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Your Guide to Car Tune-Ups

Every car owner wonders at some point whether it’s time to get a tune-up. This article explains what a tune-up is, when your car may need one, and how to perform your own tune-up. Performing a tune-up is part of the bigger picture of proper vehicle maintenance. Regular maintenance can prevent issues that will cost exponentially more money to fix if your car isn’t properly maintained.

What Is a Tune-Up?

A tune-up is a general maintenance check that every vehicle requires at various intervals. A tune-up is not a comprehensive inspection; it’s more of a look at your vehicle’s major systems, and appropriate adjustments, to ensure everything is running smoothly. Usually, your mechanic will change the spark plugs and spark plug wires during this time. Tune-ups usually only take an hour or two, and your mechanic will discuss any issues found during the tune-up.

How Often Should You Get it Done?

This is a common question, but there’s no set rule for how often you should get your tune-up done. However, it is essential to consult your owner’s manual to determine the recommended intervals for maintenance. Also, if you notice signs of poor performance or decreased fuel economy, it may be time for a tune-up.

Can You Do Your Car’s Tune-Up Yourself?

Tune-ups are pretty simple. First, most of your car’s systems are usually inspected during a tune-up. Belts, hoses, filters, tire pressure, fluid levels, and brake rotors are generally visually inspected for obvious signs of wear. Make a note of any of these components that need attention, so you don’t forget. The tune-up itself on most modern cars consists of changing the spark plugs and spark plug wires, in addition to taking care of any other vehicle systems that need attention. Older cars would require additional steps like checking and adjusting the engine timing.

What Other Preventative Measures Can You Take?

Preventive maintenance is the key to long vehicle life. For example, getting your oil changed regularly can save you big bucks by keeping your vehicle’s engine properly lubricated and preventing unnecessary wear. Also, be sure to periodically inspect fluid levels and keep on the lookout for strange noises, warning lights, or changes in performance. Many routine car maintenance tasks are relatively simple and make appropriate DIY jobs, even for someone without much experience.

A tune-up is a primary car maintenance job that ensures your car is running its best and helps uncover potential issues before they lead to more significant and more expensive problems. A tune-up is a task that a DIY mechanic can handle. But if you aren’t comfortable doing so, see your car care professional if your vehicle is due for a tune-up.

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