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When to Take Your Car for a Tune-Up

You've been driving that car for awhile now, and you might be wondering whether it's time to take it in for a tune-up. While tune-ups were considered a part of regular auto maintenance not that long ago, manufacturers are now designing cars to go farther and farther before tune-ups are needed. How do you know when it's time to take the car in to a trusted auto repair shop for servicing? This guide should help you know when it's time.

What happens during a tune-up?

Tuning up a vehicle usually involves replacing the spark plugs, along with checking and replacing the following as needed:

  • Spark plug wires
  • Fuel filter
  • Air filter
  • Rotor and distributor cap
  • Belts

In older vehicles, a tune-up also includes adjusting the ignition timing.

Note the age, mileage and manufacturer recommendations

For vehicles built before 1981 (that is, cars with a non-electric ignition), you should tune up the car every 10,000-20,000 miles. For cars built after that, the recommended mileage varies widely, from 30,000 miles all the way to 100,000 miles for newer cars. Check the owner's manual to find out the manufacturer's recommendation for your particular vehicle.

Don't ignore these symptoms

Regardless of your car’s age or mileage, there are certain symptoms that tell you your car is running inefficiently and may need a tune-up. Take the car to an auto service center for a diagnostic if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Rough idle or acceleration. This may be a sign that some of your spark plugs are failing to ignite.
  • Knocking when accelerating or climbing hills. It might just be bad gasoline, or it might be that your car is not burning fuel effectively.
  • Difficulty starting the car. A number of issues can cause this (like a weak battery), but it can also point to an ignition problem.
  • Reduced gas mileage. Fuel efficiency can almost always be restored with a tune-up.
  • Stalling. Again, your car might stall for a variety of reasons, but a common cause is failing spark plugs or dirty contacts. If you experience frequent stalling, note when it happens (e.g., when the car is hot or cold, or when the air conditioner is running) so the mechanic can pinpoint the problem.

When it's time to take the car for a tune-up, you should have it performed by a trusted, experienced professional. In Vancouver, WA, David's Auto Repair is an ASE-certified shop with over 15 years of proven experience and a reputation for quality foreign and domestic auto repair.

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