How Do You Know If Your Car Needs a Tune-Up?

July 11,2014

Automobile technology has changed drastically in the past 40 years. However, despite significant improvements, car parts are not made to last forever. Proper maintenance, even when you don’t notice a problem, can save you thousands in the long run. Not to mention, it will help you avoid unexpected disasters.

What is a tune-up?

So what does a tune-up involve exactly? Good question. A “tune-up” refers to the inspection and replacement of worn components of the ignition and fuel systems, including air and fuel filters, spark plugs and wires. Depending on the mileage, other routine maintenance, such as replacement of transmission fluid or belt and hose replacement, can also be performed at the same time.

How often does my car need a tune-up?

Half a century ago, cars had more moving parts and required extensive work to keep running. For instance, a Detroit V8 automobile would need inspecting every 12,000 miles. These older engines were complex. But they were also the kind an enthusiastic and mechanically-inclined person could master with practice.

You can drive most newer cars for much longer without a tune-up, anywhere between 25,000 and 100,00 miles. Cars manufactured in the past several decades now contain parts engineered to “tune” themselves. Your car’s computer controls everything. As a result, it’s fairly simple to figure out what’s wrong with your car when there’s a problem. Plus, the whole system needs a lot less periodic adjusting than it once did. Check your owner’s manual for the best recommendations for your vehicle.

What might need maintenance:

  • Spark plugs

Spark plugs begin the combustion process. If you have worn out or completely shot spark plugs, your mechanic will replace them during your tune-up.

  • Air filter

This is one item that always needs replacing during a tune-up. Your filter’s job is to prevent dust and sand from getting into the engine and destroying cylinder walls. Replace this every 20,000-30,ooo miles, or even sooner if you drive often on gravel or dirt roads.

  • Throttle body

Is your check engine light on? Often in high-mileage cars, carbon deposits prevent the valve from working properly. If this is the case, your throttle body needs cleaning.

If you’re concerned about the performance of your vehicle or notice lowered gas mileage, ask your mechanic at your next visit. We at Veenstra’s would be happy to help you set a preventative maintenance schedule for your car and make sure it stays in top driving condition.