Tune Up Service
One of the biggest changes in modern vehicle ownership is the perception of the term "tune-up". Contrary to common beliefs modern hi-tech vehicles still need tune-ups to keep them performing at peak performance and efficiency.
Historically the tune-up was associated with the routine replacement of key ignition system parts like spark plugs and breaker points, along with performing adjustments to help "tune" the engine. Demands for increased fuel economy and lower emissions pushed vehicle manufacturers to adopt electronic ignition systems and replace the carburetor with electronic fuel injection. This eliminated the need for frequent replacement and adjustment of many ignition and fuel system parts.
High tech tune-ups
As technology progressed the procedures required to perform a tune-up changed dramatically. Highly sophisticated ignition and fuel systems using one or more computers to control critical engine and transmission management functions required equally sophisticated tools and repair technician skills. Fuel consumption and exhaust emissions decreased, and tune-up intervals became much longer.
Is A tune-up still required?
Although tune-up parts and procedures have changed greatly, there is still a need to maintain the ignition system. Modern vehicles are very reliable and will run unmaintained for long periods, but they will eventually break down and fail if not properly maintained. The major difference is that newer vehicle components cost far more when they do fail.
When should a tune-up be done?
Maintenance periods of modern vehicles vary greatly. To ensure good performance, fuel economy and decreased emissions it is best practice to follow the vehicle's maintenance schedule. Any problems between regular maintenance intervals usually indicates a problem that should be investigated and diagnosed.
Inspections & Adjustments
As part of a tune-up on modern vehicles, the following systems need to be inspected and adjusted:
- battery, charging and starting systems
- engine mechanical condition
- power-train control (including computer diagnostic checks)
- fuel systems
- ignition systems
- emissions systems (PCV, EGR, Evap)
Spark plugs, air & fuel filters
With the accurate fuel control provided by computer managed fuel-injection, spark plug life has been greatly extended. Replacement schedules vary greatly so the manufacturer's recommendation in the owner's manual should be followed.
Air and fuel filters have a major impact on engine performance and should be replaced on a regular basis. Air filter life depends greatly on the conditions the vehicle is operated under.
Spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor
In addition to spark plugs, it is highly recommended to replace spark plug wires, and where used, the distributor cap and rotor. With exposure to extremely high engine compartment temperatures and the demands of high energy electronic ignition systems these ignition components deteriorate and place extra load on expensive ignition coils and control system components.
Electrical system analysis
The electrical system is the heart of a modern vehicle and should be tested at each tune-up. Sophisticated electronic parts require a steady, clean supply of electrical energy. A weak battery or charging system problem can cause major problems such as engine stalling or poor performance, and erratic check engine warning lights.
The electrical system is comprised of three major components: a battery, a charging system and a starting system.
A weak or bad battery can be the result of a defect, over-charging, electrical drain due to an electrical short, or under-charging as a result of a bad drive belt, faulty voltage regulator, or alternator problems.
The charging system maintains the battery voltage by replacing electrical energy used by all electrical devices in the vehicle. The charging system is comprised of an alternator, voltage regulator and the alternator drive belt.
Electrical system problems can cause serious damage to highly sensitive electronics resulting in costly repairs.