Is a tune-up really necessary?

Years ago, it was much more common to hear about someone having a tune-up done on their vehicle. Now, with more sophisticated computer-controlled engine, it may seem like tune-ups aren’t a necessary part of car care. The fact is, tune-ups are an important part of vehicle maintenance and should not be overlooked.

If you look through the owner’s manual for your vehicle, you’ll notice a number of service intervals. The simple service is the regular oil and filter change and tire rotation. After that, the service intervals become more extensive. A tune-up is identified as a major service and includes replacement of the spark plugs and spark plug wires. We used to change spark plugs at regular intervals, but with today’s vehicles, manufacturers have extended those intervals to as long as 100k miles.

We see a lot of miss-fire codes when the check engine light comes on, and all too often, the failure is an ignition coil.  Nowadays, instead of a large robust coil with wires delivering a spark to the cylinder, modern engines use a “coil over plug design” which means there are many small coils.  Great design, great engineering… with one exception.  When a spark plug wears, the voltage demand rises exponentially. These new coils don’t have the reserve to meet the extra load and overheat to the point of failing. So while you may not think you need to change the spark plugs, it’s prudent to do it earlier than to wait until the recommended service interval.  If the coils don’t need to be replaced, you’ll save time, money and avoid the inconvenience of looking at that pesky check engine light.

What do we do when we tune up your car?

In addition to changing the oil and filter, there are a number of other services we perform when we tune up a vehicle. These include:

  1. Replacing spark plugs and wires. The spark plugs are a vital part in the engine combustion process and ignites the fuel. When one or more spark plugs becomes dirty, the engine will begin to misfire and you’ll experience a definite decrease in fuel economy. Your vehicle may even feel sluggish, especially when it comes to accelerating.
  2. Correcting the timing. The proper timing is important to engine performance. When the timing is off (which happens from regular wear and tear), spark plugs can fire and/or fuel can be released at the wrong time. If you have an older vehicle, timing becomes an even more important issue to the efficient operation of your car’s engine.
  3. Scanning the onboard diagnostic (OBD) system. We use a special scan tool to see if the computer is identifying any problems with the engine. Our ASE-certified technicians will also check and adjust the idle speed (if needed).
  4. Replacing the fuel filter, PVC valve and engine air filter. The combustion process requires the proper mixture of air and fuel for your engine to operate properly. Replacing these filters will allow for optimal performance.

When was the last time you had your vehicle tuned up? Have you been noticing any problems with engine performance or poor gas mileage? It may be time for you to have a tune-up done on your car. Trust your tune-up to the car care professionals at Shade Tree Garage. Click here to schedule your appointment at our auto repair shop in Morristown, New Jersey.

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