The correct maintenance of your vehicle is the quickest way to improve your gas mileage. Some sources say that a poorly tuned car can lose up to 20% fuel efficiency. But what is a tune up? What are the normal things that should be done during a car tune up? How often should a tune up be done and why?
A tune up is done to your car to replace and maintain parts that wear out through usage. Tune ups will insure that your car will continue to run smoothly, continue getting its normal gas mileage, and prevent severe damage the engine and other major components.
All cars need regular tune-ups about every 30,000 miles. In cars made after 1996 there are some things that do not need to be done during a tune up. It is just a waste of money to do them. Check around with different mechanics and make sure that you do not have to pay for unnecessary items.
You or your mechanic should include the following in the tune up of your car:
1.Replace the air filter with a new one. If you drive on dirt roads you should consider changing the air filter more often than every 30,000 miles. It is very simple and you can do it yourself in just a few minutes at home.
2. Replace the fuel filter; both fuel filters, if your car has two. Replacing the fuel filters every 30,000 miles is the best preventative measure you can take in protecting your car's fuel system. You can also put in a fuel injector cleaner every so often as recommended by the manufacturer.
3. Change the spark plugs. When spark plugs get old, the spark can not jump over the wires and ignite the fuel properly. Your car will get sluggish, start poorly and get poor gas mileage with old spark plugs. Some of the new cars with platinum spark plugs will only need to be changed every 60,000 miles.
4.Replace the spark plug wires. Having the wires changed is more expensive, but many times these wires get old and need replacement.
Some cars should have a new distributor cap and a new rotor at the time of a tune up (this applies to older vehicles without electronic ignition). To determine if you need a new distributor cap the mechanic will inspect the cap for cracks or black lines or if any deterioration has occurred. A new rotor will be needed if the mechanic finds any cracks, carbon tracks or burning.
5.Check the oxygen sensor. Your engine may be using too much fuel because the oxygen sensor is not working. Replacement intervals can range from 30,000 to 60,000 miles. The check engine light on most modern vehicles mainly has to do with the emission control system, which the oxygen sensor is a part of. If this light is lit, you most probably do have a problem and your fuel economy is suffering.
6.Get a valve adjustment if your car has adjustable valves. At this time have the mechanic replace the valve-cover gasket because it is quite common for these covers to begin to leak. A leak in this cover can result in oil accumulation around the top of the engine.
7.Cars older than 1979 need to have the points and condenser changed (this is done on cars without electronic ignition). Cars with electronic ignition should have the ignition timing checked.
8.Cars that are fuel injected should have the throttle plate cleaned and / or have the air-fuel mixture adjusted. If your car has a carburetor it may need an adjustment.
9.Have the fluids under the hood checked. Even though you should be doing this on a regular basis more often, having it done during the tune up getting the fluids checked is important.
10.If your car does not have an automatic transmission, have the clutch adjusted.
11.The battery should be checked during a tune up. The battery terminals and cable ends should be cleaned. Corroded terminals can keep your car from starting. If your battery needs water to be added, the mechanic should fill it with distilled water during a tune up.
12.The positive crankcase ventilation valve should be replaced during a tune up. A clogged PCV valve is a problem when it causes your car to stall or run poorly.
Keeping your car in tune will not only result in better gas mileage and better performance, but will also ensure a longer life and less major mechanical repairs.