Gas grills are your best bet for fast, reliable grilling but not all of them are created equal. There are a few important ways to determine if your grill is functioning at its best. There aren’t that many different components to a gas grill, but if the key parts of your cooker aren’t performing well, you’re going to ruin the barbeque for everybody. Some people will stick by their grill for years and years, but don’t put up with poor performance if you can help it. Here are a few tips for assessing and improving your grill’s performance.

Rust

The wear and tear of hundreds of cook outs will take a toll on your gas grill. Rust is one of the first symptoms to appear for older grills. It can creep onto the firebox and the grates, even if they’re supposed to be stainless steel. A little bit of rust is easy to deal with using a steel brush or wire brush. For porcelain grates, you need to use a nylon brush. If you’ve got too much rust to scrape off, it’s definitely time to think about some new parts. You can get a new set of grates for anywhere between $50 and $150. As for the firebox, you might be better off with a brand new grill if the rust is unmanageable.

Cracks

The same advice on rust goes for cracks. Cracks can form as a result of exposure to the elements or physical damage. Little cracks in the firebox will cause your grill to lose heat, but you can still cook up a mean burger or two. Once the cracks in your firebox are more noticeable, you’re going to have problems. The efficiency of your grill will plummet and you’ll be using up all your gas for a weak burn. Cracked grates are not good for cooking, so you’d be better off replacing them before pieces of them come off in your food.

Weak Flames and Shoddy Igniter

The flames on your grill should be burning a bright blue. If they’re anything less, your burners are not working as hard as they can and should. This might mean you have a blocked burner or a loose gas hookup. You can use a toothpick to unplug any blockages in your burner tubes. If you unblock them and your flames are still not burning blue, you should probably get a new grill that burns better.

For igniters, there is no surefire fix. Especially for built-in igniters, there is little you can do to replace a shoddy starter. An igniter that’s separate from the burner controls can be replaced for about $15-$50. Some people get by using a fire-stick or long-stem lighter, but save yourself the singed knuckle hair and find a grill with a top-rated igniter.