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Car Maintenance 101 PDF Print E-mail

Your car should get a tune-up, or major service, every 30,000 miles. This is probably the best preventative maintenance tip a car owner could get.

The components of a good tune-up will check into and replace all the things that cause normal wear and tear on your car. If tune-ups are missed, this could lead to damage and further problems that cost a lot more than a tune-up.

In addition, tune-ups can give you better gas mileage. Best of all, tune-ups can be done on your own, saving you $$ by reducing labor costs.

Here are the things you will need to do as you tune your own car, as well as an explanation on why it is strongly recommended.

  1. Fuel Filter- You will want to replace your fuel filter. Dirty fuel filters can lead to difficulty starting the car, can restrict the engine, and cause the car to lose power.
  2. Sparkplugs and sparkplug wires- you will want to replace these, as bad plugs can rob your car of fuel efficiency and even take away from drivability. Bad spark plugs can even cause breakdowns, meaning an expensive tow. Bad wires can also cause problems. (See our article on this process)
  3. Distributor cap and rotor- these two parts are usually made of plastic, therefore they deteriorate with age and use and cracks may develop, allowing moisture in. Because of this, metal contacts on both can corrode, which causes misfiring.
  4. Valves- you will want to check and adjust your valves as needed. Also, you will want to replace the valve-cover gasket, especially when you see oil on the top of your engine.
  5. Belts- you will want to check all of your belts to make sure that they are not worn. If they show signs of extreme wear and tear (fraying, tension) you can replace those as well.
  6. Air filter- A dirty air filter blocks airflow to the engine, making it work harder. This results in a decline in horsepower and fuel economy.
  7. Fluids- check all of your fluid levels underneath the hood. If any appear to be thirsty, give them what they need. (Transmission, brake, etc.)
  8. Battery- give your battery a cleaning. (see our article on this process)
  9. PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation)- this should be replaced because a clogged breather filter prevents the PCV from siphoning the blow-by gases and moisture created by engine combustion. This results in oil breakdown and sludge buildup.

The previous nine tips are the usual for tune-ups. When giving your car a once-over, you may also want to check your brakes, wiper blades, lights and other gauges. Also, while much of the parts listed can be changed with a major service every few years, from time to time, you may need to replace one or more as a stand-alone project.

But, all in all, following this guide will keep you with a smooth, reliable ride!

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