No matter which make or model of vehicle you drive, it will require routine maintenance for top performance. As part of your regularly scheduled maintenance routine, your vehicle may need added preventive maintenance in the form of a tune up. In this post, we will take a look at the most commonly addressed issues and components in a tune up.
First, though, lets discuss how to determine when your vehicle might benefit from a tune up.
When Do You Need a Tune Up?
First and foremost, you need to keep an eye on your odometer. Your vehicle manufacturer has recommended regular maintenance procedures based on mileage. Your owner's manual should have these procedures nicely listed in one section. It's really best to follow this schedule.
Sometimes, you may notice performance issues start to creep up between regularly scheduled maintenance appointments. These can include:
- hard starts
- rough idling
- a decrease in fuel efficiency
- a noticeable decrease in engine power
These items should not be ignored. In fact, they are issues you should have addressed right away so they don't start to affect other engine components.
Replacing the Air Filter
We often think about fuel being the main ingredient that keeps an engine running. In actuality, your vehicle consumes much more air than fuel. For that reason, it's best to keep your engine air filter as clean as possible to ensure proper air flow.
You'll recognize the air filter by the pleated paper design that looks similar to an accordion. While its possible to clean a dirty filter by giving it a good blast of compressed air, the affordability of most air filters means you really should just replace a dirty air filter to ensure optimum performance.
If you opt to change this yourself, you should be able to easily look up the correct air filter for your vehicle's make and model at your local auto parts store.
Replacing the Spark Plugs
Internal combustion engines require three main elements for combustion: fuel, air, and spark. It's your spark plugs that provide the spark needed for proper engine performance. Like most components of your vehicle, however, spark plugs will wear out over time and need replacing.
Common signs that your spark plugs need replacing include hard starts and rough idling.
Replacing Ignition Components
Spark plugs are just one element of your vehicle's ignition components. In fact, even with brand new spark plugs, damage or wear to other ignition components can really lead to a host of engine performance issues.
These other components include the distributor cap, rotor, and spark plug wires.
Your vehicle's distributor cap handles the spark plug wires and distributes those sparks to engine cylinders where they can ignite gasoline to begin combustion. The ignition rotor is located inside the distributor cap and directs the electricity to its respective contacts inside the distributor cap. Excess wear and tear can also lead to ignition timing issues from the distributor cap and/or ignition rotor. Unless you have some hands-on experience, timing issues are best addressed at your local auto shop.
Replacing Belts and Hoses
Few components are as critical for vehicle performance as your belts and hoses.
Belts are responsible for proper functioning of:
- air conditioning
- oil pump
- power steering (mainly on older model vehicles)
- water pump
In general, belts will last from 50,000-100,000 miles. A sure sign they need replacing is a telltale squealing sound. Visually speaking, cracks and other obvious signs of wear are indicators that is it time to replace your belts.
Hoses are critical for moving engine coolant through your vehicle's engine and radiator. If a basic visual inspection shows bulges or leaks in your hoses, you should not hesitate to have them replaced right away.
Post Tune Up Driving
After a tune up, you may notice improved performance in the way of easier starts and a general improvement in how smoothly your vehicle runs. You may even notice an improvement in fuel efficiency. That's because properly maintained engine components and fuel systems reduce the amount of work your vehicle needs to do to keep you rolling. This can even help to decrease your vehicle's emissions!
A well-maintained vehicle has many benefits, including improved fuel efficiency, better handling, and less noise. Regular service helps keep your vehicle running smoothly and efficiently, and ensures that any problems are caught early on. It's important to remember that there are several components that require attention throughout the life of your vehicle. Regular tune ups are an ideal way to keep your vehicle running in tip top shape.