Monday, August 13, 2007

Tune up your car

How to tune up your car?

At one point of time, tuning up one’s car barely meant replacing points, condenser, spark plugs, plug wires, distributor cap, rotor, fuel filter and breather. But that was before the advent of electronic ignition system. Now tuning up your car means checking and adjusting all of the systems in your vehicle that contribute to the efficient combustion of fuel. With programmable ECMs (Electronic Control Modules), tuning up includes updating the same at least once a year for better fuel mileage. A poorly tuned car uses 25% to 33% more gasoline each year. The potential saving that tune-up offers is around 150-250 USD a year!

To determine when your car needs a tune-up, just be attentive to the vehicle’s gas mileage. If it falls by 10% to 15%, your vehicle needs a tune up. Besides, you can always follow the manufacturer recommendations given in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Key areas to tune up your car

Of the comprehensive scanning of your car for problems, some areas are essential for checkup. These points include the suspension system, the exhaust system, tires, filters and the engine tune-up.

Suspension system

The suspension system of your car provides you safe and comfortable drive. Suspension systems control the movement of the car and keep the tires in contact with the road, providing a better and safer ride.

A routine inspection and maintenance of your car’s suspension system is a must. As a practice, you must inspect shocks regularly for leaks, cracks and other damages. Observantly look for vehicle bounce, sway when cornering and tumble when braking. Uneven tire wear also may indicate worn shocks and struts. Worn struts and shocks should be replaced in pairs (left and right) and should be done as soon as problems are noted.

You can go for Eibach Springs Pro Damper Shock Absorbers for 270.95 USD and harness the power of a low center of gravity.

Muffler/ Exhaust system

Your car’s exhaust is decisive to its performance. Primarily designed to reduce noise, the exhaust system is also responsible for reducing harmful emissions. So, the mufflers, pipes, and other exhaust components must be periodically checked for any trouble and replaced if required. You may go for Walker Exhaust 18113 Universal Sound FX Muffler for 22.74 USD.


Care of tires include periodical wheel alignment, tire balancing and tire rotation. Periodical and proper care of tires renders your car fuel-efficient. In the absence of proper care of tires, you may loose gasoline mileage up to 10%!

Wheel alignment means adjusting the angles between the suspension & steering parts, the wheels, and the vehicle frame. This is done to make sure that the wheels are running parallel to one another, and that the tires meet the road at the proper angle.

Whenever you observe unusual tire wear, or unusual steering feel (the steering wheel is stiffer or does not return to the center position when released), it is time for wheel alignment.

Tire balancing involves ensuring uniform distribution of tire’s weight around the vehicle’s axle. In simple terms, there should be no heavy spots on the tire. Improper tire balancing can result into affected ride quality and shortened life of tires, bearings, shocks and other suspension components. The need of tire balancing is evident when your car starts vibrating upon touching speed of 40-45 mph.

Tire Rotation ensures that all of the tires wear evenly in order to extend the length of the tire’s life on your vehicle. As rear tires wear much less because they follow the front tires, you rotate (or change) front tires with rear tires to save one pair of tires from wearing out too quickly. It is always advisable to rotate tires every 6000 to 7500 miles.


Filters must be changed regularly to ensure long life of your car. Oil filters, Air filters, PCV Breather Filter, Fuel Filter and Automatic Transmission Filter are the varying filters in your car.

The oil filter removes dirt, rust particles and other solid contaminants from oil. Oil filters should be replaced every 3,000 miles. K&N HP-2009 Oil Filter costs 9.49 USD.

Air filters should be replaced every 20,000 miles and more often if you reside in more dusty area. Timely replacement of air filter ensures that your car’s fuel injector (in latest models) and carburetor (in older models) remain dirt-free. K&N 33-2192 Replacement Air Filter costs 33.91 USD.

The PCV breather filter should be replaced every 30,000 miles; however, yearly replacements are a good preventive measure. Mr. Gasket 6377 PCV Grommet, 1.22″ Hole PCV costs 3.09 USD.

The fuel filter should be replaced every 30,000 miles at least. It is better to replace fuel filter on yearly basis. Accel 8188 U-Grv Spk Plug/Blstr Pk-4 costs 7.98 USD.

Automatic Transmission Filter must be changed every 12,000-15,000 miles to extend the life of your automatic transmission.


You should take care of your engine’s condition by constantly checking for spark plugs, distributor cap & rotor and spark plug wire sets.

Spark plugs reveal a lot about the condition of engine by its inspection upon removal. Ideally, spark plugs must be removed every 30,000 miles so as to prevent any expensive repairs later. AC DELCO SPARK PLUG Part # 41-985 costs around 6.66 USD.

Distributor cap and rotor are made up of plastic and deteriorate with age and use. The corrosion on metal contacts of both may cause misfire. Cracks within may allow moisture inside. These parts should be replaced as soon as tear wear is witnessed. Accel 8133 Cap/Distributor Rotor
costs around 17.28 USD.

With new materials and sizing, the spark plug wires do not fail easily. These should be tested for proper resistance before replacement.

The total cost of car tune-up may vary subject to your own choice in products for replacement.


As gasoline prices are going higher on daily basis, proper care of your vehicle can increase the fuel efficiency of your vehicle up to forty percent. So take care of your car well and get going !

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