Prevent and Detect Problems
Regular tune-ups can help prevent problems, and catch problems earlier before they become big costly repairs.
Taking your car in for tune-ups can make the difference between expensive breakdowns and keeping your car running smoothly for years to come. While a tune-up isn’t a cure-all, it can help you and your mechanic stay on top of any potential problems before they cause permanent damage,
What Happens When I Take My Car in for a Tune-Up?
Every tune-up should include a series of performance tests to get a baseline of how your car’s engine is performing. These performance tests look at:
- Battery voltage – your batteries ability to charge and hold charge
- Power balance – identifies mechanical problems like worn rings, bad head gasket, bad cams, and leaky exhaust valves
- Engine vacuum – detects air leaks and exhaust restrictions
- Faulty codes – verifies that no fault codes are present
- Exhaust emissions – tests your car’s ability to meet emission standards
- Idle speeds – checks how your vehicle idles and what mixture of fuel it is using while it idles
- Ignition timing – detects possible sensor and computer problems related to your ignition
While a tune-up could help you find any number of things that need replacement as needed, there are three main areas you should be focusing on.
Spark plugs need to be changed periodically as they wear down every time they fire. After about 45,000 miles your spark plugs have fired 60-80 million times and they have begun to erode. Instead of having sharp edges they will become rounded and dull and the distance between spark plugs will have increased, causing potential misfires.
Underperforming O2 sensors can cause a variety of problems with the drivability of your car. If your vehicle needs new O2 sensors it might not pass emissions. To prevent these problems your mechanic should check if your O2 sensors need to be replaced at your tune-up.
Fuel filters, air filters, PCV valve and breather filters should all be checked at your tune-up and replaced as needed.
While the need to clean your fuel injectors and intake system is not as important as it once was, it is still good to make sure they are cleaned if needed.
Fuel residue deposits on your injectors and this can restrict the amount of fuel delivered to your engine. This can result in misfire and deterioration of engine performance. This residue can also accumulate on the back of your intake valves causing hesitation problems with your engine. Cleaning is suggested if you are noticing performance issues or you have reached over 50,000 miles.
Related: Signs of Bad Fuel Injectors
How Often Should You Get a Tune-Up?
Tune-up intervals vary between cars.
If you have an older vehicle with a non-electronic ignition you should consider tune-ups every 10,000 to 15,000 miles. Newer cars that have electronic ignition and fuel injection systems have a much wider range – 25,000 to 100,000 miles. If you do a lot of stop and go driving or are regularly pulling heavy loads then you may need tune-ups more often.
You should always refer to your owner’s manual, or a trusted mechanic to determine your recommended tune-up intervals. It is in your best interest to adhere to these directions in order to keep your car working at its peak efficiency.
3 Signs You Might Need a Tune-Up
- Car stalls a lot
- Engine runs rough when idling or accelerating
- Car is hard to start
Tune-In and Tune-Up with AAMCO Minnesota
A tune-up with your local AAMCO Minnesota location means our mechanics will inspect every system in your vehicle. Our tune-ups include:
- Installation of new spark plugs
- Inspection of spark plug wires and distributor cap
- Idle speed adjustments
- Comprehensive diagnostic checks to verify that no computer system trouble codes exist
- Our 36-point ProtectCheck® inspection on all of your car’s critical systems