Car Tune-Ups: Crucial Bits Every Driver Should Know

Drivers need a car tune-up occasionally, regardless of the vehicle they drive, its age, or their driving style. It’s common wisdom to do routine proper maintenance on your automobile so it operates efficiently all around. 

Older vehicles require tune-ups for every 10,000 miles covered. Nonetheless, with “modern-day” automobiles, manufacturers extend tune-ups and other maintenance practices to about 100,000 miles.

This extension doesn’t relegate routine maintenance to the background or give you the luxury to ignore tell-tale signs that your ride requires a tune-up.

What Does a Car Tune-Up Entail?

The term tune-up means different things and has been used in many contexts in recent years. However, a car tune-up is a series of preventive maintenance activities conducted on the car to ensure it works efficiently.

This maintenance practice was a bit more complex for old-generation cars as it involved replacing the breaker points and condenser, installing new spark plugs and rotors, and tuning the vehicle’s carburetor. 

However, with “technology add-ons” like computerized onboard monitoring, and fuel injection fielded in current cars, this process has become relatively easier.

However, despite being straightforward and simple, car tune-ups in modern vehicles have some critical issues. 

Here are what a car tune-up entails:

1. Oil and Fluid Changes

To function adequately, cars require engine oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, coolants, and so on. 

Most automobiles require oil changes after about 5000 to 7000 km covered; it’s less if you don’t use your car often.

Keeping your engine clean by feeding it with clean oils and fluids is one of the ways you can make them last for longer. 

Contaminated fluids can cause internal components to wear. While changing the oils and fluids, you can also change the oil filter. In the long run, you’ll save money with this maintenance practice as it negates expensive damages.

2. Safety Inspection

After using your car for a while, it’s excellent to conduct safety checks. Automobile tune-ups present the perfect opportunity to execute these checks. During tune-ups, your car undergoes “in-depth” inspection to detect any faulty or worn-out part. Additionally, cleanings are done where necessary.

3. Mechanical Repairs

If, after a safety inspection, you discover certain issues that need repair, you can do a tune-up car repair on the spot. At this point, you can replace faulty car parts with new ones.

Basically, a car tune-up entails checking for the various parts that require cleaning, fixing, or replacing. You can execute some tune-up acts by yourself. However, you’ll need the services of a technician to conduct complex tune-up processes.

Tell-Tale Signs Your Vehicle Needs a Tune-up

Most automobile issues don’t crop up overnight. These problems start with various tell-tale signs. This section highlights the symptoms your car may exhibit to prompt a tune-up session pronto.

Best advice? As soon as you notice any of these signs, waste no time in getting your vehicle to your tune-up maintenance center for a tune-up.

Notable mentions include:

#1 Warning Lights on Your Dashboard

Sometimes indicators might appear on your dashboard when you start your car. These warning lights can stay illuminated or flicker intermittently. 

When they crop up, they’re informing you of a problem or an impending issue within your car’s system.

Many car drivers ignore these dashboard indicators as they think the issue is negligible. Ensure that you don’t make this mistake. While the issue may not be serious initially, it can quickly pose adverse effects if you don’t take immediate action. 

Take note of the Icons or indicators on your dashboard. When they stay lit up, get a diagnosis bound to prompt car tune-up acts. These lights could signify a problem, such as oil level dropping lower or a bigger issue like transmission failure. 

The only way to know for certain is by certifying its root cause.

#2 Bad Fuel Mileage

Mileage is a typical subject of discussion when people talk about cars. You’ll even hear them boast about how far their vehicles can go on a full tank. It’s also one of the first things you’ll examine when getting a new car.

After driving a car around for a while, you’ll get an idea of how far you can go on a full gas tank. So, when you feel like you’re spending more gas to cover the same distance, it’s a sign to go for a car tune-up repair.

A sudden mileage reduction means your automobile is consuming more gas than normal, which is a sign that it isn’t running as efficiently as it should. A drop in your car’s efficiency points to certain underlying problems.

#3 Unusual Car Noises

As a driver, you’d have become attuned to the sounds your car makes since you’ve been driving it for a while. Thus, it’s a cause for alarm when your car starts giving off unusual noises.

Weird sounds can mean different things but are often signs your vehicle has an issue or is in the process of developing one. Unless you’re a car technician, there’s almost no way to know what the unusual noises your car is giving off entails. 

The best thing to do is visit a car tune-up repair service to detect and fix the cause of the noise.

#4 Your Car Starts Stalling

Stalling may be normal when you’re still a novice driver learning to drive a manual transmission. However, it’s a cause for alarm when you’re experienced or driving an automatic vehicle. 

Engine stalls signifies an underlying issue that can put you in a dangerous situation.

Some common reasons your vehicle may start to stall:

  • The fuel pump is faulty
  • The clutch is improperly released in transmission vehicles
  • The battery is dead
  • The car has Ignition issues
  • Fouled spark plug
  • Clogged oil filter

Whenever your car begins to stall at odd intervals, get it ready for routine car maintenance so your mechanic can decipher the problem and get your vehicle back to good shape.

#5 Difficulty Starting Your Car

After waking up early in the morning, you can be a little sluggish. You’re only human; it’s allowed. 

However, what’s not permitted is your car refusing to start when you need it to or requiring several key turns before it does. Sometimes, even if it starts, it won’t stay running.

All these are glaring signs that your car has developed some problems.

Some probable causes could be:

  • Aweak battery
  • Defective starter
  • Worn out or misfiring spark plugs

If the problem can be easily detected, you can quickly fix it. However, these issues can be complex and only show simple defect signs. Take your vehicle for routine car tune-up repairs and maintenance service to ensure a problem doesn’t prompt a cascade of adverse effects on your automobile.

#6 The Car Takes a Longer to Accelerate or Experiences Frequent Power Loss

Sometimes, we must accelerate. For context, you need to increase your speed when merging onto a highway, overtaking another car on a two-lane road, or going up a hill. Your reason for accelerating might be as simple as getting your automobile to react fast when the traffic light turns red to green. 

Slow acceleration can be dangerous. Besides being a sign of an underlying car problem that has progressed over time, it can also put you in difficult, embarrassing, and dangerous situations. 

Imagine trying to overtake a big rig, and the power you expect from your car isn’t there. Oops!

Regular maintenance can prevent this issue. But if you notice a reduction in your car’s accelerating power, it’s best to get it checked to determine the root cause.

#7 Unusual Vibrations

Driving over rough terrains or roads will make your car vibrate. It shouldn’t raise your brows. After all, it’s pretty normal because your car is reacting to the rough road surface. However, it’s a red flag when your automobile suddenly vibrates, even when driving on a tarred road.

Encountering car vibrations when driving on smooth surfaces is a tell-tale sign your car requires a tune-up repair. These vibrations could mean a host of problems that need to be fixed by a professional car mechanic.

#8 The Car Pulls to One Side

If your car keeps pulling to one side (either to the left or the right side) as you’re driving, getting frustrated is a constant. 

However, your feelings aside, this issue occuring while driving is all shades of dangerous and a sign that you need a tune-up. 

Perform this activity as soon as you can and have your mechanic check out the cause.

Some potential causes for your car pulling to one side include:

  • Inconsistent air pressure in your car tires
  • Incorrect wheel alignment 
  • Wear and tear on suspension and steering components
  • Uneven or worn-out brake pads

#9 Misfiring Engine

An engine misfires when its cylinders fail to power your car. If this happens, your vehicle experiences a loss of power and a vibrating sensation. 

However, in a scenario where all the engine cylinders didn’t misfire with one being active, you can complete your journey, albeit slowly. 

Note that you’ll experience an abrupt stop when all the cylinder misfires.

The glaring point? 

More engine cylinders misfiring increases the chances of power losses and vibrations. This issue is a cause of and needs to be looked into immediately. 

Some common causes of an engine misfiring include:

  • Ignition developed faults
  • Defective engine
  • Fuel system issues

The best way to handle a misfiring engine is to take the vehicle to a tune-up. If this problem isn’t attended to as soon as possible, it could lead to further damage. 

Thus, routine repairs would turn complex and pricey.

#10 Rough Shifts 

One of the joys of driving an automatic transmission vehicle is that they take all the work out of the shifting, making gear transitioning smooth and easy. 

As such, it’s concerning when your vehicle hesitates or makes it difficult to switch gears.

Often, your car can have a problem shifting to a higher gear or experience sporadic downshifting or upshifting when you least expect it. These signs are pointers your transmission needs urgent expert attention. 

Depending on your car, gears need transmission fluids, filters, screens, and lots more. All these require regular maintenance for continual maximum performance.

#11 Grinding Brakes

Applying your car brakes should smoothly bring you to a stop and shouldn’t let out a squeal loud enough to draw everyone’s attention to you. If your vehicle brakes make loud noises when applied, it’s a tell-tale sign that something is wrong with them.

When you ignore this sign, you’re putting yourself, car occupants, and other road users in grave danger. 

A vehicle’s braking system components such as brake pads, brake fluids, and rotors, must be replaced and maintained routinely. Endeavor going for a car tune-up service as soon as you discover this sign.

#12 Your Car Overheats

Your vehicle overheating is a valid cause for alarm. A car that overheats regularly will spoil your plans as the chances of you placing a towing service’s contact data on your emergency call list are high.

Some common causes of a car overheating include:

  • A non-functional radiator or water pump
  • Coolant issues
  • Broken thermostat
  • Low oil
  • Clogged heater core
  • Leaks in the cooling system
  • Depleted or contaminated coolant

Schedule a vehicle tune-up to decipher why your car is overheating. 

Final Words

Driving a 100% efficient vehicle is pleasing. However, for a car and its engine to reiterate this status, it must be maintained regularly. 

If your car exhibits any of the signs showcased in this article, get a tune-up as soon as possible.

However, you can also prevent your car from exhibiting or developing the aforementioned signs by scheduling routine tune-ups at an autoshop revered for executing related activities with aplomb. Prevention has always been better and cost-efficient than cure.

Scroll to Top

Request an Accident Report