Auto Tune Up
Our vehicles are pretty complex pieces of machinery. There are thousands of components that work together to make sure you get to where you want to go as comfortably as possible. Yet we take our cars, SUVS and trucks for granted, assuming that all of those components will always just work. We don't really think about the vehicle's maintenance, other than an occasional oil change. Vehicles actually do need a little more thought, and an occasional auto tune up, on our part in order to keep them in top working order.
How do you know that it is time for an auto tune up? Just like any other preventative maintenance you do on your vehicle, you should schedule an auto tune up every couple of years, or every 30,000 miles. Pick whichever of the two comes sooner. Some people put 30,000 miles on their vehicles every six months so they can't wait for two years between auto tune ups.
Your auto may give you one or more signs that it's time for a tune up, even before the two years/30,000 miles 'deadline'. If the vehicle is getting harder to start, it may need an auto tune up. It's a sign that the spark plugs are becoming warn out and are not firing up the engine like they should. If it is experiencing a power loss and/or poor gas mileage, it's time for an auto tune up. Also, if the vehicle is stalling or has a rough idle, you should take it in to a mechanic for a tune up. One final sign that your vehicle may be in need of a tune up is if if you smell a 'rotten egg' smell coming for its exhaust. That's the catalytic converter needing attention.
There are several things a mechanic will look at when doing an auto tune up. Where the mechanic starts with the tune depends on the symptoms the vehicle is showing, if any.
If your vehicle is in for a scheduled tune up, the mechanic will start by looking over your air and fuel filters and replace them if needed. The mechanic should also replace your spark plugs during an auto tune up. He'll also look over are all the wires around the engine. The distributor caps and rotor will also be replaced. The mechanic will also make any needed adjustments to valves around your engine and check the battery. He should also make sure the vehicle's various fluid levels are fine. Finally, the mechanic will check the belts and replace them as necessary.
The only differences between a scheduled auto tune up and one that is being completed because your vehicle is showing symptoms is that the mechanic will start looking for 'issues' depending on what symptoms you tell him the car is showing.
An auto tune up shouldn't be expensive. However, the actual cost of the tune up will vary depending on if the mechanic finds little things that need replacing, such as engine belts. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, you can expect a regular tune up (without problems) to run anywhere from $50 to $200.