CAR TUNE UPS: WHAT AND WHY
CAR REPAIR THE AMERICAN WAY
HIGH QUALITY, AFFORDABLE AND HONEST
Why Do I Need A Car Tune Up And What Do They Check
Prevention is better than a cure. When it comes to vehicles, this certainly applies. Having your vehicle serviced and inspected periodically is a good way to extend its life and keep it operating as efficiently as possible.
Twenty years ago, a tune-up was on the schedule of maintenance procedures. With newer cars, the traditional definition for one has radically changed. Old habits die hard and people still ask for a traditional tune-up, described as a service procedure to make an engine run better.
Generally What Is A Tune Up?
Before electronics took over, “tune up” referred to a series of procedures that included replacing the spark plugs and distributor points, inspecting the cap and rotor and might include replacement of fuel and air filters. Throw in the many adjustments that are done - point gap, ignition timing and idle mixture and dwell. This was done every 12,000 to 20,000 miles.
Most newer cars have systems to warn you when thing go wrong, and most parts last longer than they used to. That being said, it is a good idea to bring your car in periodically for everything to be checked. Better safe than sorry, as the phrase goes. Who wants to be stuck on the road with a car that won't go?
Of course, we will always do a free 30-point inspection every time you bring the car in - kind of a mini-tune-up check to see if things are getting worn or need replacement.
Parts Checked and Replaced During A Tune Up
Here are the major items checked and inspected during a traditional tune up:
Spark plugs. These provide the electric spark needed to initiate combustion in your engine. If they are worn out, the engine will not run properly. Spark plugs need to be replaced every 30,000 to 50,000 miles for conventional plugs and 50,000 to 120,000 miles for iridium or platinum tipped plugs.
Signs of worn out spark plugs: misfiring, lack of power and poor fuel economy
In older cars, ignition wires, distributor cap and rotor are replaced along with the spark plugs. Newer cars, however, do not use distributor or ignition wires anymore.
Fuel Filter. Unless yours is a late-model car, the fuel filter is part of a tune-up. In many newer models, fuel filter replacement is not required. You will find that in these cars, the fuel filter is part of the fuel pump and are changed when they clog up and affect the fuel pump.
Again, the best guide on when to replace it would be the owner’s manual.
Sign of a dirty fuel filter: lack of power upon acceleration or in up-hill driving
Air Filter. The air filter prevents dust and sand from getting inside the engine and damaging the cylinder walls. It is recommended that it be changed every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. (Same interval as your spark plugs). More often if the car is often used on unpaved or dusty roads. When the air filter is dirty, it makes your engine work harder.
Other Adjustments or Replacements that Need to be Done:
Throttle Valve. Mechanics may recommend cleaning the throttle body of carbon deposits especially if a rough idle or stalling become issues. This can also cause the CHECK ENGINE light to come on.
Fuel Injector. This is often recommended for high mileage vehicles. Mechanics may suggest a fuel injector flush. This involves hooking up the engine rail to a device which injects a solution that cleans fuel injectors, valves and pistons while the engine is running.
This can help restore engine compression.
Battery. The battery may be checked if it has been getting weaker or if is scheduled for a replacement. The test involves checking the battery and the charging system. If the battery capacity is found low, the mechanic may recommend replacing it.
Front Oxygen Sensor. This is not typically part of the scheduled maintenance. However, if the car suffers from poor mileage, the mechanic may look into it and suggest a replacement. It is one of the main components that determine the amount of fuel used by the engine.
Timing Belt. If your vehicle still uses a timing belt, this is replaced in a major tune-up. However, in a newer model car, a maintenance free timing chain is used.
When to schedule a tune up?