Car Engine Tune-Ups by ASE-certified Mechanics
Your check engine light (CEL) warns you that your vehicle’s computer found a malfunctioning component in your emission control system. You may see “check engine,” “service engine soon,” or “check powertrain.” Or, the light may show an engine picture, perhaps with the word “Check.” To determine the actual problem, we use an electronic scan tool or a diagnostic testing computer to retrieve diagnostic trouble codes (DTC). Some common issues that turn on the check engine light include:
- A gas cap that isn’t on tight enough (we suggest checking before calling us)
- Water in the engine somewhere
- Spark plugs that don’t function correctly
- The vehicle emitting high levels of pollutants
In any case, you should bring your vehicle to us, and we can inspect your vehicle, diagnose the problem, and provide an engine repair if needed. Leaving your engine light on can cause serious problems with your car in the end.
A check engine light diagnosis appointment is completed quite quickly, so stop by or give us a call.
When to Tune Up Your Car
Maximize gas mileage and power and increase the overall life of your vehicle with regular car tune-ups from Tire Works. Tune-ups should happen at least every 30,000 miles, or every two years, depending on the age and mileage of the car. An engine tune-up makes sure that often overlooked “little things” work correctly and are replaced if needed.
Here is the process for a typical auto tune-up:
- Replace the fuel filter. Filters get clogged with particles, and this can decrease the car’s efficiency and power.
- Change the spark plugs and check the plug wires. Bad plugs or wires lead to mileage inefficiency, loss of power, and rough starts. We’ll want to make sure you get new plugs and replace old wires.
- Replace the distributor cap and rotor. Some cars do not have these items, but if you have them, we can replace them.
- Check the ignition system and timing. Older vehicles rely on ignition timing.
- Make needed adjustments to valves and check/replace gaskets if oil is leaking.
- Check all belts and replace them if there are signs of wear and tear. Belts are an important part of the tune-up.
- Check all fluids and top off any levels.
- Change the oil and filter if needed.
- Check and replace the air filter.
- Check and adjust the clutch in cars with manual transmission.
- Service the battery. Clean the cables and terminals and add distilled water.
The tune-up process and service may vary from car to car or be based on the time since your last tune-up service. Prices may also vary based on your vehicle and selected services.
Engine Tune-Ups and Preventative Car Maintenance
There are some differences between these two terms even though they are often used interchangeably:
The term “car tune-up” has changed over the years. In the past, it described the procedure done to make a vehicle’s engine run better. Replacing the spark plugs and adjusting other parts in the engine, like the idle speed and fuel mixture, to return the engine to peak performance was called a tune-up.
Preventative car maintenance is the more recent term to describe regular inspections of all the systems in a vehicle to maintain optimum performance. It also includes a check engine light diagnostic when there is a problem that needs identification and possibly adjustment or repair.
Late model cars are more controlled by the vehicle’s onboard computer, so there isn’t much that can be adjusted or “tuned.” However, many people still believe that their car needs a tune-up and expect that service.
Tire Works Total Car Care can accommodate the desire to have a car that is operating at top efficiency, no matter what term is used to describe it. Mechanics understand that when a customer asks for a tune-up, it’s due to some drivability problem: The car is hard to start, it hesitates or stalls, the gas mileage has decreased, or the engine just doesn’t seem to have the same zip as it once did. We can do an engine performance analysis and check the spark plugs. That may take care of the problem, but if not, the Tire Works mechanic will need to go beyond an engine tune-up to find it.
All our mechanics are ASE-certified, experienced professionals. They are ready to become part of your car care team! When you bring your car to us for a preventative maintenance check, these professionals will:
- Inspect the tires for wear and check the air pressure
- Change the oil and oil filter
- Replace the fuel and air filters, if necessary
- Balance the tires
- Rotate the tires
- Perform a wheel alignment
- Check all lights and signals
- Check and/or flush system fluids (brake, power steering, etc.)
- Inspect and/or replace the brake pads
You will be given a recap of the results of these checks and any actions taken. If additional repairs or replacements are needed, our service staff will discuss these with you in detail so you can decide on how to proceed.
Hybrids and tune-ups
More and more drivers are purchasing hybrids today. Hybrid vehicles do run on an internal combustion engine that charges the batteries and assists in powering the vehicle. As far as maintenance is concerned, this means hybrids do need oil changes to protect the engine. Their moving parts are minimal, but some components are just as important.
The battery in a hybrid does need to be replaced, although generally not until after 150,000 miles. Because of these similarities with gasoline-powered vehicles, adhering to a preventative car maintenance schedule is just as important with hybrids as any other vehicle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sometimes. The onboard computer is alerting you that there is a problem. There are hundreds of reasons the check engine light can come on, though, so it takes a professional mechanic to run through the check engine light diagnostics for each fault code. They will also ask you for input on how the car has been running. At that point, the reason for the light will be determined, and you will know if it is an emergency or not. The service staff at Tire Works will recommend how to proceed.
Don’t simply ignore the light. Driving with an undiagnosed problem can lead to more damage that will cost you even more time and money later.
Check your owner’s manual for the recommended schedule set by the manufacturer. Then discuss a schedule with one of our technicians. They will consider the age and mileage of the car as well as how and where you drive. Tire Works Total Car Care offers several preventative car maintenance packages, beginning at 30,000 miles. Bottom line, these packages are designed to replace parts before they fail and cause you problems.
Yes! Modern engines that use gasoline still come with spark plugs. They are situated at the top of the engine cylinder and create a spark of electricity between 10,000 to 30,000 volts. This initiates the ignition of the air-fuel mixture in the cylinder. They provide the energy that starts the engine and then propels the car forward.
Spark plugs have always been a necessary part of gasoline-powered engines. Even with direct fuel injectors, modern gas engines still come with spark plugs, with some being equipped with 100,000-mile plugs. How many spark plugs a car comes with depends on the size of the engine or the number of cylinders. For example, an engine with four cylinders needs four spark plugs, etc.
Check your owner’s manual first. In general, though, most spark plugs last approximately 80,000 miles. Many auto advisors recommend replacing them after about 60,000 miles to avoid problems as they begin to wear. Bad plugs will give you decreased fuel efficiency, a loss of engine power, and eventually a car that won’t start at all.
Don’t drive a car with these kinds of problems. You can damage the engine. Broken pieces of spark plugs can get inside the engine and will affect other components, too. Bring the car to Tire Works Total Car Care for a diagnostic check. We will identify the problem and advise you on the best course of action.
No. And no manufacturers recommend it either. The use of high-octane in an engine designed for regular unleaded is a waste of money. Conversely, the use of regular unleaded in a car designed for high-octane can cause the engine to knock and suffer damage. And under no circumstances should diesel fuel be used in a gas-operated vehicle (or gas in a diesel engine); if it happens, have the car towed to Tire Works and we will take care of it.
A mechanic sprays a foam or special cleaning solution into the intake manifold. This is to remove the carbon deposits on the valves and pistons in engines with high mileage and direct fuel injection. The service may be beneficial in those engines, but no manufacturer at this time includes it in their recommended maintenance.
If your car is running fine, and you are getting good gas mileage, you won’t notice much improvement from this service. Check with one of our mechanics at Tire Works if you are unsure about adding a fuel induction service for your car.
It IS important for certain things on the list, like changing the air filter, for example. A dirty filter can affect the air-fuel mixture of your engine, which stresses the engine and reduces the gas mileage.
It is also important for any car warranties. A warranty will often require certain tasks to be done on time to keep the protection in effect. Don’t take a chance on voiding this valuable protection by skipping preventative maintenance appointments.
Here are some things to watch and listen for that may indicate an engine tune-up is necessary, regardless of how long it’s been since your last one:
- Lights on the dashboard indicate a problem.
- The car feels as though it’s about to stall out.
- Starting the automobile becomes difficult.
- The gas mileage is dropping.
- The car reaches its top speed slowly.
- The engine is making banging noises.
- The engine is idling too roughly.
Our Tire Works technicians will test the appropriate systems to identify any problems. They will discuss the results with you before any work is done, as well as provide an estimate of the cost. You can then decide how to proceed. And don’t forget about our valuable coupons and specials to help you get the most value for your visit to Tire Works!
An engine tune-up can increase your car’s fuel efficiency by 4 to 12 percent. Your car will operate better and be safer after it has been serviced. Consider a tune-up a habit that will extend the life of your car’s engine!
It is a master switch in the fuel control feedback loop. It monitors and helps fine-tune the fuel mixture so the catalytic converter works properly. The catalytic converter’s job is to clean the exhaust that is about to be emitted into the air from the car. The O2 sensor can continue to work even if it is badly degraded, so the sensor is often changed as a preventative maintenance service.