The auto tune-up is one of the most popularly known vehicle maintenance tricks out there. As you can already surmise from its name, the tune-up involves tweaking your car a little bit and replacing old filters and small parts to help keep your vehicle running at its best. But what exactly is an auto tune-up?
Based on experience, I’ve found that going to different garages and talking to various mechanics can give you different answers to the question: “what is an auto tune-up”. But though definitions of the term “tune-up” may differ depending on the auto mechanic, most of its basic processes and standard operations remain the same. The following are some of the standard operations performed in a tune-up:
- Checking and if needed, replacing spark plugs, fuel filters, air filters and the PCV filter
- Checking the work condition f the ignition and replacing damaged parts (once again, if needed)
- Inspecting the wires running between your vehicle’s distributor cap and cylinders for damage and doing necessary repairs or replacing
- And cleaning the distributor cap and replacing it if it’s damaged or cracked
The tune-up could also mean checking all the different components located under your vehicle’s hood. The extent of your inspection or checks would depend on how extensive you want your tune-up to be.
Why Should You Get a Tune Up?
The primary reason behind the tune-up is to make sure your vehicle is still in tiptop shape. Regular tune-ups should also help prevent complete engine breakdown, since you’ll be repairing and replacing damaged auto parts before they can cause more harm to your engine’s system and your vehicle’s overall performance.
While most drivers are predisposed to getting tune-ups only when necessary, i.e. when the vehicle is going to be checked by a state safety program or emissions program, it’s more advisable to conduct regular tune-ups every year. Besides, it takes more than a tune-up to cure massive auto problems that have been gradually worsening in your vehicle in the past few months.
When Should You Get a Tune Up?
Use your owner’s manual as your guide to finding out exactly how often you need to tune your auto. Most manuals indicate timeframes using mileage or months. Some vehicles require tune-ups every 40,000 miles, while others require it every 60,000 miles. There are also a number of auto manufacturers who recommend tune-up schedules based on where you drive (in the crowded city streets or through long and traffic-less freeways), the amount of heavy traffic you have to sit through and how you drive (in short, if you’re a start-and-stop kind of driver). Confirm with your owner’s manual before conducting a tune-up.
If, however, you’ve been noticing some defects or a deterioration in your vehicle’s performance, then it doesn’t hurt to conduct a tune-up as soon as possible. If you encounter auto problems that you can’t fix yourself, then take your vehicle to a professional mechanic to have it repaired.
Note: There are some auto warranties that actually require you to perform a tune-up as often as is stated by the owner’s manual. Failure to do so will mean a violation of the warranty’s rules which could mean the invalidation of your entire auto warranty.
Can You Tune Your Car Yourself?
Yes, you can. As long as you now how to conduct the checks and how to replace various auto components correctly then this shouldn’t be a problem for you.
That being said, do conduct your tune-ups as often as you need to. Don’t wait for those small and seemingly insignificant auto problems to turn into gargantuan vehicle issues that could potentially drain your bank account.