How to Tell Whether Your Vehicle Needs a Tune-Up


Tune-ups are almost becoming a thing of the past, especially when compared to older cars. Late-model cars no longer have ignition points and carburetors that require periodic maintenance. However, late-model cars do have spark plugs, air filters, PCV valves, and fuel filters, among other serviceable parts, that do need replacement when they get dirty or worn out.

The spark plugs tend to last much longer on late-model cars because the engine is monitored by the onboard computer. The computer controls the air/fuel mixture and ignition timing. In turn, the engine runs cleaner and spark plugs last longer. If your vehicle uses platinum spark plugs, they can last as long as 100,000 miles.

Vehicle Needs Tune Up How to Tell Whether Your Vehicle Needs a Tune Up

The air filter catches dirt particles before they enter the air intake. Eventually it will clog and restrict air from entering the intake. You can either replace it once a year or take it out and visually inspect it.

The fuel filter on fuel-injected cars is encased in metal, therefore it cannot be checked internally. It is recommended that you replace the fuel filter every 25,000 miles.

  • Telltale signs of an engine in need of a tune-up are:
  • Poor gas mileage
  • Misfiring (engine does not run smoothly)
  • Difficulty starting, especially on wet or humid days
  • Sluggish acceleration

Any or all of these symptoms might be an indication of an engine in need of a simple tune-up. There are, however, many other variables that influence the engine’s performance. These variables may need to be diagnosed through the use of a computerized diagnostic system.

If you experience a rough (coughing) sensation on acceleration, check the large rubber hose that connects the air flow meter to the intake manifold for a crack. When you accelerate, especially from a dead stop, your engine lifts just a bit. If there is a crack in this large intake hose, it will spread open, causing the engine to gulp air. This creates a coughing effect as the engine drops back to its normal resting place. Taping the crack with duct tape will temporarily fix the problem, but replace the hose as soon as possible.

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