Scheduling occasional tuneups should be a routine part of taking care of a car, but not everyone knows when or why they should have one. Jensen Tire & Auto suggests getting a tuneup "every three years or 50,000 miles (whichever comes first)."
During a tuneup, an automotive service technician will inspect and possibly replace your vehicle's spark plugs. You can also ask that they look into the causes of other concerns you may have about your car's driving performance.
Is it time for you to schedule a tuneup? Here are some signs that can help you decide.
Diminished gas mileage
Do you find yourself filling up at the pump more often? This could be caused by a number of factors. It might be that you've been driving aggressively, towing a trailer, driving in more bumper-to-bumper traffic or driving on hilly roads, or it could be a result of the natural aging of your engine. Or it could mean your car needs a tuneup.
"A poorly tuned engine burns more fuel," the U.S. Department of Energy explains. "A dirty air filter can decrease the fuel economy of older cars with carbureted engines." Poor gas mileage might also be caused by misfiring spark plugs or bad fuel injectors. Only a professional automotive technician can diagnose the cause.
Loss of power
Car owners should feel safe and comfortable each time they step into their vehicles. Having a loss of power while driving can shake your confidence in your auto and jeopardize your safety on the road.
You might notice a loss of power when accelerating to get on a freeway or passing another car. It might feel like sluggish acceleration different from what you normally expect. Fixing this might be as easy as fixing your spark plugs, but it could be something much more complex, which is why a tuneup is your only way to be sure.
Automatic cars have mechanical systems that do your shifting for you, which is convenient as long as the systems keep working. However, if you notice your RPMs skyrocketing before your car finally shifts while accelerating, or if the RPMs rise when you've been driving steadily for a while, it's a sign of transmission trouble. Explain what you've observed to your automotive service technician so they can check out the problem.
You'll know your car needs attention by the sounds it makes. Each sound means a different problem and will likely occur at certain, predictable times. Squeaking while braking means you need new brakes. Flapping or whining sounds might mean an engine belt is on its way out. Rattling coupled with vibration might mean your alignment is off.
Make a note of when you first noticed the sound, what seems to cause it and how often it happens. You could also try a visual inspection of your tires, brakes and engine to see if anything catches your eye. But don't rely on your expertise or internet search engines alone. Expert automotive service technicians will know better than you where the sound is coming from.
The dreaded arrival of the check-engine light is never a welcome one. There are a multitude of reasons the light might come on, according to Jensen Tire & Auto. Here are a few of the possibilities:
- Loose, missing or damaged gas cap
- Catalytic converter needs replacing
- Oxygen sensor needs replacing
- Spark plugs or plug wires need replacing
- Thermostat needs replacing
- Fuel injectors need replacing
The list goes on, which is why scheduling a tuneup is your best option when the check-engine light comes on.
Maintenance is key to keeping your car running smoothly as long as possible. Schedule a tuneup today with Jensen Tire & Auto, locally owned and family owned since 1973.