazardous. Sometimes, there are overt signs of worn brakes, such as a squealing or grinding sound, longer stopping distance, or a vibrating brake pedal. In other cases, the signs are not obvious.

What to do: Ask a mechanic to do a visual check of the brakes before winter. This can easily be done when snow tires are mounted or during a tire rotation. If the brakes are worn, get them replaced as soon as possible for safe driving.


Tires play a significant role in safe winter driving, because they are the primary contact between the vehicle and the road. Bald tires (tires with low tread) do not channel water correctly, which is especially important during slushy winter driving conditions. Tire pressure can also be lower during the cold temperatures, which can also play a part in safety and gas mileage.

What to do: Do a visual inspection of the tires (or ask a mechanic to check the tires). Look for inadequate tire tread, cupping, uneven wear, and punctures. To check tire tread, do the penny trick. Place a penny into the tread of the tire, then check to see how much of Abraham Lincoln’s head is visible above the tread. If Lincoln’s head is completely visible, the tire tread is low and the set of tires need to be replaced. Because tires can wear unevenly, place the penny in several places around the tire. On a regular basis, check the tire pressure to ensure that it is kept at the optimal tire pressure.


Cold weather driving can become more difficult with low vehicle fluids, making this cold weather car maintenance task a required and regular check. All vehicle fluids should be kept at optimal levels to avoid break-downs and safe winter driving.

What to do: Check the antifreeze level in the reservoir to avoid engine overheating (use this video about checking the antifreeze level in a car). Regularly check the oil level so the engine is properly lubricated and can run longer. For optimal visibility, check the windshield washer so the windshield stays clean during a hazardous winter driving. If the vehicle needs an oil change, ask the mechanic to check all vehicle fluids at the appointment.

Emergency Kit

This winter weather maintenance task is easy (and can even be done inside). A car emergency kit can be invaluable when stranded on an incredibly frigid day or during a snow storm. Because these situations are unpredictable, stock up an emergency kit before the temperatures dip below freezing.

What to do: Pack a waterproof container with the essentials: a shovel, towing company card/phone number, flashlight, blanket, first aid kit, jumper cables, jack and lug wrench, boots, rags, and hand sanitizer. Keep the emergency kit in the vehicle at all times in a convenient and accessible location.

Why do tires need to be balanced?

car with tires that need to be balancedTire balancing, also called wheel balancing, is an important part of buying tires and getting more miles out of a set of tires—and also a very misunderstood car maintenance task. That’s why we’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions about tire balancing—and a few questions car owners don’t ask, but should.

What is tire balancing?

Tire balancing is the process of ensuring that the tires are spinning evenly (balanced). During tire balancing, the tires and rims are removed from the vehicle and analyzed on a specialized machine. Based on the data, weights are strategically attached to the rim to balance the tire. These weights are typically made of a metal alloy, such as lead or zinc. Tire balancing should be done by an experienced technician; contact a local mechanic with the tire balancing equipment to ensure the process is done properly.

Why do tires need to be balanced?

Tires and wheels, even when brand new, are never perfectly round. The combination of a not-perfect tire and rim creates an imbalance, causing a strong vibration at high speeds (such as on highways), loud ride, and uneven tire wear. Tires that wear unevenly can be prone to random flats and premature tire replacement. Put simply, tires that wear down to the tire tread bars on the outside or inside may need to be replaced even if the rest of the tire tread is adequate, costing the owner more throughout the life of the vehicle.

How often do tires need balancing?

Contact a mechanic to balance tires whenever purchasing a new set (use this guide to buy the right set of tires). Tires should be balanced throughout the life of the tires. Goodyear recommends that tires should be balanced every 3-6,000 miles.

How can I tell if my tires need to be balanced?

There are some obvious signs that a set of tires needs to be balanced. Drivers driving with unbalanced tires notice a shake in the steering wheel and floorboard when traveling at higher speeds. Mechanics can also notice uneven tire wear when rotating tires. Regular tire rotations are another important step car owners should take to get more miles out of the tires and ensure even tire wear; an appointment for tire rotation should be made every 5-8,000 miles.

Shopping for Tires? 10 Tire Terms You Should Know

tire that needs to be inspected for small holeBuying new tires shouldn’t feel like a day in a foreign land—especially when buying the right set of tires is so important. Tires are the vehicle’s sole point of contact with the road; when roads are wet or icy, that point of contact becomes a vital safety measure. For that reason, it makes cents (pun intended) to learn the terms that come with tire shopping so you can purchase the right tires for your car or truck (and for your wallet).

All-Season Tires

All-season tires are manufactured to perform in a variety of conditions year-round. With all-season tires, there is a give-and-take. While these tires offer a quiet ride and are a good all-around tire for general driving conditions, all-season tires are not specifically designed for winter driving. If driving on icy roads is a must during Wisconsin winters, snow tires are usually recommended.


Tire balancing is an essential part of buying new tires and ongoing tire maintenance. Tires, even new tires, can be imbalanced on a set of rims, resulting in vibrations and uneven or premature tire tread wear. During tire balancing, the mechanic scans the tire and wheel rim and adds weights so the tire spins evenly. When purchasing tires, make sure that the mounting process includes a tire balance. Schedule a follow-up tire balance every 6,000 miles to maintain an evenly balanced tire (and an evenly wearing tire so tires do not need to be replaced more often than needed).


New tires are mounted on to a set of rims after a purchase. Old tires are removed, or unmounted, from the previous wheel rims.


Overinflation is when a tire is filled with too much tire pressure. Tires with too much tire pressure can decrease gas mileage and cause the uneven wear of tire treads. Think of an overinflated tire as a ball with too much air; only part of the ball touches the ground, just as only part of the tire comes into contact with the road. This can cause parts of the tire tread to wear more than other parts and cause the car owner to pay for tires earlier and more often. Maintaining proper tire pressure is an essential part of car ownership. The correct tire pressure can be found on a decal on the inside of the driver door and in the user manual (use these directions to check tire pressure on a regular basis).

Penny Test

The penny test is the way to check a tire tread to ensure there is enough for safe driving; bald tires (tires with low tread) can be dangerous to drive on, especially when roads are wet or icy. Bald tires are also more prone to blowouts.

To do the penny test, place a penny into the tread of the tire. Check to see how much of Abraham Lincoln’s head you can see above the tread. If Lincoln’s head can be completely seen, the tire tread is low. The penny test should be performed at multiple places around the tire; tires can wear unevenly. If the penny test shows an extremely uneven tire tread wear, schedule an appointment with a mechanic to determine the cause of uneven wear. Uneven tire wear can be a sign of a problem, such as a worn suspension part, alignment issue, or improper tire pressure.

Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI)

Pounds per square inch, or PSI, is the amount of pressure that should be in a tire. The correct PSI of a tire can be found on a decal on the inside of the driver door and in a user manual. Tire pressure should be checked every month or when there is a drop in the air temperature. For directions on how to check tire pressure, click here.


Rims, or wheel rims, are the circular metal parts that tires are mounted on. When tire balancing, weights are applied directly to wheel rims. Wheel rims do need to be replaced when there is an excessive amount of corrosion or other conditions that can cause the rims to leak air.

Snow Tires

Snow tires are specifically designed for traction and handling on icy and wet winter roads. Constructed with a softer compound and tread pattern designed specifically for getting through snow and ice, snow tires can find traction. It is important to note that traction control is not a replacement for snow tires; traction control adjusts the speed of tires to conditions, but does not give a vehicle more traction while driving.

Because snow tires are designed specifically for winter conditions, drivers should make an appointment to have snow tires mounted when the temperature dips below 40 degrees on a regular basis. The snow tires should be removed when the temperatures are consistently in the upper 40s or low 50s.

Tire Aspect Ratio

The tire aspect ratio are the measurements that, collectively, indicate the size of the tire. The tire aspect ratio is found on the tire currently on the car, in the user manual, and, often, on the inside of the driver-side door. (Some vehicles can be fitted with different size tires-check your user manual.) Tire aspect ratios contain a letter and a series of numbers, such as P235/55R17.

The P in the tire aspect ratio indicates that the tire is intended for passenger cars. Other tire aspect ratio letters could be LT, ST, C, or T. The first numbers of the tire aspect ratio are the width, in millimeters, between the two sidewalls. The series of numbers, in this example 55, is the aspect ratio. The number is a percentage, and the higher the percentage, the larger the sidewall of the tire. The last number, 17 in this case, is the diameter of wheel that the tire fits on.

Tire Tread

The tire tread is the surface of a tire; tire treads are specifically designed for certain purposes, such as for snowy road conditions or for heavy commercial use. Tire treads are also important to monitor; low tire tread can cause improper water channeling, unsafe driving, and premature blow outs.

8 (Proven!) Ways to Increase Gas Mileage

person filling up car and trying to figure out how to increase gas mileageGas mileage theories are, as the old saying goes, “a dime a dozen” on the internet. And while the list of theories is plentiful, not every theory is proven to save you dimes—or even pennies. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of proven ways to increase—and maintain—the peak gas mileage that saves you at the pump.

Don’t accelerate or brake suddenly.

The same tips that keep you safe as you drive can also save money at the pump. Except for in emergencies, avoid sudden hard accelerations and braking. Unfortunately, both driving habits use more fuel and decrease fuel mileage. Try to keep

Keep your tires at the correct tire pressure.

Low or high tire pressure can cost you money in more ways than one; underinflated or over-inflated tires wear down more quickly, requiring premature tire replacement. For gas mileage, tires with too much pressure or not enough can make you stop at the pump more often. To get the most miles out of a tank of gas, check the owner’s manual or decal on the inside of the driver door for the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure. Check the tire pressure often (directions for checking tire pressure here) and add air as needed. If you can’t or don’t have time to check the tire pressure, ask your mechanic to check the tire pressure at your next appointment.

Avoid incessant idling.

Letting your car warm up may keep you comfortable as you drive, but it also drops your gas mileage. Even on the coldest days, try to avoid idling for long periods of time.

Replace the air filter promptly.

Clogged air filters decrease the efficiency of the engine and decrease fuel mileage. Check the vehicle manual for the exact mileage for air filter replacement recommended by the auto manufacturer (or ask the mechanic to check the air filter at your next oil change). As a general rule, an engine air filter should be replaced every 30,000 miles or 3 years; however, the engine air filter should be replaced more often if the vehicle manufacturer specifies or if the vehicle is driven on roads that are usually very dusty.

Don’t weigh the car down.

For prime gas mileage, avoid carrying a lot of heavy “stuff” that can add weight to the car. Though it may seem insignificant, a car with a heavy load can cost you pennies every day and can add up very quickly.

Replace the spark plugs promptly.

Because spark plugs are responsible for the spark that ignites the fuel-air mixture in your engine, spark plugs can cause your fuel mileage to drop. Ask your mechanic when is the right mileage to replace the spark plugs; depending on the spark plugs chosen, these car parts should be replaced every 30-100,000 miles. If left too long, the engine can misfire, which can abruptly cause gas mileage to drop.

Avoid storage containers.

As nice as an extra storage container or bike rack is, additional storage containers cause aerodynamic drag and can significantly drop fuel mileage. Even an empty bike rack can decrease fuel mileage, adding up over the life of the vehicle.

Minimize using the AC.

Air conditioning may be a welcome cool down on a hot day, but it also uses more gas. When possible, opt for open windows over air conditioning—unless traveling at high speeds. Keeping the window open while traveling on the freeway can reduce gas mileage and cost you more at your next fill-up.