Click the image above to learn about aspects of the engine that could use a tune-up.
Click the image above to learn about aspects of ignition that could use a tune-up.
Click the image above to learn about vehicle fluids that could be effecting the performance of your vehicle.
Click the image above to learn about vehicle cooling systems that could use a tune-up.
Tuneup - an old-fashioned maintenance term that's nearly non-existent today. With electronic ignition and fuel injection came computers that took over control of engine settings. Early versions allowed for some tinkering, but today's engines require advanced equipment and training.
You can, however, replace normal maintenance parts and still see improved engine performance. Here are common maintenance parts you can replace to significantly increase performance and reduce major problems:
Basic Ignition Parts
Spark Plugs: Spark plug replacement varies based upon manufacturers recommendations.
Distributor Cap & Rotor: Both the distributor cap and the rotor are usually plastic and, thus, deteriorate with age and use. Cracks may develop, allowing moisture in. The metal contacts on both can then corrode, causing misfiring. These parts should be replaced at recommended intervals or if showing any excessive wear.
Spark Plug Wire Sets: Spark plug wires have become less of a problem than before. New materials and sizing have reduced failures. Now, these should be tested for proper resistance before replacement. They are no longer replaced routinely with the cap, rotor and plugs.
According to experts, changing filters on a regular basis may have more to do with your car's longevity than any other single factor.
Oil Filter: Oil filters are easy to replace and help prevent unnecessary engine wear. The job of the oil filter is to remove soot, rust particles and other solid contaminants from the oil. Most manufacturers recommend changing your oil filter and engine oil every 8,000 kilometres. For the recommended interval for your specific vehicle call your local Budget Brake and Muffler Auto Centre. This information is also provided in your owners manual.
Air Filter: Air filters remove dirt by trapping particles as air passes through the filter media. They also protect the carburetor in older cars, preventing dirt from clogging the air bleeds and metering jets. They protect fuel injectors in later-model autos.
Air filters should be replaced every 32,000 kilometres but more often if you live or drive in dusty areas. Any filter that looks heavily loaded should be replaced regardless of the number of miles, as should any filter that shows any type of damage.
Cabin Air Filter: Cabin air filters remove dust, pollen, odors and mold particulates from the incoming air, while the heater, air conditioner or vent fan is running. Cabin filters can be particularly beneficial to those with allergies.
It it important to regularly replace the filter to prevent premature damage to the heater, evaporator and air conditioner units.
PCV Breather Filter: The PCV breather filter assures only clean, filtered air is drawn in through the PCV breather. A clogged breather filter prevents the PCV from siphoning away the blowby gases and moisture created by engine combustion, resulting in oil breakdown and sludge buildup. The PCV breather filter should be replaced every 48,000 kilometres; however, yearly replacements are a good preventive measure.
Fuel Filter: Contaminants can get into your fuel system and if not trapped by the fuel filter, they can clog the injector inlet screens. If dirt reaches the injector itself, it can clog or damage the pintle valve and seat. In older cars, dirt can plug the carburetor's fuel metering orifices.
If the fuel filter is not replaced as recommended, fuel flow to the engine will become restricted, resulting in stalling, loss of high-speed power and hard starting. The fuel filter should be replaced according to the vehicle manufacturers specifications. However, professionals recommend a change whenever other fuel system parts are replaced.
Automatic Transmission Filter: Properly filtered transmission fluid transmits energy, plus it cools and lubricates the moving parts of the transmission.
A clogged transmission filter can produce transmission slippage, engagement problems and hesitation. Check with your vehicle's owners manual for the recommend replacement mileage. But keep in mind that if you use your vehicle for heavy duty applications like towing or off road driving, you may need to change the filter more often.
Other Maintenance Parts
Many maintenance parts are mistakenly seen as non-critical. Though not true "tune-up" parts, the functions of these parts can definitely impact the benefit of any tune-up. Plus, as emission laws have gotten more stringent, these parts have become essential - if you want your car to pass emissions the first time around.
Oxygen Sensor (O2 Sensor): Your oxygen sensor(s) should be replaced at the recommended intervals. A worn oxygen sensor drastically changes engine settings. For more information on oxygen sensors, see the tech article Oxygen Sensors Are A Critical Key to Passing Emissions.
Vacuum Hoses: Many major systems depend on manifold vacuum for signals and function. All vacuum hoses should be checked and replaced as needed. Even a slight leak can cause major problems with performance; in some cases, the car won't even run if there's a vacuum leak.
Temperature Sensors: These sensors control the fuel injection system, cooling system and even the exhaust system. And they can definitely be a cause of poor performance problems.
A Few Important Things to Remember
Heed these tips and you're well on your way to extending the life of your car and improving its overall performance - especially gas mileage and emissions:
Tip #1: General overall cleanliness of your engine is the best preventive maintenance you can perform on your car. A clean engine runs cooler and is much less likely to cause premature failure of other parts. It's also easier to work on.
Tip #2: Regular routine replacement of all filters, lubricants, coolant and the other parts noted here is critical. Use the mileage guidelines shown as your benchmark. Sensing and mechanical tolerances have become so tight even slight variations can create drastic performance changes.
Tip #3: Know your car's systems and particular requirements before starting any project. Do not attempt to fix what you don't understand.
Tip #4: Remember that some improvements may not take effect right away if your car's computer is designed to learn and adjust. The computer may need to see various parameters before making any permanent setting changes.